By Cody Willoughby
TROY — After nearly 37 years of practice, a local servant of the community has quietly announced his retirement.
For the last 27 years of his seasoned career, Dr. Paul W. Kroger, DMD, has served the Troy community from his practice on McKaig Ave., where his expertise in periodontics has been put to good use for thousands of patients.
“From early on, I knew periodontics was the future,” said Kroger. “Cavities were decreasing because of fluoride, but there was no real cure for gum disease. People were losing their teeth less because of dental decay, and more because of periodontal disease, so I thought that was the future of dentistry in the long term, and it has proven to be so.”
Dr. Kroger began his education at Chaminade High School in Dayton, graduating in 1972. He attended Xavier University, graduating with degrees in Pre-Medical and Pre-Dentistry in 1976. He then attended the University of Louisville Dental School, graduating in 1980 with a Ph.D. in Dentistry.
“After school, I served for Uncle Sam from 1980 to 1990, serving with both the Army and Air Force,” Kroger said. “I was a general dentist stationed in Germany with the Army for three years. Then, I went to Fort Knox, where I practiced with the Army for one year. I then went to the University of Kentucky for periodontics in 1985, as paid for by the Air Force, and finished in 1987. I went to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, and was chief of periodontics at the regional hospital. I served there for about three years, from 1987 to 1990. “
Upon his honorable discharge in August 1990, Kroger began searching throughout the Miami Valley for a location to open his own practice.
“Dr. Richard Bellas was a radiologist who was a friend of mine, and he recommended this area. I was thinking of going into Dayton proper, and he said, ‘Why don’t you try Troy?’ He showed me around Troy and the surrounding area, and I learned there was not a periodontist between Dayton and Lima. I decided he was right, and I started in November of 1990. I sold the practice in 2015 to the Advanced Periodontic Center, but have been an associate there until this year. The area has supported me very well. I have patients who come from Wapakoneta, Greenville, New Carlisle, and northern Dayton. It was a very good practice, and I was able to see a lot of people. The key thing was to take care of the patients. I never claimed to be the best in the world, but there was nobody who tried harder than me for our patients.”
Since practicing in Troy as a periodontist, Kroger has served terms as President for the Western Ohio Dental Association and the Ohio Academy of Periodontics, both tenures lasting two years.
Since the inception of his practice, Kroger has had the opportunity to see the community grow and flourish in ways that only deepened his appreciation for the area.
“There was nothing across the highway when I first started here,” Kroger said. “Walmart was just beginning to get built. I saw a lot of growth. I love this town a lot. It’s small and it’s quaint, but at the same time, it has so much to offer. A lot of people have no idea about the warmth and the friendly people that are here. It’s just a tremendous community. I could not have asked for a better place to have lived and spent my career than Troy, Ohio.”
For the years ahead, Dr. Kroger and his wife, Tanya, have many plans to keep themselves busy.
“I’ll be taking non-degreed courses at the University of Dayton, starting in January,” Kroger said. “I’m also planning on doing some travelling. I have a fishing trip planned with my nephews in Arkansas. My wife is a retired teacher of 35 years from Dayton Public Schools, and she wants to see the places I’ve been in Europe. During my time stationed there, I visited many of the major spots, and she wants to see them, too.”
When asked what advice he can provide to up-and-coming professionals in the field, Dr. Kroger’s response was simple.
“Listen to your patients,” Kroger emphasized. “Take time with them and savor it. Your patients know there’s a problem. Treat them as if they were your mom or dad, or your brother or sister. That was always my philosophy during my practice. I was able to diagnose some oral cancers on patients that they didn’t know existed. We diagnosed a man with leukemia, who went directly to UVMC for treatment, and he lived. Those are the most rewarding moments. That, and we saved a lot of teeth. I condemned teeth on patients in 1990 who still have them today, based on their due diligence in coming in and our work to preserve them.”
In leaving his practice, Dr. Kroger made it clear that although he feels the time is right to retire, he’ll do so with sentimental feelings toward those he treated.
“The best time I always had was with my patients,” said Kroger. “The friendships and the camaraderie was what made it fun. The knowledge that you got from people was astounding, whether it be a restaurant I should try in Fort Loramie, or fishing holes in Kentucky, or recipes and things of that nature. You get so much more out of patients than you give to them. I won’t miss the procedural part of the job, but I know I’ll miss the patients.”
Dr. Kroger will continue to live in Troy with his wife, Tanya, and their labrador, Rudy.
Reach Cody Willoughby at email@example.com.