Young dentist takes reins of long-time Minden office |

Young dentist takes reins of long-time Minden office

by Scott Neuffer

By the time she entered middle school, Gardnerville resident Celeste Eckerman, 31, knew what she wanted to do with her life.

“From the seventh-grade on, I knew I was going to dental school,” Dr. Eckerman said in her Minden office on Thursday. “The short of it is that I met a great orthodontist who did my braces. Their practice was a lot like this one.”

In September, Eckerman officially took ownership of Wendy Schopf’s 23-year-old dental practice in Minden. Dr. Schopf, who specializes in cosmetic, implant and restorative dentistry, will still work part-time in her areas of expertise, and also will continue to mentor Eckerman.

“It’s funny – she ran the practice for 23 years, and now she’s my employee,” Eckerman said.

The young dentist first met Schopf about two years ago while working as an associate in a South Lake Tahoe dental office. Eckerman was invited down to the Valley to check out Schopf’s practice.

“I came to look and meet the staff,” she recalled. “Starting or building my own practice, I knew I wanted it to be like hers.”

Eckerman didn’t have to wait long for a chance. About six months after their first meeting, Schopf informed her she was ready to transition out of an ownership stake. She asked Eckerman if she was ready to transition in.

“She is a wonderful person, an excellent dentist,” Eckerman said. “She’s been mentoring me this last year.”

While Schopf will continue full-mouth reconstruction and high-end aesthetic and implant work, Eckerman will provide general dentistry.

“It just expands the amount of practices we have,” Eckerman said. “Everyone who comes in here can have almost everything done.”

Although young, Eckerman is by no means an amateur; neither is she a stranger to the Eastern Sierra.

She was actually born in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., and was raised there until 9 years old. She then lived in Sacramento, attended Sacramento State as an undergrad, and later graduated from dental school at the University of Southern California in 2007.

After college, Eckerman landed at South Lake Tahoe, where she worked as an associate dentist for three years, and as a public health dentist, using a mobile dental van in Placerville, for one year. South Lake Tahoe was also where she started her first practice, which she still operates in conjunction with the Minden office.

In June, she and her fiance moved to Gardnerville.

“It’s been so great. The patients have been so welcoming and supportive of both transitions, and we’ve only heard good things,” Eckerman said. “I love being able to make a difference in my patients’ health. One of the reasons I really like general dentistry is that I get to know my patients.”

Eckerman’s office is located at 1702 County Road, Suite E, Minden. Regular business hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

For more information, call 782-2799.