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All Posts in Category: Social

Success: What Does It Mean for PLDC?

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

Dr. Matt in 1999.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Matt at the Canosia Twp. recycling center.

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

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

The young Jugovich family, 2009.

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

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

No caption needed. 😉

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

 

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

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Breaking Down Tooth Whitening: Steph’s Personal Experiences

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

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

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

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

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

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

White strips are small and convenient!

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

White strips in place on my teeth.

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

Charcoal whitening powder.

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

Charcoal powder is messy!

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

 

 

Professional whitening kit.

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

Bleach trays in place.

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

All whitened up for another month or so.

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

 

-Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich.

 

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

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

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

My bitewing x rays from 2001.

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

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

One of our digital x ray units.

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

Our 3D scanner and panorex machine.

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

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

Imaging options on our 3D scanner.

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

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

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

A photo of my latest panorex.

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

 

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

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My Friend, YOU ARE WORTH IT!

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

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

Cheesing it up with two of my three kids.

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

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

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

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

Before veneers were placed on two teeth.

After veneers were placed on two teeth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Lisa with a patient during an Invisalign consultation.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Cassandra and Lisa delivering an Invisalign case.

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

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

Dr. Matt at a continuing education class.

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

That’s our son right there!

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

A fun group of smiles from Halloween.

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

Lisa taking digital impressions on a patient.

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

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

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

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

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

Ready to welcome our patients tomorrow morning.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Eeewww! My Splint is SMELLY!

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

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

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

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

Cleaning directions, straight from the TAP 3 Elite website.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yay! My splint is fresh and clean!

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

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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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