Dr. Keith E. Russell, right, pictured here with his late father, Dr. Edmund G. “Ted” Russell Jr., has been with the dentistry practice his dad started in Portland in 1964 for 32 years. Contributed / Tracey Russell

Russell Family Dentistry is a family practice in every sense of the word. Now in its fourth generation of Russells, the practice has been serving families around the greater Portland area for 60 years.

Dr. Edmund “Ted” Russell Jr. began practicing dentistry at the Woodford Street location in Portland in 1964. His father sold his own dental practice in Belmont, Massachusetts, in 1968 to work with him in Portland. Ted Russell’s son Keith joined the practice in 1992. Keith’s daughter, Brianna Russell Thornton, came on board last summer and his son Devin will join the group in 2025 upon graduation from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine.

Dentist Brianna Russell Thornton, who joined Russell Family Dentistry in July, stands with her dentist grandfather, Dr. Edmund “Ted” Russell Jr., and her brother, future-dentist Devin Russell, at her graduation from Bates College. Contributed / Tracey Russell

The dental practice has been a touchstone for the close-knit family, allowing them to work with and learn from each other over the years.

Keith Russell said the years he spent at the practice working with his father, who died in 2022, were a joy.

“Dad and I had a great relationship, and he was my best friend,” he said.

He wasn’t always sure he’d follow in his father’s footsteps, but knew he was interested in medicine, and gravitated toward dentistry in college.


In raising his own kids, he said, he wanted them to have the opportunity to explore any field they were interested in.

“We didn’t force them either way,” he said. “We just wanted them to enjoy what they do.”

Daughter Taylor Russell, Brianna’s twin, opted out of dentistry as a career, studied business and lives in Boston doing environmental work.

“The kids have that same desire to help out their community, and we’re proud,” said their mother, Tracey Russell, who is the business manager for the dental practice.

Their son Devin, attending Tufts like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, has had a similar trajectory as his dad.

I didn’t always want to be a dentist and my parents and grandfather didn’t push me to it, but I decided I wanted to do something in medicine,” he said.


Edmund G. Russell Sr. at Tufts Dental School in 1933. Contributed / Tracey Russell

He did some job shadowing at hospitals for a while, but when he shadowed his dad and an oral surgeon, he found his calling, he said. What he enjoys about dentistry is that it’s “very hands-on and artistic. You’re sculpting, and problem solving, and recreating the anatomy of teeth.”

He said he’s learned a lot from observing his father at work and how he interacts with patients and makes them feel at ease.

His sister, part of the practice since July, said it is “amazing” to work with their father.

“He has so much experience and knowledge and it’s cool to learn from him,” Thornton said. 

Unlike her father and brother, she decided on her career path early on. “I’ve known pretty much since middle school that I wanted to be a dentist,” she said. “I saw firsthand that you can make such a difference in people’s everyday life.”

Coming from a long line of dentists, she said, she’s already connected to the community she works with.


“A lot of my patients know more about me than I do them, and they feel like they’re in good hands. We’re a big happy family, and always happy to make people feel comfortable and help them have great new experiences at the dentist,” she said.

“It’s been fun to go through the process with her,” said Keith Russell of watching his daughter start her career in dentistry.

“When patients come in and say that they saw his father before him and now see Brianna, that’s pretty special,” said Tracey Russell. “Dentistry is a very vulnerable thing, and it requires trust.”

“We’ve had patients who have been coming for years,” Keith Russell said. “It’s been very gratifying.”

Richard and Sandra Tuttle of Raymond are among the dental practice’s longtime patients.

Richard Tuttle has known the Russell family since early childhood, and was Ted Russell’s best friend. Tuttle, whose father was also a dentist, joined the Air Force and worked in business, but he watched his father’s work, as well as Russell’s and all the Russell dentists after him.


“I think it takes a special person; someone good with their hands mechanically,” he said. “Dentists have a special calling and ability to do that kind of work.

“They just have a sweetness about their personality,” he said of the Russell family. “They handle people well and practice excellent dentistry. They’re proud of the work that they do and they’re very professional.”

“We’ve known all four generations,” Sandra Tuttle said. “I’m 85 and I’ve got all of my teeth, and I don’t know what better testimony you could have.”

Keith and Tracey Russell live in Falmouth, and their children attended the town’s schools. But the kids spent a lot of their time at the Portland office on Woodford Street.

“We had this building built in the 1950s, and it’s been a terrific neighborhood and a great place for the kids to grow up,” he said.

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