Southern Minnesota Orthodontics was founded in 1958 by Dr. Bernie Powers and it slowly grew into a three-person practice, and has been that way ever since. To keep the three-owner system in place, they have prioritized recruiting dentists to the practice. Additionally, the practice prides themselves on being community driven. This approach focuses heavily on making sure that the dentists go the extra mile for each individual patient to give them the best experience possible. As owner, Dr. Mitchell Hemann, stated, “Having a strong reputation in the community means that patients can tell that they are in a place where you know their needs.”
Unlike his twin brother, Southern Minnesota Orthodontics owner, Dr. Mitchell Hemann didn’t always know he wanted to be a dentist. Following in his brother’s footsteps, Dr. Hemann entered the field of dentistry field and immediately fell in love with it. After obtaining his undergraduate degree at the University of Notre Dame and receiving his Doctorate of Dental Surgery from the University of Minnesota, Dr. Hemann completed his orthodontic residency and Master’s of Science at the University of Iowa.
Originally from Austin, Minnesota, owner Dr. Timothy Swanson joined the military and eventually found his way back to Minnesota. After earning his Doctorate of Dental Surgery from the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry, Dr. Swanson became a Captain in the Dental Corps and completed a general dentistry residency at Madigan Army Medical Center and orthodontic specialty training at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Swanson’s path to dentistry is like that of Dr. Hemann’s in that he was unsure of what career he wanted to pursue. He saw dentistry as a way of working with his hands, while also being able to help others and make an impact.
Dr. Christopher Vaubel first came to Southern Minnesota Orthodontics as a patient in his teens, but has since returned to the practice as an owner. Before attending dental school at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, Dr. Vaubel studied biology at Gustavus Adolphus College and immunology at the University of Minnesota.
Keeping up with the Technology
The practice follows evidence-based research in order to keep up with the constant technological changes within the dental field. Dr. Swanson said, “We spend a lot of time making sure our treatment is appropriate, and we utilize the most advanced technology.” Keeping up with the constant evolution of tech in the industry can be difficult. A certain device may be used for a short amount of time before being rendered obsolete, thus making it difficult to adapt on time. Concepts such as 3D printing and various types of digital technology are constantly evolving and the practice must keep pace. Instead of constantly changing their practice, the doctors at Southern Minnesota Orthodontics focus on how the tech they buy can best serve the patient. By personalizing everyone’s treatment, they can ensure that they are providing the best care possible.
Struggles of Operating a Dental Practice
Contrary to what one may believe, the doctors said their biggest struggles do not come from dental work. Operating a small practice is similar to running a small business. There are a lot of moving pieces that go into the practice. This can range from staffing and training newcomers to behind the scenes work that goes into every business. Dr. Swanson referred to everything not related to dentistry as necessary to “keep the lights on.”
Advice for Young Dental Professionals
“You need to be a good communicator,” said Dr. Swanson. To young dentists, he encouraged learning to work well with others. Getting a feel for interacting well with people of all ages is the first big step in working within the dental field. On the other hand, Dr. Hemann emphasized keeping an open mind when working with patients. By remaining open-minded, a dentist can explore the many different ways to provide a patient with the best care and results possible. This reminded him of the best advice he received during his residency: the most important patient is the one you are sitting with.