Meet Our Team

With over 25 years of experience, our dentists are dedicated to your dental health.

At the core of our dental practice, from dentists to hygienists, is a friendly team of professionals who are dedicated to your utmost comfort and optimal oral health. We view each patient as a unique individual, and tailor each treatment to your specific needs. As part of our commitment to providing close, personalized attention to every patient, we want to encourage patient communication. Please know that we are here to provide outstanding patient care, and that we value the trust you have placed in us.

Our Dentists

Catherine Wong, DDS
John Smolnicky, DDS

Drs. Catherine Wong and John Smolnicky both grew up in Northwest Indiana. They completed their undergraduate work at Indiana University Northwest, where they met in their senior year. Both majored in biology and went on to Indiana University School of Dentistry at Indianapolis. They were married in the summer between their 3rd and 4th years of dental school and graduated from dental school in 1985.

They settled in Valparaiso for their 1st dental office and, in 1998, expanded their practice to include an on site periodontist to service their patients. Dr. James E. Kirk joined Drs. Wong and Smolnicky to provide periodontial (gum health) services to their patients.

Both dentists, this husband and wife team brings over 25 years of experience to their practice. They are dedicated to their patients, and to bringing excellence to their patients’ experience. Both dentists are extremely motivated for good dental and overall health and attend continuing education for dentistry as well as for diet and nutrition.

Outside the dental office, both are avid readers and dog lovers. Dr. Wong likes to garden and grow orchids. She is also a knitter and likes to exercise. Dr. Smolnicky loves science, mathematics and astronomy, and enjoys target shooting and exercise.

Drs. Wong & Smolnicky reside in Munster with their Chihuahua, Max, Chihuahua dog nephew, Jaxon, and Chihuahua dog niece, Tootsie. They also have an Australian Shepherd dog nephew, Mani. Their god dogs live on the west coast, outside of San Francisco. These are a Minchin Chihuahua mix, Tapi, a pure breed Bedlington Terrier, Cara, a Chihuahua mix, Hector, and a mixed breed terrier, Dazy.

Dentist Dr. James Kirk

James E. Kirk, DDS

Dr. Kirk spent his early years in Florida, but hails from Northwest Indiana and attended Loyola University. After earning his M.S. Degree in periodontics, he went on to practice in several periodontal dental offices located in the Chicagoland area.

Dr. Kirk resides in Portage, Indiana and, in 1998, was approached by Dr. Wong to join their dental team. Dr. Kirk, looking to practice in his home state, took Dr. Wong up on her offer.

Dr. Kirk has 6 children who are all in the healthcare industry. His oldest son and daughter are both dentists — his daughter in private practice and his son in the military. He has 3 daughters who are nurses, and his youngest daughter is attending Indiana University with plans to pursue a healthcare career as well. Dr. Kirk enjoys reading, snow skiing and outdoor water activities.

Our Staff

Paula Serrano

Dental Assistant

Born in Chicago and raised in Northwest Indiana, Paula Serrano has certifications in dental assisting, radiology, expanded functions and coronal polishing. Along with being a dental assistant for over 22 years, Paula is a part-time instructor at Everest College.

Paula loves dentistry as well as being a mom. She spends her off time with her family and enjoys traveling as well as a lot of outdoor activities such as bike riding and snow skiing.

Marci Wilcox

Dental Assistant

Marci Wilcox attended Everest College of Dental Assisting and holds radiology, EFDA, and Corona Polishing Assistant certifications. Initially, Marci pursued her career to conquer her own fears of the dental experience. Now, she enjoys helping others overcome the same anxieties by making their visits to Heritage Lake Dental relaxing and comfortable.

When she’s not helping patients, Marci has a wide range of interests including container gardening, crochet, building projects, and singing.

Mali Igartua

Dental Hygienist

Amalia graduated from Indiana University Northwest, holding a degree as EFDA and coronal polishing assistant certifications. Mali’s passion for dentistry bloomed since she was a child. She was inspired by her cousin who became a dentist.

In Mali’s free time, she enjoys spending it with family and traveling.

Stephanie Crawford

Insurance Coordinator

In October of 2019, Stephanie joined Heritage Lake Dental’s team, bringing 22 years of expertise in insurance management. She is thrilled to be a part of Heritage Lake’s dental family and loves working with patients.

Stephanie enjoys spending time with her family, particularly her grandchild.

Tina Zabielski-Martinez

Front Desk and Appointment Coordinator

Tina has certifications in x-ray, EFDA, oral surgery, DAANCE, and CPR instructor, which made her a valuable dental instructor at Everest College for six years. Through the years, she has worked with several of her students.

Tina loves being a pet mama, collecting antiques, teaching, and spending time with her granddaughter.


Dental Hygienist

Marti’s passion began with her older brother who was an oral surgeon. He showed her how much fun being a dentist is by making it like a coloring game — filling in and erasing.

Her other passions include hanging out with friends and family, cooking, sports, and finding new restaurants.

dentist tools

We’re Here to Help

For more information about our dentistry, dental treatment options, payment options, or any of the services we provide, call our Valparaiso office at 219-464-1141. We look forward to serving your dental care needs.