I've been in Minnesota since 1989. I moved up to Minnesota because I like to fish and it's one of the best multi-species angling places in the United States. I moved to the Twin Cities metro area because it's a large enough market for me to offer the services that I offer. Although we have people that come from Iowa, sometimes almost the Dakotas, way up north toward Canada, and then Wisconsin so we draw from a pretty big area. I just needed to be in a larger metropolitan market to accomplish that. I started my practice, let's see, I said in 1989 so I started in private practice in 1990 because I moved here the summer of '89 and I was looking for a practice to buy, so I bought three practices and combined them all. I was in St. Paul for 14 years, downtown at United Hospital. Then, around 2002 thereabouts, 2003, I moved out here and then put this office together and we've been out here since.
Dr. Wilhelm has been in private practice in St. Paul and now Woodbury since 1990. As a prosthodontist, he focuses on cosmetic dentistry, sedation dentistry, advanced restorative dentistry, and dental implants. Over the years, he and his staff have helped thousands of individuals feel a renewed sense of confidence and excitement by improving their smiles.Read Transcript
I mean, I grew up in a blue collar neighborhood in Chicago, so I wasn't aware of white collar jobs. I didn't even know what an engineer was or any of that stuff. My dad worked for the power company and everyone either worked at a factory or the phone company or something like that. The reality was that I always had a vision that I could be whatever I wanted to be. When I was a kid, we took one of our few vacations and we went to a lake up in northern Wisconsin and I said, “I want to live here.” So I also knew that I needed to be able to work because… looking around, there's not jobs, I guess.
I was always attracted to science and I had a dentist that encouraged me. I had an orthodontist that encouraged me. I was born with a cleft lip and palate so most of my childhood I spent seeing specialists in that and receiving care for that at North Western University in Chicago. I had kind of a medical influence and my orthodontist and dentist encouraged me to go into dentistry and I didn't see why I couldn't do anything I wanted to do, so I kind of chose that path at a pretty young age.
Which was kind of interesting, but I mean, I don't know how old I was but at least by seventh grade, I decided I wanted to be a dentist. Once I was in dental school, I liked the art part behind prosthodontics because we get exposed to all the different specialties. We have orthodontics, which I had, but I had no interest in endodontics, like doing root canals, which I don't like doing, so I didn't want to do that. The art part, I was always interested in art but never had time to actually study it because of taking science classes and all that in school. Then once I got into prosthodontics, I was actually pretty good at it and I really had a passion for it so you could just say I was drawn to it. Then once I went to grad school, then the rest was history.
After graduating from the University of Illinois, Dr. Wilhelm received his Doctorate of Dental Medicine in 1985 from Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine. He continued his education to achieve a Master of Science in Dentistry and completed specialty certificates in Prosthodontics and Maxillofacial Prosthetics at Indiana University. In 1989, he accepted a position at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, where he was promoted to full Adjunct Professor and continues to serve as a Consultant. He has also held faculty positions at Indiana University and is a staff member of the Health East Hospital system, including St. Joe’s, St. John’s, and Woodwinds.Read Transcript
Continuing education is something that's always ongoing. In my field and in my practice, more than half of my patients come referred to me from general dentists, so with my background and training, I have kind of an awareness or expertise in more advanced cases. Where general dentists, though many of them are really highly-skilled, some of my best referring doctors are really great doctors, but they reach a comfort level and they just refer those patients to me, and then that's something that I'm routinely used to.
Dental implants was something that I got into back in the—well, actually right after dental school, so in 1986 I was in my residency, and we were seeing implant patients back then. It was kind of like the wild, wild west because there were no rules, there were no instructions. We just had to figure it out and at that time, we kind of determined that the prosthodontist really needed to lead the case because the surgeons were just placing implants wherever they could, and then we had a challenge restoring them.
Then, early on, I had some of the same concerns. I would work with surgeons to place implants and we had some compromises, so I went in to do the surgery myself. Dental implant continuing ed is something that I've stuck with since the early 80's. TMJ, advanced restorative work, and this and that, so some of the same courses that the general dentist would take, and then others that are for specialists only.
Building off his desire to provide high-quality implant services for his patients, Dr. Wilhelm completed extensive training in implant dentistry at the prestigious Misch Implant Institute (Pittsburgh) in 1998, where he achieved Fellowship status. In 2008, Dr. Wilhelm completed coursework at the Kois Center and was awarded Mentor status and a Recognized Specialist. He is also recognized as a Diplomate of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists and is an active member of the American College of Prosthodontists, the American Dental Association, and the Minnesota Dental Association.Read Transcript
Well, I think that I get a lot of hugs from patients, and I don't mind hugging people so that works out fine. To see the outcomes that we get—and some of the treatment is really drawn out; it can take over a year. The devastation that people have with the fact that they're going to lose a tooth or many teeth or all of their teeth, it’s pretty emotional.
We're used to dealing with that every single day, so we're very sensitive to that aspect. I'm not talking about folks that just want to look better. These folks really can't function, and they often end up looking better than they've ever looked in their life. To experience their joy when they're done, and that literally can be anything from a cry to just they’re agasp at what they look like, and then I get lots of hugs.
It's the sharing that we have in the end that's really rewarding, then the relationships that we build in the process because it's very time-consuming. A lot of prosthodontics does not involve pain, so I get to see the better side of people because when people are going to experience surgery, which I do a lot of surgery, which would be extractions or implants or bone-grafting and that.
They're kind of nervous; you don't see the best side of people. But then when I'm restoring the teeth later, making dentures, removable things like that, they're really relaxed. I really get to know the patient and we share lots of stories and things like that. The relationship aspect is what gets me up.
Regarded by colleagues nationwide for his knowledge, Dr. Wilhelm is an author, consultant, mentor, and frequent speaker to dentists and the public on techniques that enhance oral health. He and his staff present many seminars on implant dentistry and advanced restorative procedures to family and cosmetic dentists in the Minnesota area. Dr. Wilhelm has completed many advanced courses in the United States and beyond to improve his understanding and skill level in implant, restorative, and esthetic dentistry. He also acts as a mentor and Recognized Specialist with the Kois Center.
Dr. Wilhelm resides in Stillwater, Minnesota, with his wife. His three adult children are pursuing their careers in the Midwest. His interests include reading, fishing, church life, and biking.
Why a Prosthodontist?Read Transcript
Ideally, when a general dentist feels uncomfortable with a case, then they refer that case to me. That's something that I do day in and day out and have a vast experience with, so I don't run into that many challenges anymore with that. When they see their general dentist, they may get care that's not to the level that is possible, and if they have problems, then they bounce around from provider to provider until they end up seeing a prosthodontist so I, unfortunately, I'm in a situation where I have to redo work or start from scratch. I have a lot more solutions to the same problems, so if it's based on budget, I may have five different solutions that I know can work for that individual. Versus the general dentist, their box of tricks is a lot smaller, so they're going to have fewer options for the patient.
Prosthodontists are cosmetic dentists who are experts in restoring and replacing teeth – they make smiles look beautiful and function the way they should. After completing four years of dental school, prosthodontists receive an extra three years of specialized training in an American Dental Association (ADA) accredited graduate program. Prosthodontics is one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the ADA.
Many like to think of prosthodontists as the “quarterback” of a dental treatment plan. They regularly lead teams of general dentists, specialists, and other health professionals to develop solutions to your dental needs.