By Joe Louis Gomez
A dentist with compassion for his patients is one who must ease all fear and make them feel at home, according to Dr. Ricardo Vasquez of Vasquez Dental Health Center in Edinburg. Yet, an important question remains: How do you make sure patients feel secure enough to allow for proper treatment? Dentistry, after all, involves a certain amount of intrusion in order to be effective.
The answer comes naturally to those from the Valley and the Hispanic culture, according to Dr. Vasquez. Like everything else, the family unit lies at the core of business – from the doctor, to his team, and to the patient.
It’s an approach to the profession that combines compassion and true talent, two of the best aspects of the culture. “It’s all about making the team and patients realize that they are not only a vital part of the practice, they are indeed our family,” he said.
“Being so close to my own family makes a difference,” said Dr. Vasquez, who operates his practice with his wife, Adina, his hygienist and office manager. “The closeness of family is the most important thing to me, and it has transferred to the way that I practice. This is unique to our culture, and it’s something to be valued. I consider this to be the most beautiful quality of the Valley.”
Take what you want to take with you, leave behind what you don’t want, learn from the bad as well as the good, change what you want to change, but above all else, treasure family. It’s a statement Dr. Vasquez mentions frequently.
It translates to those small gestures of kindness Dr. Vasquez says make a difference to his patients. From the simplest procedure to the most complicated, Dr. Vasquez sets aside time at the end of the day to call and make sure patients are not in pain, and at the very least, offers assistance to ease any discomfort.
“Treating patients as part of our family is being sure that, from the first moment of contact, they are made to feel comfortable. They meet our team, they meet my wife, Adina, and by the time they meet me, they are at ease in our office. They are examined, and they are educated on the importance of oral health, which is scientifically linked to one’s overall health. An individually unique plan is then constructed for each patient in order to strive for long-term health based on our findings.”
Dr. Vasquez graduated as Valedictorian from Roma High School in 1997. Upon receiving a full scholarship to attend the University of Texas-Pan American, where he majored in Chemistry through his third year, he was granted early admission to the University of Texas – Health Science Center at San Antonio Dental School at the age of 21. By the age of 25, he received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree and practiced with Dr. Joel Hernandez in Edinburg prior to the opening of Vasquez Dental Health Center.
Of his time in San Antonio, he says, “I loved the school. I loved San Antonio. I would have stayed if not for the desire to return and give back to my community.”
The son of a high school principal and a teacher in Roma, Dr. Vasquez says education was strongly emphasized during his upbringing. His grandparents were immigrants from Mexico who raised their children as migrant farm workers. They taught their children the value of a hard day’s work and, more importantly, the value of education. What he gained was a work ethic culled from his family’s experiences and struggles.
“Thanks to my parents, my sisters and I never had to experience that,” Dr. Vasquez said. “I’ve told my parents on many occasions, ‘We had it too easy. You never made us work a day in our lives, and you’ve told us about these hardships you endured as children.’ With absolutely no hesitation, they respond, ‘We did this for you – our children – so that you wouldn’t have to. We worked hard so that you could be better than us.’”
Dr. Vasquez’s extended family now includes doctors, lawyers, speech therapists, pharmacists, educators, media personalities, members of law enforcement and military, all who were influenced by the foresight of their parents and grandparents who also stressed the importance of education to escape a life of hard labor.
“God willing, the future generations will go even farther than we have,” Dr. Vasquez said. “My four year old son is sitting in my office right now. He says, ‘I want to be a dentist like you, Daddy.’ Now, it is I telling him he is going to go farther than I did. I tell him that he is going to be better than me.”