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Success: What Does It Mean for PLDC?

I recently saw this print on Facebook and ordered it for my husband as a gift. I thought it would be a great daily reminder to him (and me!) about what truly goes into running a successful business and being a successful person. Oftentimes, it’s easy for others to see only the success and not all the other nitty-gritty pieces needed to achieve that success.

Dr. Matt in 1999.

Matt has always been a driven person. When I first met him 20 years ago, he was an associate at a busy dental practice here in Duluth. He had already purchased his first house on his own, owned a reliable vehicle and was paying all his bills on time. He had completed his dental education and was successfully working in his desired field. He had goals and plans, big dreams you might even say. He surprised me with his determination and drive even then.

A couple years after we started dating, he purchased Pike Lake Dental Center

Dr. Matt and his mom showing off his Harley Davidson motorcycle in 2000.

from Dr. Carter Johnson. At the time, the price of the dental practice and the monthly rent for the office space in the geodesic dome was daunting. Plus, he now had new expenses, such as payroll for staff and lab bills, that required a steady income. If Matt’s schedule wasn’t full, the office wasn’t making any money. Money was tight some months, he scraped and made do, often taking as little take-home pay as was possible, while still being able to pay his personal bills. There were no exotic vacations, no new cars. All our time and energy went into keeping and maintaining the dental practice.

Slowly, we got into a comfortable groove. The practice schedule became steady and full. The daunting payments became easier and there even was a little money for a splurge here and there. 

The dome, the original home of Pike Lake Dental Center, in 2000.

Matt quickly found owning a small business wasn’t exactly glamorous. If it snowed, he needed to shovel and salt the walkways. If a piece of equipment broke, he needed to fix it or pay someone to fix it. He needed to form new relationships with many people, such as the garbage company, the snow plowing company, the dental supply company and his landlord. Back in the dome, if it rained, we spread containers throughout the office to collect the leaks from the roof. It wasn’t always pretty, but it had Matt’s name on it and that fact alone made the jobs easier. Pride of ownership does have its benefits.

Dr. Matt at the Canosia Twp. recycling center.

Some of the other “hidden” jobs of being the owner at Pike Lake Dental Center include plowing the walkway between the employees parking lot and the office, deep cleaning the office, salting and shoveling the sidewalks with each new snowfall, contracting maintenance services for the office, changing light bulbs, hiring staff, putting up and taking down Christmas decorations, making purchase decisions, and every day business decisions. These may not seem like large jobs, and most of them aren’t, but they help create a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year job.

When it came time to build our existing office in 2004, Matt took an active role in the planning and design of the building. We’d check in with the builders many times a day. It was a HUGE investment for us and it was a leap of faith. The building project seemed enormous and required many new items, like dental chairs and computers, which only added to the final price tag. When we sat down and looked at the final numbers after the building was complete, I was shocked. How in the world would we pay it back? Matt knew, though: determination and hard work.

The young Jugovich family, 2009.

I can attest to many sleepless nights, spent worrying and number-crunching. Through sheer will and determination, he made every single payment on time and in full. He would not let Pike Lake Dental Center fail. Looking back, I am still amazed at his tenacity and I’m incredibly proud of all he’s accomplished. When he was worried or stressed, no one else knew. Ok… I knew, but our patients and employees didn’t. He was the same friendly, professional Matt. He alone shouldered the incredible stress and financial responsibility for not only his own young family’s well-being, but also the well-being of all the staff members and their families depending on Pike Lake Dental Center for a steady income.

I would never say the success of Pike Lake Dental Center is on Matt’s shoulders alone. It most definitely is a team effort. I truly believe that every person employed at our office helps make it a success. Part of it is hiring the right people with the right attitudes and work ethic. Part of it is his lead by example leadership style. I’ve heard Matt say many times throughout the years that he wouldn’t ask someone to do a job he himself wasn’t willing to do, even if that means jumping in with sterilizing instruments when we are short staffed.

No caption needed. 😉

I’ve felt many times, as we go into work after hours or deal with work related issues on our days off, that we are married to this office. Without realizing it, Pike Lake Dental Center has become who we are. It is us and we are it. I also believe that is a huge part of what makes it a success. When we leave for the night, even though the doors are locked, we take Pike Lake Dental Center home with us. To me, that is the foundation of success. 

 

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, staff member at Pike Lake Dental Center

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Breaking Down Tooth Whitening: Steph’s Personal Experiences

Somewhere on social media I recently read a great rule of thumb about foods and beverages and their potential to stain your teeth: If it will stain your shirt, it will stain your teeth. Yikes! I eat and drink things every single day that would stain my shirt.

So how do we combat the effects of all those wonderfully delicious foods and drinks?

Whitening products. There are many ways to whiten your teeth. Since I’m married to a dentist, I like to think of myself as a tooth whitening connoisseur. I enjoy having gleaming, white teeth but I also love coffee and red wine. That means I need to continually keep up with whitening my teeth. I’ve tried many different products and I’ll share with you my honest, personal opinions of each type of whitening product.

This would be a great time to remind you that fillings, crowns, bridges and dentures WILL NOT CHANGE COLOR no matter how hard you try to whiten them. The only way to alter their color is to have them replaced by your dentist. Don’t try whitening them, my friends. You are fighting a losing battle.

I’ll take you through each of my experiences with different whitening agents.

Whitening toothpaste. I have not experienced any shade change when using whitening toothpaste. In fact, I often hear my husband warn his patients about sensitivity when using whitening toothpastes. I haven’t found a brand of whitening toothpaste that tastes good to me- they all seem bitter and gritty. I’d have to honestly say that I don’t waste my time or money on whitening toothpastes anymore.

White strips are small and convenient!

White strips. I don’t know why I have been so resistant to these little gems my whole life. I tried these Crest White Strips I found at the office and I really like them. The white strips are thin, papery strips that are applied to dry teeth for 30 minutes. The Crest brand didn’t taste bad. Actually, there really isn’t any taste to them. They moved around a bit once I closed my lips after first applying them, but I slid them back into place and didn’t mind leaving them on for a half an hour. I did feel I salivated with them and needed to spit a few times during the whitening session. Once my 30 minutes were up, I slid the strips off my teeth and threw them away.                                         

White strips in place on my teeth.

I like the nice and easy clean up. I brushed my teeth and waited a few minutes to take my results photo. I found the final shade appeared about 10 minutes after whitening. I put on a little makeup and voila! My teeth look great! They are definitely brighter and whiter than before applying the white strips. As far as sensitivity goes, I feel just fine. I haven’t experienced any sensitivity at all. After using them once a week for a few weeks, I don’t feel the results last as long as my favorite tooth whitening method. For as easy as they are to use, though, I can’t complain. The white strips will be easy to throw in my travel bag and will most definitely be accompanying me on my next trip. Bonus: They are inexpensive. Typically you can buy them in multi packs for less than $2 per application (upper and lower teeth). I’m a fan!

Charcoal whitening powder.

Charcoal powder. This has been all the rage the last year or so. I couldn’t not give it a try. A friend of mine told me it was messy, so I took it along on an overnight trip with my daughter. Yes, I’m the jerk that messes up a hotel bathroom with charcoal whitening powder. No lie: IT’S SUPER MESSY! The directions say to sprinkle a little powder on a wet toothbrush and brush for 2 minutes. I wet my toothbrush under the tap, touched the bristles to the charcoal powder and started brushing (and laughing!). Oh my goodness was this crazy! It didn’t taste terrible. In fact, there really was no taste to it at all. It looks awful and it sticks to everything – lips, tongue, cheeks, teeth, sink, EVERYTHING – it touches. I didn’t notice a difference right away. I was a little worried about the abrasion on my teeth so I brushed

Charcoal powder is messy!

lightly. After using it twice a day for a few days, I think it maintained my tooth shade, but I didn’t notice a dramatic color difference. I also didn’t experience any sensitivity. I do still worry about it being abrasive, so I’ve decided to chalk it up to a fine experience and put it away for a while. I might pull the charcoal powder out at my next Girls Weekend with friends or family. We’d all get a good laugh testing it out.

 

 

Professional whitening kit.

Take-home professional whitening kit. The professional take-home whitening kit is hands-down my favorite way to whiten my teeth. These whitening kits are easy, safe and customizable. The trays are made just for me by my dentist and fit my teeth like a glove. If I feel certain teeth need to be whitened more than others, I can apply the whitening gel to just those teeth. I can also control how much product I use. My rule of thumb when applying the gel in my trays: Less is more. I have used the same trays for years and I can get 4 or 5 full mouth applications from one tube of gel. The trays are easy to clean, reuse and store. Timewise, I don’t feel 30 minutes every few weeks cramps my schedule at all. I get fantastic results, with little sensitivity and minimal time investment. The process isn’t totally

Bleach trays in place.

perfect, though. Sometimes after whitening I find my teeth get little white patches on them and occasionally my gums turn white. Both of these things startled me at first but they are nothing to worry about. The white spots blend into a bright, white shade after 10 minutes or so. The discoloration on my gums disappears after about the same amount of time. I can only leave the trays in for about 30 minutes, and not whiten more often than twice a month, before I start to experience sensitivity with my teeth. After years of trial and error, I know my personal limits with the take-home professional whitening kit. Another side effect is that I salivate like crazy when I wear the trays. I don’t like the sticky, gooey feel the gel leaves on my teeth after I pull my trays out and simply rinsing my mouth with water isn’t enough. I have to first brush my teeth with clear water after removing the trays, then follow with brushing with toothpaste. Overall, I feel the take-home professional whitening kit is easy and provides me with amazing, lasting results. It’s tried and true and works best for me.

All whitened up for another month or so.

Please keep in mind that my experiences with each of these products probably will differ from yours. I may be more or less sensitive than you to certain products. I may have more or less tolerance than you to tastes and textures. We are all different and we react differently to different products. I’m simply sharing with you my experiences and thoughts. I am not a professional. I am simply a consumer, wanting white teeth and sharing my thoughts with you.

 

-Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich.

 

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If You Ain’t First, You’re Last: The Evolution of X Rays at Pike Lake Dental Center

When I first started at Pike Lake Dental Center nearly 20 years ago, our dental technology was very different than it is today. The constantly evolving technology is one of my favorite aspects about the dental field. I also think it helps keep our staff interested in and enjoying their jobs.

I am a huge Will Ferrell fan. Have you seen the movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby? Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the movie, even if it’s terribly grammatically incorrect: “If you ain’t first, you’re last” – Ricky Bobby. That’s true in dentistry too. At Pike Lake Dental Center, we feel we are setting the standard for excellent dental care in the Northland and we aim to keep it that way.

My bitewing x rays from 2001.

X rays 20 years ago were totally old-school. I remember taking the film packets to the little film developing machine, plunging my hands into the tiny dark room and sending the films through the chemical developing process. It would take a few minutes, but the completed bitewing or periapical film would pop out on the opposite end of the machine, dry and hopefully clear.

We copied x rays in much the same way. Our darkroom also served as a storage closet and was located under the stairwell in the geodesic dome, the original home of Pike Lake Dental Center. Sandy and I would lock ourselves into the small space, block out all light, lay the film we wanted to duplicate over the blank film, process it under a special light, then secure the duplicated film into a light-proof case. It was back to the trusty developing machine to open up the light-proof case and send the duplicated x ray through the developing machine. Oh, the good ol’ days!

One of our digital x ray units.

When Dr. Matt invested into digital films a few years after we moved into our new building, it was a game changer. Not only are the films much clearer for our patients, the processing time is nearly instantaneous. Other benefits include less waste, there are no film wrappers or film to dispose of, less chemicals and less counter space without the film developing machine. Plus, the patient’s exposure to radiation is significantly less. There are also no more lead aprons for the patient to wear.

Our 3D scanner and panorex machine.

The panorex machine has changed drastically too. No longer do we take the large films and process them in the same fashion as the old bitewing or periapical films. We now offer our patients a state of the art panorex machine which is also a 3D scanner. This machine is truly incredible. The 3D scanner can capture many different images for many different reasons. If we need to scan your airway to see if you’re a possible candidate for sleep apnea, we can do it. If you need a panorex x ray to aid in maintaining your oral health, we can do it. If there is an area of concern that we can’t capture on a bitewing or periapical x ray in the operatory, we can take a closer look with a more detailed scan. If you’re having a dental implant or a major dental surgery, the 2D and 3D scans allow us, and anyone else working on the case, to see a clearer view of the patient’s mouth, jaw and head. This machine is amazing!

The benefits of a digital image are so important, not only for our patients but also for the environment. If we need to get images to a specialist quickly, we can send them securely via email, no more USPS or having the patient pick up their films to bring along with them. Conference call with a specialist? Both doctors can view the same image on their individual computers while on the phone together. What is the quality difference between film and digital images? The quality of digital imaging is vastly superior to the old-school film images. Not only are the images sharper, dental providers can manipulate the exposure of the image to see areas more clearly, making an accurate diagnosis easier.

Imaging options on our 3D scanner.

The move to digital imaging has also allowed our office to go paperless. What does a “paperless office” mean? The biggest change is the patient’s chart. We no longer have a physical chart for each patient. Instead we keep each patient’s records electronically, so all notes, films and pertinent information such as insurance cards, referrals and communication from specialists in one convenient place where any staff member can access it from any workstation. Going paperless has also cut down immensely on our paper usage. Of course, we still do need to use paper within the office, but it’s at a much lower amount now.

So why is it important to us to stay abreast of the latest technology in our field? There are a few key reasons in my opinion:

  • The technology is COOL! I am completely serious – the technology is so cool. If you had told me how far we’d come in just the technology of x rays when I was standing in that little closet duplicating films 20 years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you.
  • The ability to diagnose is much easier. With the improved quality of images comes improved ability to detect, diagnose and treat our patients.
  • Safety for both our patients and our staff. The levels of radiation and chemical exposure are greatly reduced, producing a healthier environment all around.
  • If we don’t stay on top of the ever changing technology, the chasm between the old and new technology just continues to grow and the leap into the new technology becomes harder and harder.

A photo of my latest panorex.

We are proud to offer this amazing technology to our patients. Whether you’ve been with us from the beginning or have just joined our practice or are thinking about becoming a patient, we strive to always be at the top of our game and provide you and your loved ones with the very best dental services available. Always.

 

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, staff member at Pike Lake Dental Center

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My Friend, YOU ARE WORTH IT!

How often have you denied yourself something, such as a new outfit or a beauty product, because you felt you just didn’t need it? Or maybe you felt you didn’t deserve it. Or maybe you’d feel guilty for having something like it because you consider it a frivolous expense. I know I’ve felt that way many, many times!

The other day, I was talking with another staff member about an ortho referral case. The patient is young and beautiful and would benefit both aesthetically and functionally from full orthodontia. I asked why she wasn’t jumping at an ortho referral. The referral process is easy and the patient has adult ortho coverage with her dental insurance plan. It seemed like an easy “yes” or at least an easy “let me find out more information” case. But we don’t always prioritize things like orthodontia for ourselves as adults. Yet, we’d jump at the chance to get our kids started with ortho.

Cheesing it up with two of my three kids.

As a wife and mother, I feel I am always putting the needs of others ahead of my own. I do this freely and almost always without conscious thought, not expecting accolades or even simple thanks. It’s just what I do. I’ve talked with many other moms about this fact and we all seem to feel the same. The resounding parental attitude seems to be “I value you more than I value myself.” While this is an incredibly noble way to live your life, it doesn’t always serve us best.

Over the years at the dental office, we have heard many reasons why patients, women especially, decline elective procedures like ortho or aesthetic dental work. These reasons range from their kids needing new ice skates to husbands wanting a new boat. While those things are unquestionably valuable, your teeth, your smile and your self-worth are also extremely valuable. You are worth it! Yes, your son will use his new skates, probably many hours every week, but you will use your teeth all day, every day for the rest of your life.  So, while you are fully supportive of your husband going on an expensive hunting trip for a week, you aren’t willing to spend money on yourself. I get it! It’s that pesky guilt again. But remember… You are worth it!

Yes, finances play a huge role in treatment acceptance. There are ways to ease that burden, though. We offer an interest-free option for dental treatment through a financing company called Care Credit. The length of the loan is determined on how much money is borrowed and the interest is paid by us. It’s a great payment option, especially for larger procedures such as crowns or Invisalign. If you’d like more info on Care Credit, just stop by or call our office.

As dental care providers, it is our job to look out for you. We are here to provide you with the very best dental care we possibly can. We don’t recommend treatment willy-nilly or to pad our production numbers. Any treatment we recommend is done with your best interests at heart, because we truly feel you would benefit from the treatment either functionally, aesthetically or both. We get to see the ways certain elective procedures can change lives, giving patients confidence and smiles they never dreamed they could achieve.  

Before veneers were placed on two teeth.

After veneers were placed on two teeth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s face it – we live in a world that values beauty. Straight, white teeth are what a lot of people want. So how do you get them? Well, it means investing in yourself. Tooth whitening is an easy way to improve your smile for minimal cost. We recommend a professional kit to achieve the best results. It’s amazing what a brighter, whiter smile can do for your confidence! If you’ve kicked around whitening your teeth, talk to us about it at your next appointment. We’d be happy to discuss it with you because… Guess what? You are worth it!

Lisa with a patient during an Invisalign consultation.

Invisalign can change lives. I know that sounds silly, but it is so true! Crooked teeth, even very mild cases, can cause patients to feel less confident in themselves. Oftentimes the Invisalign consultations we see are ortho relapse cases, which means they had ortho as kids and their teeth shifted in adulthood. Most commonly, these patients didn’t wear their retainers as adults and their teeth moved slowly out of line. By offering Invisalign to our patients, we can give them an affordable option for straight teeth, the ability to achieve their results at their own pace, and without the traditional metal orthodontic brackets. Invisalign’s success is almost completely patient controlled. The patients who follow instructions and wear their aligners as prescribed have fantastic results and are always so glad they invested the money into their smiles. We haven’t had a patient yet who doesn’t feel the investment was worth it.

Here’s a great quote from one of our patients from a Google review she shared about our office:

“Last year I was able to fulfill a long time dream of getting Invisalign treatment here as well and I couldn’t be happier!”

We hate to brag, but Maria looks and feels fantastic! We are so happy she invested in herself – she is worth it!

When you feel good about yourself, other people notice. I have found that my kids even notice my confidence in my smile. Raising two daughters and a son, I definitely want to instill confidence and self worth in them. My kids know when I feel shy or self-conscious. They also know when I feel like I can take on the world. Where do our kids learn those important qualities? From us! Confidence does come from within, but it’s also often emulated by a person’s loved ones. Moms and dads, show your kids you value yourself, that you are worth it. Don’t always take the back burner. Take the leap. Do something for yourself. Come in for a free Invisalign consultation. Talk to us about whitening your teeth. Let us know if there is something you’d like to improve with your teeth or your smile. Because, after all, you truly are worth it!

 

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, staff member at Pike Lake Dental Center

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Cassandra and Lisa delivering an Invisalign case.

What Do You Get When You Choose Pike Lake Dental Center?

You get dental professionals. We take our jobs seriously and enjoy what we do. We value continuing dental education and stay curious about dentistry. Patient confidentiality is ensured. We value you as a patient and we value your time. We are great at what we do and feel confident we can provide you and your loved ones with exceptional dental care.  

Dr. Matt at a continuing education class.

You get a family run business. That’s right, it truly is family run. My husband and I treat this business like it’s another member of our family. It requires constant attention and love. We put in many business hours, but we also put in many more hours after the office is closed. We do everything from snow removal to restocking supplies to even unclogging the sinks ourselves. Our kids are not immune to pitching in to help, too. They get put to work cleaning, shredding, stuffing and stamping envelopes, and have even been featured in our advertising. This business is our life’s work and we are all proud of it!

That’s our son right there!

You get a caring and experienced staff. We don’t just have patients here, we have friends and family. We truly care about our patients as individuals and want to provide the best services we possibly can each and every day. Our patients aren’t just a number to us. When you’re a patient at Pike Lake Dental Center, you are part of our family. Our staff is consistent, you won’t see a new face every time you visit. In fact, at least three of our employees have been with the office for 15-30+ years, and the majority have already celebrated their 5 year anniversaries with us. We enjoy being together as a staff. That feeling of friendship is naturally emitted throughout the office and is felt by our patients.

A fun group of smiles from Halloween.

You get a modern dental office. Sometimes we joke that our office “Isn’t your grandpa’s dental office.” By that, we mean that we aren’t stuck in the 1970s. Instead, we embrace today’s technology! From digital impressions, to same-day crowns, to 3D scans and 3D printers, to being Invisalign providers, we invest in proven dental technology that helps us treat our patients better. Some of this equipment even saves everyone valuable time. Our x rays are digital and our office is paperless, which means no more paper charts with the old, grey films filed away in them. We pride ourselves on being able to treat most procedures in-house, such as root canals, extractions, pediatric dentistry, partial and full dentures, and crown and bridge cases. We even place and restore our own dental implants. Being a patient at an office that provides a broad range of services like ours means our patients can continue their care in a comfortable and familiar environment without having to seek potentially more expensive treatment from specialists. That’s a lot of service and knowledge under one roof!

Lisa taking digital impressions on a patient.

You get a clean and updated building. Outward appearances are important. By providing a clean and well maintained facility, we hope you recognize our commitment to our business. You won’t find peeling paint or stained ceiling tiles. That may sound silly, but we take pride in the appearance of our facility and believe our staff and patients benefit from it. If something needs fixing, it gets fixed. Repairs aren’t put on the back burner.

One of our operatories, ready to welcome our next patient.

You get plenty of accessible, off street parking. There are no parking meters here. You will not have to fight for a parking spot. Instead, you’ll find a flat, easily maneuverable parking lot that we maintain throughout the year. There is plenty of green space and beautiful maple trees around our building, so even though you are close to the city of Duluth, it almost feels like the country.

A view from our parking lot looking toward our easily accessed front door.

You get dental providers who aren’t worried about production numbers. Unlike big, corporate dental offices, we are able to focus on the patient and provide the services they need and not worry about the numbers at the end of the day. Instead, we close up shop at night feeling that we’ve done the best job we could for every one of our patients.

Ready to welcome our patients tomorrow morning.

We are proud of our office and the services we provide our patients. We feel you get much more than an average dental office when you walk through our doors. Our fees are competitive and we don’t oversell treatment. We value every one of our patients and their hard working families. I truly feel that when you choose Pike Lake Dental Center, you choose the best dental office around.

Pike Lake Dental Center, 5651 Miller Trunk Highway, Duluth, MN.

 

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, staff member at Pike Lake Dental Center

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For the Love of Floss! Floss Hacks We Actually Use at Pike Lake Dental Center

We love floss at Pike Lake Dental Center. What dental office doesn’t? Flossing your teeth daily is extremely important to your overall oral health, but did you know we use floss within our office for many things other than simply flossing our teeth? Let me tell you about some of them.

You can cut a cake with dental floss! We received this beautiful cake from Arrowhead Orthodontics this winter and Nancy, one of our dental assistants, cut the cake with dental floss. She wound the floss around her fingers as if she were going to floss her teeth, then gently sliced through the cake. It worked really well and was fun to try. You can’t use this trick on a cake in a pan, but it works great for layered cakes like this. This floss hack works fantastic with soft cheeses too.

Our tree outside was leaning and needed a little encouragement to help it grow straight. We cut a long piece of floss and attached one end to a ground stake and the other end loosely to the tree. The leaning tree is growing straight and tall now. The floss has held strong outside in the elements for a couple months already. We like to think of it as a little ortho for the tree!

Leaning houseplants are never nice to look at. We have bolstered many, many indoor plants here at Pike Lake Dental Center with dental floss. The floss holds tight, while still allowing the plant to grow. Plus, it’s easily adjustable when tied in a bow. We do find the unwaxed floss is a little easier to adjust when needed.

Hanging pictures can be an ordeal. You want to hang each piece absolutely straight, but sometimes putting more than one hole in the wall is not what you want to do. With this particular picture, we tied a short string of dental floss to both hangers and created one adjustable hanger. This trick has worked really well with this picture. Plus, we only needed to put one hole in the wall, instead of two. Win and win! Again, unwaxed dental floss is best with pictures, because the knots don’t slide as easily over time.

Dental floss can help remove stubborn rings. I tucked one end of about a 24” piece of unwaxed dental floss under my ring, then I carefully wrapped the floss down the length of my finger. I gently pulled on the end of the floss nearest my ring and it pulled the ring right off my finger. Genius! By wrapping the floss around my finger, the circumference of my finger was reduced. With a smaller finger circumference, it was much simpler to ease the ring off my finger. I tried the trick with both waxed and unwaxed floss and it’s a much cleaner process with unwaxed floss. The wax from the floss was a little challenging to remove from both my skin and my ring after the experiment. Obviously, don’t keep the floss wrapped around your finger any longer than you absolutely need to. You don’t want to block the circulation for long.

Lost the screw to your glasses and need a quick fix? Look no further than your dental floss. Simply line up the holes where the screw is missing and tie a piece of dental floss through the hole. It works great for a quick fix or, possibly, a more lengthy fix until you can remember to get a new screw.

Remember Dr. Matt’s fish-hook-in-the-finger story from last summer? We use a piece of dental floss to hang his “lucky” lure in his office so he will always remember to use pliers when removing hooks while fishing.

We, of course, want you to floss your teeth at least once every day, but now you may have some additional uses for your dental floss. If you run out of floss, stop by our office for another spool. We are happy to help encourage flossing! And maybe help inspire a few DIY projects along the way. Happy flossing, everybody!

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, staff member at Pike Lake Dental Center

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Eeewww! My Splint is SMELLY!

Do you know how to properly clean your oral device? I didn’t and I’m married to a dentist.

We had a patient stop in our office the other day asking how to clean her TAP 3 sleep apnea device. She said it was starting to smell and taste bad after wearing it nightly for a few months. It’s easy to sympathize – those qualities are not incentives to wear the device every night. One staff member suggested a denture cleaner and the patient said she remembered being cautioned against that. So what is the answer?

I have a splint I wear at night to treat my TMJ pain. I’ve worn it for years. I usually just rinse my splint with water in the morning and let it air dry. About every week or so, I’ve used my toothbrush, with a little left over sudsy toothpaste on it, to gently brush my splint in the morning. I found out today that toothpaste can be abrasive when used to clean oral devices. Again, what is the answer to a clean and deodorized oral device?

A few minutes of intense staff discussion in our lunchroom followed this question, then another staff member jumped on the internet, went to the website for the TAP 3 Elite, and found instructions on proper care for the device. Thank goodness for the internet!

Cleaning directions, straight from the TAP 3 Elite website.

After our conversation at work today, I will admit I did take a little sniff of my splint when I got home. It wasn’t terrible, but I felt compelled to clean it, just the same.

The following instructions are for cleaning a TAP 3 Elite, an oral device used to treat sleep apnea, although we believe this would be a safe method to clean any oral device such as a splint or night guard, mouth guard, orthodontic retainer, or partial or full denture.

I’ll use my splint to show you how to properly keep your oral device clean and deodorized:

  • Use a soft toothbrush dedicated just for this task, cool water and an antibacterial liquid soap to thoroughly clean the device each morning. I know it sounds weird to use hand soap on your oral device, but I tried it and I feel it cleaned my splint really well. My biggest fear was tasting the soap when I put my splint back in my mouth, but I made sure to rinse it thoroughly and I didn’t taste the soap. Win! The cool water is also important, as you don’t want to damage or distort the device with hot water.

  • Let your oral device thoroughly air dry before placing it in the storage container or case. If your oral device isn’t completely dry, just leave the top of the case open during the day or leave it in a safe place. I usually keep mine on the bathroom countertop or on my nightstand during the day.

  • Every two weeks, disinfect your appliance by soaking it in a solution of half mouthwash, half water for only 10-15 minutes, then thoroughly rinse it with cool water. You can substitute a denture cleanser for the mouthwash, but again only soak the appliance for 10-15 minutes. Timing is key here, folks. You could potentially damage your device if it is left in the cleaning solution for too long. I left my splint in the mouthwash solution for 10 minutes and it came out looking and tasting fresh and clean.

Remember: You should always put your oral appliance into a clean mouth. The bacteria on your splint can’t form there on its own. Brush and floss your teeth before wearing your oral appliance each day or night. These actions will help keep your appliance, your mouth and your teeth cleaner.

I do feel a little silly for not properly cleaning my splint all these years. Although I was keeping it pretty clean with sudsy toothpaste, I was potentially damaging it with the abrasive toothpaste. I’m excited to sleep with a clean and fresh-smelling splint tonight. Sweet dreams, everyone!

Yay! My splint is fresh and clean!

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, staff member at Pike Lake Dental Center and faithful nighttime splint wearer

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Getting Started with Invisalign

I’m sure you’ve heard about Invisalign. It’s another treatment method to traditional braces to straighten teeth at home and on your own time. Invisalign treatment consists of multiple, clear trays that apply pressure to specific teeth, or areas on those teeth, to gently guide each tooth into the desired position. The trays are designed to wear in stages and are numbered in order of the treatment phases. Invisalign treatment typically lasts between 6-18 months, depending on how consistently the trays are worn and the amount of correction required. The actual Invisalign process is pretty straight forward, but how and where do you begin? Let’s take a closer look.

At Pike Lake Dental Center, we offer free Invisalign consultations. Yes, I said FREE. You’ll find no pressure or sales pitch from our staff. We simply want to help you find out if Invisalign is a treatment option for you. If we discover Invisalign is not the best option, we are happy to refer you to one of our fantastic local orthodontists for traditional orthodontic care. If Invisalign is an option, we are happy to help you begin your journey to straighter, more beautiful teeth.

The free Invisalign consultation consists of two parts here at Pike Lake Dental Center:

The initial consultation visit lasts about 40 minutes. We start by discussing your teeth and goals for treatment. We take a few digital photos of your face and teeth. We also take digital impressions of both your upper and lower teeth with our new iTero scanner. No gooey, sticky impression material required! The iTero software compiles many images together and creates a virtual image with exact measurements of your mouth and how your teeth bite together. These files are sent electronically to Invisalign. Once the information is received by the Invisalign team, your treatment plan is created within 48 hours.

At this point, we are also able to gather information from you to send into your dental insurance company to preauthorize the Invisalign treatment. Some insurance companies provide adult orthodontic coverage.

The second appointment with our office lasts about a half an hour. Ideally, we’d like to see you back for this appointment within a week of your initial consultation. At this appointment, we sit down with you and discuss your customized Invisalign treatment plan. You are able to see everything Invisalign has created for your unique, customized treatment. This even includes a 3D image of each phase of your treatment for each arch of your mouth, plus a view of your bite and how it will change during the course of treatment. It’s an amazing moment when a patient is able to view the images of their teeth post-treatment on the computer screen before treatment has even begun. This digital file can be shared with you via email so you are able to show images of your transformation with friends and family.

We also discuss fees with you at this appointment. Invisalign treatment fees varies drastically depending on the different levels of treatment needed for each patient. It’s a worthy investment to attain the winning smile you deserve.

If you’ve been thinking about Invisalign treatment, now is the time to contact our office for your free consultation. We are excited to help you achieve your very best smile here at Pike Lake Dental Center.

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, staff member at Pike Lake Dental Center

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3D Scans: The Future of Dentistry

Our office recently tested out a new 3D camera/scanner. We had a lunch and learn meeting with the scanner’s salesman where we learned about the benefits and potential of the machine. We were able to test it out on each other and get a good feel for the product. It wasn’t a difficult decision to purchase the equipment. The scanner just arrived a few weeks ago and we’ve already been putting it to good use!

How will this scanner help us help you?

By digitally scanning our patients, we are able to create a baseline from which we will be able to monitor many different concerns. For instance, we will be able to monitor the entire structure of a patient’s mouth. If a person grinds their teeth, we can monitor and track the wear on the teeth to fractions of millimeters. The software will even highlight the differences between each scan a patient has with our office. If a patient suffers from periodontal issues, we will be able to track the pockets and receding gum tissue. When a patient sees regression on the results of their at-home periodontal care, it will be a lot easier to guide them toward the appropriate care and areas that require more attention. When there is progress with their at-home perio care, we will be able to celebrate their accomplishments with them – in vivid color! Visual aids are always helpful with patient care and treatment understanding.

This scanner also helps us continue to eliminate the gooey impression material for most procedures. We can take digital impressions to send to dental labs for splints, crowns, bridges, surgical guides, Invisalign and more. We can also send those same scans to our own CEREC and 3D printer to create crowns, bridges, splints, implants, surgical guides, study models, and more. I feel the possibilities are endless!

The actual time it takes to retrieve the full mouth scan is minimal – only about two minutes. In that short time, we gain so much valuable information. The process is simple – we move this wand over your teeth while the scanner takes thousands of photos and binds them together to form one, big image. It is taking precise measurements and acquiring exact data about your teeth, much more accurate than the old, gooey impressions could.

Have you ever taken a visual tour of your entire mouth? It’s pretty amazing to see new views your teeth and in color! We can even stop and take individual photos of teeth, which we could send to insurance companies or use as before and after photos. Again, the possibilities are endless!

A digital scan, kept on file, can be reused for multiple purposes. Perhaps we scanned you in May for a baseline scan. In August you find you need a splint to help cure nighttime clenching. We can use the same scan. In October, you break a tooth and need a crown. Yes, we can use the same scan.

So, will this service cost you more?

Nope! This is simply another tool we will use to better diagnose, track and aid in our patients’ treatment. We demand the best for our patients. If we can make your time at our office more efficient, comfortable or more economical, we will do it. If we can help you understand your diagnosis or treatment better, we will do it. Providing you with the best dental care available is at the core of every one of our decisions. Insist on the best! You are worth it!

 

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, staff member at Pike Lake Dental Center

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A Traditional Sleep Study for Sleep Apnea – Is There Another Option?

If you suspect you or a loved one suffer from sleep apnea, you’ve probably also given some thought to a traditional sleep study to be officially diagnosed. Going to a sleep study clinic for an overnight, with all those wires attached to you, doesn’t probably sound like a very fun night out. What if there was another option for an accurate sleep study? What if you could have a sleep study taken while sleeping in your own bed, with just this little machine attached to your chest, wrist and first finger? Sounds appealing, right?

A few months ago, Stacey, a RDH here at our office, suggested this device to Dr. Matt. She had a friend in another state whose dental office was using this device for sleep studies on their patients. She did some more research into the company and convinced Dr. Matt the WatchPAT deserved consideration. We were able to test it out on one patient prior to purchasing the kit. We decided to test it on the husband of one of our assistants. Guess what? He has sleep apnea. His reviews of the test itself were positive. We were convinced it was a piece of technology we wanted to offer our patients. Let me tell you a little about the WatchPAT.

The WatchPAT is a small device that is able to monitor a patient’s sleep and confirm whether or not he or she suffers from sleep apnea. To gain this diagnosis, the WatchPAT monitors sleep time, snoring, restless sleep, each stage of sleep (REM, deep and light), sleep position, and the oxygen in the blood. It’s pretty complex for as little as it is!

The test process is simple. A patient settles into bed for the night, applies the Snoring/Body Position Sensor on their chest, straps the WatchPat onto their non-dominant wrist, places the uPAT sleeve over their ring finger and turns on the device. It’s that simple! The necessary data is collected while you sleep. The next morning the patient packs the pieces back into the carrying case and returns it back to our office. We upload the collected data to a sleep study doctor. The results are returned to us within a day usually.

The best part: You can do this sleep study right in your own home, in the comfort of your own bed! We believe it’s a more accurate study because your sleep is more natural in your own comfortable surroundings.

The cost of the sleep study is less than the cost of an overnight in an average hotel. Would that fee be worth it to receive answers to health questions?

We aren’t saying this sleep study is right for everyone. It doesn’t always prove each patient we’ve tested has sleep apnea. It’s just another option we are excited to offer our patients.

So how do we decide which patients to test? Sometimes a patient or their spouse suspects they have sleep apnea, as in our first test patient. There are also some clues that we notice either during an exam or while talking with a patient that tip us off to possible sleep apnea sufferers. Most often, the patients we screen are more mild cases of sleep apnea that we suspect we can treat with a TAP3 oral device, made through our dental office. For another blog post on sleep apnea and the TAP3 devices we make for our patients, click on this link.

Oftentimes, patients are surprised by the sleep study results. Even more often, they are surprised by the severity of their results. We have seen patients who have been misdiagnosed by others, or they haven’t felt the symptoms they present are severe enough to warrant sharing them with their healthcare professionals.

After a confirmed diagnosis, we are there to help guide a patient through the next phases of treatment and healing. We also recommend patients to follow up with their physicians and share the WatchPAT results with them. The more thorough care our patients receive from both our office and their physicians, the better the success rate is.

 

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, staff member at Pike Lake Dental Center

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