By Cindy Abole
Don't blame the audience of family,
friends and supporters at today's 182nd MUSC commencement if anyone
does a double-take when the College of Dental Medicine's newest dental
graduates walk by.
People are not seeing
double when they see dentists Charles (Charlie) Culp, DMD, and
Alexander (Alex) Culp, DMD.
The identical twins are
the sons of dental school alumni William (Bill) L. Culp Jr., Class of
1981, and wife, Janice, a 1974 graduate of the college's former dental
assisting program. Their sons' celebration not only marks a second
generation of new dental practitioners in the family, but also marks
another milestone—Bill's 30th anniversary since receiving his dental
degree and working as a Rock Hill general dentist. In a similar twist
of fate, the twins—like their father—finish dental school at age 25.
Both parents and children have made dentistry a family affair.
Drs. Charlie, left, and Alex Culp
work side-by-side at the dental implant clinic.
"Bill and I are so proud
of Charlie and Alex. We are grateful for the opportunity for them to
study dentistry at MUSC. They are happy and understand how fortunate
they've been able to realize their dreams and potential. It's been an
amazing experience," said Janice.
Born just a minute apart
(Charlie is older) in Rock Hill, the Culps fit with a lot of twin
stereotypes—they're best friends sharing a twin ship bond like no
other; share similar characteristics and mannerisms and possess an
innate sense of understanding each other and often finish each other's
As children, mom devised a
way to help others distinguish one from the other. She dressed each
child in different colored shoes—Alex wore blue shoes and Charlie, red.
As mirror image twins, their hair naturally parts on opposite sides,
but it is too subtle a difference to distinguish them.
Both Charlie and Alex
always felt a natural kinship and attraction to dentistry and MUSC's
dental school through their parents.
The Culps would often
commute to Charleston to attend dental continuing education courses and
related training and would bring their sons. By age 5, the twins were
already familiar with the dental school. Back home in Rock Hill, mom
would take the boys to their father's dental practice on Fridays where
they would watch him treat patients and curiously explore his office.
It wasn't long before Charlie and Alex would realize how well their
father was appreciated and respected by his patients and others in the
Rock Hill community for his role as a community dentist.
The Culp twins, at age 5, already
felt at home on the MUSC campus.
When the time came to
choose colleges and potential careers, their parents never pushed the
twins toward dentistry as one would expect. Instead, they encouraged
their sons to consider many professions and jobs, which also included
dentistry. They went on to become Calhoun College honor students at
Clemson University, their dad's alma mater. According to Alex, their
parents challenged them to explore many options in careers and seek out
information to make informed decisions. They graduated from Clemson in
2007 with degrees in biological sciences and microbiology.
Since middle school, their
dad had made them a promise to reserve some space in his practice if
either of them choose dentistry as a career. Bill observed how many of
his dental colleagues began hiring associates within their practices.
He naturally was thrilled that both Charlie and Alex were considering
dentistry at MUSC and an opportunity to develop the community's next
generation of dentists.
Both Charlie and Alex
thrived in dental school and easily moved through the didactic portion,
pre-clinical classes and their clinical dental training experiences
before choosing general dentistry as their career choice.
Although they studied and
enjoyed the challenges in prosthodontics, operative dentistry and oral
surgery, they felt comfortable working as general practice dentists,
which offered them broader challenges and opportunities for developing
dental practitioner-patient relationships—something they always admired
in their father's three generations of patient practice.
Fredrick T. Moore Jr., DMD, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial
Surgery, works in the college's outpatient pre-doctoral surgical clinic
and oral surgery area has nothing but praise for the Culp twins.
studious, upbeat and provide great patient care," said Moore, who first
met the Culps as second-year students in his oral surgery lecture class
and again, as third-year dental students rotating separately through
the oral surgery clinic. "They're quick with a smile and share a
certain level of competitiveness. They've brought nothing but pleasure
in the three years they've worked in the dental clinical classes and
New electric hand pieces,
digital dental X-ray film processors and improvements in other dental
technology and techniques were topics of many hours of discussions
among father and sons. Today, the brothers are collaborating with their
parents in renovating and preparing the Culp family's second practice,
which also will accommodate the practice's newest dentists. The
practice, which boasts 11 treatment rooms and a central lab area, is
scheduled to open in Rock Hill by early fall 2011.
Just recently, both
Charlie and Alex completed the dental exams for licensure in both South
and North Carolina, before receiving their dental degrees May 20.
"The school has taught
them so much in regards to good patient management skills and for this
I am grateful. It provides a way for practitioners to effectively learn
how to treat and manage today's patients. Oftentimes, it's not always
about teeth; it's about providing good, comprehensive patient care,"