Dentist Puts Down His Own Roots

Dr. Alex Kalmanovitch, who fled from the former Soviet Union with his parents, took over dentist Barbara Hawthorne's practice.
Dr. Alex Kalmanovitch, who fled from the former Soviet Union with his parents, took over dentist Barbara Hawthorne’s practice.

By Donna Furey, Special to the Independent

A year ago as Dr. Alex Kalmanovich walked about downtown Laguna Beach, as he does with his wife Polina and their baby daughter most weekends, he received a phone call. A local dental practice was for sale. In the market for his first practice, he’d already kicked the tires at more than a score of other practices for sale elsewhere and knew such an opportunity in Laguna surfaced infrequently. He figured he should temporarily forsake his weekend pursuits for a rare chance.

Kalmanovich, who earned his dental degree from San Francisco’s University of the Pacific, liked what he saw and took his wife and daughter to meet the soon to be retiring Dr. Barbara Hawthorne, whose broker had placed the call. After their meeting, Kalmanovich, 30, said to his wife, “Let’s just do it … [ I feel like] it was meant to be.”

Unexpected turns of fate have shaped Kalmanovich’s life from his earliest years. At age 4, he emigrated with his parents from their native Uzbekistan as the Soviet Union trembled on the verge of collapse. The family shared a single mattress on the floor of a cramped apartment in Los Angeles, struggling to learn a new language and to put down roots in a new home, he recalled.

Still the family felt fortunate to be away from the turmoil and with the strength and resolve of his parents and grandparents, Kalmanovich finished high school in Encino and received his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from UC Irvine. He went on to dental school and has since added other specialties to his kit, including laser dentistry, endodontics, and implants. He is passionate about preventative care.

To introduce Laguna Family Dentistry, he and Hawthorne sent letters to all of her patients and hosted an open house to meet and greet old and prospective patients. “My goal for the first year was to keep Barb’s patients; for the most part we’ve done that,” said Kalmanovich, who is known as Dr. Alex by his patients. Two hygienists also work in the office on alternating days cleaning teeth.

In his first year, he’s has also volunteered his services at the Boys and Girls Club and Susi Q Senior Center and hopes to get involved at Friendship Shelter.

Recently Kalmanovich was awarded the Grosso Endowment for Promise as a Dental Educator from the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, which he attended.  He used the endowment to buy a gift for his wife and his parents for helping and supporting him through dental school.

Kalmanovich, who lives in Irvine, takes advantage of Laguna’s recreational resources, playing basketball, swimming or running on the beach. Of Laguna, he said, “it’s not like the rest of Los Angeles; it’s artsy and fun.”


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