By Nick Longworth
Northwoods Dental at 405 Henrietta Ave S in Park Rapids now has new owners and are offering additional hours of operation and services to accompany the regime switch.
Doctors of Dental Surgery (DDS) Bonnie Moeller and Jason Murray are not only engaged, they’re also the couple that can call themselves the proud new owners of the private practice formerly owned by Dr. Tina Taylor.
Moeller and Murray both graduated from the University Of Minnesota School Of Dentistry in 2009 after already obtaining bachelor’s from NDSU and East Washington University.But for Bonnie, dentistry began well before her collegiate years.
“My dad is a dentist so I had been in and out of his office all of my childhood. I remember being there a lot of time and also had high school and college jobs helping out there. I really was able to see the way he interacted with patients and how much people liked him when they would see him outside of the office. I felt like he did a lot for them. Having that exposure to the industry at a young age was one of the main reasons I went into the dental industry,” said Bonnie Moeller, DDS and owner of Northwood’s Dental.
After graduating the U of M, the couple quickly found work near the coastal town of Astoria, Oregon and resided there for the next three years.
Although they enjoyed their stay there near the West Coast, the couple eventually found their way back to the state of Minnesota.
“I’m originally from Alaska, but my grandparents grew up around the iron range. Jason grew up and went to high school in Alexandria. His family still lives there. All of my extended family is around the area still too,” Moeller said.
“We moved back because we wanted to be closer to mine and Jason’s family; it’s nice to be within driving distance. We had positions lined up at the Northern Access Dental Center in Bemidji originally to start-out here in Minnesota. We moved to Bemidji in October of 2013 when we heard that Dr. Tina Taylor would be going on medical leave in October and was looking for someone to help her out in the meantime. Jason started working for her right away in October and we talked with her a little bit about the area,” Moeller said.
Once in the area that they wanted to live long-term and with experience in-hand, they both knew that they were competent and willing enough to undertake their very own private practice.
“We had already thought about owning our own practice before. It’s a pretty common way for people to go for small dental providers. A lot of places, especially in rural areas, are small businesses and private practices. It’s a nice way to go because you get to employ people in the community and set things up the way you want. After four years of experience elsewhere, you are kind of ready to step out on your own then; fixing teeth has become kind of second nature and you’re now ready to tackle the business end of owning your own practice,” Moeller said.
Once the wheels of change were in motion, the process of purchasing the practice itself went smoothly, with most of the previous staff remaining intact providing a sense of familiarity with long-time customers.
The couple’s first day of officially owning their own practice together was Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014.
“We have a really great staff here. Our office manager does real well and the staff we kept aboard from Dr. Taylor is amazing. We’re not really city-folks; we both like smaller towns. Jason is also very passionate about fishing and he loves the lakes available up here. I also like to cross country ski and with Itasca nearby there are great trails around. We have a beautiful building; I have always dreamed of working in a place like this. This is what we were looking to do, but we didn’t know we would be able to find such an amazing place and staff so quickly. That’s how we like it to be: our patients know all of our assistants, hygienists and us. We encourage that continuity,” Moeller said.
Outside of orthodontic work (which will not be offered although Dr. Cooper from Bemidji will continue to offer in-house services for braces once a month) only slight changes in services will now be offered. The emphasis will be on expanded hours and services that were previously sent out to other, larger providers.
We will provide the full-range of general dental care including cleanings, restorative work, fillings, extractions and we’re also working to expand offerings to root canals as well in the next few months. Previously those were referred out by Dr. Taylor, but we want to make it so people don’t have to travel so far to have those services done,” Moeller said.
“We also want to expand hours somewhat. We are now going to be open 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Mon-Thurs. Our business hours are going to be a lot more convenient than they have been in the past for people at Northwood’s Dental. We are going to be open more consistently and look at expanding the days of the week. At this point in time our office won’t be open on the weekends, but we have an after-hours call number that people can call if something comes up to talk-through any problems with patients. We can usually figure something out if a patient has obvious and definable symptoms and we can advise them if they should look to get seen immediately or if they might just need antibiotics,” Moeller said.
Finally settled in their “dream jobs”, both Bonnie and Jason see overwhelming benefit in the services they offer to their customers.
In this industry, unfortunately you see a lot of people that have emergencies or are in pain. It can be one of those things that just happen and you didn’t know it was going to happen. We can get people feeling better really quick, which can be huge if you have a really bad toothache, or a broken tooth. Those can be pretty debilitating,” Moeller said.
“We have a very nice, welcoming atmosphere. It’s a very relaxed place to come. We have a very caring staff. We want to treat our patients like family, like relatives.”
Northwoods Dental is a provider for the following insurance plans: Dental Service Corp (BCBS ND), Delta Dental PPO, Cigna, Health Partners, MetLife, Premier Dental, and Preferred One.
They can be reached for questions, appointments or further information at 732-1414.