Helping Patients Make Healthy Choices… Please Call Us Today

  • Is Your Crown Fitting Properly

    One of the most common procedures in restorative dentistry, a dental crown is a tooth-shaped cover applied to a damaged tooth. When placed correctly, crowns, also called caps, are both useful and durable. They should feel like part of your natural tooth and can last for decades. If they’re not fitted properly, though, they can cause a number of issues.

    • What happens when a crown doesn’t fit correctly? A crown with a less than ideal fit can cause problems with oral health and overall health. It can cause a misaligned bite that leads to bite issues, cheek biting, a cracked tooth, or even jaw problems like temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ). Ultimately, an ill-fitting crown can lead to gum disease and cavities, and a bad fit can even shorten the lifespan of the crown itself.
    • How do you know if your crown is fitted properly? Sometimes, it can seem like a crown isn’t fitting correctly for the first few days after it’s placed. Especially after the jaw has been held open for a long time while the crown is placed, a person’s bite can feel off. However, after a couple of days you should settle in with your new crown and it should be comfortable. If it isn’t, that’s indicative of a problem. Sometimes problems become apparent very quickly after a crown is placed, while sometimes it takes a long time for a problem to become noticeable. A crown could be poorly placed from the outset, or it could become displaced by physical trauma, tooth grinding, sticky sweets, or tooth decay. Signs your crown isn’t properly fitted include:
    • Pressure where the crown is or on the opposite side from the crown
    • Stiff or sore jaw joints or muscles
    • Red, inflamed gums
    • Pressure on the teeth near the crown
    • Crown that feels loose or shifts
    • Difficulty flossing around the crown
    • Food getting stuck beside the crown
    • Painful or inefficient chewing.
    • What is defined as a perfect fit for a crown? A crown should look and feel like a natural part of your mouth. You should not even notice your crown, and it should allow you the same bite force as your original, healthy teeth.
    • What can be done to fix a crown that doesn’t fit? A crown can be reshaped or adjusted by a dental professional. If you believe your crown does not fit properly, contact your dentist as soon as possible.

    At West County Dental, we provide personalized family dental care using state of the art procedures. Adhering to a standard of excellence, we provide comprehensive treatment, from preventive care to restorative dentistry. When you reserve a visit with West County Dental, you can be confident that our team of highly-trained dental professionals will provide you the care you need for a healthy smile. Call (314) 488-2921 or contact us through our website today!

  • How Soda Affects Your Teeth

    Whether you call it soda, pop, cola, or coke, a soft drink is a cool, refreshing, delicious treat. Unfortunately, it’s also truly terrible for you. It’s full of empty calories and regular consumption can lead to conditions like obesity, osteoporosis, and diabetes. But here’s another distressing fact about soda: it’s terrible for your teeth.

    Obviously, the sugar in soda is a major issue. Sugar feeds bacteria in your mouth, causing tooth decay. An environment full of bacteria allows plaque to build up, leading to gingivitis, cavities, and gum disease. But the sugar in soft drinks isn’t the only ingredient that is harmful to your oral health. Soda contains phosphoric acid, which is what makes it fizzy. Laboratory research has shown that this acid can erode tooth enamel. Once tooth enamel erodes, there’s no way to replace it. Soft drinks, juice, and sports drinks can all cause damage to the enamel.

    You might think that drinking sugarless soft drinks will be less harmful. Sadly, this is not the case. Diet soda still contains acids, and still causes erosion and tooth decay. You can’t escape the damage by drinking light-colored soda, either. While light-colored soft drinks won’t stain as much as the darker beverages, they’ll still erode your enamel and cause cavities. In fact, some light-colored soft drinks contain flavor additives that aggressively attack the teeth.

    What’s the solution to this problem? Do you have to give up your favorite fizzy treats for good? Maybe not. If you don’t want to completely forgo soft drinks, just have them in moderation and follow these tips to protect your enamel:

    • Drink more water and rinse your mouth after drinking soda. Water will help prevent sugar from sticking to your teeth.
    • Consider a fizzy water. If you miss the fizz of soda, try carbonated water.
    • Use a straw to drink your soda, and drink quickly. You don’t want to allow soda to rest on your teeth. This is also a good reason not to drink soft drinks close to bedtime.
    • Wait at least an hour after a soda to brush your teeth. Brushing too soon can further damage your enamel.
    • Only drink soft drinks at mealtimes. The food will help reduce the effects of the acid by maintaining the mouth’s appropriate pH balance.
    • See your dentist regularly. Having a cleaning and a checkup twice a year helps keep your teeth healthy. A dentist who gets a good look at your teeth on a regular basis will be able to alert you to signs of erosion or any other issues that may arise.

    At West County Dental, we provide personalized family dental care using state of the art procedures. Adhering to a standard of excellence, we provide comprehensive treatment, from preventive care to restorative dentistry. When you reserve a visit with West County Dental, you can be confident that our team of highly-trained dental professionals will provide you the care you need for a healthy smile. Call (314) 488-2921 or contact us through our website today!

  • Is it Snoring or Sleep Apnea?

    When is a snore more than just a snore? When it’s a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The most common breathing-related sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnea causes you to stop and start breathing several times while you sleep. And while many people snore, loud, frequent snoring is one of the more noticeable signs of obstructive sleep apnea.

    How do you know whether you’re someone who simply snores or someone with sleep apnea? First, understand that everyone who snores is at risk for sleep apnea, and your risk goes up with the volume of your snores. Because about 70 percent of people with sleep apnea snore, snorers should consider an apnea evaluation. To diagnose OSA, doctors use a sleep test. Not sure you want to go through all that? You absolutely should if you have other symptoms of sleep apnea, like daytime drowsiness, depression or anxiety, cognitive or memory problems, or health conditions like high blood pressure or arrhythmias. People with sleep apnea also often wake in the morning with a headache, dry mouth, and a sore throat.

    Is sleep apnea really that serious? In a word, yes. In fact, people with apnea are five times more likely to die earlier than those without this condition. OSA can cause you to stop breathing 30 times or more each hour, depriving your body of oxygen and preventing it from expelling carbon dioxide. OSA can change the way your body uses energy, trigger the release of stress hormones, and prevent you from getting high-quality sleep. This all can lead to health problems like weight gain, memory loss, and skin aging. There’s also evidence that obstructive sleep apnea increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, congestive heart failure, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, some cancers, and even sudden death.

    Some people hesitate to seek treatment for sleep apnea because they believe their only option is a CPAP machine. In fact, this is not the case. While a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is a very effective tool for treating OSA, there are others available. You could try some lifestyle changes, like losing weight, exercising regularly, avoiding alcohol, or quitting smoking. There are also nasal strips to keep the nose open and medications for blocked sinuses. Your doctor may recommend a custom-fit mouthpiece to keep your airways open while you’re sleeping. In some cases, surgery might be necessary to correct a deviated septum, tonsils, excess tissue, or nasal polyps. Talk to your doctor or dentist to find the right solution for your sleep apnea.

    At West County Dental, we provide personalized family dental care, including sleep apnea treatment, using state of the art procedures. Adhering to a standard of excellence, we provide comprehensive treatment, from preventive care to restorative dentistry. When you reserve a visit with West County Dental, you can be confident that our team of highly-trained dental professionals will provide you the care you need for a healthy smile. Call (314) 488-2921 or contact us through our website today!

  • Bleeding Gums

    Have you noticed blood when you brush? It’s not uncommon for gums to bleed, and it could be something easy to fix. However, bleeding gums aren’t something to be ignored because they can sometimes indicate a major issue with your oral or overall health.

    First, let’s rule out some causes of bleeding gums that aren’t very serious. You could be brushing too hard, using a toothbrush that’s too firm, or flossing incorrectly. Brush teeth gently with a softer brush and try a different flossing technique, and you may fix the problem. If you’re pregnant or taking new medication, that could also be the cause. But if none of these things are a factor, there may be something more serious happening.

    • Gum disease is the leading cause of bleeding gums. It starts out as gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums that causes red, irritated, swollen gums. Gingivitis results from plaque build-up on your gumline, and you can alleviate it by taking better care of your teeth. Brushing twice a day, flossing at least once, rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash, and seeing your dentist twice a year can take care of gingivitis.
    • Left untreated, gingivitis turns into periodontitis. Also called periodontal disease, this is a long-term condition that’s very serious. Gums affected by periodontal disease get infected and inflamed and pull away from the roots of your teeth. This can lead to your teeth getting loose or separating. You may have bad breath, a bad taste in your mouth, changes in your bite, and swollen, tender, red gums. Without proper treatment, you can lose some teeth.
    • There are other illnesses that can cause gums to bleed. Swollen, bleeding gums can be a symptom of diabetes or even leukemia. Thrombocytopenia can cause your gums to bleed without stopping, and so can hemophilia.
    • Changing other habits can help, too. If you smoke, please quit. If you’re under a lot of pressure, find healthy ways to manage your stress.

    If you have bleeding gums for more than a week or two, it’s time to see your dentist. At West County Dental, we provide personalized family dental care using state of the art procedures. Adhering to a standard of excellence, we provide comprehensive treatment, from preventive care to restorative dentistry. When you reserve a visit with West County Dental, you can be confident that our team of highly-trained dental professionals will provide you the care you need for a healthy smile. Call (314) 488-2921 or contact us through our website today!

  • Acid Reflux & Tooth Decay

    You know that chewing is the first step in the digestive process, but did you know that your digestive health can have an impact on your teeth? If you have acid reflux, it could be eroding your tooth enamel. Once it wears away, enamel can’t be restored. However, you can take action before it happens to protect your teeth.

    Before we get into that, let’s talk about why enamel erosion happens in the first place. If you’ve got acid reflux, you know it’s very uncomfortable. Symptoms of acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), include chest pain and heartburn. These symptoms occur because acid produced by the stomach has washed back up into the esophagus. That same stomach acid can reach your teeth and wear away their enamel. Strong enamel protects your teeth against pain and sensitivity, but when that enamel erodes, your teeth become vulnerable to tooth decay and cavities.

    Acid reflux is not the only thing that can erode your enamel. Too much sugar, acidic foods, heavy drinking, brushing too hard, and tooth grinding are among the other culprits. GERD is probably the most damaging of all, so take these steps to protect your teeth:

    • Work on getting your acid reflux under control. Work with your doctor to determine the best way to do this. Your plan may include things like losing weight, eating fewer acidic foods, having smaller meals, sleeping propped up, quitting smoking, and limiting your alcohol consumption.
    • Change the way you eat and drink. This starts with cutting back on acidic foods like soda, citrus, and even tomato sauce, but that’s just the beginning. You can also protect your enamel by not eating within three hours of bedtime and drinking through a straw. Never brush immediately after a meal, because that can be erosive. Instead, swish water around your mouth after you eat or have a piece of cheese or glass of milk to finish your meal and neutralize the acid.
    • Drink plenty of water. This keeps damaging substances from staying on your teeth and can also lessen dry mouth.
    • Chew some gum. Chewing sugar free gum can increase saliva production, which strengthens your teeth and helps protect them against erosion and decay.
    • Choose a fluoride toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. Talk to your dentist about your best options for toothpaste and mouthwash.
    • See your dentist regularly. Seeing the dentist every six months is something everyone should do, but it’s particularly important for people with acid reflux. Your dentist will notice any tooth erosion and can help you keep your teeth healthy.

    At West County Dental, we provide personalized family dental care using state of the art procedures. Adhering to a standard of excellence, we provide comprehensive treatment, from preventive care to restorative dentistry. When you reserve a visit with West County Dental, you can be confident that our team of highly-trained dental professionals will provide you the care you need for a healthy smile. Call (314) 488-2921 or contact us through our website today!

  • What Kinds of Patients Benefit from Sedation Dentistry?

    Sedation dentistry is a safe and effective way to minimize anxiety and discomfort at the dentist office. If you’re wondering whether sedation dentistry could be right for you, consider the types of patients who benefit the most from this treatment option.

    • Nervous or anxious patients: Millions of people feel nervous about going to the dentist. Don’t let dental anxiety prevent you from getting the dental care you need! Sedation dentistry “takes the edge off,” making your next dentist visit more pleasant than you thought possible.
    • Patients undergoing a smile transformation: If you need several dental procedures at once, sedation dentistry makes your treatment more comfortable. With lower anxiety and an overall feeling of calm, it’s easier than ever to transform your smile with the restorative services you need.
    • Patients with a sensitive gag reflex: You may be nervous about a dentist or hygienist working in your mouth because you have a sensitive gag reflex. Sedation dentistry is the perfect way to combat this uncomfortable feeling, allowing you to relax and receive the care you need.
    • Patients with a low pain threshold: Thanks to modern dental anesthesia, even notorious root canals are about as uneventful as getting a filling. Still, you may be nervous just anticipating the pain you might feel, especially if you had a negative experience with your previous dentist. Not only does sedation dentistry make you feel more relaxed, but it also dulls your sense of pain to keep you comfortable from start to finish.

    If you think sedation dentistry may be right for you, the last step is to decide which one to try. West County Dental offers two options:

    • Oral conscious sedation is a pill that relaxes you but keeps you awake and able to respond. You’ll need to take the medication before coming to the dentist and have a family member or friend drive you to and from the appointment.
    • Nitrous oxide, commonly called laughing gas, is a mild sedative delivered through your nose. It is completely safe to breathe and doesn’t put you to sleep. Instead, you feel cheerful and relaxed while having dental work done. The sedation level is easy to adjust and takes effect within seconds.

    To learn more about the sedation dentistry options at West County Dental, please contact our St. Louis dentist office at (314) 488-2921 or contact us online.

  • 10 Activities That Harm Your Teeth

    Sometimes, dental problems stem from traumatic injuries or poor oral hygiene. Other times, you might think you’re doing everything right, but little, everyday habits may weaken or damage your smile. Make a note of these activities that harm your teeth so you can take steps to avoid them.

    1. Eating sticky food: Do you love dried fruit, taffy, and gummy candies? Unfortunately, the sugar in these treats isn’t the only problem with them. If you have crowns, fillings, or other restorative dental work, these sticky foods should be strictly off-limits.
    2. Chewing on ice or hard candy: Chomping down on hard objects is just as bad as sinking your teeth into sticky foods. If you must eat hard candy or suck on ice, let them dissolve rather than biting into them.
    3. Drinking acidic beverages: Acid is a tooth’s worst enemy. Coffee, soda, sports drinks, and wine can demineralize and etch enamel, the hard outer coating of your teeth. When this happens, the risk of cavities and staining increases.
    4. Grinding your teeth at night: Untreated bruxism, or nighttime tooth-grinding and clenching, can lead to cracked, loose, or misaligned teeth. Wearing a mouth guard while you sleep is the best treatment option.
    5. Smoking: Any product containing tobacco is bad for your teeth and gums, causing everything from stained teeth to bad breath. If you smoke, quit now to avoid an array of oral health problems.
    6. Biting your nails: Fingernails may be softer than tooth enamel, but biting your nails can lead to chipped teeth and sore jaw muscles. Try wearing bitter-tasting nail polish to help you break this habit.
    7. Sucking your thumb: If toddlers suck their thumbs after their teeth start coming in, it could affect their bite. So discourage thumb sucking as soon as you notice your child’s first tooth to avoid oral health problems in the future.
    8. Brushing too vigorously: The harder your brush, the cleaner your teeth will get, right? Actually, brushing too hard can wear down enamel and irritate your gums. The key is to find the middle ground between brushing too hard and not brushing hard enough.
    9. Snacking incessantly: Your saliva works hard to clean out your mouth after each meal. If you snack all the time, you give bacteria a constant food supply, increasing your risk of cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.
    10. Using your teeth as tools: Never resort to tearing tape, opening bottles, or holding items with your teeth. Don’t chew on non-food objects, either. These habits could crack your teeth or cause restoration work to fall out.

    If you have more questions about maintaining good oral health, don’t hesitate to ask! Dr. Spalitto and the rest of the team at West County Dental would be happy to guide you toward a flawless, beautiful smile. We have over a decade of experience providing state-of-the-art dental care to patients in St. Louis. Call us at (314) 488-2921 or contact us online to reserve an appointment today.

  • How Dark Teeth Affect Your Appearance

    Are your teeth stained or discolored? If so, you may look older than you really are. Other people might also assume that you have poor oral hygiene or don’t care much about your appearance. By whitening your teeth and avoiding future stains, you can make sure you give off the right impression!

    What Causes Tooth Discoloration?

    Enamel and dentin are the two parts of your teeth that affect their appearance. Enamel—the thin, hard outer covering of your teeth—protects the dentin beneath it. Healthy enamel is a translucent white, allowing the color of the dentin to show through. Stained enamel and darkened dentin can cause teeth to lose their pearly white glow. Here are some examples of why teeth discolor:

    • Genetics: Every person has a different level of natural tooth whiteness. This largely comes down to genetics, but other factors also affect the color of your teeth.
    • Age: Young teeth generally appear whiter and more luminous. Then, as enamel ages, it begins to take on a dull, grey appearance. It’s important to remember that teeth naturally darken with age, even if you maintain a good oral care routine.
    • Food and drinks: Acidic, dark, or brightly colored food and beverages can discolor your teeth. Examples include tomato sauce, berries, soda, coffee, and wine. Food stains can make your teeth look dirty and uncared for, no matter how diligently you brush and floss.
    • Tobacco: Smoking and chewing tobacco cause some of the worst tooth stains. First, they turn your teeth yellow. And if you don’t drop the habit, your teeth could eventually develop brown, grimy streaks.
    • Injury or disease: If you get hit in the mouth while playing sports, the blood flow to an injured tooth could be disrupted, causing it to darken. Some diseases and medications can also make dentin appear yellower.

    Treating Stained Teeth

    Professional teeth whitening is a popular way to remove stains and transform your smile. You could be a good candidate if food and drinks, smoking, and age have discolored your teeth. It’s possible to lighten your teeth by several shades in a single sitting, leaving you with a younger, healthier-looking smile.

    If your dentin is discolored, whitening products may not penetrate deep enough to provide the desired results. Fortunately, other cosmetic dentistry options are available, including crowns and veneers, which can hide discolored teeth and brighten your smile for years to come.

    Once your teeth are white and beautiful, prevent future staining with these tips:

    • Brush twice a day.
    • Floss daily.
    • Don’t smoke or chew tobacco.
    • Get your teeth cleaned regularly.
    • Swish your mouth with water after consuming staining foods and drinks.

    Ready for those pearly whites you’ve always wanted? Come to West County Dental for help transforming your smile! Dr. Spalitto offers a range of restorative and cosmetic procedures to create the smile of your dreams. Call us at (314) 488-2921 or contact us online to reserve your appointment today.

  • Help Fight Bad Breath

    Chronic bad breath, or halitosis, is an embarrassing condition with several possible underlying causes. Learn what might be to blame for your bad breath, which might give you clues about how to get rid of it.

    What Causes Bad Breath?

    Certain oral bacteria emit unpleasant odors as they feed and multiply. Sometimes, the bacteria in your gut even affect how your breath smells. Here are some of the most likely reasons your breath stinks:

    • Gum disease is a leading cause of persistent bad breath. When your oral tissues become infected, harmful bacteria linger in your mouth and give off an unpleasant odor.
    • An infected tooth, mouth sore, or inflamed tonsils can give you a bad taste in your mouth and cause halitosis.
    • Foods such as garlic, onions, and certain spices create foul-smelling byproducts as they break down.
    • Smoking causes an unpleasant mouth odor. Smokers are also more likely to have gum disease, another source of bad breath.
    • Forgetting to brush and floss allows food particles and bacteria to accumulate in your mouth. If this happens consistently, you could develop oral health problems that produce bad smells.
    • Chronic dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, can lead to all-day “morning breath.”
    • Some medications contribute to bad breath by causing dry mouth. Others release foul-smelling chemicals in the body that can be carried on your breath.
    • Other causes—including certain diseases, metabolic disorders, and acid reflux—can cause your breath to take on a distinctive odor.

    How to Get Rid of Bad Breath

    Gum and breath mints mask unpleasant odors temporarily, but you need a more lasting solution. Take these steps to improve the freshness of your breath:

    • Treat underlying gum disease and oral infections with help from your dentist.
    • Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and replace your toothbrush every three months.
    • Floss at least once a day to remove food particles and odor-causing bacteria and plaque from between your teeth and along the gum line.
    • Brush your tongue with your toothbrush to remove odor-causing bacteria that tend to linger there.
    • Clean your oral appliances—including dentures, retainers, bridges, and mouth guards—thoroughly once a day or as directed by your dentist. Consider using an electric toothbrush if you wear braces.
    • Adjust your diet to avoid smelly foods that cause bad breath. Also, be aware that sugary foods are linked to bad breath, and anything that gives you acid reflux could be a culprit.
    • Visit the dentist regularly for preventative checkups and teeth cleanings. If you have any concerns about bad breath, bring them up with your dentist at your next appointment.

    Dr. Spalitto of West County Dental can offer his expert advice about treating and avoiding halitosis. Whether you have an underlying oral health problem or you simply want personalized ways to freshen your breath, we’re here to help! Call us at (314) 488-2921 or contact us online today to reserve your next appointment.

  • Teeth Cleaning Does Not Increase the Risk of COVID

    Since the pandemic began in 2020, people have wondered whether preventative teeth cleanings were worth the perceived risk of contracting COVID-19. In fact, about 200,000 dentist offices around the US closed in March 2020, a move fueled by concerns that aerosols generated during dental procedures could transmit the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

    Even after dentist offices reopened, many patients suffering from chronic dental diseases and those needing emergency dental care chose not to visit the dentist out of fear of catching this disease. But now, findings from a recent study demonstrate that dental cleanings are not a high risk for contracting COVID. Learn more about how this study busts dental myths so you can reserve your next teeth cleaning appointment with confidence.

    How is COVID Spread?

    The SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads mainly through droplets and tiny respiratory particles called aerosols. When an infected person speaks, sneezes, or coughs, droplets and aerosols exit their nose and mouth. Anyone within six feet may breathe relatively large droplets into their lungs. Then, tiny aerosols can remain suspended for hours, possibly entering the lungs of the next person who enters the room, even hours after the infected person leaves.

    Why Teeth Cleaning Doesn’t Increase the Risk of COVID

    Since dental procedures are known to produce an abundance of aerosols, it has long been assumed that saliva from a patient getting their teeth cleaned could end up high in the air. In reality, this is not the case.

    Researchers conducting the study set out to discover whether aerosol droplets from various dental procedures contained saliva or water from irrigation tools. The study included 28 participants receiving dental implants, restorations, or scaling between May 4 and July 10, 2020. Researchers collected condensate samples that landed on providers’ face shields, patients’ bibs, and surfaces within six feet of the dentist chair.

    Microbes from irrigant (the water-based cleaning solution used to flush out the mouth) contributed to about 78 percent of the organisms in the collected samples. Salivary germs were only detected in eight out of the 28 cases. Of those eight cases, saliva accounted for only 0.1 to 1.2 percent of the microbes distributed around the room. Plus, the SARS-CoV-2 virus was identified in 19 patients’ saliva but was undetectable in the aerosol samples.

    These findings support the outcomes reported in the 2020 Journal of the American Dental Association, which state that less than 1 percent of COVID-19 positivity rates are linked to dentist offices. The results of the study led principal author Dr. Purnima Kumar to draw this conclusion:

    “Getting your teeth cleaned does not increase your risk of COVID-19 infection any more than drinking a glass of water from the dentist’s office does.”

    If you’ve been putting off dental care during COVID-19, you can now lay your fears to rest! Get your teeth cleaned and catch up on other dental work at West County Dental. Dr. Spalitto would love to work with you! Call us at (314) 488-2921 or contact us online to reserve your appointment today.