Expansion doubles size of West Family Dentistry
By Rachel Madison
When Michelle West was in college, she didn’t think she’d become a dentist—and she definitely didn’t think she’d end up in Liberty Hill with her own practice and a need for expansion just 12 years later.
West grew up in Texas and attended Texas A&M University for college, where she thought she wanted to go to medical school.
“A friend of mine invited me to a pre-dental society meeting and I went and sat in the lecture and thought, ‘That sounds great,’” she said. “I started shadowing female dentists, and I saw that she was able to be a mom and have work-life balance as a dentist. That’s what got me interested in going to dental school.”
West enrolled at The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston. After graduation, she worked at a practice in Baytown for three and half years before she and her husband decided to move to the Austin area, where West planned on opening her own practice.
“Finding this practice was kind of divine intervention,” she said. “Another dentist was helping me find a location and he had picked [our current location] and it turns out that we had also found a rental house just three miles away from the practice. When I saw the rental house that morning and then he brought me here, I was like, ‘Okay, this is all meant to be.’ What are the odds that the rental house we would be in was just three miles from this spot?”
That was 2006. West built out the practice and opened West Family Dentistry in March 2007 when she was pregnant with the first of three children.
“When we first opened, we were busy off the bat because there was only one other dentist in town and this area was really growing,” West said. “Then the recession hit, and the economy took a down turn. The growth that Liberty Hill was projected to get just stopped, but now, in the last few years, we’ve really seen a lot of growth. There’s neighborhoods popping up everywhere and people moving in all the time.”
When business started picking up again in early 2012, West found a partner in Dr. Angela Davidson, who had been a classmate in dental school. Davidson also didn’t plan on becoming a dentist, but an honest mistake made her change her mind.
“I thought I wanted to be a nurse,” she said. “I walked into a meeting at school one day and it was actually a dental meeting and I didn’t know it. I was stuck in the middle of all these other people and I felt bad getting up during the lecture, so I just sat through the whole lecture. Two days later I went and changed my major.”
After graduating dental school, Davidson practiced at a location in Austin for a few years.
“I bumped into Michelle at H-E-B,” she said. “I was encouraged to come out here and I thought, ‘Liberty Hill is really, really far away.’ I was only living in Leander, but at the time Liberty Hill seemed so far away. But my husband moved out here, and I have my three babies here, and I’m really happy practicing here.”
Fast forward to 2019, and business at West Family Dentistry has continued to grow.
“We were having trouble accommodating patients,” West said. “I found out the title company [next door to us] was moving and I jumped on the opportunity to expand the office over to that space. It’s probably a little more space than I really need right now, but I’m hoping that as the area continues to grow and more people move here that we’ll continue to grow into this space.”
The expansion and renovation project began in June, and in August, the two suites were connected. Before, West Family Dentistry had four dental operatories, but has now doubled that to eight. In addition, expanding the space from 1,600 square feet to 3,000 square feet has allowed the practice to expand its waiting area size, as well as its lab and sterilization areas. The project is nearly complete, besides a few finishing touches, West said. She hopes to have a re-grand opening before the end of the year to celebrate the expansion.
Besides West and Davidson, the all-female staff includes five dental hygienists, three dental assistants and two office staff members. West said there are no plans to add another dentist to the practice. West Family Dentistry offers everything from routine teeth cleanings and fillings to Invisalign and full mouth reconstruction.
Looking into the future, West said she plans on continuing her education so she can stay on top of the latest techniques and technology within the dental industry—this year alone she will earn 100 continuing education credits—and empowering her employees to grow in their careers.
“It’s also nice to give people their smile back,” she said. “It’s very rewarding.”
West Family Dentistry, located at 101 Jonathan Drive in Liberty Hill, is open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The practice is accepting new patients. For more information, visit westfamilydentistry.com.