Dr. Gilbert Bardfeld opened his practice in Coral Gables in 1961. At the time, Coral Gables was a sleepy little village, but over the years he has watched it grow into an international center with large office buildings and a thriving downtown.
Bardfeld graduated from dental school in 1957 and went into the Army for two years where he did general dentistry. He went on to graduate school to study periodontics.
“Periodontics is the study of the diseases of the gums and bones and supporting structure of the teeth and the foundation of the mouth,” he said. “It affects millions of people. This is why we try to save teeth. Today there are great advances with implants and bone grafts.”
At that time periodontics was a two-year program. He did one year at the University of Pennsylvania and one year at Boston University.
He finished his periodontal training in 1961 and moved to Miami to practice.
“My wife was from here and there were very few periodontics at the time, maybe one or two in the whole area,” he said.
He opened an office at 147 Alhambra Circle, just three blocks north of Miracle Mile, where he still has his practice.
“When I opened my office it was a two-story office building surrounded by small buildings,” Bardfeld said. “We were the tallest building in the area and now we’re surrounded by all these large buildings. When I came here it was a little village. We knew almost everyone on the block. Now it’s a big metropolis.”
Not only has Bardfeld watched Coral Gables grow into a big city, he watched the children of his patients grow up and have their own children.
Although he graduated from dental school a long time ago, he has kept up with the orthodontics field. Initially he worked five or six days a week. Now he works three or four days a week. And although he recently turned 79, the days he goes to work, he goes to the gym as well.
However, he said he’d like to retire in the next year.
“I’m getting older.”
One advantage he has in his practice is that his years of experience taught him how to handle patients. At the same time, he is appreciative of his younger colleagues.
“The young practitioners are very intelligent, are very well equipped. I’m very impressed with them,” Bardfeld said.
Although he’s past retirement age, he keeps up with the innovations in the business.
“It’s a must. We must have continuing education to renew our license.”
As he was watching the Gables grow, he also was involved with the community, including the University of Miami’s baseball team, especially when Ron Fraser was the coach.
“I’m now there at Community Smile which is a dental clinic at Lindsey Hopkins,” he said. “I spend one day a month down there volunteering my time. I’ve been doing that for 50 years.”
At Lindsey Hopkins he teaches foreign dentists who are trying to get their Florida license.
“They are required to take two years of training here before they can apply for their Florida licensure,” he said.
Along the way, he raised three children with his wife, Helen, who is a retired dental hygienist and retired nurse. His surviving son is an assistant U.S. Attorney who has twin boys, and his daughter has twin girls.