By Dave Ficere

If a trip to the dentist’s office doesn’t rank up there with fun activities such as going to the movies or visiting Disneyland, then you’re probably among the vast majority of readers. But one Valley dental practice is trying to change the perception that visiting the dentist can’t be an enjoyable experience.

Meet Dr. Marissa Rubio-Ellis and the friendly staff at Union Hills Family Dental Care and Orthodontics. Dedicated to helping create healthy and beautiful smiles, their goal is to provide patients with the highest standard of dental care possible in a relaxing and friendly environment. And, they have fun doing it, as well.

We offer a full range of both restorative and preventive dental services,” Dr. Rubio-Ellis says, “but also try to make it fun and a lighthearted atmosphere so patients feel more relaxed. We strive to get to know our patients and let them get to know us as people and to make our practice more homey.”

Their Facebook page reflects this fun philosophy with pictures of the staff having fun both on the job and after work hours. Selfies and fun facts (“Why does my sweet tooth never listen to my wisdom tooth?”) abound and special occasions are noted and celebrated by staff and patients who freely comment on the postings.

But behind the frivolity is serious business: Taking care of patient’s dental needs. “Being able to offer different services and all aspects of dentistry makes us different from other dental practices,” Dr. Rubio-Ellis explains. And, because they accept most dental insurance, Union Hills Family Dental is able to help patients set up payment plans and afford the treatments they need.

Dr. Rubio-Ellis’ journey into dentistry started at a young age. “I had a variety of dental problems as a child,” she says, “ and experienced various oral surgeries and orthodontics beginning at the age of six, all the way through age 18.” That intense exposure to the dentist’s office sparked an interest in dentistry that ultimately led her to dental school at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. She has been practicing dentistry in the Phoenix area for more than 10 years. In addition to Dr. Rubio-Ellis, three other associates provide a wide-range of dental services to all age groups.

Fear is the biggest reason people don’t go the dentist,” Dr. Rubio-Ellis says, stressing the importance of good dental care. “The mouth is the gateway to your body and mouth pain can make you miserable,” she says. “When something goes wrong in the mouth, it can affect your whole body.” She recommends a maximum of six months between checkups and cleaning, as well as good brushing and flossing habits. Getting on top of problems, prevention and maintenance are also keys to good dental health, she adds.

We’ve seen huge advances in dental care in the past 10 years, with digital x-rays and more diagnostic tools that allow us to catch problems earlier,” she says. “Our dentists also learn from and help each other with new ways of doing things and stay on top of the latest advances, techniques and procedures,” she adds. “We are constantly learning and taking post-graduate courses to ensure our patients the best care possible.”

Union Hills Family Dental is located at 822 E. Union Hills Dr., Suite D-6 in Phoenix, with extended office hours Monday through Saturday, by appointment only. To find out more, call them at (623) 582-6789, visit their website at or check them out on Facebook.

While it still won’t be as fun as a trip to Disneyland, the staff at Union Hills Family Dental center will make your visit as enjoyable as possible. Give them a try!