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All Posts in Category: PLDC Over the Years

Merry Christmas 2019 from the Jugovich Family

Merry Christmas! What a whirlwind of a year 2019 has been! I feel as though we’ve hardly been home this year, but we’ve sure had a lot of fun! In January, I took the kids to Aruba without Matt, who stayed home to man the fort. It was a great trip, even though we missed Matt, and we came home with a lot of fun family memories. Campbell got her driver’s license in January. Jack played school basketball last winter and Katie played Junior Olympic volleyball for 6 months this last winter and into the summer. We fished a lot. Jack got his permit. Matt and Jack went to Canada and Alaska over the summer to fish with friends. Katie and I went to Florida for volleyball in June. Our family camped, fished some more and enjoyed the cabin this summer. Fall brought back to school and even more volleyball. Now, as winter settles in again, we are ready for a break in the craziness and some big changes at the office. One thing I’ve learned about life as a Jugovich: It’s never dull! 

 

Matt has had both a challenging and an amazing year. Although he was the only dentist at the office the majority of this past year, he’s had his best year yet. 2019 has brought him back to the basics and renewed his passion for his profession. We are very excited that another dentist joined our team in November. With an associate at Pike Lake Dental Center, Matt may be able to take a little more time off in 2020. Matt works extremely hard, but he also plays extremely hard. He spent as much time as possible fishing this year, hitting Lake Superior, Isle Royale, Lake of the Woods, Red Lake, Canada and even Alaska this summer. He enjoyed taking the ATVs out at the cabin and driving the pontoon around our lake. Through it all, Matt has always had a great, can-do attitude and a smile on his face. He’s a trooper and makes our lives so amazing. 

 

Campbell will turn 17 in early January. She loves the freedom a driver’s license and a vehicle provide her. Technically a Junior in high school this year, she chose to go to Lake Superior College here in Duluth as a full-time Postsecondary Enrollment Option student, which means she will graduate in 2021 with both an AA degree in May and her high school diploma in June. She worked over the summer at Fleet Farm, but took a hiatus from working this fall to focus on her schooling and to help ferry her brother and sister around. We share custody of Campbell with her boyfriend, Brett, or get them as a package deal most evenings. Campbell discovered her love for baseball, Brett’s sport of choice, and attended about 100 of his games this spring and summer, including the MN 2A HS baseball championship game, in which Brett threw the winning pitch! She is extremely happy about every aspect of her life right now, which makes us extremely happy. As one of her favorite past teachers likes to say, “Life is good!”

 

Jack is 15 and has been chauffeuring us around since he got his permit in May. He’s growing taller every time I look at him and is a solid 5’ 10.5” now.  He played basketball last winter, but has chosen to take a break from sports this year. His schoolwork has made a fantastic turnaround this Sophomore year and I think he’s secretly pretty proud of it. I know I am! Jack had a bunch of amazing opportunities to hunt and fish with Matt this year, including a couple father-son fishing trips with friends to Alaska and Canada. I’d best describe Jack as an easy going, X Box playing, all around awesome kid. He has a dry, witty sense of humor, which never fails to make us laugh.

 

Katie will be 14 at the end of December. She’s already taller than both her sister and me. Volleyball is her favorite sport and she plays it year-round between school ball and her JO team. She and I took a fun trip to Orlando this summer to round out her 13s volleyball season at the AAU National tournament. She loves to read and sleep. She’s a fun, feisty, passionate kid who’s fun to hang out with. She’s consistently a stellar student and enjoys her friends and school equally. Katie is still a champion of the underdog and firmly believes in her values. She makes us pull out our hair one minute, then squeeze her because she’s so sweet the next. She makes us laugh a lot and has a quick, dry sense of humor.

 

I am never lacking for things to keep me busy. I went back to work full time at the office last December. It’s been a fun and challenging year and I’m thankful the gals at work have been so gracious and welcoming to me. There was a learning curve in every aspect of my life (from juggling my new schedule to making our family life run smoothly), but we managed it together – as a team and a family. I’m forever grateful to Campbell for jumping in and never complaining about driving her siblings around. And then there are my friends who have also jumped in and supported us along the way. It truly takes a village! To fill my creative niche, I subscribed to a monthly watercolor painting kit this year and have really enjoyed learning something new. I listened to a lot of audiobooks again this year and also read a few traditional books along the way. Summer remains my most favorite season and I eagerly await its return. Sunshine, sandals, boats, water, camping and campfires are still my favorite things, along with craft beer, good wine and books. What can I say? I’m pretty easy to please! Wink. Wink.

 

The dogs are happy and (fairly) well behaved. Ollie is nearing 4 years old and Alvin is 5. They continue to be best buddies and Ollie is happy to let Alvin take the lead in all things dog related. Ollie jumped off the dock at the cabin at least a million times this year, swimming out for his tennis ball and dropping it at our feet to throw again. He is laid back and happy all the time, if not a little over-the-top affectionate. Alvin still barks a lot and is on high alert for passing vehicles and any chipmunk, squirrel or bird that dares come near our yard. All their quirks aside, they bring us joy and are great companions.

 

We hope 2019 has delivered you health, happiness and many fond memories. We wish you a blessed 2020! If you are ever up near Biwabik, look us up! The cabin is always ready for company. 

 

Our love this happy holiday season and always,

 

Stephanie, Matt, Campbell, Jack and Katie Jugovich

 

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Merry Christmas, 2020!

What a year 2020 has been!

We started out the year with a family trip to Aruba in January, never suspecting it would be one of the best, most unrestricted and carefree weeks of our entire year. Our state locked down in the middle of March and stayed closed until the middle of May. During the stay at home order, Matt and the kids painted the kids’ bedrooms, we purged a dumpster full of old papers and junk from the basement, donated loads of stuff, cooked some delicious meals and were able to fish quite a bit. We used our bigger boat more in April and May than we do most summers! We watched the Netflix series Tiger King (waste of time) and enjoyed a bunch of  movies at home as a family. Matt and I were also busy during the shutdown with paperwork and planning for our office expansion, which began in May and finished up in November. We got back to work in May with a bunch of increased safety precautions and have had a fantastic second half of the year. We fished, camped, played at the cabin, and tried to enjoy life as much as we could, even with the COVID outbreak this summer. We had most of our trips cancelled this year, including a volleyball tournament for Katie in Florida and fishing in both Ontario and British Columbia for Matt and Jack. The fall brought renewed excitement at the office when we moved into the fresh, new addition. We doubled our square footage and are so excited about it! The whole office looks absolutely beautiful! We hope to spend more time at the cabin this winter and get outdoors to snowmobile and ice fish. 

Campbell is a Senior in high school this year and is also in her second year of PSEO, a program that allows kids to attend college for free their Junior and/or Senior years of high school. She will graduate this spring with her AA degree from Lake Superior College and her high school diploma. She worked for us at the dental office over the summer and has worked at the Tutoring Center at LSC this 2020/2021 school year, tutoring fellow students in both chemistry and calculus. She really enjoys college and it’s a good thing she does because she most likely will be in school for another 6-10 years for a career in either the medical or dental field. Campbell and her long-time boyfriend, Brett, have enjoyed being carefree kids this year and spent a lot of time hiking, hammocking, hanging out with friends and binging on TV shows. All in all, it’s been a great year for Campbell. We are looking forward to her turning 18 in January and enjoying a further taste of freedom as she enters adulthood.

Jack is a Junior at Duluth Marshall. He turned 16 in May and got his driver’s license in July, thanks to the COVID shutdown. He’s thoroughly enjoying all the freedom a driver’s license allows and is always willing to help drive his little sister to school and get her to and from her commitments. Jack is still an extremely social kid, enjoying many of the fun activities of the typical high school kids – attending sporting events, hosting sleepovers at the cabin, hanging out and grabbing food with friends, and lots and lots of XBox. He met his dad’s height and stands at a solid 6’ tall. Jack continues to make us laugh with his antics and has proven to be a fantastic sous vide chef. His flame-finished ribeye is to die for. Jack also spent a few weekends hunting birds this fall with Matt. We all enjoy the pheasants, ducks and geese.

Katie started high school this year and is a happy Freshman at Duluth Marshall. She stayed active and connected with friends with a lot of volleyball this year. COVID cancelled the last 4 months of her regular JO volleyball season, but she was able to play her favorite sport with new, fun, alternative volleyball options over the summer and into the fall. She is still very helpful around the house and has a special affection for all creatures great and small – dogs, fish and even geckos. She took driver’s ed in the fall, so she’ll be ready to get her permit to drive when she turns 15 at the end of the month. Katie is almost always fun to hang out with (she is a teenager, don’t forget) and is still game to camp, fish or watch a movie with us almost anytime.

The dogs are happy and healthy, although Alvin, at 7 years old, is starting to slow down. Ollie still wants to jump off the dock every chance he gets and he’ll hold your hand all day long if you’ll let him. 

Jack and Katie switched to online learning in November and Campbell continues to be about half online and half in-person classes. COVID struck our house in November, too. Campbell has fully recovered and we are thankful it was a very mild case. Although we were close together before we knew she was sick, she was the only one to get the virus. How does that work?

We continue to be thankful for amazing coworkers and patients, steady jobs we enjoy, a healthy family, true friends, and lots of opportunities to indulge in our favorite pastimes. The invitation still stands – there’s always a comfortable floatie and a cold beer available during the summer at our cabin on Bass Lake near Biwabik. 

Here’s hoping 2021 is a year filled with health and happiness for you and yours! 

Our love always,

Stephanie, Matt, Campbell, Jack and Katie Jugovich

Here are a few of our favorite pictures from 2020:

Livin’ it up on the beach in Aruba in January.

Signing our lives away at the closing of the loan for the office expansion in June.

Campbell and Brett celebrating the 4th of July at our cabin.

Mid-construction of the office addition in July.

Alvin cuddling on Katie’s bed.

The kids standing for their obligatory photo in Grand Marais in August.

Our 18th wedding anniversary in August.

Ollie ready to roll t0 SD to hunt this fall.

Matt and Jack pheasant hunting in South Dakota in October.

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Christmas Greetings from the Jugovich Family, 2021

Christmas greetings! What a wonderful year 2021 has been! 

Matt has had a fantastic year keeping busy with some fishing, hunting (ducks, grouse and pheasant), relaxing and, of course, projects around the house, office and cabin. Matt got a new toy this summer, a mini excavator, and is excited to get some projects done in the coming year. The extra bonus for Matt this summer was his schedule. He worked Monday-Wednesday, which gave him plenty of time for work and some much-needed play. Ever the “idea guy”, you may see some new tricks Matt has up his sleeve come out in our Christmas letter next year. Life is always an adventure with Matt!

I still work at the office and help take care of the back end of our businesses. It’s a good mix of people and numbers for me. My schedule also gives me a little more time to be “Mom” while the kids are still home. I finished reading/listening to my annual 100 book goal again this year. I also mastered using chopsticks in 2021! My interests continue to lean toward the arts. Writing, painting and photography are the activities that fuel my soul. I had a nice, little container garden on our deck again this summer. We had a bounty of fresh herbs, onions, potatoes and more this year that we’ll be able to enjoy throughout the winter.

2021 was a big year for Campbell! She officially became an adult in January. She graduated from Lake Superior College with honors and a 4.0 GPA and earned her AA degree in May. She also earned her high school diploma in June, with an additional 350+ hours of community service logged. She took a few classes over the summer and began pursuing a BS in biochemistry degree at the College of St. Scholastica in September. Campbell and her long-time boyfriend, Brett, will both graduate from CSS in 2023. She plans to apply to dental schools in the near future. Campbell also spread her wings in July and moved into her first apartment, a cute 1 bedroom unit, in Duluth. She is only a few minutes from home, but she is thoroughly enjoying her independence. She worked as a tutor for calculus and chemistry courses at LSC for most of last school year and also worked at our office on Fridays. She’s taking most of this semester off from work as she navigates a heavy credit load at CSS. Life has been busy, fun and exciting for Campbell.

Jack is a senior at Marshall and is enjoying every minute of it. He missed so much of his high school experience the past couple years, so he is making up for it at every opportunity. At 17, he is as tall as his dad, a solid 6 feet, and growing. Jack loves to drive! The kid has put a ton of miles on his car. Ever the social butterfly, he loves hanging out with his friends and playing sports. He joined basketball again this year and has learned he also enjoys golf. Jack got a few bird hunting trips in with Matt this fall too. He is finally seeing a direction in school that he enjoys and may pursue a degree in the sciences, as he is really loving his AP biology class this year. He’s applying to colleges now and is looking forward to graduation and new adventures away from home in 2022.

Katie is a sophomore at Marshall and is eagerly awaiting her 16th birthday later in December. She can’t wait to get her drivers license and gain her next level of independence. She got her first job this summer at Gordy’s Gift and Garden Center here in Hermantown. She blossomed (excuse the pun) at Gordy’s! She experienced the many rewards of having a job by making great friends, learning a lot of people and customer service skills and earning a paycheck. She was on the Nordic ski team this past winter, played volleyball for school this fall, joined a bunch of school activities and clubs, student council, and is also a student ambassador for Marshall. She bakes for the office every once in a while too! Katie is a stellar student and keeps a close eye on her grades. She enjoys challenging herself and is taking mostly honors classes at school this year. 

The dogs are aging well. Ollie, at 5 years old, especially loved the summer months being up at the cabin and in the lake, along with the couple hunting trips he made to the Dakotas with Matt. He’s a hunter through and through! He’s also the most loving and gentle dog you could find. Alvin, 7 years old, still sometimes acts like a puppy, chasing his favorite ball and leaping into the car for a “CR.” We have to use a code for “car ride” because he gets so excited. Alvie will still bark at the wind, a stranger or any noise he hears. It’s great. Really.

Our other baby, Pike Lake Dental, continues to grow, especially with the addition to the building in 2020. We have added staff, patients and potential with the extra 2,500 square feet. Matt and I are thankful for the truly awesome people we have the privilege of working with and calling our friends. We often joke that we have our “family” family and also our “work family.” The counting of our blessings wouldn’t be complete without mentioning our amazing patients and the relationships we continue to grow with them. It takes a village and we are forever thankful for ours.

We snuck down to Florida a couple times this spring, once just the two of us to Marco Island and once as a family to the Keys. Matt and I also took a couple weekend trips to Dallas for some financial planning and business strategizing. It feels so good to travel again! 

Our trip to South Dakota’s beautiful Black Hills was a highlight of the 2021 summer. The guys’ fishing trip to Canada was postponed again this year, so we switched gears and loaded up the family and the ATVs and headed out to Lead, SD for a week. The whole family could be together, all 6 of us (Campbell and Brett too!) which is getting harder and harder to accomplish. We visited a bunch of tourist spots and also put many miles on our ATVs. It was an awesome trip! 

We fished only a handful of times this year, certainly not as often as in years past. After much contemplation, we gave up our seasonal site at the campground in Baudette. We mainly focused on being at the cabin and relaxing. There was A LOT of time spent floating on Bass Lake, quite a few campfires and many, many pontoon rides! We also hosted some fun events up there, the top few being a cousin reunion for Matt’s side of the family, an office gathering, Matt’s high school and college buddies for a golfing weekend, and Steph’s 26th high school class reunion. We love to be able to share our happy place with so many people.

All in all, it was a year of happiness and focusing on being present with our little family. We hope 2021 treated you and yours well and that 2022 will do the same. Cheers to a healthy and happy Christmas and New Year!

Our love,

Stephanie, Matt, Campbell, Jack and Katie Jugovich

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Merry Christmas from the Jugovich Family, 2018

Merry Christmas! Another incredible year is nearly at a close! As always, I’d like to slow the clock and have more time to enjoy the summer or lazy Saturdays at home with the kids. We do try to enjoy each moment, or day, or season as they pass and not wish this time away. After all, time is precious and these kids are only with us for so long.

In February, we traveled to Aruba and were able to enjoy a week of fun and sun as a family. That trip is always a favorite for me because our toughest decisions are what time to hit the beach or the pool and where to eat supper that evening. Each of us takes what they want from the trip: Katie and I read and lay in the sun, Matt catches up on his sleep and tv shows in the sunshine, Campbell and Jack keep in contact with their friends and sleep the days away.

Eagle Beach, Aruba.

We took a trip to Utah in April. We visited all of Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks in a whirlwind 7 days and 2,000 miles. Although there is always a heated discussion as to our personal favorite of the five parks, we all agree there was something breathtaking and unique about each one. We also visited Antelope Canyon in Arizona and had an incredible tour there. If you are looking for a great family trip, we’d highly recommend both Utah and Antelope Canyon and would be happy to share our itinerary and tips with you.

The Mighty 5 National Parks in Utah, April, 2018.

We spent a lot of time this summer on or near water. We bought a cabin on Bass Lake, near where Matt grew up, in June and spent many relaxing days at the lake. The pontoon continues to be a favorite hangout spot, with the boat and jet ski coming in as close seconds. We were able to entertain family and friends often and can’t wait for next summer to roll around. As always, Lake of the Woods is another one of our favorite places to be. We camp, fish, relax and enjoy time with family and friends, both old and new. Our annual trips to Bayfield and Grand Marais weren’t in the cards for us this year. I always joke that we enjoy too many activities and there aren’t enough summer weekends to enjoy them all.

Our happy place on Bass Lake, south of Gilbert, MN.

Matt and I snuck away to Scottsdale in March and August for a couple long-weekend, continuing education classes. Jack came along with us in August to visit a friend. If I could peer into a glass ball, I believe we’d see Arizona in our retirement future. Between the sunshine, blue skies and beautiful scenery, Arizona is hard to beat.

Outside Sedona, Arizona.

Matt never seems to slow down unless he’s at the cabin or camping, and even then he is rarely idle. He used his summer weekends to pack in as much fun as possible. He caught a lot of walleyes this year. I enjoy watching him play on the boat or on the four wheelers like a teenager. There is always a new project simmering in his head, so it’s best for us to always be ready for anything. He is a patient teacher and encourages the kids and me to try new things, from driving heavy machinery to docking the boat. Although, if you lose a fish off your line, you’ll probably hear about it for the foreseeable future.

Matt and Steph with a Lake of the Woods walleye, May, 2018.

I continue to enjoy photography, reading and writing. I amped up my involvement at work some more this year and work almost equally in the office and from home. Books are still my favorite “splurge” items and I always seem to have at least a couple paper books and audiobooks going at once. My favorite books this year were Us Against You by Fredrik Backman and Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. I drive an average of 300-400 miles a week, playing taxi driver for the family. I went from the second tallest in our little family (when the kids were younger) to the shortest this year; Katie passed me up in height this summer. While I love to watch the kids play sports, I realized I enjoy just hanging out with them a lot more. I still adore, in no particular order, hot weather, sunshine, traveling (especially road trips), camping and beaches.

Campbell is ready to drive and is eager to take her road test when she turns 16 in January. To be honest, we are all excited for her to get her license! She is excelling academically her sophomore year at Marshall and always strives for excellence. She played both golf and volleyball for school. She managed the boys’ basketball team last season and is excited to manage again this year. While she still thinks she’ll go into dentistry, we can’t help but wonder if she will choose to venture into sports management as a profession. She loves spending time with her friends, listening to loud music, driving the four wheelers and boats anywhere and everywhere and attending sporting events, whether she is participating in them or not. She is a country girl at heart.

Jack is 14, a freshman, and growing like a weed. He has a hilarious personality and is fun to hang out with… when he isn’t sleeping. He reminds me a lot of my dad and brother – extremely laid back and easy going, almost to a fault. He is married equally to his XBox and phone. He keeps friends from both Hermantown and Marshall and hangs out with them often. He and Matt went to Canada fishing in June, and Kansas in September for a deer hunt. Jack also fished with us at Lake of the Woods this summer and enjoyed pheasant hunting this fall too. He plays basketball for school and is a contentedly lazy teenager.

Katie is practically 13 and continues to keep us on our toes. She is playing Junior Olympic volleyball again this year and also played volleyball for school this fall. Her heart is huge and she will champion anyone in need. She’s also the girl that will attack her brother or sister for looking at her wrong. She is very proud of her sleeping record: 17 straight hours at the cabin. She is a good student and plays both the flute and piano. She loves to hang out with her friends, read and drive the four wheelers and snowmobiles.

Jack, Katie and Campbell, November, 2018.

The dogs are annoying, oops! I mean sweet, as ever. They immediately take care of any food that hits the floor and remind me when their food and water dishes run low. They whine to go outside, then whine to come inside most of the day. It’s a fun game! Ollie is almost 3 and loves riding in the car, hunting, dock jumping, playing fetch and holding hands with his humans. Alvin is 5 and diligently protects our yard from squirrels, chipmunks and deer. His chihuahua/terrier blood keeps him barking and anxious, but he still loves snuggling with the kids.

Ollie and Alvin.

The office continues to be successful and we are thankful every day for all the wonderful people we work with and patients we see. This year, especially, we are reminded of what a true and dedicated team we are there. Even though I feel the business is like another member of the family, constantly needing love and attention, I can’t imagine life any other way. There is much to be thankful for!

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

A friend of mine always says, “Life is good!” and I cannot disagree. Life is good and we hope you feel the same. Wishing you and yours a joyous Christmas and a healthy and happy 2019! Cheers!

Our love,

Matt, Stephanie, Campbell, Jack and Katie Jugovich

Happy Holidays from the Jugovich family!

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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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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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The Prescription Opioid Epidemic: How Our Office Has Reacted

While watching television the other night, my husband tuned to a documentary about the opioid epidemic our nation is facing. I half listened to the program while I was finishing up some work on the computer. The program got me thinking about how prescription medications have changed drastically for the dental community and, more specifically, Pike Lake Dental Center over the last number of years.

20+ years ago, when I worked in the front office at Pike Lake Dental Center, it was easy to simply call in a prescription for Lortab. Dr. Matt would prescribe the drug for our patients to control pain associated with toothaches and extractions or large procedures that might cause some discomfort after the anesthetic wore off. The opioid drugs, Lortab in particular, seemed to be miracle drugs. The medication was easy and inexpensive to obtain. It worked really, really well to manage pain. It seemed wonderful… at first. Little did we know as providers, consumers and as an entire society just how dangerous and addicting these drugs would be!

About 10-15 years ago, a shift slowly started to take place. We started to hear more about drug-seekers, people who would call dentists after hours or on the weekends claiming they were in severe pain and hope the dentist on call would choose to prescribe medication over the phone versus going into the office on the weekend. That same drug-seeking individual might call multiple dental offices and also visit the emergency room, attempting to acquire the same prescription drugs in large quantities. Sometimes we heard about these people through our friends in the dental community. Sometimes a pharmacy would tip us off that it was this person’s second or third prescription for the same drug in a short amount of time.

Thankfully, it has been our office policy for as long as I can remember that we DO NOT come into the office in the evenings or on the weekends to see a person who isn’t a patient of record. This policy was put in place to protect our staff from the possible dangers meeting a stranger at night in an empty office might bring. It is also against our office policy to prescribe medications to individuals who are not patients of record at our office, thus relieving us of the decision to call in a prescription for a desperate “potential” patient seeking prescription medications late at night or on the weekends. Instead, we refer them to the local emergency room, which is always open and staffed with extremely capable physicians to help manage pain.

I remember being particularly alarmed and immediately suspicious when a patient would claim, “Only the 10 mg. Lortab tablets work for me. Could I get 30 of them, please?” It seemed awfully convenient that they knew what drug and just how much of it they desired on a Saturday night. Looking back, I wonder how often these drugs were blindly prescribed across America for patients, all parties involved having no idea how harmful and addictive the drugs could and would be.

Slowly, very slowly, we began opening our eyes as a society to the dangers of the prescription narcotics. We, as dental professionals, were also learning more about the addictions patients faced while consuming the drugs. The movement took years and sadly cost many people addicted to opioids their families, their homes, their jobs and, for some, their lives.

Recently, the FDA has clamped down on prescription opioids. The dependencies people have developed to the drugs have reached epidemic levels throughout the United States. Drastic and immediate measures needed to take place to control the opioids and I believe we are starting to see a positive change. Education on the drugs and their potential hazards are more widely shared with the public. We are now aware of the frighteningly fast rate of dependency some people suffer from with opioids.

Today at Pike Lake Dental Center, we almost never prescribe narcotics for our patients. Instead, we give our patients detailed instructions for managing their pain without strong and potentially addictive prescription medications. It is amazing how discomfort can be controlled by means other than potentially addicting prescription medications.

The way prescription opioids are ordered by practitioners through pharmacies has also dramatically changed over the years. No longer can an office simply call a pharmacy and order up 10 tablets of Lortab for a patient. A computer generated, watermarked prescription must be printed and signed by the ordering dentist or physician and be hand delivered to the pharmacy by the patient. We don’t even have the old-school prescription pads at our office anymore. Instead of large quantities of the medications, we now prescribe 2 or 3 pills at a time, not 10, and certainly no refills without carefully monitored patient progress.

As I cleaned out our family medicine cabinet recently, I found some opioids my daughter’s surgeon had prescribed for her a few years ago following a broken arm and emergency surgery. Knowing the risks of these drugs, we had successfully managed her pain with over the counter medications. The entire prescription remained forgotten in our medicine cabinet for years. What was the best way to dispose of the pills? I didn’t want them falling into the wrong hands or harming the environment. I did some research and found some valuable information for safe and local disposal of medications.

If you are looking to safely dispose of any medications you may have at home, please refer to these local websites:

St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office website

St. Louis County website (for our friends on the Iron Range)

WLSSD website

Listed on each of these linked websites are instructions and locations on how and where to safely dispose of any unwanted household over the counter or prescription medications, even unused pet medications. If you don’t live near Duluth or on the Iron Range of Minnesota, please search your local county or city websites for more information on how and where to safely dispose of medications. Safely disposing of these drugs is important for people, pets, wild animals and our environment.

As an entire society and as an independent dental practice, I feel we have made great progress to limit the amounts of opioids prescribed to patients. I am thankful that it’s much harder to prescribe and to acquire the drugs than it was just 10 years ago. I’m also thankful we are all finally aware of the dangers of opioids. Knowledge is key, especially when it comes to prescription medications.

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

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Time Flies When You’re Cleaning Teeth

Many of you read Stephanie’s recent post about the history of Pike Lake Dental. As she mentioned, she began her employment there in 1998, and Dr. Matt purchased the practice in 1999. BUT … long before that … 1984, to be exact … a young, fresh out of school, wide eyed hygienist burst onto the Pike Lake Dental scene ready to save the world one mouth at a time!

I remember the first day I walked into the office. At that time, it was located in the geodesic dome. (How many of you know that Pike Lake Dental started its life on the same side of the road that it is currently located?) As I entered the atrium-like lobby, I was greeted by a mustachioed man with wire rimmed glasses enjoying his newspaper. I recall being impressed with the bright sun streaming in through the large triangular windows overhead, and the whole concept of the dome building, in general. I had never been in a dome before! The man with the newspaper was Dr. Carter Johnson. Over the years, the dome would come to represent, for me, the fact that Carter was clearly a man who thought outside the proverbial box! He was a delight!

Dr. Carter with Deb’s son at his first dental appointment.

So speeding through this part:

-I get the job!!!
-I work for Carter for 16ish years
-Sadly, Carter falls to cancer
-Matt buys the practice (lucky guy gets this really awesome hygienist in the deal!)
-We grow to the point that we burst the seams of the dome
-We build and move across the highway
-And here we are today, still growing! Part of the reason for that is that Dr. Matt doesn’t let any grass grow under his feet! Pike Lake Dental is “state of the art”!

A lot has happened since 1984. In the time that I have practiced hygiene, we have gone from “wet finger” gloveless dentistry, wearing street clothes at the office, and wearing no protective eyewear or masks, to being fully enrobed in barrier protection and wearing scrubs that get washed in-house at the end of the day. Protection for us, protection for the patient.

Another change our office made some time ago, was the switch to digital x-ray. Prior to that, we used films that left us blind as to our success until that film took a five minute ride through the automatic processor. Now we see our results instantly! And speaking of the automatic processor -the old AT-2000- it was a machine that was filled with chemicals that needed changing on a regular basis, and the chemicals required special testing and disposal. It was also filled with a series of rollers and gears to carry the films through the chemicals. With all those moving parts, as you can imagine, it broke down on a regular basis. Needless to say, we don’t miss it, and are loving our updated equipment. In addition to digital bitewing x-rays, we also have a digital panorex, or full mouth machine. This machine can also take 3-D images to help Dr. Matt and Dr. Meaghan in some procedures they perform, such as dental implants.

That brings up another amazing advance in our in-office technology. When I first started at PLD, crowns were sent out to a lab to be produced. A patient would come in to have the tooth prepared, the doctor would place a temporary crown, and the patient would return two weeks later to place the lab crown. Actually, one of the dentists that we worked with made his own crowns in the office. It involved waxing up a model, putting it in plaster, heating it to melt the wax, and then melting a gold alloy, and casting it by putting it into a hand-spun centrifuge to force the gold into the mold! Super cool and crafty, but a ton of work … not to mention that it was time away from patients! Now, although there are occasional reasons to send out for a lab crown or bridge, most are done in-office and are typically completed within 1 1/2 hours! AND, beyond that, our office is trained and equipped to offer dental implants!

When I began at PLD, the thought of doing a dental implant as a routine in-office procedure was just a futuristic glimmer in a general dentist’s eye! In the past, when a patient lost a tooth, it would likely have been replaced with a partial denture or a bridge. Then implants came onto the scene! I remember our first implant cases. They had to be very committed patients, as they would have to travel to the Twin Cities to have much of their work done!! When this procedure made its way north, it still required the patient dancing between the oral surgeon and the dentist. Now, technology and training have brought implant placement right into Pike Lake Dental! I was talking to Dr. Matt a few days ago about a conversation I’d had with Dr. Johnson many years ago. When we started seeing so many patients coming in either having had, or aiming toward hip/knee/shoulder replacement, Carter told me that within short order, having a joint replaced would be as common as having a crown or a root canal done … and he was right! Now, that same story come true with dental implants Dr. Matt feels the procedure is going to become even quicker and easier in a very short time! Our CAD/CAM technology is an amazing thing, and our highly trained staff allows PLD to offer our patients cutting edge treatment! I see and work with these advances every day, and I am still astounded by them!

Now, moving forward … literally … even our front office staff members are riding the technology wave! I remember when scheduling was done in a binder with paper pages (and a fair amount of eraser leavings)! Our receptionist would flip through the pages with her pencil in hand, looking for appointment times for our patients. As you might expect, after six plus months of flipping through them, adding and erasing names, the pages became quite tattered! I also remember when it was time to move the scheduling to the computer. It would be so much more tidy and efficient to schedule this way! Our receptionist, however, was not convinced! The thought of all those patients helplessly floating in a computer instead of being safe in a book in front of her was daunting! I swear to you, it was like a child giving up a pacifier! The switch was made, and it did, indeed, prove to be just as tidy and efficient as promised … most days!

Gone are the days of hand writing insurance claims and trying to read patients’ accounts off a tiny microfiche that might be a month behind in it’s information. Our computer system keeps staff quite up to date to answer patient questions. Gone, also, are the days of calling every patient (which, currently, could easily be up to 50 individuals, or more) to remind them of their upcoming visit. Patients are phoned automatically, as well as having the option of an email or text message.We have also gone “paperless” with patient files. It definitely does not mean less work … I can vouch for this … but, again, it is a much more efficient and secure way to manage our patients’ information!

There are so many more things I could write about, but I think the point has been made. In 33+ years, Pike Lake Dental has seen me change from a single work force neophyte, to a wife, a mom, a seasoned vet, and, hopefully in a few years, a retiree! I, in turn, have watched Pike Lake Dental grow into a formidable, yet comfortable practice. It has been fun to see the evolution and innovation! And what’s even better, is that there’s more on the horizon! I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Written by Deb Trethewey, RDH at Pike Lake Dental Center

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