Throughout the office at Beeville Dental Care, there are glimpses of Puerto Rican life.
“You can see the artwork is from Puerto Rico,” Quiñones said. “We are trying to bring a little bit of Puerto Rico with us.”
Paintings on the wall depict varying scenes of everyday life, including one of a shaved ice cart and another of rolling hills.
What people might overlook though is the significance of the artificial plantain tree in the corner.
“You don’t know how hard it has been to carry that thing around,” he said as he passes a smile over to his wife, Johanna, sitting beside him.
For her, this tree is a reminder of their first home and a piece of the country she keeps with her.
When she talks of Puerto Rico, there is a bit of longing in her voice.
That longing subsides as she talks about the Caribbean-style meals her husband crafts for her.
“He is a good chef,” she said with a bit of a twinkle in her eye.
Her favorite is nothing particularly difficult but a dish that typifies Puerto Rico and Latin America — arroz con pollo or, simply put, chicken and rice.
“There are other things besides dentistry,” he said, reluctantly talking about culinary skills.
Becoming a dentist
Quiñones becoming a dentist wasn’t always the plan.
Originally, he was studying biochemistry.
But while still in college, he decided to follow a friend to dental school.
“Once I got into dental school, I really enjoyed it,” he said.
That friend — well, it wasn’t his wife, but that’s how fate works sometimes.
He met Johanna about 20 years ago.
“I was in the same field,” she said. She had been working as a dental assistant for 11 years.
They married, and now she works beside him helping to run the office here, at 1703 N. St. Mary’s St.
Leaving Puerto Rico
Their reason for leaving Puerto Rico was twofold.
The economy was failing, and, with that, crime was rising.
While still in Puerto Rico, Quiñones and his wife were living in a town not much bigger than Beeville.
“We have been here three months, and it’s like home already,” he said.
For the past seven years, Quiñones had been working at Associated Dental in Tucson, Ariz.
He left that area for geographic reasons.
“Tucson was more beige with an occasional cactus,” he said. He longed for green grass and green trees — something a bit more like home.
Quiñones says that “Why Beeville?” is indeed the most common question he gets asked.
His answer is simply.
“It’s a nice little town,” he said smiling.
“I could have gotten a job in Corpus or San Antonio.”
But, he said, the size of Beeville was more welcoming.
“We want to be part of the community,” he said. “We are still trying to get more involved in the community.”
Quiñones has been practicing dentistry since 1986.
He had his private practice in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, for 20 years, then in Tucson and now in Beeville.
Since his graduation from University of Puerto Rico School of Dentistry in 1984, one of the top American Dental Association accredited schools, Quiñones continued his training with a hospital residency at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City and a second year as chief resident of the Dental Department.
Quiñones has established himself in the field of dentistry and implant dentistry.
He is a graduate of Creating Restorative Excellence (now Kois Center for Dental Education), MaxiCourse in Implant Dentistry at New York University College of Dentistry, Spear Education, oral sedation and others.
Quiñones is also a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology, and past associate clinical professor at the University of Puerto Rico School of Dentistry.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.