After 26 years of owning a successful dental practice in Manteca, married dental duo Mary Richmond and Rafael Cardenas retired and settled into a peaceful, relaxing retirement that didn’t include hectic day schedules, 80-hour weeks, and meals that consisted of hastily gulped breakfasts and dinners shoved down their throats so they could rush to the next item on their very long, very important to-do lists.
In theory, it sounded like bliss. And for a short time, it was very nice. Except…
“Within six months of retirement we were itching to get back to it,” Richmond admitted, laughing.
Workaholics excluded, most people would scratch their head at Richmond’s admission. But before you think they’re most definitely bonkers, Richmond clarified what they missed — the interaction with their patients, not the crazy schedule.
“Our practice in Manteca became a really high volume practice. We would’ve had to expand and that just wasn’t our style. Our practice got so large we no longer had time to spend with the patients. We were seeing 40-50 patients a day. It was nonstop. Our roles became more administrative than being able to enjoy the patients,” Richmond said. “Part of what you do when you have a large practice is overseeing what your staff is doing.”
And the two were no longer interested in simply overseeing their practice.
They wanted to rediscover the joys of being a dentist, something they both discovered at young ages.
The husband and wife team met in dental school, married, opened their first practice and had babies, one after the other, within a five-year time frame. A busy family of six, with a thriving practice left little room for breathing, much less chatting with patients, and that’s what Richmond and Cardenas missed the most — the personal touch.
“A big part of helping people is having that one-on-on interaction with them,” Richmond said. “We attract a patient that wants a real personal relationship with their dentist.”
So when they realized they wanted to reopen their practice they set about doing it the way they wanted to see it done. First, they needed to be 20 miles from their previous practice so as not to step on the toes of the dentist who purchased their practice. Next, they needed to find a place that resonated with their personal style.
“We had friends and business associates in Oakdale and one day we were driving by and my husband saw the building and fell in love with it,” Richmond said of the West F Street building. “But at the time a sale was already pending and the Realtor kept saying no. That went on for several months. And then, that sale fell through and we purchased it instead.”
And the two were serious about doing things their way; they didn’t even hire a receptionist. They answer the phones, make the appointments, and do the work — all on their terms. They schedule at a leisurely pace so that each patient has quality time with either Richmond or Cardenas and they’re open from Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“This is so much more peaceful,” Richmond said. “We love Oakdale. The people are very nice and it reminds me of Manteca 25 years ago before it got so big.”
This is a far cry from the frenetic pace of their previous practice and it’s just right. Now, they can also focus on the issues that are, in their opinion, getting pushed aside.
“There’s a huge emphasis on cosmetics in dentistry today. We’ve gotten away from the whole health aspect of it, which is why we named the practice Whole Health Dental. The health of the gums and tissue is most important and they’re discovering a correlation between gum disease and other health concerns. It’s about more than having a nice white smile,” Richmond said.
Whole Health Dental is a bilingual office located at 1640 W. F St. in Oakdale.
For more information, call 847-4400.