Although we’re just a few months into 2018, the doctor, team, and patients of Luks Orthodontics, located at 3016 Yonge Street, just south of Lawrence Avenue, are already looking forward to 2019. That’s because this longstanding specialty orthodontic practice will be celebrating its 50th year in business, as well as the Luks family’s commitment to community service.
Dr. Eric Luks, who built the legacy and fine reputation behind the name, founded Luks Orthodontics in 1969. Over the course of his career, Eric has taken great pride in the caliber of treatments provided to his patients and that the practice is now delivering care to third and fourth generation patients. Since his daughter, Virginia, joined the practice in 1997, Luks Orthodontics has innovated to further improve the patient experience by introducing digital radiography in 2001, paperless charting in 2016, and digital scanning of teeth in lieu of impressions in 2018. They also offer personal check-in/check-out, underground parking, immediate call response, and increased doctor-to-patient time.
Along with their practice, the Luks family has also grown and demonstrated a love for giving back to the community that embraced them right from the very beginning.
In 1970, shortly after launching the practice, Eric and his wife Cynthia moved into their Lytton Park home near St. Clement’s Church, where they raised their three children Virginia, Andrew, and Vanessa. Eric and Cynthia still reside in that house, and welcome family at every opportunity.
“We’ve all grown up and branched out from home,” Virginia says. “But we all feel a great sense of warmth and security every time we come back through the front door.”
The home was conveniently located for Eric to get back and forth from his practice. However, it was also convenient for Cynthia, who operated two retail businesses on Avenue Road in the 1970s and 80s. She then committed the next 25 years to active community volunteer service, such as serving as Chair of the Board for POINT (People and Organizations in North Toronto) for 10 years, among other diverse roles she dedicated herself to. In recognition of her commitment to community service, Cynthia was awarded the Award of Canada 125 (1992) and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (2012).
The children have followed their father into health care to become doctors themselves. Andrew is a practicing dentist, Vanessa works as a respirologist, and Virginia, the orthodontist, took over the operations of Luks Orthodontics from her father in 2003. Both doctors worked in tandem from 1997-2013 before Dr. Eric Luks retired after 45 years in practice in December 2013.
“From the early age of eight,” Virginia says. “I had my sights set on becoming an orthodontist like my father. I saw how he was having a positive impact on the lives of his patients while having fun at the same time. I wanted to be able to make that difference in people's lives too.
“My father has always been my greatest inspiration. My entire life I have been in awe of his brilliance and unsurpassed hand skills. I have always told people my father is so talented he could’ve straightened teeth with paper clips!”
Her inspiration was matched by a determination to prove herself in the wake of a comment by one of her high school teachers.
“My physics teacher told me I wasn’t smart enough to be an orthodontist and that I should pursue some alternative career,” Virginia says. “This provided me with an incredible amount of determination to continue push forward even in times of doubt because I wanted to prove that teacher wrong. My parents told me that I could be anything I wanted to be and I have held on to that possibility with tenacity.”
In 1997, Virginia completed her graduate orthodontic program, finishing first in her class. She went on to be recognized by examination as a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics in 2003.
“Many years later,” she says. “I encountered that same physics teacher when I was out for dinner with a girlfriend. She asked what I was doing for employment and I proudly told her I was an orthodontist. The look of surprise on her face was probably one of the most gratifying moments of my life. I’d really made it!”
Virginia has since moved Luks Orthodontics from her father’s original location at 3080 Yonge Street, at the northwest corner of Lawrence Avenue, to a newly built, state-of-the-art storefront facility at 3016 Yonge Street. Although the address might have changed, Virginia’s passion for her work has not.
“I enjoy orthodontics because it’s a combination of science, engineering, and art,” Virginia says. “I thrive on problem solving and determining creative treatment plans for sometimes very challenging cases. There is a lot of satisfaction in transforming someone’s smile and seeing a patient’s self-confidence blossom, regardless of their age.”
Virginia doesn’t limit her time to running her practice. After completing a self-expression and leadership course in 2008, Virginia started giving back to the community through “Making Girls Smile”, a mentoring program she developed to give young women an opportunity to learn about orthodontics.
“Every year, I accept a young girl to participate and complete this inspiring enrichment project,” she says. “My team and I have been mentors to many young women from Lawrence Park Collegiate and Loretto Abbey College as part of their formal co-op program. I have also customized the program for interested students who were patients of mine, and not part of a formal program at their school.”
The goals and outcomes of the program include observing the positive impact orthodontics can make on a patient's life, participating in the clinic assisting in the delivery of patient care, learning to be part of a team, developing organizational and multi-tasking skills, learning basic knowledge of office administration, and customer service.
“My hope is that this experience will help girls identify orthodontics, or another health profession, as a possible career choice,” Virginia says.
In running her program, Virginia has become a role model for future dentists just like her father was. In fact, several of Eric’s patients found orthodontics so engaging and comfortable under his care that dozens of them have gone on to become dentists themselves, along with six patients who started their own orthodontic practices.
Luks Orthodontics also gives back to the community by carrying on Eric’s tradition of providing orthodontic treatments on a pro bono basis to local families who are receiving support with housing and other healthcare needs, or underprivileged patients who are trying to get a start in life.
“We have done this merely as a way to contribute back to the community and in gratitude of our profession,” Virginia says.
Truly, the Luks family has made an impact in Lawrence Park, and Eric and Cynthia have remained here to enjoy the conveniences, charm, and amenities our community has to offer. They also frequent the long-standing family run businesses that line the streets of our community, furthering strengthening our neighbourhood.
“My parents may have considered moving once or twice,” Virginia says. “But in the end Lawrence Park is their home. They love it too much to leave!”
We work with teens all the time and have a range of treatments to fit their unique needs.