Being a dentist was in her genes
Two decades flew by for Dr. Julie Lesher, who bought John Turner's Hudson dental practice in 1992. This year she is celebrating 20 years in Hudson and is the president of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry Alumni Association.
Lesher grew up in St. James, Minn., the daughter of a dentist.
"I started to work for dad as a dental assistant while I was in high school," said Lesher, who later attended Mankato State because there was a dental assistant program. "I discovered I loved college and worked part-time for a dentist in Mankato while in school. One day he looked at me and said you should be a dentist." The foundation was already in place.
She began to work as a dental assistant at the University of Minnesota's dental school.
"While doing that I applied and got in," said Lesher. "I enjoy working with my hands and it also lets me work with people one on one." After graduating from dental school, she completed a two-year general practice residency. Her husband worked in downtown St. Paul and she was in Minneapolis when they began to consider Hudson.
One year after purchasing Turner's practice, she outgrew the building. The couple moved to Hudson in 1994.
"The first time I walked into this building I thought this would be a perfect dentist's office," said Lesher of her current location at 200 Vine Street. In 1995 she and her husband bought the building. In 2007 they took over the entire first floor, completely remodeling it and going paperless at the same time.
"In dentistry everything has changed but teeth are the same," said Lesher. "We have new materials that are better, stronger and look beautiful. It is amazing to me the things we can do now that we could not do before."
Plus, according to Lesher, the opportunity to keep learning has exploded. She belongs to a study club made up of dentists.
Two of the significant changes Lesher remarked on were bonding/white fillings and sealants.
"We are going to be able to see a whole generation grow up without cavities," said Lesher. "We have a better understanding of people's mouths and things we can do to be proactive. Also people don't realize that fluoridation of city water was one of the greatest accomplishments of the century."
Lesher was also involved with The Health Improvement Plan for St. Croix County.
"One of the other pieces of this program was improving access to core needs," said Lesher. "There is a whole population out there that doesn't have any place to go for services."
Along those lines, every year on the first Friday in February, Lesher participates in the national campaign, Give Kids a Smile.
"Last year we saw 30 children," said Lesher, who estimates she has provided $25,000 of free dental work.
In 2007, after extensive remodeling, when the office went paperless and digital she also purchased a laser. From x-rays to billing, Lesher and her staff, which includes three dental hygienists and three dental assistants, work without paper for the most part.
"I have the most amazing staff to work with," said Lesher. "They go and learn new techniques through continuing education. They bring back their ideas and we incorporate them in the practice.
Since 1994, Lesher, along with her husband Michael and their two children Mary and Patrick, have called Hudson home.
On Aug. 3 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. patients will be invited to celebrate with Dr. Lesher and her staff.
"We will have root beer floats, kids' games and music. The whole point of it is to let our patients know how grateful we are."
Dentistry on Vine is located at 700 Second Street. It is open Monday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The office is closed Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. For more information, go to www.dentistryonvine.com or call (715) 386-2515 for more information.