Young Professional 2019: Dr. Antonio Lopez-Ibarra

Dr. Antonio Lopez-Ibarra, President and founder of Tri-City Dental Care in Kennewick

Dr. Antonio Lopez-Ibarra (Photo courtesy Rich Breshears of Breshears Photography)

Age and hometown: 34, Yakima

How long have you worked at Tri-City Dental Care? 2 years

Describe your company:  Our mission includes two parts: ultimate dental comfort and edifying our community.

We are a dental spa that prides itself in offering the most comfortable dental experience in the Tri-Cities. We understand that the dental chair isn’t most people’s favorite place, so we provide amenities that help relax our patients. Those amenities include aromatherapy, paraffin hand wax, massage chairs, plush knee pillows, noise cancelling headphones, Pandora Radio, your favorite Netflix show and blankets. You just relax, and we take care of the rest. 

The second part of our mission is to edify the community in which we live. Our service to the community is both dental and non-dental. We provide pro bono care to patients in need, educational dental workshops to the underserved and financial support to nonprofits that share our vision in edifying our community.

Education: Doctor of dental surgery from University of Washington, Seattle

Family? Pets? My wife, inspiration, office manager, etc., etc, is Sandra Lopez.  I have three crazy kiddos: Antonio Jr., Alexia and Aria. 

How long have you lived in the Tri-Cities? 5 years

What word describes you? Ideasman

Biggest flaw? I have to fight my brain from being so business-minded all the time.

Biggest pet peeve? When people judge others based on their circumstances and not their potential.

Dream vacation? Eat paella on the coast of Valencia, Spain, then walk around on the rolling hills of Chianti.

Favorite book? “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight

Favorite movie? “Gladiator”

Favorite musician? Alesso

Favorite sports team? Seattle Mariners

Favorite website or app? Instagram

Favorite Tri-City restaurant? Aki Sushi

Favorite thing to do in Tri-Cities? As a family we like to go to the Tri-City Court Club and swim in their pool, especially in summer!

What thing would people be most surprised to learn about you? I prefer connecting with people in a one-on-one conversation to being in a large group social environment.

Describe your job and how you got into it: When thinking about my career while growing up, I knew I wanted two things: have my own business and contribute to the improvement of people’s health. My brother became a dentist before I did, and I thought his job was boring—cleaning out cavities and pulling teeth…I would rather be doing anything else!

Then I received some advice from a dentist friend who told me, “you don’t realize how fun and challenging the career is, until you are the one in the doctor chair doing the work.” I took a risk and went for it. From the first day I started seeing patients in the dental clinic of my dental school, I knew I was in the right place. Top two best decisions I’ve ever made in my life!

Who are your mentors? The decision to become a business owner is the sum of all the advice my mentors gave me along the way. The greatest mentor in my life has been my dad. He left a great career in the Mexican government and businesses in Mexico behind to give his kids an opportunity to go to school in the USA. He knew the resources in schools here are second to none and he wanted us to learn from the best.

His greatest piece of advice was, “We came to this country to be good citizens, and if I see any of my children not contributing to making the USA a better place, we’re moving back to Mexico.” That lesson is the reason I work for my family and community.

Toughest career decision? Leaving a job that was paying me well to set up Tri-City Dental Care. I knew I would be happier being my own boss. Establishing a dental practice that is totally patient-centered also meant me taking a 50 percent to 75 percent pay cut. It was a sacrifice that has paid off, but took a lot of faith. I haven’t looked back since and hopefully I can stay my own boss for the rest of my life.

What do you like most/least about your job? I love cosmetic dentistry…working with my team to help people get that smile they’ve always wanted. There’s no better feeling in dentistry than when you see a person look in the mirror, see their new smile and show you their gratitude. Makes it all worth it!

My least favorite part of my job is dealing with insurances to pay for patients’ treatment. They will go to great lengths to avoid paying for their clients’ dental treatments. Luckily, I have a stellar team that convinces them to do the right thing.

What was your first job? I worked at Yakima Theatre as a cashier during week nights and on the weekends I would clean that same theater. My favorite of the two was cleaning the theater. Being alone in a theater with no one there to interrupt your train of thought allowed me to meditate about pretty much everything. It also taught me the importance of taking pride in your work. I loved when my brother, my boss, would have to say, “Good job.”

How do you achieve work-life balance? I know what I’m doing every 10 minutes of my day. My schedule on my iPhone is the way I run my entire life. My to-do list consists of seven to 10 things (including family time), which then turn into scheduled events. Once those events are completed, I have free time. When I’m on vacation, you won’t catch me answering my phone for business. It’s literally all family time; it’s where I recharge with family and Sandra.

Community involvement and service: We look for every opportunity to serve the disadvantaged demographic in the Tri-City area. Our biggest role in the community as an organization is to educate about the importance of oral health. We partner with local businesses that employ underserved communities to set up workshops and teach their employees the risk factors of not coming to the dentist regularly.

We also work with leaders in the community to bring in troubled youth and provide them with dental services and back to school supplies. The Tri-Cities is a great place to organize community outreach because we truly care about the place we live in

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