In 1979, Dr. Craig Long was awarded a doctor of dental surgery (DDS) degree from the University of Missouri in Kansas City. From there he returned to Vandalia and purchased the practice of Dr. Steve Whisler, who had served the community for 30 years. Through Advanced Healthy Smiles, Dr. Long has served countless patients in Vandalia and surrounding areas for 34 years. As of January 1, 2014, the new name will be Gentle Healthy Smiles and Dr. Cedric Papa will takeover a majority of the general practice appointments.
So when Dr. Long started considering his semi-retirement, he knew that finding the perfect fit for the practice wouldn’t be an easy task. According to Dr. Long, it would have to be someone who wanted to have a family practice in a small town. The right candidate had to be a quality person and a great dentist with experience.
“It took a while to find somebody like that. Someone that would not only take care of the community, but also the staff we have here,” Dr. Long said. “Vandalia is a great community to have a practice and I raised my family here. All of the people we have served over the years have been great patients, and it has always been a total family practice from day one.”
Dr. Cedric Papa graduated from the University of California in Davis and the University of the Pacific’s Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, Calif. Dr. Papa is married to Stacy and has four children, Natalie (9), Evan (7), Miles (5), and Ellie (3).
Dr. Papa brings a wealth of quality experience from working with dental practices in San Francisco, Calif., Columbia, Mo., and Jefferson City, Mo.
In his free time, he likes to spend time with his wife and family. Dr. Papa has a sincere passion for helping people. He has organized and led several mission trips, where he provided dental care to impoverished populations in other countries. Dr. Papa is bilingual, so he can speak Spanish as well as English.
“We like to make decisions with a lot of spirituality and following that kind of guidance. We started to feel that California was no longer the place for us. We had never been to the Midwest, so we poked around and Missouri felt really good. I found a landing spot up in Columbia, but the whole time was looking for a place like this,” Dr. Papa said. “We were looking for a small town where I could do family dentistry and we’re not turning over patients very fast. A place where we can get to know our patients and their kids, and their kids, and their kids. I am really excited about that.”
The friendly staff at Advanced Healthy Smiles is one of the many reasons the practice has been successful over the years. Carla Burnett, Lisa Otis, Kerrie Robnett, Tara Twellman, Tara Lewis, Christy Lowrance, and LeAnn Worsley are all members of Dr. Long’s staff. The experience of his staff ranges from 25 years to five years.
“When you look at everything, Dr. Long’s staff is really special,” Dr. Papa said. “That is a common problem with dentists, because they get in there and they want to focus on patients but the staff has so many issues with each other. Since day one when I began shadowing Craig and then working here, I cannot believe they have none of that here. The staff is a tight knit group that is really close and highly skilled. Usually you get one or the other. That fact stood out right away. Everything about this practice is so special.”
Aside from the local practice, Dr. Long also works part-time at a practice in San Antonio, Texas and then teaches laser dentistry in Los Angeles, Calif. and Denver, Colo. He has also published several award-winning articles on Laser Dentistry in local, state, and international journals.
“So this is going to leave me more time to teach laser dentistry, write research papers, and do specialty things like orthodontics and laser dentistry. Dr. Papa will do all of the general practice stuff,” Dr. Long said. “I live half here and half in San Antonio. My family lives there, so I have been traveling home every week. I want to slow that down a little bit, so in the short term that won’t change much. But in the long term, I will only be here every other week. It’s time for me to slow down an let a young guy who has more energy take over.”
Dr. Papa is excited and looking forward to serving current and new patients. Dr. Long indicated that Dr. Papa is great with kids and strives to provide only the best dental care.
Dr. Papa recently purchased a couple I-Pad minis loaded with games for both the kids and parents to enjoy while sitting in the waiting room. Be sure to stop by and meet Dr. Papa at Advanced Healthy Smiles, 106 S. Main Street in Vandalia, Mo.