Belen dentist had no question where to open up new practice


Dr. Roland K. Sanchez II spent a long time deciding what he wanted to do with his life, but deciding where to do it came easy.


After exploring careers ranging from agriculture to politics, the Bosque native came to the conclusion he wanted to pursue “something in medicine,” but he wasn’t sure what branch, even though his father was a physician.

Then, he says, he realized how much his family dentist, Belen’s Dr. Cecil Sandoval, had inspired him as a child, and he decided to go the dentistry route.

Choosing where to practice, however, was a no-brainer. After spending time in Mexico City and Washington, D.C., and big cities in Texas and Colorado, “I wanted to get back to a small town,” Sanchez said. “I wanted to get back to Belen.”

So, after completing dental school and a residency in Denver, Sanchez opened his practice, Conquistador Dental, last November on Christopher Road. He’s now located in a remodeled building at 704 Christopher, almost across the street from his father’s medical practice.

“Belen is a great place,” he said. “It’s a hard-working community. It has its own culture. I couldn’t be luckier if I was anywhere else.”

It was with Belen in mind that Sanchez named his practice Conquistador.

“It reflects the culture here,” he said, “the Spanish who settled here.”

And it’s reflected in the Spanish and western influence and style of the rustic remodeled offices he occupies, right down to the bull hide on the floor of his personal office and the numerous paintings of farm and ranch scenes throughout the building.

“I wanted to build an office that would make people feel they’re somewhere familiar and comfortable,” he said. “I wanted it to reflect the community and appeal to local people.”

He said a lot of thought went into the building, and a lot of effort. For instance, he noted that all the interior doors in the building were once exterior doors on Belen houses that have been refinished to fit the office decor.

“It’s New Mexico,” he said. “It’s Belen.”

There’s nothing rustic or old-time about Sanchez’s practice, however, with state-of-the-art technology, equipment and techniques in use.

Sanchez provides a full range of dental offerings, with specialities in restorative surgery, extractions, crown and bridge, cosmetic work, and implants — which he calls the biggest difference in modern dentistry, replacing dentures.

“We do a full assortment of surgery and services,” he said. “In one case, we’re relieving somebody’s pain and in another we’re helping improve someone’s smile. It’s two different sides of what we do, but that’s what keeps it fresh.”

Sanchez said he’s had tremendous response and “the practice is strong.”

He’s had to add personnel — all local people — to meeting an increasing client list, and add chairs to keep up with demand. (“We’re still accepting new patients, though,” he quickly adds.”) He said he plans to soon add a pediatric dentist to meet the demands for children’s services.

In his spare time, Sanchez plays a role in his family’s ranch in Bosque, on land he said has been worked by his family since Spanish land grant days.

Sanchez said the whole family works the ranch, including his parents, who were both farmers originally, and his five siblings. Among those siblings is a doctor, with another in residency, one in dental school, one a veterinarian and the last in college.

But on the land, everyone’s a rancher.

“It’s a family operation,” he said. “Everyone bales hay, irrigates, whatever is needed.

“I grew up in 4-H, FFA, all that stuff. It helps balance life. I think we’ll always be cattle ranchers.”

The family raises Santa Gertrudis cattle, which they sell at shows around the region. The day after the interview for this story, Sanchez was headed to Texas to represent the ranch at a livestock show.

“You can’t change who you are,” he said. “I love dentistry. I love cattle ranching.”

Conquistador Dental is at 704 Christopher Road. The phone number is 864-2055.


Contact Dana Bowley