A Toothsome Twosome, Making a Difference – Dr. Claudia Rodriguez & Dr. J. Patrick Pirtle (Brownsville, TX)

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Long before she even knew her husband existed, it seems that Dr. Claudia Rodriguez and Dr. J. Patrick Pirtle were destined to meet and marry. From the time she was a teenager, Dr. Rodriguez wanted to help children have a good experience when they visited the dentist. That idea was reinforced when she began working at a dentist’s office in Brownsville and saw the benefits in relieving children’s pain.

Meanwhile, in Amarillo Dr. Pirtle was mirroring his future wife’s pattern by shadowing a dentist during high school. It was then he discovered his passion to serve all people with the highest quality care, especially those who are often overlooked.

It is no surprise then that when they met at dental school at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio that they realized they were kindred spirits. Under the mentorship of excellent professors they each found their niche and saw a chance to fulfill a need together in the Brownsville community. They have been married for seven years now and have found fulfillment in serving the Brownsville community with their all-encompassing practice, Lower Valley Dental Associates.

Dr. Rodriguez specializes in Pediatric dentistry while Dr. Pirtle is focused on prosthodontics, the dental specialty that helps maintain oral function, comfort, appearance of the teeth and jaw. Dr. Pirtle also focuses on the health of patients with clinical conditions associated with missing or deficient teeth.

The idea of creating one practice instead of two was simple. Both dentists are trained in a broad spectrum of dentistry dealing with issues that range from babies with bottle decay to adults who are more concerned with the appearance of their teeth as they age. They both strategically seek to continue their education and train in a variety of techniques and procedures.

Dr. Rodriguez is one of two Board-certified pediatric dentists in Brownsville, and the only one practicing sedation dentistry. The office is also the only one in the area that practices hospital dentistry. This means that if someone is medically compromised and under normal circumstances could not make it into the office, Dr. Rodriguez and Dr. Pirtle are the ones to call. They will work on the patient in a local hospital once they have been put under with general anesthesia.

It’s no surprise then that their commitment to excellence shines through in their office practices as well. Lower Valley Dental Associates uses the latest technology including digital radiography to reduce radiation by 70%, electronic medical records (EMR), and E4D, a valuable technology that allows for same-day restorations such as veneers and crowns.

High quality service is important, but this pair realizes that it’s all about making their patients feel comfortable and letting them know that they are in good hands. Dr. Pirtle explains how their practice seeks “to take care of all of our patients as if they were our family.” Dr. Rodriguez values discussing procedures and offering explanations to her young patients, not solely speaking with moms, dads or other guardians. Dr. Pirtle also maintains the importance of calming nerves and putting people at ease about procedures.

The emphasis on a calming atmosphere carries over to their office staff. The entire staff of Lower Valley Dental Associates, including the dental students they enjoy mentoring, views themselves as a family working to achieve the goals of their patients. They strive to serve the community to the best of their abilities, and they realize a little fun never hurt. It’s common to hear laughter and friendly conversation throughout the building or even to catch Dr. Pirtle and Dr. Rodriguez dressed up in costume for Halloween.  “We like to keep it light-hearted and fun in the office,” says Dr. Pirtle.

Although this couple may argue that they are just doing their jobs like everyone else, they are no ordinary dentists. They are passionate about their practice and have committed to working with the underserved people who all too often fall through the cracks of the health care system. Dr. Pirtle and Dr. Rodriguez saw a need in the community of Brownsville and stepped in. They are a well-known and respected couple in the community and are often seen out and about with their four children, three daughters and a son

With a deep appreciation for passing on the knowledge and the education they received, they are current adjunct professors at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, with Dr. Rodriguez also serving on the board of Maggie & Monica’s House, a Brownsville child advocacy group addressing family violence.

Their practice, Lower Valley Dental Associates, is a benefit to the valley and will continue to “serve the community from the womb to the tomb.”

For more information on Lower Valley Dental Associates, check out their website lowervalleydental.com