Meet Our Doctors

Dentists

Dr. PateRobert Pate, D.D.S., FAGD

Dr. Robert Pate is one of the longest-serving dentists at Athens Family Dental Center, having been on staff for 21 years. Dr. Pate remains the go-to dentist for implant surgery, laser treatment for periodontal disease and IV sedation.

When Dr. Robert Pate graduated from the Medical College of Georgia in 1978, he opened a practice in Dublin, Georgia. After 14 years, he sold that practice to join a dental practice in St. Simons, Georgia. In 1998, Dr. Pate moved to the mountains and worked at a practice in Clayton and also started working at Athens Family Dental Center.

Though he has had a substantial career in dentistry, in 1970 Dr. Pate started as a salesman in Tennessee, for Fisher Scientific Co.
“I got a little sick of that,” he said. “I had a brother who was an oral surgeon in Alabama, and he suggested dentistry to me.”
Dr. Pate said that dentistry is both challenging and rewarding, and what he likes about Athens Family Dental Center is the “friendly atmosphere – almost a family atmosphere. And because we have so many dentists here, I get to do the kind of dental work I like to do.”

In addition to his responsibilities at Athens Family Dental Center, Dr. Pate also serves on the board of the Georgia Academy of General Dentistry.

Dr. Pate and his wife of 24 years, Jennifer, have two adult sons.


Dr. CrenshawLeigh Cummings-Crenshaw, D.M.D.

Dr. Leigh Crenshaw sees art in dentistry, and that was what led this Medical College of Georgia graduate into the field of dentistry.

“I wanted to do something in the health field, and I liked the idea of the artistic side of dentistry,” Dr. Crenshaw said. “There is a lot of art to dentistry – color matching, the shapes and forms of teeth. It’s sort of a science and an art combined.”

While it was the artistic side of dentistry that brought her into the field, Dr. Crenshaw said that today what she most enjoys about being a dentist is the relationships she is able to build with her patients.

“Your patients have a lot of trust in you. You see them every six months, and so you build relationships with them,” Dr. Crenshaw said. “Some of the patients I had when they were children now have children of their own that are my patients, and that is very rewarding.”

Dr. Crenshaw describes herself as “an information seeker,” and said she enjoys keeping current on the latest trends in dentistry, but she said the thing that she wants to be known for among her patients is her compassion as a dentist.

“I truly care about my patients,” Dr. Crenshaw said. “We are a very caring group of people here. We look out for the well-being of our patients, and we work well together. I am always impressed with the quality of work that is performed here. We have several areas of expertise at Athens Family Dental Center and if there is something that one doctor is not comfortable doing, there is always someone who is knowledgeable in that area.”

Dr. Crenshaw completed a general practice residency at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.  Prior to making Athens Family Dental her home in 1999, she briefly worked at a small practice in Macon, Georgia.
Dr. Crenshaw is married and is the mother of one young son.


DrNeisler112016.jpgDeck Neisler, D.D.S.

Dr. Deck Neisler has had a long career in dentistry, but he said his enjoyment of his profession has never been greater than it is now at Athens Family Dental Center. “I love it more now than I ever have,” Dr. Neisler said. “We have great patients and a wonderful staff. It’s like a family here.”

Dr. Neisler said one of the things he most enjoys about dentistry is the interaction with the patients, and he tries to always keep in mind that people are often uncomfortable going to see the dentist. “I like to have my patients laughing,” Dr. Neisler said. “I like to start off by making them comfortable and getting them to laugh. I want them to have a good time – as much as they can when they’re getting their teeth worked on.”

Dr. Neisler was raised in Forsyth, GA. He graduated wirh honors from Auburn University in 1977 and received his Doctorate of Dental Surgery degree from Emory University in 1981. After working for five years as an associate in a practice in Atlanta, Dr. Neisler owned a solo practice in Decatur for over 20 years. He started working at Athens Family Dental Center in 2005 on a part-time basis while filling in for another dentist. In 2009 he began to transition away from his Decatur practice and begin working fulltime in Athens. Dr. Neisler enjoys not managing the “business” side of a dental office. He practices all facets of general dentistry-focusing on restorative, cosmetic, endodontics (root canals) and extractions.

Dr. Neisler appreciates the professionalism of his colleagues at AFDC. “Quality work is important to me,” he said. “All of us are really committed to doing good quality work. We put the patients’ needs first and do what’s best for the patient. I approach it from a perspective of if this was a member of my family in the chair, what would I do.”

Dr. Neisler is a member of the American Academy of General Dentistry, the Georgia Academy of General Dentistry, the American Dental Association and the Georgia Dental Association.

Dr. Neisler has been married to his high school sweetheart, Brenda, since 1976. They have two adult sons. He enjoys tennis, spending time with his family and friends, and following his Auburn Tigers.

DrGale112016.jpgJohn Gale, D.M.D.

John Gale readily admits there was a time when his enjoyment of dentistry was overcome with the hassles of running a solo practice, but when he started fulltime at Athens Family Dental Center in 2012, he found himself in an environment that reignited his passion for the field.

“I worked here part-time for a while even when I had my practice in Cornelia,” Dr. Gale said. “So when I started here fulltime, I knew all the dentists here and most of the staff, so it felt like a homecoming. At this point in my career, I’m really excited about dentistry again. I have here a good peer group to talk to and share ideas with. It’s an open forum around here, and a neat environment.”

A graduate of the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Dr. Gale said he worked as a dental lab technician in college and that experience, combined with the influence of his father-in-law who was a dentist, convinced him to apply to dental school.
Prior to joining Athens Family Dental Center fulltime in 2012, Dr. Gale owned a solo practice in his hometown of Cornelia, Georgia. The economic slowdown made the practice in the North Georgia mountains more difficult to operate, and Dr. Gale was glad to leave behind some of the headaches of running a business to have the opportunity to focus his efforts entirely on dentistry.  He now has the freedom to serve as editor on the board of the Georgia Academy of General Dentistry.

In addition to his work with his patients in Athens, Dr. Gale also goes on periodic dental mission trips with a nonprofit organization. His wife Tracy, who is a nurse practitioner, joins him on these trips, and sometimes other staff at Athens Family Dental Center also join him. Dr. Gale said these trips typically take him to South or Central America.

“Something I really enjoy about that is being able to give people immediate relief from their pain,” Dr. Gale said. “When they have a tooth that’s been keeping them up for weeks and I can fix that, I’ve just changed their world.”
Dr. Gale and his wife have three adult children.


John Dobberstein, D.M.D.

Dr. DobbersteinIn 2011, Dr. John Dobberstein made the decision to sell his dental practice in Conyers to enable him to work in Oconee County where he and his wife were raising their children.  He started a new practice in the area, but in 2014 he decided a better option for him would be to join the group of doctors at Athens Family Dental Center.

“At this point in my career, I am enjoying not being a dental practice owner,” Dr. Dobberstein said shortly after joining Athens Family Dental.  “It has been a blessing being able to solely focus on meeting the physical needs of my patients.”

Beginning in 2012 Dr. Dobberstein began his quest to increase his knowledge in the field of treating patients with obstructive sleep apnea who cannot tolerate wearing a CPAP device and in the field of head and neck pain surrounding the TMJ and the head and neck muscles.  He has surrounded himself with several mentors from local doctors to ones in Pennsylvania and Idaho.

After graduating from Georgia Tech with a degree in biology, Dr. Dobberstein attended the Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry, earning his degree in 1994.

Dr. Dobberstein and his wife of twenty-six years, Lori, have two adult children who are making them proud every day. He enjoys golfing with Lori as well as fishing, running, hiking and riding his bike around Oconee county and the surrounding areas.


Board Certified Oral Surgeon

Dr. MillerDavid Miller, D.D.S.

Dr. David Miller is a native of Kokomo, Indiana and is an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon practicing in Greensboro and Athens, Georgia. Dr. Miller received his doctorate degree in 1995 from the Indiana University School of Dentistry with honors. He completed an oral surgery internship at Louisiana State University in 1996 and an oral surgery residency at the Medical University of South Carolina in 2000.

Dr. Miller is a member of numerous dental societies and is board certified by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and the American Society of Dental Anesthesia. Dr. Miller’s particular specialty is in dental implants and the delivery of outpatient anesthesia.
He enjoys snow skiing, golfing, and spending time with his two children.


Orthodontist

Dr. Barfield (Dr. B)Gordon D. Barfield, D.D.S.

 Dr. Gordon Barfield (Dr. B) was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and brings over 25 years of varied experience to our practice. He earned a Bachelor of Science in biological sciences with honors from Roanoke College.

He received his Doctorate of Dental Surgery degree from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1990, and was widely decorated, including being named the recipient of the prestigious William Kramer Award from Omicron Kappa Upsilon. Following his dental training, Dr. Barfield served in the United States Air Force while completing his residency in comprehensive dentistry. In 1993, he joined Dental Associates in Salem, Virginia in the group practice of family dentistry, focusing on cosmetic dentistry. After 14 years of service to his community, he made the decision to return to his calling of orthodontics. He completed his specialty training in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics at the University of Nevada.

Dr. Barfield is American Board of Orthodontics board eligible, having completed phase one of the multi-year examination. He holds active membership in the American Association of Orthodontists (Southern Association), American Dental Association, Georgia Association of Orthodontists, Georgia Dental Association, Northern, and Central District Dental Societies, as well as the Hinman Dental Society.

When he’s not creating beautiful smiles, Dr. B loves traveling, scuba diving, cycling, and watching his beloved North Carolina Tar Heels.