Apalachicola dentist James A. Padgett DDS has decided its time to put a crown on his achievement of serving the needs of the community for more than three decades.

Beginning this week, Padgett, 69, has begun introducing a new dentist, Rex A. Whiteman, who acquired Padgett’s practice at 218 Avenue E in Apalachicola on Jan. 1.

Whiteman and his wife Cindy, have owned a home on St. George Island since 1991, after having been frequent visitors and residents of the Apalachicola area since the early 80’s.

“I’ve wanted to be a permanent resident of this area for many years,” said Whiteman, 56. ”Hearing that Dr. Padgett may be interested in planning a transition of his practice, we began speaking about the opportunity last year.”

Padgett said the two “had many long conversations” about their approach to dentistry, leading Padgett to determine Whiteman was just the type of high-quality clinician he could count on to serve the patient base built ever since 1980.

In 1976, Padgett graduated from the Louisiana State University Dental School and started his practice in Panama City. After earning a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Florida, the Westville native had worked for seven years in the oil and gas industry, first with Shell Oil and later with Union Carbide.

In 1980, Padgett first came to Apalachicola as a new dentist, acquiring a public health clinic practice in 1983, and up until two years ago, was the county’s only dentist. He built the house where his practice is located in March 1985, and has been there ever since, with his wife Andrea at his side, assisting with clerical matters for the practice.

“The community’s been good to me,” he said. “I hope I’m good to the community.”

Padgett isn’t going anywhere; he plans to stay on for at least two years, but will gradually taper off to just a couple days a week. “I’m still going to be here, but I want to cut back, though,” he said. “I love dentistry; I still do. If I didn’t do it, I’d miss it.”

Originally from northeast Ohio, Whiteman holds a bachelors of science degree in biology from Denison University. In 1984, he graduated from the Emory University School of Dentistry in Atlanta. He started up and has owned and operated his solo practice in Peachtree Corners, in north metro Atlanta, for over 25 years.

“Rex is a perfect fit for the practice and the community and we share the same philosophy of providing ideal dental care to our patients,” said Padgett. “The superb team of office management, dental hygiene and dental assistants will not change, and will continue to provide the excellent services they have provided to the community for many years.”

The Whitemans are in the process of selling their home and their practice in the Atlanta area and once completed, they will be in the county fulltime. They have been married for 31 years and they and their dog, Jaeger, plan to reside on St. George Island.

One change that the community can expect from the transition to Whiteman’s ownership is an expansion of services.

“Jim and I have many complimentary skills, and together, we will be able to offer more services to the community,” said Whiteman. He said the practice plans to offer Invisalign (clear braces) in additional to the currently offered “Six Month Smiles” cosmetic braces system

Another service will be the placement of dental implants to complement the restoration of implants that the practice has offered.

Whiteman said other new services will include CAD/CAM Cerec technology which allows patients to have inlays and onlays and some crowns completed in one visit, eliminating the need for temporaries. NuCalm, a non-narcotic relaxation therapy that reduces anxiety during the patient’s visit will also be forthcoming.

Whiteman said new cosmetic dentistry services will also be brought in, including dermal fillers which reduce deep lines on the face, and Botox treatments to ease TMJ (Temporomandibular joint disorder) problems, chronic headaches and wrinkles on the face.