Dr. Cone Rice, whose dental practice in Eastland burned to the ground on April 15, 2014, is now opening a new dental office, Complete Dental Care, in Cisco. The grand opening will be on Wednesday, Feb. 7, at noon.
The office is located in the former First Financial Bank building at 2107 Conrad Hilton Blvd. in Cisco. The place where bank tellers used to work is now the front desk reception area. The old bank manager’s office is now a comfortable waiting room.
The building has been remodeled, with two rooms added, and all new dental equipment and dental chairs in several rooms. “We went all out,” Dr. Rice said. “We’ve got probably as techy an office as there is.”
One of the top features is a new cone beam X-ray machine, which produces three-dimensional images of teeth, soft tissues, nerve pathways and bone. “That way I can look at more than just your teeth,” Dr. Rice said. “I can look at your structure, at your airway. I can help people with snoring problems.”
He explained that he can help people gain an airway by making a mouthpiece that manipulates the jaw, and there are also some soft-palate treatments that can open a person’s airway. “It’s a good way to help folks. If you get a good night’s sleep, you’re a lot more fun the next day.”
“We also got a 3-D printer, where we can make crowns in the office and print them out,” he said. “That just got FDA-approved about 6 months ago.”
No longer will dental patients have to drive long distances to see dental specialists, as Dr. Rice will be bringing the specialists to his office on a regular schedule. “We’re going to have an oral surgeon come one day a month. And an orthodontist coming a day a month. And a pediatric dentist coming up a day a month. We might go to two days or three days a month if we need to. That’s why the name is Complete Dental, so you don’t have to go to Fort Worth or Abilene.”
IV sedation will be available, and Dr. Rice’s office will be able to take care of braces, wisdom teeth, implants, laser gum surgery, and regular dentistry and hygiene.
The office has seven employees, including Dr. Rice’s wife, Lori Rice, who is assisting in managing the place. Wendy Sigler will be the hygienist. “We also have two lab guys that come” to help provide dentures, he said. “Between the two lab guys and me we’ve got 97 years’ experience in dentures. Right now, I’ve got as good a staff as I’ve ever had. It’s ‘funner’ when you’ve got good help.”
His new location in Cisco is due to an effort by the Cisco Development Corporation. The CDC Executive Director, Justin Jaworski, heard that Dr. Rice was looking for a location and called him up. Dr. Rice had been just about to sign a contract for another location, but Jaworski said, “Don’t sign yet until you let me show you something.”
He took Dr. Rice to the former bank location, and the building and the economics were just right. When Dr. Rice’s office in Eastland burned down 10 years ago, he was devastated. “I was very under-insured. I had just finished remodeling, expanding into the office next door and doubling the size. I did it with money out of my own bank account; I didn’t borrow money to do it. And then it burned up. So it was a double-hit.”
He spent the next 10 years as a “locum tenens” provider in temporary dental jobs all over Texas to fill in for other dentists who were on medical or maternity leave. Dr. Rice had grown up in Tyler and received a degree in analytical chemistry and zoology from Texas Tech. “I tell everybody I wanted to go to A&M, but every time my thumb went up, my finger stuck out,” he joked, making the “Guns up” gesture. He received his dental degree at Baylor College of Dentistry, now Texas A&M School of Dentistry.
Then he moved to Eastland in 1988 and “opened an old-fashioned, smalltown practice. I picked this place back when I was in college. I used to drive through here, and I just thought it was pretty country.” He practiced in Eastland for the next 28 years.
About two years ago he made the decision to go back into his own shop. “Everywhere I went, people would say, ‘Where are you? I need a tooth fixed.’ I couldn’t figure out how to do it. And about two years ago I started getting enough money together to build an office.”
The new office is already operating and taking appointments even though the opening has not been announced yet. “People see the cars in the parking lot and come in and ask ‘Are y’all open yet?’ And we say, ‘Yes, we can see you.’” “I’ve got a lot of families that are three and four generations that are patients. We put this office in so we can still take care of them. This is my family here, this county. This is just taking care of the folks.”
Dr. Rice likes being back in his own office again. “It’s fun. I’ve always liked dentistry and I’ve always liked cattle, so this is a great place. I live here because I want to.” He still lives in Eastland in the same house he has lived in for 28 years. He and his wife Lori share seven children and 9 grandchildren between them.
One of Dr. Rice’s prized possessions is a poster of a poem called “Cisco, Texas” by the late Cleatus Rattan, former Cisco College English professor. The poster survived the fire because it was being reframed at the time of the disaster to match the new remodeling. It now hangs in his new office in Cisco.
“We were grateful Dr. Rice came to Cisco and allowed us to assist in this project. His investment in the old bank building brought a new business to the community, creating jobs and additional tax base,” Jaworski said. “His dentistry will help keep money in Cisco by providing specialized services.”
By Linda Spetter