GF dentist becomes state president
If he had his way, Steve Erlandson would have all vending machines with sugary soft drinks banned from schools. He said they eat away at tooth enamel. And children would have regular checkups to make sure small cavities don't turn into big ones. ...
If he had his way, Steve Erlandson would have all vending machines with sugary soft drinks banned from schools. He said they eat away at tooth enamel. And children would have regular checkups to make sure small cavities don't turn into big ones. He thinks they should be seen every six months.
Erlandson is a general dentist in Grand Forks, and he has just embarked on his year as president of the North Dakota Dental Association.
The association and Erlandson have a couple of major goals.
One is to increase reimbursements from Medicaid to 75 percent of what normal insurance would pay. Another is a loan repayment program for new dentists coming to North Dakota.
Sitting in his office during a lunch-hour break the other day, he said increased Medicaid reimbursements would bring participation up and make care possible for many people. It is happening in other states. And while North Dakota has enough dentists, about 330, there is a need for better distribution of them in rural areas. A loan repayment program could help dentists, who usually are heavily in debt when they graduate. And the cost to equip an office can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
There are dental clinics in Grand Forks, Fargo and Bismarck that get federal compensation to meet patient needs. In Grand Forks, two dentists are available at the Valley Community Dental Clinic on South Fourth Street in the building still known by many as Deaconess Hospital.
Erlandson is one of about 30 dentists in Grand Forks. He is a member of the Northeast District that meets four times a year for continuing education.
Erlandson grew up in Grafton, N.D., where his father, Michael Erlandson, now retired, was a dentist. The others in the family of five children became teachers and accountants. Erlandson and his wife, Mary, have lived in Grand Forks since 1997, when he bought the dental practice of Paul Gillespie, who retired. They came in May after the big flood to look over the situation. "We decided that Grand Forks was moving forward, and we wanted to be part of it," he said.
Erlandson is a graduate of Concordia College in Moorhead and the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. He is located with several other dentists in an office building at 2401 S. Washington St. The most common procedures are those of filling and cleaning teeth. But the trends today in dentistry are for more implants and more aesthetics such as bleaching and restoration of veneer of teeth.
In his father's generation, many dentists worked toward the fluoridation of water. And that brought down the rate of decay in teeth.
The image of the dentist slowly has changed. With local anesthetics, Erlandson said it is painless. His treatment rooms are equipped with television screens on which he can show and explain procedures to his patients. Or the screens can be used for television patients can watch during a procedure.
He laughed when I asked him why dentists and hygienists ask questions of patients when they can't answer.
Reach Hagerty at email@example.com or (701) 772-1055.