BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – For Ali Bassler, what started with an intrigue in dentistry at a young age, has turned into a profession in adulthood.
Dr. Bassler joins Dr. Mark Pothitakis at Pothitakis Family Dentistry’s Fort Madison and Burlington offices starting on Oct. 18. She also joins Drs. David Courtney, Jonathan Dingeldein, Barbara Gipple, and Ronald Stein as dentists in the practice’s six locations.
Pothitakis has offices in Burlington, New London, Mediapolis, West Burlington, and two locations in Fort Madison. A new office is planned to open soon in New London.
“I always knew I wanted to go into dentistry. I had some really good experiences as a kid with my local dentist,” she said.
Her mother worked for a dentist where she grew up, so she would spend time in the office after school or during the summers and would see all the models and dental equipment. She started asking questions of the doctor and found an early interest.
“The dentist we saw was the one she worked for and so after school, my brother and I would go to the office and we got really familiar with my family dentist. I was just really interested. He had lots of models and stuff laying around and he was very open to my curiosity and it stemmed from that,” Bassler said.
She said having that decision made, she went on to undergraduate work at Simpson College and then did graduate school at the University of Iowa. Upon graduation in 2013 she said she didn’t know exactly where she wanted to enter the field.
“I had looked at a lot of options and private offices. We didn’t know where we wanted to live. My husband had a chiropractic office and we were trying to figure out what was best for us,” she said.
An opportunity presented itself at the Burlington Community Health Center where she stayed for eight years until she started considering transitioning into private work.
“Mark reached out to me and I had been thinking about transitioning out of the Community Health Center and this seemed like a really good fit,” she said.
“And anyone who knows Mark, only has great things to say. Honestly I’ve not heard a bad thing.”
She said that was what made the decision to make the transition easier.
Pothitakis said the two had talked before COVID hit and things were put on hold, but he said he knew her from the dental society and reached back out to her.
Pothitakis said he looks carefully for doctors to join the firm.
“I just don’t hire just anybody that wants to come into the practice. With Ali, I just knew about her and knew her as a person so I was just lucky the opportunity presented itself,” Pothitakis said.
Bassler’s husband is now teaching science courses at Southeastern Community College and the couple has two children in the West Burlington school system.
Bassler said she knew she was going to go into the medical field as she sorted through her career options and said dentistry allowed her to maintain a career and family balance. It also allows her to help people, which was one of the driving forces behind her career choice.
“I like dentistry to be fun. I don’t want it to be scary. At Community Health Center I see a lot of kids – predominantly kids. And a lot of them are scared. But the thing about dentistry is there is no perfect way to do things. You could have a treatment plan done 10 different ways by 10 different dentists and in their own way, they all are good,” she said.
Pothitakis said that makes Bassler a good fit for the practice.
“There’s some things that we see we all agree to. I might be the owner, but I don’t micromanage. Every dentist who is part of this has their own practice. I know when I hire someone like Ali, my stress level will go down. I know right off the bat, it’s going to work,” Pothitakis said.
New patients can call Family Dentistry now at 319-372-4882 to begin scheduling appointments with Dr. Bassler. She will be in the Fort Madison West office at 4723 Avenue J on Tuesday and Thursday. She will hold appointments in the Burlington SEIRMC hospital office Monday and Wednesday.