Fresno Dental Professionals: Keeping It All In the Family
Jun 27, 2014 11:06AM
By Cen Cali Life Magazine
Fresno Dental Professionals
Keeping It All In the Family
by Christi McKinney
Little did William Grabe know when he began practicing dentistry in 1968 that his practice would evolve to include two friends and three sons. Fast-forward 46 years and now the sons have become accomplished dentists—all part of the Fresno Dental Professionals group established by their fathers.
It’s rare to have three second-generation dentists at the same partnership, but the Grabes, Schapanskys and Mosses are no ordinary families.
Their story begins in 1976. That’s the year that Grabe spoke to an old college buddy from Fresno State, Weldon Schapansky, who had practiced in the Bay Area and then spent an extended time traveling the world. Schapansky had contemplated a return to Fresno, so they decided to go into practice together. Richard Moss, who was also raised in the Fresno area and graduated from Fresno State, joined the young practice in 1980. The group expanded over time, with dentists and Michelle Asselin becoming valued partners.
Jeremy Grabe and Scott Schapansky knew they wanted to become dentists after spending time with their fathers at work. Jeremy was 18 when he worked for the partnership one summer.
“I was impressed with my father’s interaction with patients and gained an appreciation for what he did,” the younger Grabe said.
After graduating from Bullard High School, the science enthusiast received a bachelor’s degree in biology at San Diego State University and then went on to obtain his dental degree from New York University College of Dentistry. When he finished dental school, Jeremy moved back to the valley and completed an advanced postdoctoral general practice residency at Community Regional Medical Center. In 2008, he became the first of the second generation of dentists to join the practice.
“I love what I do,” Jeremy said. “I’m able to work with friends and many devoted, long-term employees. We all work well together and make a great team. I also really enjoy making connections with my patients and making an improvement in their dental health.”
Three years later, Scott Schapansky became the second of the sons to join the practice. Born and raised in Fresno, he remembers visiting his dad at work when he was just 6 years old. He realized he wanted to pursue dentistry as a career when he was in high school.
“I wanted to do something that would allow me to have relationships with people,” Scott said. “I felt dentistry was a better fit than medicine because it allows me to work with my hands.”
After graduating valedictorian from Bullard High School, Scott attended University of the Pacific School of Dentistry, where he received his Doctor of Dental Science degree at the young age of 23.
“I’ve done a wide variety of jobs, everything from construction to being a ranch hand, but nothing compares to being a dentist,” he said. “I am excited about getting to work every day, helping my patients and enjoying the relationships I have with my patients.”
Joseph Moss was the third son to join the family practice. He grew up in Fresno and attended schools in Clovis. He earned his bachelor’s degree from University of California, Santa Barbara, and his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree with high honors from University of the Pacific School of Dentistry. He completed his postdoctoral training at Fresno Community and Veterans Hospitals as a general dental resident.
“When I went to college, I wanted to become a chemist,” Joseph said. “I was working late one night doing research in organic chemistry. I was mixing a large batch of boiling toxic chemicals and I started to think about what would happen if even a tiny drop got onto my skin.
“The chemicals would likely burn through my gloves and skin and cause a nasty burn,” he continued. “I also hadn't had any human interaction in over four hours. I decided then that chemistry wasn't for me and started shadowing dentists the next week.”
Dentistry has changed a lot since the “founding fathers” of the dental group first opened their doors.
“Prior to the early ‘70s, the biggest problem of the time was that everyone had cavities,” William Grabe explained. “The introduction of fluoride in drinking water in most of Fresno’s wells, prenatal vitamins, and vitamins for infants and young children brought significant improvements in the fight against cavities.”
Jeremy Grabe said technology plays a significant role in modern dentistry.
“Recently, technology has introduced many wonderful advances in dentistry, including electronic charting and record-keeping; digital X-rays, which cut the exposure to radiation 80 to 90 percent and allow patients to see their teeth and bone; and intraoral cameras, which allow our patients to see their teeth exactly as we see them,” he said.
“Remarkable, new high-tech products can now do everything from finding cavities to making crowns,” Joseph Moss added, pointing out these technological advances are just the tip of the iceberg.
While much has changed in dentistry over the years, the value that the dental practice places on building successful, long-term relationships has stayed constant. The group has many patients who have been clients for more than 35 years. Some were William Grabe’s early patients more than 45 years ago.
“Medicine is not all about making money,” Scott Schapansky said, articulating a philosophy that is no doubt behind much of the practice’s appeal. “It’s about helping people and doing a good job. One of the rewards in dentistry is complete full-mouth reconstruction dentistry. To restore function and smile doesn’t get any better.”
The high priority the dental group places on helping others extends to an involvement with numerous charities.
“We are committed to giving back to the community that has supported us,” said Rosemary Phieffer, practice administrator. “Whether through charities, donations, food drives, or any number of activities and organizations, we strive to help our neighbors whenever we can.”
Phieffer said that, for the past several years, the practice has closed its doors for a day each year to provide free dentistry to disadvantaged children through organizations such as Give Kids A Smile, Save and Seal Our Smile and Team Smile.
“Not only do all of our dentists volunteer, but also most of our staff members come in to volunteer,” she said.
The next generation of Drs. Grabe, Schapansky and Moss will soon be complete: William Grabe and Weldon Schapansky are retired, and Richard Moss is working a reduced schedule and is planning to retire in the next year. When Moss retires, his son Joseph will take over his part of the practice.
The second generation is excited to continue the legacy initiated by their fathers and looks forward to many successful years ahead.
“This is just the beginning,” Joseph Moss said. “The future is coming and it will be amazing.”
Fresno Dental Professionals is located at 6099 N. First St., Suite 104, Fresno. For more information, visit smilefresno.com. For questions or to schedule an appointment, call (559) 431-1400.
Christi McKinney has written for several newspapers, magazines and organizations. She has a degree in business administration and has worked extensively in both finance and mortgage lending. She enjoys freelancing on various topics and volunteers for a number of nonprofit organizations.