When he decided to move to Mena, Healthy Connections dentist Ian Craig, DMD, jumped in with both feet.

The Oregon native chose to live in Arkansas because of his passion for farming and dentistry. He’s now seeing patients at Healthy Connections in Mena, located at 136 Health Park Lane. Call (888) 710-8220 for appointments.

“I always wanted to be a farmer. I found some land for sale down here and it was land that I couldn’t afford back home. My wife and I took a trip to Arkansas and drove around and it was beautiful,” Craig said. “I really wanted to live in a small town and Mena has been great so far.”

His passion for a specific area of farming might make him unique in the area.

“Fruit trees,” he said.

In Arkansas?

“I’ve got a great idea for a greenhouse that is heated with geothermal heat. There’s a guy in Nebraska who is doing it and growing oranges in minus 20-degree weather,” he said. “I’d like to do that situation here, get some tropical stuff going along with some classic fruit and nut trees.”

Then he’d like to open a storefront in the area to sell the locally-grown fruit.

“I’d like to have a fruit stand, like an old-fashioned building with wood floors. Kind of like a general store but with fruits and jams.”

Growing up in Oregon as the son of parents who owned a furniture store, Craig wanted to be a veterinarian. But after having a root canal, he switched to dentistry and hasn’t looked back.

“It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and the people were really nice,” Craig said. “I went to some dental meetings and researched changing my major. Then I went through dental school from there.”

He graduated from Oregon State University and Oregon Health and Science University.

“Coming to Arkansas and working in a public health organization like Healthy Connections has been quite a change. There’s a lot more solving of problems in different ways. But so far I’m having a lot of fun,” he said.

Healthy Connections is a Mena-based nonprofit organization serving the needs of children and adults throughout West-Central Arkansas. Since its founding in 1998 as a home-visiting program, Healthy Connections has been able to provide much-needed health, dental and social services to families of every lifestyle.

Healthy Connections accepts Medicaid, including ArKids First, Medicare and most forms of health and dental insurance. However, no person will be turned away for lack of insurance. Qualified families will be charged according to their total family income and total persons living in the household. This sliding scale fee allows many to receive treatment who otherwise would not have been able to afford it.

There are currently 10 clinics located in Mena, Hot Springs, Malvern, Arkadelphia, Mount Ida, and De Queen providing primary care/family medicine. Depending on location, Healthy Connections also offers dental, behavioral health, cardiology, pediatrics, podiatry, chiropractic, physical therapy, and OB/GYN women’s services.

Visit www.healthy-connections.org/dental for more information.