Progress: All smiles all the time: Hamann Family Dentistry still going strong
“There’s so much more than the dentistry part,” said Brooke Hamann, a second-generation Perham-dentist.
Editor's Note: The following originally appeared in the 2023 Perham Progress magazine, which was included as a free insert in a February 2023 issue of the Focus. Read the magazine in its entirety HERE online.
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Whether it’s a cleaning, a cavity or some other dental procedure, you can rest assured knowing there are two generations of knowledge inside Hamann Family Dentistry.
Father Dr. Mike Hamann and daughter, Dr. Brooke Hamann, have been working together for about 13 years since Brooke joined the practice in 2010.
But the history of Hamann Family Dentistry goes back much further than that.
Mike started his dental career during the Vietnam War as a dentist in the Navy and was attached to a marine base during the conflict.
“I always wanted to be a dentist since I was a little kid and I think it was because my mom worked for a dentist,” Mike said.
When the war ended and he finished dental school in 1972, he needed a place to set up shop. Mike and his wife, Tricia, visited several Minnesota towns to find a place to put down roots. In each town, they asked around to see if there was a need for a dentist.
They discovered that Perham not only had that need, but it had plenty to offer the couple too. So they discussed it and decided to set up shop.
“I said, I like the town because of all the lakes and the surrounding area and the trees and the landscape, and she (Tricia) said, ‘It better not be a dead and dying town.’ And we laugh at it because it is so far from a dead and dying town,” Mike said.
After choosing Perham as their homestead, next came acquiring a building for the business. Some leads ended up turning into dead ends, but eventually, it all came together with a little help.
“So then I called my Dad in Willmar and said we like the town, and (asked) if he could go check it out. Well, then he calls me back and says, ‘Well, you own a building,’” Mike said.
And in 1974, Hamann Dentistry would officially open. For about a month, they slept in the building, and over the course of 10 years, Mike would eventually pay off the building.
During that time, the business would continue to grow with additional dental assistants, new equipment and more rooms. The Hamann family also grew too.
The couple had three daughters, Shayne, Natasha and Brooke, all of which would help out at the office from time to time, typically helping with cleaning.
Natasha and Shayne took up careers in different fields, and Tricia shared some advice with Mike about having Brooke clean.
“She said, ‘You better do something different with this one if you want a dentist,’” Mike laughed.
That strategy seemed to work, because Brooke took an interest in dentistry.
“So when I got older, instead of doing more cleaning, to encourage me to go into the field, or discover what it’s about, I worked down here. So I would help clean rooms, I would develop X-rays, I’d help out the front desk … whatever anyone needed. So I knew I always wanted to do something medical,” Brooke said.
Brooke knew she wanted to do something in the medical field, so she shadowed a surgeon in town, but ultimately realized it wasn’t for her.
“Being a female, going to be a mother someday, the more I learned about the field (dentistry) and the career, it was just a perfect fit,” she said.
Brooke shadowed her father and other dentists in the area, including a female dentist in Detroit Lakes.
“I wanted a female perspective of a business owner and dentist, and this was even before I applied for dental school,” she said.
Brooke then attended Augsburg University in Minneapolis for four years and then the University of Minnesota for another four.
“So I spent eight years in Minneapolis and St. Paul. I just didn’t feel that’s where I wanted to start my life and start my career,” she said.
After eight years spent in cities, she knew she wanted to come back to Perham.
“I was probably one of the very first in my class to actually start working because I knew where I wanted to be … So I was lucky I knew that in the end, this is where I wanted to be,” Brooke said.
After getting the necessary licenses and credentials and passing the exams required to be a dentist, she joined the family practice in 2010.
“Initially, for the first few months, she relied a lot on me. After about two or three months she was flying. A lot of flying with that is just being confident in yourself to do what you’re going to do,” Mike said.
When Brooke joined the practice, Mike had been at the helm for about 36 years, which gave him the knowledge to help Brooke with dentistry and running a successful business.
“Not only has he showed me how to, and taught me more, about dentistry, but how to run a business, how to treat your staff. There’s so much more than the dentistry part, and in dental school, that’s all you learn,” Brooke said.
Mike wasn’t the only one doing the teaching, after all, Brooke brought plenty to the table as a recent graduate.
She brought new technology and techniques into the practice and the two have combined their knowledge to create a thriving practice.
Over the last 13 years, Mike has slowly taken a step back and handed over the reins to Brooke.
“It’s a fine dance when you have the younger generation taking over because you don’t want to step on the toes of someone who’s created this successful business. He kind of knew when it’s time to let me lead,” Brooke said.
That time came about four to five years ago, when Brooke started to take the lead. It was around that time that she started to feel more confident and comfortable with running the established and successful practice.
Today, Mike, 76, still works one or two half days a week, primarily with older patients. Although he still loves what he does, after nearly 50 years, his stamina isn’t what it used to be. But that doesn’t mean he’s not excited about going to work.
“Now when I come in for a half day I’m so fired up, the girls, (I) almost drive them nuts,” Mike said.
Even if he’s not working with patients as much, Mike still plays a crucial role.
“I enjoy that he’s still there for my sounding board … It’s still really nice to have somebody – I love to vent to my husband and friends – but ultimately the only person who really understands work-wise is my father,” Brooke said.
Both Brooke and Mike are involved in the community. Brooke is involved with the Minnesota Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team. Mike has served on the Perham School Board for over 30 years.
The two also participate in Give Kids A Smile, a program that provides free oral health care to children. This February was the 15th year the practice has participated in the program.
Brooke and her husband Andy also have two girls together, Kadence and Skylar, so the family is involved in various activities.
The Hamanns also donate to various organizations and projects to help grow Perham and keep it a thriving community.
“This is such a great community and it’s so neat to come back … Most of my patients know me, maybe they were classmates, maybe they were teachers, maybe they’re my classmates' children that I see. It’s also cool to sit in the parking lot or go to a basketball game and have these kids waving at me, ‘Hey, that’s my dentist! Hey, I lost this tooth!’ That’s cool and not everybody gets that same experience,” Brooke said.
Hamann Family Dentistry has changed and grown since it first opened in 1974, but it is just as strong as ever with Brooke at the helm.
“You grow up watching learning from your parents and my mom was an educator and phenomenal at it and loved it. I had a father who went to his job every day and loved it,” Brooke said.
And after 50 years, one thing that hasn’t changed at Hamann Family Dentistry is a love for dentistry.