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A Family Tradition of Dentistry

Written by Adam Zewe

Dentistry runs in the Benavent family. Herb Benavent, DDS '81, his wife Debbie, RDH '80, and their two children Vanessa, DDS '09, and Herbie, Class of 2012, have built a legacy at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.

Herb, a native of Puerto Rico, followed in his father's footsteps when he enrolled at the school. Dentistry appeals to him because he serves patients one-on-one. "I'm interested in helping the whole person. A lot of times, what a patient really needs is a listening ear," remarks Dr. Benavent. While living and working in a house/office combination, Herbert shared his values, and some pearls of dental wisdom, with his children.

Dentistry became a part of life for young Herbie and Vanessa. "My baby teeth never fell out. Between my grandfather and my dad, they all got plucked when they were loose enough," says Vanessa. She relied on her parents' personal and professional advice when she decided to enroll at the school of dentistry, more than 1,500 miles from the family's home. Family support was crucial; Vanessa remembers rushing to the phone to call her father after she extracted her first tooth.

During Vanessa's second year at dental school, the family moved to Ellicott City and Dr. Benavent founded a practice nearby. Vanessa, Herb and Debbie wasted no time joining the volunteer Dean's Faculty. "I wanted to be able to give back some of the benefits I was able to take with me," explains Debbie.

Herb and Debbie ensure that their children understand the importance of service. Herbie, who decided he wanted to be a dentist at age 5, watched his parents bond with patients and is looking forward to forming those connections in his own budding career. "It's like you're a part of your patients' families. I can't wait to watch my patients grow up and change over time," he says.

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