By: John Kubal, The Brookings Register

Its mission: “ … to be a compassionate, family-centered practice that promotes healthy and beautiful smiles for the entire family.”

To accomplish that mission, Brookings Family Dentistry offers a range of services that include: preventative dentistry, dental implants, pediatric dentistry, periodontal therapy, restorative dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, emergency dentistry and special needs dentistry.

The staff at the practice that opened May 24 include: Dr. Nathan Hilbrands, DDS; Miranda Hilbrands, his wife and dental hygienist; Nikki Anderson, dental assistant; and Laura Johnson, office manager. 

Nathan Hilbrands is a South Dakota native who grew up in Sioux Falls and attended Washington High School, graduating in 2003. Following that he attended South Dakota State University, graduating in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in chemistry. Then came now-what-next time.

“I was accepted into pharmacy school, and I got to the point where I had to decide,” Hilbrands said. He opted for the College of Dentistry at University of Iowa (Iowa City).

“It was rated as one of the best schools in the country,” he said of his choice. South Dakota does not have a college of dentistry, and he was able to obtain a full-ride scholarship via the National Health Service Corps.

“Basically they paid for my school while I was there,” the doctor explained. “Then I had four years to serve after graduation from Iowa; so that’s how I ended up in Flandreau.” He graduated from dental school in June 2013, and he and Miranda married in August.

For his scholarship payback, Hilbrands practiced for five years as the chief dental officer at the Santee Sioux Tribal Health Clinic in Flandreau. Meanwhile, he and Miranda settled in Brookings and he commuted daily to and from his practice in Flandreau.

The doctor noted that the time spent in Flandreau gave him the experience he needed to feel comfortable opening his own practice in the Brookings community where he and his wife continue to live, work and raise their family. The couple have 2-year-old son, Landry, and are expecting their second son in August. Add to this “the excitement of fulfilling their dream of opening a practice together.” 

“We could have gone anywhere: the Virgin Islands, Hawaii,” he added.  “But my wife was ready to head home.”

Jackrabbit connections

“I’m a South Dakota native,” Miranda said. “I grew up in Madison; my family’s all in the Madison area.”

The couple had met in Sioux Falls after Miranda had graduated from college and Nathan was applying for dental school.

“We met through mutual friends,” she added. “We found out that we actually both lived in the same dorm at SDSU, my freshman year and his sophomore year. But we didn’t know each other at the time.”

Following her freshman year, she transferred to the University of South Dakota (Vermillion) and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in dental hygiene.

 “I’m very close with my family, and it was important for me to come back to the area,” Miranda said.

“And we had both lived in Brookings during college and loved the community.” With the assignment to Flandreau, the couple faced the decision to go to Sioux Falls or to Brookings while Nathan paid back his scholarship time.

“We just love the feel of Brookings,” the doctor said. “It’s a nice small town while still providing a lot for the community.” And the couple have found it easy to get involved in the community.

“I have a group of guys that I play basketball and softball with,” he added. “And we have a group that go tailgating with us and go to the football games with us.”

“The college in the community has been an important part, too,” Miranda said, smiling. “Being a USD graduate, there’s just this kind of fun little rivalry that we have. But I do cheer blue-and-yellow for everything else.

“When the Coyotes lose, then I’m just sad for that one day and then I go back to being a Jackrabbit fan.

“It’s all in good fun. Like I said, I would have stayed at Brookings and at SDSU if they would have had my major.

“We like the community. We have lots of friends in town.”

Total makeover

Patients visiting Brookings Family Dentristy, located in what had been a bank, are greeted by a total makeover of the former tenancy: renovated rooms that are newly decorated, freshly painted and bright. Taking a sort-of note from Ernest Hemingway, it’s “a clean, well lighted place.”

There are four equipped dental operatories with room to expand to three more. For now Dr. Hilbrands is looking to get patients to come in, “help them if they’re having pain, looking for a better-looking smile; whatever they’re looking for, we want to make them happy.”

While the practice of medicine continues to become ever more specialized, Hilbrands explained that “it seems to be going in the opposite direction, more toward general practice.” He referenced again his practice in Flandreau.

“The really good part about that, I got a lot of experience doing root canals and extractions, dentures, kind of a little bit of everything.”

Asked about the age range of his patients, Hilbrands laughed a bit when he said, “1 to 99 – or 100.”

“We did have a 99 ½-year-old,” Miranda added, also laughing. She noted that her husband once saw an 8-month-old infant. “We’ll see someone when that first tooth comes in the mouth all the way through the entire life of the patient.”

“We’re going to offer our patients really quality care,” the doctor noted. “We want to build our relationship with them.”

“There’s really not much that we can’t offer,” Miranda added. “You don’t have to feel that you’ll be referred to Sioux Falls or have to go someplace else to get your care. We’ll provide as much of it in-house in Brookings as we can.”

Clinic hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday at 427 Eighth St. S. Appointments can be made by calling 692-7788.

Contact John Kubal at

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