Arkfeld: Reasons to smile: Dentists are homegrown

By Jim ArkfeldDecember 13, 2012 

Dentists frequently emphasize an improved smile when they promote good dental care for their patients. In the case of two dentists in Los Banos who are married to each other, you could say that they provide double the smiles for their patients.

Carolyn Alyanakian-Smith and Andrew Smith are both dentists. Even though they share a business, each of them has separate patients and separate practices. Professionally, she is Dr. Alyanakian-Smith and he is Dr. Smith.

Both spent their formative years in Los Banos and graduated from Los Banos High School. A solid education prepared them well for college. Each cited English teacher Gary Hedlind as being an inspiration in high school.

You might say that Andrew Smith was born into the dental profession. His choice of career was influenced by his mother, who is a licensed independent dental hygienist. In addition to her career, she is active in the community and served on the City Council.

Smith's family was involved in farming and he developed skills of hard work and a keen attachment to the valley's agricultural heritage. This has served him well in his professional pursuits.

After graduating from high school, Alyanakian-Smith earned her undergraduate degree at the University of California at Davis and completed dental school at UC San Francisco. Smith also did his undergraduate studies at UC Davis and attended the Arthur Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco.

Many young people who leave the Central Valley for college don't return because jobs aren't available. The Smiths returned because the growing town needed additional health professionals. They have had no regrets.

They began dental practice in 1994 and joined forces in 1996. Four years later, they ushered in the new century with their own professional building in Los Banos.

When asked about the pros and cons of a husband and wife working together, both responded positively. Not only do they work well together, but they complement each other's skills. In the case of complex procedures, each has the advantage of getting a second opinion from a dentist just down the hall.

Both Smiths enjoyed many of the benefits of growing up in a small town and are now giving back to their community. They have two children and are involved with volunteer coaching, 4-H activities, and the community's Police Activities League. Alyanakian-Smith served on the board of the Los Banos Arts Council for a number of years, volunteered for her child's Parent-Teacher Organization, and is an adviser for the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority at UC Merced.

In addition, they volunteer at the schools. They provide help through a dental-health education program and assist with the state-mandated dental screenings of elementary school students. They believe that encouraging dental smiles at an early age can have lifetime benefits for youngsters.

A strong work ethic, family values and a sense of community define this couple. Los Banos, as do other nurturing towns in the Central Valley, helped propel them to successful, productive, fulfilling careers. Now they are giving back to their community.

Arkfeld is a retired teacher in Los Banos.

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