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Dr. Sandra Lara is now seeing clients at the newly-named Pine Park Family Dentistry office on Pleasant Avenue. Dr. Guy Reich has retired after 31 years of practice. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

Lara succeeds Reich at Park Rapids dental office

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Dr. Sandra Lara is now saying "open wide" at the dentistry office of Dr. Guy Reich, who retired in mid-August.

After 31 years of practice, Reich retired to enjoy a "more leisurely lifestyle and share more activities with my family."

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Reich's choice as his successor graduated from El Bosque University of Dentistry in Bogota, Columbia.

She furthered her education by completing a general practice residency and a two-year post-graduate program in oral medicine at the University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Dentistry.

She took part in a program that focused on medically compromised patients as well as elderly and their medications.

When Lara and husband Miguel Lopez, a mechanical engineer, learned of a shortage of dentists in Minnesota, and the state had "opened doors to foreign dentists," they decided to migrate farther north and apply for licensure.

Lara has been a practicing dentist in Hawley for the past eight years.

"Endeared" by the area's pines and in recognition of the city's name, she calls her clinic Pine Park Family Dentistry.

The couple has three children, Nicolas, 14, Natalia, 6, and Thomas, 4. The family left Columbia when Nicolas was 3.

Columbia, she said, has no seasons. "It's 60 to 70 degrees most of the time."

While winter causes a bit of homesickness, "Miss that? Yes!" she and her family appreciate the small town atmosphere. Bogota has a population nearing 10 million, she said. And the family has developed an affinity for the lakes.

Lara has a strong interest in children's dental health, and discourages pop drinking among kids, teens and young adults due to its effects - eroding enamel and causing cavities.

She recommends check-ups every six months, paired with brushing and flossing.

The staff remains, including receptionist Judy Garden, hygienists Carol Burrell and Sharon Roethel and dental assistants Julene Reichling and Melissa Bender.

The dental clinic, at 314 So. Pleasant Ave., is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to noon Friday. It's open after hours in the event of emergency. Call 732-4466.

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