After serving the dental needs of the Stettler area full time since 1969, Dr. Roger Bruntjen has decided to start the transition to retirement.
Located in Heartland Shopping Plaza on 51 Avenue since his very early years in his career, Bruntjen’s business was sold last month.
“I sold my practice and now I work a couple of days a week,” said Dr. Bruntjen, who started his local career when the population of the Town of Stettler was about 3,500.
“I want to spend fewer days in the office.”
Now as he looks back, the long-time dentist is grateful to have served the community.
“For dentistry, this has been a great town for me and the community has treated me well,” said Dr. Bruntjen, who grew up in Trochu.
“The size of the town is perfect.”
After he graduated from the University of Alberta with a degree in dental surgery, he chose to come to this larger community.
“I didn’t’ want to go back to a town of 700,” said Dr. Bruntjen.
“I had played ball and hockey and often came here for games and I thought Stettler was a good town.”
As his wife and children call this home, Stettler has been a great place to live.
“I didn’t want to go back to a big city,” said Dr. Bruntjen.
As one of the longest-serving dentists in Stettler, he has cleaned, polished, pulled and capped a lot of teeth to hundreds of people and families.
“I’ve made many friends and worked on the third generation of patients,’ said Dr. Bruntjen.
While the Stettler area was served by four dentists during one period in time, during the 1970s, he was the only dentist between Red Deer and the Saskatchewan border.
Life as a dentist was a desire he had as a young boy when his parents owned a general store that took up most of their time and life.
“I knew I wanted to work in the professions,” said Dr. Bruntjen.
As he considered his career and future, he discussed the dental field with a friend’s father who was a dentist.
“He was a respected man around town and this was a big influence on me,” said Dr. Bruntjen.
Then he began to prepare for a career that will now eventually wind down.
“My mission as a dentist is to save teeth,” said Dr. Bruntjen.
“It’s the people – patients and staff – that makes this work fun.”
Over the past four decades, dental equipment and practices have evolved significantly with the computer age and technology.
“When I started in 1969, my equipment was state-of-the-art and I’m still using some of it,” he said.
“We’ve modified some of it.”
Now much of that seems to be so antiquated with the rapid rise in technology.
“One of the greatest developments in dentistry is the implant replacement of teeth,” said Dr. Bruntjen.
Digital X-rays, computers and intra-oral cameras have made it easier for dentists to assess the teeth and structure.
“We can move the camera inside the mouth and show the patient what it looks like.”
Another great improvement has been a change in philosophy to proactively promote ways to prevent cavities rather than just filling cavities.
“We now have high-speed suction for air, water and saliva – that’s been great for dental efficiency,” he said.
As he was starting his career, many dentists had no hygienists or assistants and did much or all of the work for each patient.
Now as he prepares to retire, Dr. Bruntjen plans to spend more time on his farm, travel and visit his grandchildren.