5 Questions With … Dr. Enrique R. Mendez

Enrique R. Mendez, D.D.S., CDA
Dental Assistant Program Director
Concorde Career Colleges-Miramar

1. What drew you to dental education (or dentistry)?

My first visit to the dentist who led me to dentistry. I was amazed with all the tools and gadgets and his (Dr. Ortega’s) ability to make you feel better. Then dentistry led me to dental education. I graduated from dental school in 1986 and after graduation and years in the field, I felt the need to give back.

Dentistry opened many avenues for me, and I wanted to leave a mark in the field. I was blessed in 2009 to educate and lead a program for seven years until its termination in 2016 at Sanford-Brown College in Ft. Lauderdale, and it became my life’s work to educate others. The feeling to educate and change lives was incredible. It gave me great satisfaction to fill the South Florida dental offices with well-educated dental assistants (DAs). To this day, I feel like they are my kids and colleagues in dentistry, and they wear my name on their forehead! I still keep in touch with most of my grads. I tell them their contact info will never leave my phone and I will always be there for them.

I still have grads reach out to me to assist them in finding work and I’m presently mentoring two DA grads who have moved on to dental school. That’s the greatest gratification for my work.

2. Tell us about one of your “big wins” recently?

I opened a social media account for the DA program here at Miramar in July 2020 once I became the program director. I did it only to get exposure and have the students see themselves in action with their daily duties on campus. I then copied it to my LinkedIn account, where I have over 3,000 contacts, mostly in dentistry. The networking has opened doors for my DAs and the campus.

The most recent win was with a DA extern. Once she finished her externship, she was supposed to be hired at the extern office, but she had plans to move to Colorado. So, I posted it on all my social media accounts, hoping to get her exposed in the Colorado area. Within a day or two, I was contacted by two different companies: dental service organization group practices that wanted her resume as they were looking to hire! She was hired and acquired the position within the first week of moving. She was incredibly grateful, and I was able to help her even from a distance. I felt completed!

3. What’s a major development in your field that’s flying under the radar?

Computer-aided design and manufacturing in office restorations are the most significant digital advancement of new dental technology. This enables the dentist to create custom orthodontic devices, crowns, bridges, inlays, onlays, veneers, 3D modeling and 3D scanning. The tooth form may be reproduced precisely, and the restorations looks quite natural, and patient satisfaction is very high as the patient does not need to return to complete the restoration delivery. It’s all done the same day.

We all can’t afford the technology though, which is the reason why it’s not in every private office; only large DSOs (group practices) own this and can afford the cost.

4. What’s the ultimate comfort meal for you?

Any peanut butter cheesecake. I love peanut butter and a great coffee!

5. What’s your philosophy in 10 words or less?

“Never leave for tomorrow what can be done today.” My father taught me that. I live by that daily!