Brian Maples was 8 years old and his brother, Andrew, was 10 when they first visited Dr. Kevin Neal at Ponte Vedra Cosmetic Dentistry.
The brothers had recently relocated with their parents from Minnesota so their oncologist father could work at the Mayo Clinic, and Dr. Neal’s practice at 100 Professional Drive “was about halfway between the Mayo Clinic and home” in Sawgrass Players Club, Brian recalls.
“Dr. Neal became like a family friend,” he said, noting that when he and his brother both decided to become dentists while in college, Dr. Neal allowed them to come in and shadow him and his colleague, Dr. Michael Winter.
“That obviously made a big impression on us,” he said, “because here we are!”After practicing dentistry on their own and as a team at an office in the Baymeadows area, Doctors Brian and Andrew Maples both recently joined the practice where their interest in a career in dentistry first began. The brothers have joined Dr. Neal and Dr. Winter as partners at Ponte Vedra Cosmetic Dentistry, bringing new services and new expertise to the well-established dental practice.
“I always thought it would be great if when they graduated they would come and join the practice, having grown up in the community the way they did,” Dr. Neal said. “When you bring in new dentists as partners, it’s nice to know that they’re trustworthy and compassionate and will do a good job taking care of the patients. We’re happy to have them.”
In recognition of the office’s expansion, the practice has a new name: Ponte Vedra Premier Dental. It’s a name the dentists believe better reflects the full scope of services offered by the practice.
“We’re still doing cosmetic dentistry – that’s not going away,” said Brian Maples, noting that the practice is accepting new patients. “But we have hygienists who do cleanings and we do the full scope of general dentistry, from check-ups and extractions to root canals, implants, dentures and restorative work. We just offer a lot of really good dentistry under one roof.”
Even for brothers, Brian and Andrew Maples have followed remarkably similar trajectories in both their personal and professional lives. Both brothers attended the Episcopal School of Jacksonville and later graduated from Boston College. From there, Andrew went to University of Florida for dental school while Brian opted for Tufts University.
In addition to practicing dentistry together, both brothers provide free dental care at the Sulzbacher Center through Volunteers in Medicine. Both are also married with young children: Andrew’s wife, Dr. Lindsay Maples, is a pediatric dentist who recently opened an office in Nocatee; they are the parents of a 3-year-old daughter and a 9-month-old son. Brian’s wife is a teacher at Bishop Kenny High School; they have a 2-year-old son and are expecting a daughter in June.
“We are very similar,” Brian Maples acknowledged. “I think a lot of people almost think of us as the same person, but we are different in some ways that I think enable us to work together well.”
For his part, Andrew Maples believes the brothers’ interest in new technologies will be a benefit to their new practice’s patients. The office recently added, for example a cone beam scanner that produces 3D x-rays, and both brothers participate in a regular study group to remain up to date on the newest advancements in modern dentistry.
“Our whole focus is on staying current and doing the best possible job for our clients,” Andrew Maples said. “We make sure our patients are comfortable and understand what’s really going on with their teeth. We want our patients to know that they can play an active role in all of their treatments.”
Both brothers stress, however, that their love of dentistry is based first and foremost on the opportunities the profession affords to build long-lasting relationships with their patients, just as they did with Dr. Neal and Dr. Winter.
“I like to see patients again and again, I like to meet their kids,” Brian said.
Andrew agreed. “My goal is that one day, one of my patients will come to me and say, ‘Hey, I want to be a dentist,’” he said. “I think that would just be a continuation of what we’ve started here.”