By Christina Autry
The blue-painted brick dental practice of Dr. Ivis Hernandez looks like it was taken from a movie set. Its front door wears a white tooth cut-out above its mail slot, and the awning overhead displays a white tooth outline, and the word DENTIST. The office shares a wall with a realtor’s building, which stands a couple feet taller than its 700 square foot neighbor.
This dental practice fully embodies the role it was given: the cozy headquarters of a Spring Branch neighborhood dentist. Dr. Hernandez made the building her own five years ago when Dr. Robinson, who spent a 27-year career in the building, retired. Dr. Robinson was the second doctor to operate here after the building was constructed in 1964.
“When I inherited the building, everything was original from 1964. It really looked like you walked into another decade,” says Hernandez. “Coming in, there were no computers. They were using typewriters, and even an X-Ray unit from 1958. I updated everything; the technology, the floors, the paint, cabinets,” she says.
Limited space didn’t allow for these classic relics to be put on display, but Hernandez notes, “Our building still has that nostalgic feeling, what medicine and dentistry used to be like. Its down to earth, very cozy, like a little bungalow.”
Hernandez is a graduate of the University of Texas dental branch in Houston, earning a doctorate degree in Dental Surgery. She worked as a dental associate for 14 years before buying her first practice 14 years ago. When rent went sky-high at her previous location, she began searching in Spring Branch for a new home base. Hernandez and her family are longtime residents of Spring Branch themselves.
“My husband noticed this dental practice on Westview. I decided to go ask if I could share space with the dentist who was there,” she says. “I walked in, introduced myself, and asked if he was interested in sharing space with me. He looked at me, looked at his watch, and said ‘can you do lunch’?” It turned out that with Robinson’s plans to retire, Hernandez had walked in at the right moment. “It was a win-win for us,” says Hernandez.
Once the time came for the practice to change hands, the dentists co-wrote a letter informing Dr. Robinson’s patients of the change, and introducing Dr. Hernandez. They invited his patients to a wine-and-cheese meet and greet, which many patients took them up on. “I inherited very sweet patients,” says Hernandez.
“I felt like I was becoming the neighborhood dentist by moving in here,” she says. “This location has worked out well for me, and I’ve really enjoyed this neighborhood. Spring Branch is centrally located, not too far from downtown, the beltway, and Memorial City. It feels like a small community.”
Dr. Hernandez performs general practice dentistry, cosmetics, porcelain (no metal) crowns and orthodontics on both children and adults. “Dentistry isn’t just medical. I’m doing surgery all day, every day,” says Hernandez. “Precision and detail are essential. Dentists are very passionate about what they do. You have to be, because it’s a hard job. You have to love it.”
On her days off, Hernandez manages the behind-the-scenes work of running a small business, from book-keeping to human resources. “I love running my business because I enjoy helping and educating people. I like both the medical part and the artistic part of it,” says Hernandez.
After five years of work in Spring Branch, Hernandez fully intends on remaining rooted in the community. “I’ve developed friendships with my patients, new and old. I have patients who I’ve watched grow up and have their own children. They have become a second family.”
“We strive to take care of our patients first and foremost. We treat them like family. My staff really cares. We’re passionate about their oral health. Our mission is to deliver quality dentistry and care.” With care for patients and top-notch dentistry the highest priority of her practice, new patients continue to discover this “little gem in the big city.”
Dental Design Studios
8391 Westview Dr. Houston, TX 77055