Bringing Smiles to White Bear

Dr. Stephen Jaksa has been perfecting glorious grins for over 35 years, while keeping his practice fresh and up-to-date.
Dr. Stephen Jaksa in his dental office, Lake Area Dental.

There are a handful of things that make Dr. Stephen Jaksa a bit different from your average dentist, but it starts with the fact that he graduated from the University of Minnesota’s dental school at the age of 24.

“The average starting age at the time was 24,” he says. “I was the youngest dentist in the state for a while.” Fresh out of school, he started Lake Area Dental, and “here we are, 36 years later, and it’s really fun to be practicing in your hometown.”

Jaksa attended Catholic grade school and high school in White Bear Lake, and some of his childhood friends are clients. In his first-grade class, “there were 40 boys, and 15 of those kids are patients,” he says. “That’s pretty cool.”

Aside from hometown pride and achievement at a young age, Jaksa likes setting himself apart from the crowd, and admits, “I’m different” from other dentists. “I’ve worked very hard to be committed to excellence,” and one aspect of that is continuing education. “Clinical experience comes into it, certainly, but it’s also about learning. You’ve got to be on this quest for knowledge your whole career.” Jaksa has studied under some of the best dentists in the world, including Peter Dawson, who has trained more than 40,000 dentists. “Peter Dawson in dentistry is like George Washington in politics.”

Those connections to the celebrities of the dental world also give him the opportunity to work with the best in the business. “I’ve got a team of specialists who are equally committed,” he says. “So if I send you to my orthodontist or periodontist, or my oral surgeon, they’re down there sitting and studying with me. It’s a fun way to practice when all your peers are equally committed.”

While he has his friends with specialties, Jaksa focuses on general family practice. He does cosmetic work as well, but he enjoys seeing his patients—of all ages—and giving them not just their best smile, but the knowledge to go along with it. “I like to educate patients,” he says. In order for them to understand why he might suggest a certain treatment, he’ll sit with patients and show them photos of their teeth, and explain the process from start to finish.

Doug Firkus, a patient for more than 30 years, says, “He talks you through every detail, [and] he coordinates all professionals involved with your case to completion.”

Firkus went through a two-year process to transform his smile which included braces and ended with new porcelain caps. “When I look in the mirror or see myself in a picture smiling, I feel younger and healthier with my new smile,” Firkus says. And aside from great results, “Dr. Jaksa and his staff are perfectionists with a sense of humor; you want that in your dentist.”

Those laughs are filled with healthy smiles, which, Jaksa says, need more than simple brushing and flossing to keep healthy. Eating right, too, can keep those pearly whites looking good. Not to mention that oral hygiene is one of the most important factors to overall health.

“There’s so much I like about [my work],” he says. “I think dentistry is really fun. It’s like any job—if you’re really good at what you do, you like it. I’m proud of my work, and I’m proud of the achievements in my profession.”