By Deb Silverthorn
Shwarts Family Dentistry, now at the southwest corner of Coit and Campbell, has merged the offices of Dr. Ellis Shwarts with the practice of Dr. Howard Kessner.
The two dentists connected by community at first more than a decade ago, 52 years after Kessner began practicing; 44 of those were in the same location, convenient to many in the Jewish community. Now, Kessner’s legacy continues.
“I enjoy seeing the results as a patient’s smile gets brighter and healthier, whatever the case may be,” said Shwarts. Dr. Norma Lehman recently joined the practice; and the pair are stabilizing smiles for their clientele.
“I’ve always enjoyed puzzles. Working to make each mouth its best and building relationships with my patients is important to me,” Shwarts added.
The son of Jan and Robin and the brother of Frances (Matt) Jameson and Ross (Becca), Shwarts is a fourth-generation Dallas native and graduate of the School for the Talented and Gifted at the Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Magnet Center. He was raised at Congregation Shearith Israel and was a member of BBYO Eammon Lacey AZA.
Now, he and his wife Laura (née Matisoff), a coordinator in SMU’s Office of Student Advocacy & Support, and son Louis belong to Congregation Beth Torah, where he first met Kessner.
“We’ve known Laura since she was a child. My wife is Beth Torah’s b’nai mitzvah coordinator and so we’ve watched her grow up,” said Kessner, who retired this year on June 30. His wife, Eileen, worked in his office for more than 20 years.
“Ellis is a wonderful practitioner. He’s smart and sharp and has great rapport with his patients,” Kessner added.
The new home of Shwarts Family Dentistry has ADA-compliant restrooms and waiting rooms, four additional patient rooms, a staff break room and more office space. While Kessner retired only six weeks ago, the two dentists have worked together since the beginning of this year.
“The profession is much the same yet so much different from when I began. There are so many technological differences and advancements in the tools we use. Certainly the ‘business’ of the business has changed. All of that taken into account, I know he’ll do well and his patients will be cared for,” said Kessner.
Kessner is a native New Yorker who, after earning his DMD from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, served as a captain in the United States Air Force Dental Corps at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls for two years before deciding to make Dallas home.
Shwarts is a biomedical engineering graduate of The University of Texas at Austin. During a visit to his own dentist, Dr. Gregory Skulman, Shwarts — who had initially planned a career as a pediatrician — mentioned writer’s block that he encountered with the personal statement portion of his medical school application. Skulman recommended Shwarts shadow a dentist and a physician to get an idea of the behind-the-scenes workings of each profession.
Shwarts spent time with his own pediatrician, Dr. Gary Morchower, and also with Dr. Gary Solomon, a cousin and longtime area cosmetic dentist who now on occasion sees patients in Shwarts’ office. He was impressed by both doctors and their health care practices. Thus, he followed the advice of one of his professors and literally flipped a coin.
Dental school was it. He reworked his application and, with a letter of recommendation from Dr. Jeff Genecov — the orthodontist who had helped Shwarts “straighten out” — UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry became his next alma mater.
After graduating, with additional studies in sleep apnea therapy and dental education, Shwarts worked first at Mint Dentistry and then with Dr. Michael Pincus. In 2019, he opened his own practice and he’s never looked back. While his office was closed for six weeks early in the pandemic, he reopened with health practices that kept his patients safe.
Like Kessner, Shwarts is a member of Alpha Omega, the international Jewish dental society. Having benefited from a loan from the Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association, he also serves on the organization’s board. He and friends placed in the Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship as the “House Divided” team. Shwarts has, for many years, been an athlete in the Shalom Softball League.
“One of my greatest pleasures since I started practicing is watching my younger patients grow up. I look forward to many more years of seeing patients grow up with us,” said Shwarts. “Richardson is really growing but I do love that my practice, and the closeness we share to our patients, has a ‘small town’ feel.”
Shwarts added, “I wanted to create smiles and now I’m doing that amid a distinguished practice in the neighborhood and through our Jewish community, which I treasure. Dr. Kessner is legendary in the industry and the opportunity for me to walk through these doors and care for our patients is an honor.”