UNHS Dental offers local patients more options

By now, most people are aware that Utah Navajo Health System, Inc. has a full-time dental department serving the residents of San Juan County.

With dental services available in Blanding, Montezuma Creek, Monument Valley and even Navajo Mountain, UNHS provides top-notch dental care for patients of all ages. However, there are still a lot of people in San Juan County who don’t realize the scope of services and procedures offered by the UNHS dental team. According to Dr. Brian Olsen, DDS, Clinical Director of the UNHS Dental Department, his team of skilled dentists, dental hygienists and assistants are able to perform a wide variety of dental procedures, including many procedures that residents are now being sent out of the area to receive.

UNHS provides services like; general dentistry, pediatric dentistry for children, sedation dentistry to sedate patients who are too anxious or nervous, or little kids who are unable to cooperate. UNHS also does hospital dentistry, using the Blue Mountain Hospital OR and patients are put completely asleep. This is done only on really young children who have lots of cavities and are just too young to sit in a dental chair. All hospital dentistry is done by Dr. Paul Macdonald, of Blanding.

Dr. Olsen said most of the procedures being sent out of area involve wisdom teeth and implants, but he says UNHS can do both wisdom teeth and implants.

“Those are the two procedures we see going out of the area the most,” Olsen explained. “We also remove impacted wisdom teeth. People don’t think we can do wisdom teeth so these procedures are being sent to Oral Surgeons in places like St. George or Salt Lake. And that’s fantastic. If people want to go there that’s great. Obviously Oral Surgeons are the experts on surgical procedures.

“But we have dentists that are trained to take out impacted teeth and including wisdom teeth. They’re not oral surgeons, but dentists do that all over the country. It takes extra training,” Olsen said. “Dr. Macdonald got his additional training through years of continuing education and through an oral surgeon who worked out of his office for several years. I was trained in the military during my residency by an oral surgeon. Some of our other dentists were trained in different residencies to do the same.

Olsen said several of the UNHS Dentists are also trained in placing and restoring implants. They’ve done quite a bit of that in the past four years.

“We also do root canal treatment. We’re not the experts though. We treat any root canal we feel comfortable with,” Olsen added. “Anything that’s out of the ordinary or it is something that requires a specialist, we will refer them to a specialist. That’s usually in Farmington, New Mexico.

“We also do a fair amount of cosmetic dentistry. Cosmetic Dentistry is anything esthetic. If someone wants to change their smile and they want veeners on all their teeth, or they want to get their teeth whitened and want us to change the shape of them, we do that as well,” he said.

UNHS dentists will refer patients to a specialist if for any reason anyone feels uncomfortable about they’re expertise, Olsen noted, adding that UNHS isn’t in the business of trying to make lots of money. They’re just trying to do the best they can for the patient.

“So, there’s nothing in dentistry we can’t do except for some specialty procedures. For instance, if you broke your jaw, we would stabilize it but you would need to see an oral surgeon because we don’t specialize in that. That’s something oral surgeons do,” Olsen explained. “If you had cancer in your mouth. We would find it and then refer you to an oral surgeon to have that taken care of.”

UNHS dental facilities in all four clinics are state of the art, but Olsen said there are some ‘cool’ things coming in the near future. He said UNHS is getting a new 3-Dimensional X-Ray Machine, which is kind of like a CT-Scan for Dentistry.

“Instead of seeing things in two dimensions like we always have, we’re going to be able to see every aspect from every angle. The diagnostic capability we will have with that will be amazing,” Olsen said. “We’re also getting a machine that will allow us to do people’s crowns in one day, actually in one hour. We’ll be able to do a crown in one hour. Normally, to make a crown you shave the tooth to the shape of a crown prep, put all the goo in your mouth, have you bite down on it, send that to Salt Lake and they would make us a crown and send it back in two to three weeks. Now what we will do, instead of putting the goo in your mouth, we will use this machine. We have a scanning wand and it scans your tooth, like you would scan something on paper. We hit send and it sends it over to our little mill and it’s like a sophisticated lathe. It cuts the crown. We don’t put a temporary on. When it’s done we just put your new crown on.”

This new technology will save patients’ time because they don’t have to come back twice. They don’t have to wear a temporary crown that might fall off, so it’s really going to help the patients.

“It’s going to be fun too. A lot of patients can’t stand the goo in their mouth and they gag. So this will avoid all that. This is called CAD-CAM Dentistry. It’s one of the greatest advances in dentistry and just gets better every year,” Olsen added.

UNHS CEO Michael Jensen said he’s proud of the organization’s dental department and the work they do every day. He said San Juan County residents have a lot of good choices for dental care, but they might not know UNHS dentists are among the best in the area.

“Our mission is to provide the highest quality of dentistry our patients could get at any private practice in the country. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish. We want to make it so that when patients come to our office the customer service and dentistry they get is so amazing that they won’t have a desire to go anywhere else. That’s what we’re trying to do,” Dr. Olsen said.

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