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Pediatric practice brings care to an area that didn't always have it
As a child growing up on the north side of Jacksonville, Fla., Staci Suggs, DDS, remembers long drives across town as her mother hunted out a pediatric dentist for her. There was not a pediatric dentist located in north Jacksonville.
A fascination with dentistry from early on in life combined with the memory of how difficult it was to visit a pediatric dentist as a child perhaps foretold what Suggs would end up doing as a career: opening a pediatric dental practice in her old Jacksonville neighborhood. "My commitment to this area is very personal," said Suggs. "This is where I grew up, and I have always known there was a need in this area. As I completed dental school and began residency, that thought continued to resonate, this is definitely what I eventually wanted to do, and this is where I wanted to do it."



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Pediatric Smiles, in its first rendition, opened on Dunn Avenue in north Jacksonville in 2001, with Suggs and Tanya Wall, DDS, at the helm.
The birth of a practice
The two doctors knew of one another while attending separate dental schools in the Washington, D.C., area - Wall was at Howard University and Suggs at the University of Maryland - but grew closer when they were partnered during their residency. Wall served as a student mentor to Suggs, who was a year behind in the program, and the rest was history. "It seemed like we always got paired together," Suggs said. "Then, after our residency, Tanya moved to Jacksonville before I did. When I moved back, we worked for the same company. I just followed her everywhere!"
It was somewhat coincidental that Wall, who is from North Carolina originally, started practicing in Suggs' hometown. That bit of happenstance, though, proved fortunate for the two and set the stage for what would become Pediatric Smiles. In 2001, the two decided to start their own practice in their free time. "We bought the practice from our mentor, Dr. Phillis Varnado, and worked there on Fridays and Saturdays after working for a dental company four days a week," Wall said. "Every dime of the money that we made, we put back into the practice for three years. Then, in 2004, we changed the name of the office that we started to Pediatric Smiles and went full time."
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A Reason for Smiles

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