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Shoptalk: Dr. Lesem 

click to enlarge Dentist Deborah Lesem cleans patients' teeth herself. - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Photo by Cheryl Gerber
  • Dentist Deborah Lesem cleans patients' teeth herself.

Dr. Deborah Lesem (Deborah E. Lesem Family Dentistry, 100 Robert E. Blvd., 504-286-3880; www.drlesem.com) provides a personal touch at her family dental practice. "I do all the cleanings myself," says Lesem, who began her practice 21 years ago. "We don't double book, and I'm in there the whole time. I get to learn about my patients better." A personalized experience in a relaxed atmosphere is the best way to get patients to adhere to a schedule of biannual dentist visits and practice good dental habits at home, Lesem says.

  Located in a beachy cottage, Lesem's Lakeview practice treats patients of all ages. In addition to cleanings and exams, she does cosmetic fillings, root canals, bonding, crowns and dentures. Cosmetic bonding is less invasive than veneers or crowns and more cost-effective for many people. Lesem also sells professional strength at-home bleaching kits (the method she prefers over in-office bleaching, which can result in tooth sensitivity) and makes custom night guards for teeth grinding, a stress-related issue she sees often. "We do all aspects of family dentistry from getting you out of pain to getting you to gorgeous, and we do accept and file most dental insurances," she says.

  Because healthy habits begin in childhood, Lesem works hard to make every child's visit a positive one. "We let kids come and see their parents have their teeth cleaned and examined," she says. "I let them spray the water and touch all the instruments. I get them involved. It's all in the approach." At the end of the visit, children receive a toothbrush and sparkle toothpaste and get to pick out a toy.

  New patients can expect an hour-and-a-half appointment. Routine visits usually last about 40 minutes. Lesem prides herself on her office's punctuality; the average patient wait is about 10 minutes. "(Patients) have schedules too," she says.

  Lesem instructs patients to brush at least twice a day, floss daily, and avoid soft drinks, sports drinks and fruit juices because of their sugar content and acidic pH, which wears away enamel. She says day-to-day vigilance is the best way to ward off dental problems and prioritizes educating her patients about the important of regular maintenance. "The way I treat my patients is the way I would want to be treated," she says. "We take our time and do it right."

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