By Bonnie Mason
When resident Bahman Falsafy had a problem with his tooth, he knew he could count on his dentist, Luz Hernandez, DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) to take care of him. Bahman says, “Dr. Hernandez is an exceptional dentist. She is very thorough and takes her time. And, if I have an issue, her staff makes sure I get an appointment that is convenient for me.” Headds that all of the staff at Dr. Hernandez’s Dental Arts Center, located in the Tampa Palms Professional Center off Commerce Park Blvd., are very friendly and accommodating.
Dr. Hernandez has been helping New Tampa residents smile for nearly four years, since the summer of 2009, when she opened her general and cosmetic dentistry practice.
She grew up in Pereira, Colombia, where her parents and other family members insisted she would be a doctor —something she says did not really interest her much. She moved to the U.S. when she was a teenager. It took some exploration, including a year of teaching high school science, before she found her passion — dentistry.
Dr. Hernandez attended the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook, where she did volunteer work at the SUNY dental school, helping with periodontal disease research. She obtained both a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor in Arts degrees in Biochemistry and Spanish language and literature prior to completing her DDS degree at the SUNY School of Dental Medicine.
After practicing dentistry for a few years in New York, Dr. Hernandez moved to Tampa in 2006, to be closer to her parents. She lives in Tampa Palms with her eight-year-old son Adam and six-year-old daughter Nina.
Tara Moore, the practice manager at the Dental Arts Center, is the first to greet patients as they enter the elegantly decorated and spa-like lobby. Tara says, “We like to make sure our patients are comfortable for their appointments. A visit to the dentist can be stressful, so we try to ease that stress with a calming environment.”
In addition to the pleasant interior and soothing atmosphere, the Dental Arts Center is a state-of-the-art facility, featuring electronic scheduling and dental records, massaging chairs and low-radiation, digital X-rays. The Center offers cosmetic dentistry procedures and services, such as veneers and teeth whitening, as well as restorations, such as crowns and bridgework. Whether a patient is there for a general cleaning, to have a cavity filled, or bridgework, they can expect a clear understanding of Dr. Hernandez’s diagnosis and recommended treatment plan. Tara says it’s often easier to understand through pictures when hearing dental or medical terms.
“Our patients can expect to see a clear picture – literally,” Tara says. “Using the latest technology, we take internal and external pictures and X-rays of a patient’s mouth or problem area which enables the patient to see, chair-side, what Dr. Hernandez is explaining. We have great technology and we use it.”
She adds, “And, although we are an environmentally conscious, ‘green’ office, we do send our patients home with copies of their pictures in addition to their treatment plan, if they so desire.”
Dental assistant Aliza Ayrez, when not caring for patients and assisting Dr. Hernandez, meticulously cleans and sterilizes the dental equipment in the office using an advanced sterilization unit.
More Than ‘Just’ A Dentist
“Many people don’t realize how closely related oral dental health is to total well being,” says Dr. Hernandez. “Although, I will say that over the last year, I have seen a change in this perception.” She adds that even though dentistry is focused on the patient’s mouth, it actually is still a medical specialty.
“As a dentist, I feel I am a physician of the masticatory system,” she says. “Teeth are but one part of the masticatory system. If the teeth are not in equilibrium with all of the other parts of the total system, something is likely to break down. My first year and a half in dental school were spent both at the dental and the medical school. For those first 18 months, the dental school students attended all of the same classes and took the same exams along with the medical school students.”
Dr. Hernandez advises everyone, including her patients, to never let a dentist tell you that it is okay for a sealant, filling, crown, bridge, etc., to feel high or uncomfortable, or that you will get used to it. She explains, “This is not true…you will not get used to it. Your masticatory system, your TMJ (temporomandibular joint), will accommodate to compensate for the lack of equilibrium and something else will break. Hence, my goal is to deliver and help my patients maintain optimal oral health, anatomic and functional harmony, and natural aesthetics.”
Another service that differentiates Dr. Hernandez from other dentists are the routine head and neck/oral cancer screenings that she performs at least annually on every one of her patients.
“Most of my patients think it is a head and neck massage the first time I do it!,” says Dr. Hernandez.
She notes that most of her patients have not had a screening prior to becoming her patient. Having a passion for her profession and for teaching, it comes naturally to her that every patient is entitled to a complete examination. Dr. Hernandez says she hopes to inspire her patients to create and/or maintain positive, life-long habits regarding their own oral health.
She says, “Being able help someone smile with confidence gives me a satisfaction that is hard to explain in words.”
The Dental Arts Center is located in the Tampa Palms Professional Center at 17427 Bridge Hill Court, Suite A. To schedule an appointment with Luz Hernandez, DDS, call 903-8888 or visit her website at LuzHdds.com.