LAGRANGE — A planned multimillion-dollar expansion of LaGrange Family Dentistry officially got underway Friday morning with a groundbreaking ceremony.
Wearing hard hats, Dr. Kaley Bontrager and her husband, Matt Bontrager, the chief financial officer of the LaGrange dental practice, surrounded by their staff, picked up a couple of shovels and turn over a little direct to celebrate the construction. The office expansion project will nearly triple the operational space available to the practice.
Crews started preparing the property for the practice’s expanded footprint. Construction on the new office building begins later this summer.
The dental office is located at 612 S. Detroit St. on LaGrange’s south side. Bontrager took over the practice of retired LaGrange dentist Dr. Ronald Denton in 2019. Denton practiced dentistry in LaGrange for more than 40 years. Bontrager said she first met Denton while a student in dental school participating in a job shadowing program.
An Indiana native, Bontrager grew up outside of Fort Wayne and attended Leo High School. After high school, she attended the former IPFW in Fort Wayne where she earned a degree in biology. She then attended the IU School of Dentistry.
According to her staff biography on the practice’s website, Bontrager graduated from IU in the top ten of her dental school class. She is a member of the Indiana Dental Association, Isaac Knapp Young Dentist Committee, the Academy of General Dentistry, and the OKU Dental Honor Society.
The planned expansion of the dental practice will not only increase its available space but allow the practice to offer new patient services.
“We currently had a seven-chair practice at 3,000 square feet, and we’re going to go to an 18 chair practice with about 12,000 square feet,” Matt Bontrager said. He added that the practice is almost at capacity now, and the new building will allow the office to serve more people.
Bontrager said the expansion of services also means the office will be expanding its staff as well. He said a third doctor will be joining the LaGrange Family Dentistry family in June. In addition, Bontrager said he expects to add at least ten new staff members to the payroll by the end of the year, and plans to add ten more staff members in 2023.
. In addition to expanding the number of exam rooms, Bontrager said his staff is busy increasing the technology available at the practice. He said the practice now employs a 3-D dental x-ray machine, medical scanners to help straighten and align teeth, cameras, television screens in each room, and more.
“We have a lot of top-of-the-line technology that a lot of other offices just don’t have,” Bontrager explained.
Currently, the office serves around 3,700 patients. He said in addition to allowing the practice to see more patients, it will be able to offer patients more specialized services such as a dental med spa, expanded dental implants, as well as new orthodontic procedures.
Bontrager said his wife, Dr. Bontrager, works hard to expand her skills as a practicing dentist. He added she travels around the county attending conferences and clinics to expand her skills as a dentist. Bontrager said that commitment to care helps improve the standard of care offered at the LaGrange office.
“That allows up to upgrade access to care that otherwise wouldn’t be available to patients in LaGrange County,” he explained.
Bontrager said if his office doesn’t provide those advanced services, many patients will simply opt out of seeking that level of care because many prefer not to travel out of the area to see specialists.
“Travel can be a real barrier to many of our patients,” he explained.
During the construction process, the contractor will be taking the roof off the existing dental building and expanding and remodeling that space. In order not to interfere with patient care, Bontrager said the practice is bringing in several temporary facilities that will be installed on the property, allowing patient care to proceed uninterrupted.
“We’ll move out of our building and into that temp facility,” Bontrager said.
That move is expected to take place sometime in early June.
The current office current building will be turned into a two-story structure, with staff and office space located on the building’s new second floor. In addition to more exam rooms and a larger lab, the finished building will offer commercial lease space to other medical professionals.
Bontrager said the goal of the project is to provide LaGrange County residents with dental care and treatments that currently aren’t readily available in the community.
“There’s such a limited access to dental care,” he explained. “Our goal is to provide the pieces that other practices are missing. We want people to be able to get all of their dental care done here. We want to create more availability for our patients. We want to be able to provide same-day treatment to our patients, so if someone is diagnosed with a treatable condition that day, we want to be able to provide them the opportunity to get that procedure done the same day without impacting the other patients on the schedule.”
Construction on the new office building and parking lot is expected to be completed by December or early January.