Alan, left, and David Redding once used their identical looks to play jokes on their doctors. Now the twins are the ones with the white coats.

There are differences between them.

David parts his hair on one side. Alan parts his on the other side.

And one recent afternoon, Alan dressed for the office in a solid blue tie and blue shirt. David, on the other hand, wore — now get this — a solid blue tie and a blue shirt with a subtle white stripe. So there are plenty of ways to tell the identical Redding twins apart.

But they’re used to some confusion. After all, they do look, dress and talk alike. They even finish each other’s sentences at times.

And they’re fine with that, with being twin doctors. “In terms of the twin thing,” David said, “it might help people remember us better.”

When they were younger, they did pull their share of “twin stuff.” Like when they were teenagers and Alan had braces and David didn’t. One day David, the brother without braces, plopped down in the dentist’s chair, leaving the poor dentist to wonder just where all that mouth-metal went.

“After looking in my mouth, his face turned beet red … and he said, ‘What happened to your braces?’” David recalled. “I said, ‘I yanked ‘em out. I used needle-nosed pliers.’ He said, ‘Well, if you don’t care about your teeth, why should I?’”

Or the time that Alan had his appendix out and David didn’t, so David calmly presented himself to the doctor, who was dumbfounded to find no signs of a surgery scar. Then, David said, the doctor froze and stared at the opposite wall, lost in thought. “He said, ‘Oh, it’s the twin.’”

With stories like that, you might think the Redding boys have something against doctors. To paraphrase the old joke, now they are one – er, two.

The Redding twins are allergists. They opened a practice together in Buckhead about a year ago. They think they are one of only two sets of twin allergists practicing together in the country. The other pair, they said, lives in Rhode Island. The Reddings occasionally run into the other allergy twins at conferences.

For Alan and David, now 35, opening a practice in Buckhead offers a kind of homecoming. They grew up in Sandy Springs. Their dad was a salesman, and they figure that what made them want to become doctors was growing up in the shadow of the hospital complex known as “Pill Hill” surrounding Johnson Ferry/Peachtree Dunwoody roads.

They went to school together for 13 years, then split up for college. Alan went to the University of Georgia. David headed to the University of North Carolina. They got back together in medical school, split up for specialized training, and then ended up working at the same hospital in Charleston, S.C., for a couple of years.

They decided to open their private practice together, David said, “because we worked well together and it is useful and fun to be able to discuss interesting …”

“… interesting cases,” Alan offered.

“… interesting patients,” David corrected. “I don’t like the word ‘cases.’ Interesting patients and their cases.”

Atlanta seemed a perfect town for an allergy practice, they said. Lots of trees. Lots of pollen. Lots of sneezing.

And now that they’re in business together, they don’t pull any twin stuff on their patients, they said. “We do not switch patients,” David said.

Apparently, they save that for doctors.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.