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Dr. Maria Drzycimski Becker helps her dad, Dr. Nick Drzycimski, pull up some digital records and X-ray images on an exam room computer in November 2016. Nick Drzycimski is retiring after 42 years.

Tickle your gums.

Hundreds of patients who have sat in the dentist chair of Dr. Nick Drzycimski have heard that refrain.

The Fort Dodge dentist stresses that healthy gums are the key to good teeth and a healthy mouth. To keep your gums healthy, you need to carefully brush them or, as he likes to say, tickle them, preferably with an electric toothbrush.

After 42 years of advising, teaching and sometimes even nagging patients to tickle their gums, Drzycimski is nearing retirement.

He plans to retire just before Labor Day weekend.

His daughter, Dr. Maria Drzycimski Becker, who has practiced alongside her father at Rolling Hills Dental Clinic for the past six years, will now lead the clinic.

“I can’t tell you how enjoyable it’s been working with Maria these past six years,” Drzycimski said. “She’s a very good dentist.”

“I don’t think I’ve seen a dentist with as much empathy for the patients as Maria has,” he added. “She’s well-respected and well-liked by the patients.’

Drzycimski, 67, said he plans to maintain his license to practice dentistry for two years so that he can fill in when needed at the clinic. But he added that he doesn’t anticipate doing much dentistry.

He started his dental practice in 1980. At that time, there were 20 general dentists in Fort Dodge.

“I was just a kid among all these old guys,” he said.

His first office was in what was then called the Dental Associates Building at 1622 First Ave. N. He was one of five dentists working there. Initially, he had one dentist chair there. His practice grew to three chairs.

In 1994, he had the current Rolling Hills Dental Clinic built at 2727 N. 15th St. He said he sketched out what he wanted and Allers Associates Architects of Fort Dodge did the professional design.

The dental clinic sits on land that was once the Jolly Giant Fun Park. Dryzcimski worked in the park’s arcade as a teenager.

Drycimski is a native of Fort Dodge who graduated from St. Edmond High School in 1973. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.

Always interested in the sciences, he considered going into medicine before deciding that dentistry was a better fit for him. He was accepted into Creighton’s dental school and earned his dental degree there.

He and his wife, Pam, a Woodbine native who earned a pharmacy degree at Creighton University, returned to Fort Dodge to start their careers.

He earned a Mastership from the Academy of General Dentistry in 2017. He has also been recognized for providing dental care on a volunteer basis to vulnerable people through Iowa Donated Dental Service.

“I love the profession,” he said.“I just really enjoy restoring someone’s smile.”

And while restoring the smile of someone who has a lot of dental needs is rewarding, Drzycimski has focused on “really trying to fire people up to take care of their teeth.”

And that’s why he has constantly told people to tickle their gums.

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