Ask around Thurston County and many of its longtime residents will know Dr. Stephen Russell of Russell Family Dentistry. However, you might want to probe a little further to determine whether it’s Dr. Russell Sr., a respected family dentist in the area since 1972 or Dr. Russell Jr., his son and currently practicing “Russell” on the letterhead. Either way, you’ll likely hear a positive story of family care and connection that is the hallmark of Russell Dentistry and has been since the beginning.
The current Dr. Stephen Russell grew up in Olympia, graduating from Olympia High School in 1996. After an undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Puget Sound, Russell completed his dentistry degree at the University of Washington in 2005, following in his dad’s footsteps – a 1966 Husky Grad. He has started his own family now, and is raising his son Peyton (5) and daughter Allison (2) with wife Katie, in his hometown. The joy they bring him spills over into his practice, just as it did when he was a child and visited the office with his father.
“I had the great fortune to be able to work with my father for about five years after graduating from Dental School,” shares Russell. “I have patients that have been coming to see my dad since the early 70s and we now see their grandchildren. At our core we are a family practice that’s been around for a long time and is not going anywhere. I learned a lot working with my father. He taught me a lot about working with people and caring for them like family.”
As we chatted in the office waiting area, a few patients arrived early for their afternoon appointments. One, named Milly, was among the first patients of Dr. Russell Sr. and recalls the early years well. “I remember visiting at the very beginning and Steve, you know, Dr. Russell, was just running around, he and his brothers. They just know you here like a family.” And while it was an adjustment, she has grown to trust and love the younger Dr. Russell just as much as the original.
Another important tradition passed from father to son is volunteering at the Free Dental Clinic at the Union Gospel Mission. “It’s something I’m very passionate about. It’s a unique and special place for our
community to have,” he explains. And Dr. Russell’s talents extend beyond the dental office when he performs in the Dental Benefit Concert each year, helping keep the clinic viable and open to Thurston County residents in need.
Russell Dentistry is committed to providing comprehensive care. “That’s a buzz word thrown around a lot, but our new patient exam is one of the most thorough and comprehensive our patients have ever had,” shares Russell. “We routinely get comments that it is a new experience that they didn’t expect. And it’s important – looking at oral health as a whole, not just teeth.”
But the most unique offering of the clinic is their state-of-the-art treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea with oral appliances. All patients are screened for the condition. “It’s a very prevalent disease and it’s one of the most overlooked chronic diseases with very serious consequences for people’s health,” explains Russell. “Physicians, and dentists too for that matter, simply aren’t trained to look in the mouth for the anatomical risk factors for sleep apnea. It’s something I’ve had to seek out and have completed many hours of continuing education in order to recognize the risk factors and learn to treat it with appliances as an alternative to surgery and C-PAP Therapy.”
Dr. Russell also has strong relationships with local sleep specialists. “We are blessed with good local sleep clinics and specialists and work closely with them. We work together to get patients diagnosed and determine if oral appliance therapy is right for them, as it’s just one option and an alternative to C-PAP Therapy or surgery.”
The appliances cover both the upper and lower teeth and help position the jaw. “The set treatment protocol is between four and six months and we stay in close contact with patients throughout the process,” shares Russell.
In the same way that Russell Family Dentistry takes care of its patients, they take care of their team, with many 20 plus year employees in the practice. Dr. Russell has had an associate in the office as well, Dr. Heather Eggenberger, who is making a move north of Seattle, nearer to family. Having her on the team for the last four years has been a big positive for everyone.
“Sharing treatment plans and best practices, along with discussing difficult cases, has been invaluable for both of us,” explains Russell. “It’s amazing how much you learn working with someone else. It’s so helpful to have another professional’s viewpoint on things so you can form a broad base for the decisions you make.”
This philosophy lead Dr. Russell to reach out to the dental community and find a like-minded individual with whom he could share in a strong and long lasting partnership. Russell is excited to announce that he will be moving the practice to West Olympia in August of 2014 to partner with his friend and colleague, Dr. William Bode, also a general dentist. They are currently building a brand new, state-of-the-art facility at 2006 Caton Way, SW, Olympia, WA 98502.
Russell Family Dentistry has been an Olympia area cornerstone for the past 30 plus years. And while they may have changed generations at the helm, and look forward to a change in address, the same quality care and family philosophy will be first and foremost for many years to come.
6344 Littlerock Rd SW
Olympia, WA 98512