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All Posts in Category: Social

Charcoal Whitening: Yay or Nay?

I’m a sucker for online businesses that conveniently mail you fun, little luxury products once a month or every quarter. Ipsy, BirchBox and ScentBird are a few of my favorite companies that offer monthly subscriptions for about $15. At the insistence of a friend that raved about the products she received from the company Fab, Fit, Fun, I joined. With an active family and me recently going back to work, there is little free time to spend on myself, so these mail delivery boxes have become my little pick-me-up treats. Plus, who doesn’t love beauty supplies that magically show up on their doorstep every so often?

A few months ago, I received a charcoal whitening kit in my Fab, Fit, Fun box. Being a dentist’s wife, I am all about teeth and products to keep them looking and feeling healthy. This product intrigued me. I’ve seen many advertisements on social media for charcoal whitening and have been interested in it. So, when a charcoal whitening kit was mailed to me without any effort on my part, I knew I needed to at least give it a try.

I talked with my husband about his thoughts on this method of tooth whitening and he listed his concerns: possible tooth abrasion, safety, cost, etc. In the end, he said to try it. If anything were to go wrong, I know the guy who could fix it. Wink. Wink.

My friend, who had tried the charcoal whitening kit already, forewarned me about it being a mess, so I took it along with me when my daughter and I stayed overnight at a hotel for a volleyball tournament. Yes, I’m THAT evil person. Instead of messing up my own bathroom sink, I’ll mess up the hotel’s sink. To be perfectly fair, I did clean it all up once I was done.

The charcoal powder is EXTREMELY FINE. The directions said to sprinkle the powder on a dampened toothbrush. I seemed to get more sprinkled all over the sink than I did on my toothbrush, so I adjusted my tactic. I tapped off the excess water from my brush and dipped the bristles into the powder. Then I gently began to brush my teeth.

If you ever try charcoal whitening, this next part is the funny part. Be ready to laugh! The result while brushing with the charcoal powder is hilarious. I was laughing so hard in the hotel bathroom, my daughter came in to make sure I was ok. The ultra fine powder was everywhere – on the sink, the counter, up my nose, in my hair, on my face, on the floor. We both had a good laugh about it. Try laughing while brushing your teeth – it is messy.

I didn’t want to brush too aggressively, especially since Matt had said he was worried about possible abrasion. I didn’t feel that the charcoal powder was gritty. I had expected it to feel like sand in my mouth, but it is so fine that it isn’t gritty at all. There wasn’t a taste to the charcoal powder either, which was unexpected.

Two minutes with black teeth seems to last forever. At last, the time was up and I could spit and rinse. Because I didn’t have a real minty-fresh feeling in my mouth, I brushed my teeth quickly with my regular toothpaste after using the charcoal powder. The result: I didn’t notice a huge difference, although going from black to white teeth did seem like a HUGE change.

Clean up was easy. I did make a much bigger mess than I had expected. That powder gets everywhere! It was all over my face, all over the sink and the counter, even the floor. A damp cloth was all I needed to wipe everything down. The powder didn’t stain anything.

I continued to use the charcoal powder for about a month, brushing twice daily as recommended by the manufacturer. I never experienced any sensitivity while using the charcoal powder. I also didn’t experience any shade change on my teeth. I liked the organic feel to the powder and the fact I could easily pronounce all the ingredients in the powder… Activated Charcoal (made from Raw Coconut Shell), Natural Calcium Bentonite Clay and Organic Mint Extract.

All in all, I was glad I tried the charcoal powder. It had intrigued me and I think it would have always fallen into my “Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda” category if I hadn’t given it a try. Would I recommend it? Sure. Just because I didn’t notice a change in my tooth shade, doesn’t mean the next person won’t. It was fun. It’s something different. It’s a fad. I’ll stick with my tried and true professional whitening kit.

Before beginning a whitening regimen, please consult with your dentist. He or she can help you make the best choice on which whitening products are best for you based on credible research and facts. Make the most of your whitening experience and only use products that are proven to give you safe, effective results.

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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Social Media and the Modern Day Dental Office, Part Two: Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest & Beyond

In our last blog that focused mainly on our office Facebook presence, I shared with you that when I came back to work for my husband at Pike Lake Dental Center last February, I had no idea how important social media could – and would – be to our business. As one aspect of my newly-created role, I agreed to help with our office marketing at Pike Lake Dental Center. Over the past year, we’ve learned a lot about how to make our business better known in the Northland’s many communities and how to share what we do with, quite literally, the world. A major part of our office marketing now includes our social media presence on many different platforms beyond Facebook.

So what was the next step in the world of social media for our office after we reestablished our Facebook account? Instagram.

All three of my kids are on Instagram. I like to know how my kids and their peers are presenting themselves on social media, so I also joined Instagram a few years ago. Yes, I started out using Instagram to creep on my kids. I do have a ton of younger people I keep connected with, but I also have a lot of friends my own age that use Instagram everyday. My Instagram account has evolved for me personally and I have grown to really appreciate the app for its dedication to simple, artsy photos. The Instagram filters are fun to use and it’s easy to like other people’s photos. Instagram seems uncomplicated to me. Could Pike Lake Dental Center utilize Instagram too? Why not?

The overall feeling I get from the social media world is that the younger crowd, the 13-35 year olds, tend to gravitate toward Instagram, while the 35-80+ year olds prefer Facebook. Why not try to attract followers from both sites? Facebook owns Instagram and it’s extremely easy to cross post from Instagram and update Facebook at the same time. I started an account and off we went on our Pike Lake Dental Center Instagram journey.

Our office Instagram account has also evolved. It, too, is a constant trial and error experiment. Even though it is super easy to cross post with Facebook, I like to have similar, but not exactly the same, content for each. Because Instagram is more photo oriented and less text driven, I try to come up with fun pictures that are pleasing to the eye. Sometimes our Instagram post is a photo of toothbrushes or a snapshot of the inside of our autoclave. Instagram posts don’t have to be complicated – they just need to be visually descriptive or stimulating without a lot of words. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Early on, I put a video of our Cerec milling a crown on Instagram and people loved it. Sometimes a post is a hit, sometimes it’s a flop. I do find we have more dental professionals (dentists, orthodontists, dental labs and dental suppliers) follow our office on Instagram. That adds a little more fun to Instagram because we all seem feed off each other’s posts and ideas. We have Instagram followers in the dental profession from California, Arizona, Istanbul, Rio de Janeiro and Serbia.

YouTube has been a fun addition to our dental office social media marketing. We’ve created many different kinds of videos for and about our office and have added them to our YouTube channel. Not only does YouTube allow us to organize our videos in one convenient location, it is an easy way to share our videos on our website or on other social media sites. I can keep our website updated with fun and informative videos with clickable links to our YouTube channel. I also love being able to crosspost a video on Facebook and Youtube. Copying and pasting a link is so easy!

Pinterest for a dental office? Absolutely! Pinterest is a great place to share what we do at Pike Lake Dental Center. I Pin our videos and blogs to our Pinterest boards. We also have boards on our Pinterest account for things like funny dental quotes, recipes we have enjoyed at office potlucks, information about dental procedures and much more. Not everyone uses Pinterest, but it’s surprising how quickly our pins circulate throughout the huge Pinterest community.

Not every social media venture we have attempted has proven beneficial. We tested out Snapchat and that was a flop. It seemed cool at first, but it just never really took off. Instead of putting energy into something that wasn’t gaining us much public interest, we decided to let Snapchat go.

I’ve bounced around Twitter for awhile and you may be able to find Pike Lake Dental Center on Twitter in the future. You never know.

 

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

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Social Media and the Modern Day Dental Office, Part One: Facebook

I remember signing up for a personal Facebook account in 2008. I really only joined Facebook to keep in contact with my friends who had moved out of state. Now, I feel Facebook is a vital link for me to much more than just my out of state friends. I am able to keep up with different groups of people (family, school friends, work friends, neighbors, etc.), sell things, creep on people’s profiles, watch funny videos and support causes. I can show my support or love for a post or react with laughter or anger. Friendships can be formed, fostered or destroyed on Facebook. Facebook is a powerful personal tool, but how can it help a business? More specifically, how can Facebook impact a dental office?

When I officially came back to work at Pike Lake Dental Center last February, I had no idea how important social media could and would be to my husband’s business. I agreed to help with our office marketing as one aspect of my newly created role at Pike Lake Dental Center. Part of the office marketing included our social media presence. Where do we begin to navigate in this cyber world? After doing a lot of online research and reading some great social media marketing books, I felt I was ready to begin.

Facebook seemed the obvious place to start since we already had an account established for Pike Lake Dental Center. Up to that point, we had loosely posted a few things on Facebook. 239 people liked and followed our business on Facebook in April of 2017. That was a great start, but I didn’t feel like we had even begun to scratch the surface of Facebook’s potential for our business. Today, at 700+ likes and followers, I still feel as though we have a long way to go. What do people really want to see about a dental office on Facebook? How can we educate patients, share what we do and who we are, while still having fun?

A mobile view of our Facebook page.

I was – and still am – a firm believer in not over-posting (my personal definition of over-posting: posting more than twice a day) and not over-sharing (my personal definition of over-sharing: sharing everyone else’s posts, usually multiple times a day) on Facebook. Personally, if I didn’t have something fairly important to share with my friends and family, I would abstain from posting at all. Sometimes my personal life was so unexciting that I wouldn’t post anything on my Facebook page for many days in a row. I liked to keep my personal posts fresh and new and informative (so my friends wouldn’t think I was totally boring) while still staying true to the authentic me. I decided to apply that same rule of thought to our office’s Facebook account.

Pike Lake Dental Center’s Facebook page has definitely evolved in the past 12 months. It’s been a constant trial and error experiment finding out what works and what doesn’t. Does reposting other people’s content engage our followers? Not really. Does posting a picture of our staff lunch attract likes and comments from our followers? Absolutely! Do we always strive to stay true to who we really are as a small business in northern Minnesota? Without a doubt.

Staff meeting time!

I’ve found that people want to get to know our staff better. People want to learn about what we do everyday. Our Facebook followers want to feel as though they are part of our everyday interactions – that they are a part of our office every single day. And you know what? They are! They celebrate staff birthdays with us. They participate in contests with us. They learn about new and amazing pieces of equipment we use in our office. They share their personal interactions with our office with their friends. They are part of who Pike Lake Dental Center is every single day.

Here’s what I feel Pike Lake Dental Center is all about:

  • We run a pretty high-tech office and are proud of the cutting-edge technology we offer.
  • We are professional and pretty awesome at what we do.
  • We appreciate and value our patients.
  • We are fun.
  • We are goofy.
  • We LOVE food, especially treats and birthday lunches.

    Lisa with her birthday flowers.

So we share those things on our Facebook page. I think sharing the true “us” makes every one of us at Pike Lake Dental Center a little more human to our patients and our Facebook followers. By boosting posts (paying Facebook to promote a post to an audience or demographic we select) we can reach thousands of people. Facebook is also a great compliment to our website. We are able to post links directly to our website. I especially think the links to our blog posts are beneficial tools.

My heartfelt conclusion: Facebook has positively impacted our entire office.

As I sit at the desk I share with my husband at the office, I get to hear bits of conversations from our staff and patients. Almost daily someone mentions something they’ve seen on Facebook and comments or asks questions about it. That is a huge reward! The fact that we are growing every single week in Facebook likes and followers is my personal little pat on the back. We especially love when people like and comment on our posts. It’s so fun to connect with people on Facebook!

I’m sure Facebook will eventually become less popular and a new social media platform will attract our attention, but until then I’d love to invite you to be a part of our office by following us on Facebook. See what we do, who we are and what we are all about at Pike Lake Dental Center. You might learn something, you might win something, you might even laugh a little bit.

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

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Kids and Toothbrushing: A Mom’s Scoop

Brushing your teeth for a full two minutes twice a day is extremely important. My kids have been known to go into the bathroom, “brush”, and return to their activity in less than 30 seconds. Either I’m raising the world’s fastest thorough toothbrushers, or I have extremely lazy kids sometimes when it comes to toothbrushing. I’ll let you decide.

When my kids were really little, my husband or I would brush their teeth for them. Sometimes it was a struggle, sometimes it went well. Every time we brushed their teeth, though, we couldn’t wait until they could brush on their own. Eventually, we would sit and watch the kids brush their teeth, making sure they were not missing any areas or cutting their brushing time too short. Over the years we’ve tried using a timer, singing the alphabet multiple times, counting slowly to 100 and other tactics to achieve proper brushing times. Now, at 12, 13 and 15, we let them brush on their own, expecting them to do a proper job. Their dad’s a dentist for goodness sake! I do have to say in their defense, their tooth brushing skills have greatly improved over the years.

The Jugovich kids at about 1, 2 and 4 years old.

For kids, learning to brush all their teeth correctly is sometimes a daunting task. It’s so easy for them to scrub the chewing surfaces of their teeth and their front teeth quickly, feeling as though they’ve done a smashing job. What about brushing the inside surfaces of their teeth close to the roof of their mouth and their tongue? Or brushing the tooth surfaces next to their cheeks? Or brushing their tongue? Those are all important areas to brush.

The best way to teach kids (or adults!) to properly brush their teeth is to start in one quadrant, or area, spending a good 30 seconds brushing all over – top, bottom, inside and outside. For instance, after the upper right teeth are brushed for 30 seconds, move onto the upper left, then down to the lower left, next on to the lower right, and finally the tongue. It really doesn’t matter where they begin, just that 30 seconds is spent on each of the four main areas of the mouth, plus a little extra time for the tongue.

Jack REALLY needed to brush his tongue this day!

Remember parents, kids learn from you too. Let your kids watch you brush your teeth. A lively toothbrushing contest, or brushing your teeth at the same time, is always fun. Leading by example is a powerful form of teaching.

Goofing around and getting ready to brush our teeth.

If attention is an issue, there is a website that plays cute videos designed to help keep your child focused on brushing for a full 2 minutes. Here’s a link to the website 2min2x.org. I actually recommended this website to my sister recently for my little 2 year old niece. I also found another link to a YouTube video that is engaging and colorful. This Blippi video is a hoot and demonstrates toothbrushing for kids. If you cruise the internet, there is a plethora of great information and videos to help maintain attention while brushing.

Another idea to ensure dentist recommended brushing time is to set a timer. I found fun timers for sale at retail stores and on Amazon. I found simple two-minute timers that look a lot like the sand timers in games like Scrabble. A timer on a smartphone would work to track your child’s brushing time too. There are also cute and inexpensive battery powered toothbrushes with timers included in them for children. These can be purchased at retail stores for usually less than $10.

The more fun you make proper tooth brushing, the more fun it becomes for your child. Instilling the skills to help take care of a child’s teeth early is key to preventing tooth decay. Give your little one the skills early to maintain a beautiful and healthy smile his or her entire life.

 

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, mom to 3 kids and employee at Pike Lake Dental Center

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The Power of a Smile

Do you remember the last time someone smiled at you? What did the smile say? How did it make you feel?

A smile is an instant connection between people. A smile can make a person feel welcomed or accepted. A smile may imply a mood such as happy or mischievous. A smile can even convey sadness or an apology. A smile can tell someone that you are confident or trustworthy. Smiles are extremely powerful! Smiles are also extremely contagious!

Smiles are contagious!

At Pike Lake Dental Center, we are acutely aware of the value of a smile. We want to help you make the most of your unique smile. Our goal, as dental providers, is to help you maintain a healthy smile with regular dental cleanings, x-rays and oral exams. If further treatment is required, we are there to help ensure you keep a beautiful, healthy smile. Your smile represents our office!

What if you aren’t completely happy with your natural smile?

The words “cosmetic dentistry” are sometimes associated with other words like “expensive” and “superficial”. That’s not necessarily the case. Smiles can be drastically transformed with minimal changes to a patient’s natural teeth. You don’t have to be a movie star to benefit from cosmetic dentistry. Cosmetic dentistry doesn’t have to cost a fortune, either.

A whitening kit we offer at Pike Lake Dental Center.

Sometimes there are small things a person can do to improve their smile, such as whitening their teeth. We offer our patients a fantastic professional take-home whitening package that produces beautiful results in the comfort of your own home. Studies show a white, bright smile emits feelings of confidence, overall health, financial success and trustworthiness. Those are positive qualities when on a first date or at a job interview. We’ve never had a patient return to our office and wish they hadn’t whitened their teeth. Most often we hear their biggest regret was not whitening their teeth sooner.

An example of an Invisalign aligner.

A smile can also be greatly improved by Invisalign or full orthodontia. Did you know we are providers for Invisalign? We even offer free consultations for Invisalign, a program that straightens teeth through a series of retainer-like trays. Invisalign allows each individual patient to correct their teeth at their own pace. If the case requires full orthodontia, we refer our patients to the top orthodontists in the Duluth area. Straight teeth not only are aesthetically beneficial. Straightening a patient’s teeth can reduce wear and correct the way the teeth bite together.

A great example of 4 porcelain veneers, ready to be placed at Pike Lake Dental Center.

Crowns and porcelain veneers are tools we also use to help create a more beautiful smile. If it’s a cosmetic case, especially involving front teeth, we can create a wax build-up with a dental lab to see the results before treatment is started. Crowns and porcelain veneers are strong and durable and mimic the beautiful lustre of natural teeth.

Dr. Matt’s natural teeth.

Did you know Dr. Matt wasn’t happy with his natural smile? It took him until he was in his 40s to finally commit to a change. Here is a photo of his natural teeth. This is his new smile with porcelain veneers. He is much happier with his smile now and proud to show it off. Improving your smile doesn’t always need to be a dramatic change, but the aesthetic and psychological results can be astounding.

Just after Dr. Matt’s porcelain veneers were placed.

 

Don’t be afraid to share your smile with the world! If you’d like to improve your smile, we are here to help you. At Pike Lake Dental Center, we want to partner with you to keep your smile healthy and bright. Remember, your smile is powerful!

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, Pike Lake Dental Center employee

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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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Are Dentists Typically Pack Rats?

In a word: YES!!!

I pulled open a drawer in our office lab a couple months ago and found this note on a cardboard box containing a hand mirror. This is Monty’s handwriting. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw this – partly because I still miss Monty (who retired a year or so ago from our office) and partly because this puts into words what we experience so often in the dental field. This is 100% real. I couldn’t make this stuff up. Seriously.

Our storage closet, just of Dr. Matt’s office.

We have a closet, located in Dr. Matt’s office, that houses supplies and other important necessities – like this straw hat. It’s an organized mess. I was digging around in there with Nancy one day in an attempt to clean some things out and gain some additional storage space. Among many other things, we found the box for our E-Z Press, a press that Matt used to replace the bearings in our dental handpieces. The E-Z Press was a great tool to have and saved us a ton of money by replacing the worn-out components in our handpieces ourselves and not having to send them out for repair. We don’t own any of those handpieces anymore. So why do we keep the E-Z Press around? You got it: Just in case.

The E-Z Press.

We have changed the artwork throughout the building a few times in the years we’ve been in the new office. Behind the door of Dr. Matt’s office is a perfect place to store old artwork. Why do we hang into it? Just in case.

Some of the artwork we’ve had up in the office over the years.

You’d like to see a dental journal from the year 2013? Which month? We have them all!

Dental journals from 2013 to present.

Now, our office is not unique. Dr. Johnson, the dentist Dr. Matt purchased Pike Lake Dental Center from, saved a ton of stuff too. When we moved from the geodesic dome across the highway to our new building, we were able to get rid of a lot of old things that were obsolete. I’m pretty sure we also transferred a few things to our new building during the move.

I finally passed along our old assisting chairs that belonged to Dr. Johnson this past summer to our nephews for their hunting shack. Out of our pole barn and into their hands. That was a small success.

Dr. Matt also has saved this very special boombox from his college years. This little gem is housed in a closet at the office. If tapes ever make a comeback, we will be ready!

Dr. Matt’s boombox from the 1980s.

An old door to the office? Don’t you worry – we have it in the shed! You never know when an extra door will come in handy.

Dr. Matt’s ADA membership card from 2005? We’ve been saving it for just this moment!

ADA membership card from 2005.

We also used to save old hand instruments “just in case”. Nancy and I recently went through a big bin of instruments I had cleaned out of Dr. Matt’s desk drawer. He used to save them for patients who then used them for wood carving or in their garages. We had about 5 pounds of dental instruments we were able to recycle. It was a small win, but recycling all those instruments was a win!

Sterile, but old, instruments ready to be recycled.

Rest assured, we keep a clean and efficient office in the clinical and front desk spaces. Behind the scenes, in a closet or desk drawers or the shed out back, we also keep a lot of things we really don’t need. I think dentists in general are pretty cost-savvy and practical. Also, they never know when they might need something. In Matt’s defense, he is able to fix a lot of things within the office himself and having spare parts on hand is very useful in those circumstances.

After so many years together, I figure the best way to look at the “just in case” things we have accumulated over the years is simply with a smile.

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich

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Does Our Dental Technology Cost YOU More?

Absolutely not. It actually SAVES you time and money. I know that may be hard to believe, but let me explain…

The technology inside Pike Lake Dental Center has changed over the years. We aren’t the same dental office Dr. Matt purchased back in 1999. We’ve slowly built our practice around technology, making us more efficient with our time and our finances.

Our first big investment after we moved into our new office was upgrading to digital x rays. Moving away from film was a big and necessary leap in updating our technology in 2008. The lead aprons we’d drape across you before taking an x ray are gone. Digital x rays produce much less radiation, are available immediately and are stored more efficiently. Just this one transition has made our office more cost effective and is a better alternative for the environment.

One of our digital x ray units.

No more gooey impressions? They are almost entirely a thing of the past. We began taking digital impressions in 2007. This technology has changed over the years and we’ve upgraded our equipment as needed. Today, with this special camera that takes thousands of photographs per second, we are able to accurately build an impression of a patient’s tooth, or even their full mouth, in minutes. The models are then transferrable to our machine that builds crowns and bridges. The digital files are also shareable with companies like Invisalign for treatment plans.

Digital impressions with our CEREC acquisition unit.

Dr. Matt saw the future in dentistry through dental implants many years ago. He took a multi-week course in New Jersey in 2013 to learn more about dental implants. At that time, this new way of restoring teeth was exciting and different and mostly done by specialists. Not a lot of general dentists were learning about dental implants in 2013. Times are changing and you’ll find many general dentists placing implants today. Years ago, replacing a missing tooth typically meant a bridge. A bridge usually caps the healthy teeth on either side of a missing tooth. Today we can build you a new tooth in the place of your missing tooth while keeping the integrity of the teeth around it. That’s crazy cool!

A dental implant we recently placed.

Single-visit crowns? That’s got to be expensive! Actually, they cost a fraction of the amount lab-crafted crown cost to make, therefore we are able to keep the price of our crowns lower. When we purchased this CEREC machine to make crowns in our office in 2013, we were looking to accomplish a few things: save our patients time, cut down on our lab bills and jump in with the latest technology. This machine has paid for itself (and then some) in lab fees. Plus, it saves both our patients and our staff time by making strong and beautiful crowns in one visit. It’s a win-win!

Our CEREC, busy making a crown.

Going paperless was a scary idea, but we made the jump in 2015. We no longer keep each patient’s chart and x rays in a file folder. A patient’s chart is now accessible from any of our work stations in the office. X rays are easily found, sorted, and stored for each patient. Notes are taken on the computers in the operatories. Treatment plans are entered electronically. Insurances are also billed electronically. All of these advancements has saved us vast amounts of supplies, time and storage space.

My dental chart, prior to our office going paperless.

One of our biggest investments is the 3D scanner we purchased in 2016. Over the years, we slowly upgraded our older panorex machines into this state-of-the-art unit. The images we can capture from this scanner can be as simple as bitewing x rays and as complex as airway scans to determine if a patient may suffer from sleep apnea.

Our 3D scanner.

No more wondering what’s inside that head of yours. We can show you! Here’s one view of Dr. Matt’s 3D scan.

A 3D view of Dr. Matt’s mouth.

Why would you seek care from a doctor who practices dentistry from the 1980s if, for the same fees, you could see a dentist with the latest technology?

Just because dental technology is advanced doesn’t mean it will cost YOU more. It can actually save you time and money.

 

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich.

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The Short Story of Pike Lake Dental Center

When I started at Pike Lake Dental Center in 1998, I worked for Dr. Carter Johnson in the geodesic dome across the street from our current office location. Carter was ill with cancer the entire time we worked together. I remember him as being bald with a big smile, that he dry-brushed his teeth in the car on his commute to and from work, and that he highly valued continuing education. He was quick with compliments and he had many adoring, loyal patients. Carter was a very special guy. He knew his cancer was terminal and wanted his dental practice to continue on in good hands. I remember him coming into my office, plunking down in the second chair, and telling me, “You should get that boyfriend of yours to buy my practice.” It took some months and negotiating, but we finally convinced my boyfriend to make the move.

Late 1998, just after Matt and I started dating.

Matthew Jugovich, DDS purchased Pike Lake Dental Center in 1999. He left his job with Dr. Kim Chart on 4th Street in the Central Hillside neighborhood of Duluth and began practicing solo at Pike Lake Dental Center with a lot of dreams and a little debt. Together, we sent out a letter to Matt’s “4th Street patients”, as we affectionately still call them today, telling them of his departure from one practice and ownership of another.

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

I asked Matt how many patients he thought would follow him up over the hill and he replied with, “My family for sure.” That was about a total of 8 people. No worries. We could handle that number along with Dr. Johnson’s patients.

Not only did Matt’s family members follow him, but an outstanding number of loyal, amazing patients followed him too. You guys know who you are and we are privileged to still call you our friends today, all these years later. Most of the “Carter patients”, as we affectionately call them, also chose to stay and see the new guy.

Our sign (and our old car and motorcycle) at the geodesic dome.

We started out small with 3 dental chairs (two doctor chairs and one hygiene chair) and Carter’s 5 employees, plus Dr. Matt. Two of us gals worked up front. We ran the phones, handled the schedule and all the billing aspects of the office. The office also employed two assistants, one of whom was Monty (recently retired in 2016), and one hygienist, Deb, who is still with our office today. It was a perfect staff for an office that size. We worked well together and were excited to keep Pike Lake Dental Center continuing on with new leadership.

The geodesic dome.

The geodesic dome had its unique challenges, space being our primary struggle. Under Dr. Matt’s lead, we were busier than we had been with Dr. Johnson while he was ill. Pike Lake Dental Center was growing quickly! Essentially, we had combined two dental practices, Dr. Matt’s and Dr. Johnson’s, into one. Within a few years, it was painfully obvious: we were outgrowing the building and there was no room for expansion at our current location.

Our former home and the future location of Pike Lake Dental Center.

A residential home went up for sale across the street from the geodesic dome and Dr. Matt jumped at the chance to purchase it. He put his little house in Woodland up for sale and moved into the house on Miller Trunk Highway. In the meantime, Matt and I got engaged. We were married in 2002, had our first baby and started building a house in Hermantown in 2003. We moved into our house, had another baby in 2004 and immediately began plans to move the house off the property in Pike Lake and build a new dental office in its place. We moved into the new office in December of 2004. Because we are a little bit crazy, we had our third – and last – child in 2005. It was truly a whirlwind of three or four years. We were young, in love and ready to tackle the world.

Inside the current Pike Lake Dental Center.

At the time of the move to the new office, we thought 6 dental chairs (three doctor chairs and 3 hygiene chairs) was more room than we could ever need. The office was clean, spacious and every piece of new equipment worked. It truly was a dream come true to work in the new office. We slowly added staff as we continued to steadily grow over the years in the new building. Sue, Nancy and Lisa would have joined us around this time.

During these early years, Matt assumed an astronomical amount of debt. In the span of just a handful of years, we had purchased Carter’s dental practice, bought a house, built a new house, built the new office and purchased all the equipment needed for the new office. When I heard the final total of our debt for the entirety of Pike Lake Dental Center, I will admit I was nauseous for a long time. How in the world could we pay back all that money? Why in the world had we been allowed to borrow so much? Matt was fiercely driven and rose to the challenge. There were many sleepless nights and countless hours spent worrying, but I am very proud to say we never missed a payment on anything. Ever. In fact, we managed to pay most of the loans off early. Just last month, we made our last payment to Wells Fargo for the building. We officially own the entire dental office free and clear now. Whew! That is a huge accomplishment!

Pike Lake Dental Center building mortgage PAID IN FULL!!!

Today, we are again bursting at the seams with 15 employees and Dr. Matt. Of the original Dr. Johnson staff, only Debbie and I remain. Our lunchroom is standing room only. We always try to creatively maximize each day’s schedule to the best of our ability. Matt has continued to add new technology and procedures to the office, always maintaining his high standards of patient care. We have experienced overwhelming growth and loyalty from our patients. Is it time to add onto the office again? Only time will tell.

We are packed in like sardines but we still manage to have fun!

As I reflect on the changes Pike Lake Dental Center has undergone in the years since I started working here, I am truly amazed. Matt’s determination and drive has continually taken Pike Lake Dental Center to new and challenging heights. I also find myself beaming with pride for all he’s accomplished. I hope Dr. Johnson would be proud of Pike Lake Dental Center today, a dental practice he literally started from the ground up. I am eternally thankful for the wonderful patients and staff we have had the privilege of serving and working with these nearly 20 years. Without you, Pike Lake Dental Center wouldn’t and couldn’t exist. So, from the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU!

Dr. Matt and Stephanie, young and in love in 2001.

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich

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