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  • Overview of Invisalign

    Do you wish your teeth were straighter? Do you want to know more about correcting your teenager’s bite problem? Invisalign treatment may be the right choice. Clear braces are an effective way to straighten mild to moderate tooth alignment issues. In this overview, you’ll learn more about the benefits of Invisalign, the conditions it can treat, and what the treatment process entails.

    Benefits of Invisalign

    Some may argue that metal braces have been around for generations, so why would you want to try clear braces instead? Consider these benefits of Invisalign:

    • Less noticeable: Traditional braces move your teeth into the proper position with conspicuous wires and brackets. Invisalign, on the other hand, accomplish this task using smooth, transparent, BPA-free aligners. Your friends and coworkers probably won’t even notice you’re wearing them.
    • Simplified oral care: It’s a pain to brush and floss with traditional braces. Even so, good oral care is vital because brackets and wires give bacteria extra places to hide. These concerns don’t exist with Invisalign. You should still brush and floss diligently, but the ability to remove the aligners allows you to care for your teeth like normal.
    • Increased comfort: With traditional braces, metal components routinely irritate the cheeks and tongue, making sores and ulcers commonplace. Not so with Invisalign! The plastic aligners fit comfortably over your teeth and feel smooth to the touch.
    • Effective results: Invisalign can fix the most common bite and alignment issues just as effectively as traditional braces. In fact, you may even achieve faster results, depending on the extent of your treatment.

    Conditions Invisalign Can Treat

    Dental issues vary for each patient. Here are some of the conditions Invisalign can treat and why you may be eager to correct them.

    • Gapped teeth: A large jawbone, tissue overgrowth, and tooth loss are all possible reasons for gaps in your smile. Aside from looking less attractive, gapped teeth can lead to gum problems, including periodontal pockets and an increased risk of gum disease.
    • Overcrowded teeth: If you have a small jaw, there might not be enough room for all your teeth to sit comfortably in your mouth. When left unaddressed, overcrowding can lead to crooked teeth, wreaking havoc on your bite and the appearance of your smile. Overcrowded teeth are also more difficult to keep clean. If plaque and tartar are allowed to build up, your risk for tooth decay and gum disease increases.
    • Overbite: This problem occurs when the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth too much. Overbites make chewing difficult and can irritate the gums. This unnatural tooth placement can also wear down the lower teeth and cause painful jaw joint problems.
    • Underbite: An underdeveloped upper jaw, overdeveloped lower jaw, or combination of the two can cause the lower front teeth to protrude past the upper teeth. Underbites prevent the front teeth and molars from functioning normally, making chewing difficult. This bite problem also wears down teeth and can damage the jaw joint.
    • Open bite: The front teeth don’t make contact in an open bite. This problem may be the result of an abnormal jaw structure or excessive thumb-sucking. Open bites can make chewing difficult or painful, cause speech impairments, and increase the risk of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.
    • Crossbite: A crooked jaw causes teeth to align strangely, resulting in one or more upper teeth contacting the inside of the lower teeth. Common problems associated with crossbites include worn teeth, gum disease, and bone loss.

    Invisalign Treatment Process

    If you want to enjoy the benefits of clear braces, and you think your bite issue is eligible, begin Invisalign treatment today! Here’s what to expect, from the initial consultation to the final reveal:

    • Meet with your dentist: The first step is to discuss your needs with an Invisalign provider. Dr. Pete Spalitto will assess whether you’re a good candidate and explain the process in full detail. You’ll also discuss costs and insurance coverage, as well as address any questions or concerns you might have.
    • Create your customized treatment plan: The West County Dental team takes x-rays, pictures, and impressions of your teeth. Special software uses this information to create a 3D image of your mouth. Dr. Pete Spalitto digitally maps out a customized treatment plan, revealing exactly how long your treatment will take. You can even view a virtual representation of how your teeth will gradually shift each step of the way.
    • Start wearing your aligners: Your custom clear braces are fabricated according to your treatment plan. To avoid delaying the results, you must wear your aligners for 20 to 22 hours every day, only removing them to eat, drink anything other than water or to brush and floss your teeth. Your speech may be affected for the first few days, but it’s easy for most people to adjust.
    • Trade out your aligners every two weeks: Instead of visiting the office to have wires and bands tightened, you can move your treatment forward at home simply by switching to a new set of aligners every two weeks. You may receive three sets of aligners at a time, allowing you to go six weeks between office visits. Routine checkups with Dr. Pete Spalitto and his team are still important to make sure your treatment is progressing as planned. Depending on the complexity of your case, you could complete treatment in as little as six months.
    • Reveal straighter teeth and keep your smile beautiful: When you finish wearing the last set of aligners, it’s time to celebrate! Your teeth are healthy and straight, and you’re more confident than ever. To ensure the results last, you will be wearing a retainer at night for the foreseeable future. Clear retainers similar to Invisalign are available to lock in your beautiful smile forever.

    The team at West County Dental is ready to help you smile with renewed confidence! We have helped hundreds of patients achieve the smile of their dreams using Invisalign. To learn more about how Invisalign works and whether clear braces are right for you, please call us at (314) 488-2921 or contact us online. Your path toward straight, beautiful teeth begins with at West County Dental!

  • Important Facts About Dental Implants

    If you’re missing one or more teeth, you need a viable tooth replacement option to protect and restore your smile. Whether your tooth loss is the result of an injury, disease, or decay, dental implants may be right for you.

    Dental implants are comprised of three parts—a post, an abutment, and a crown. The titanium post is implanted into your jawbone to replicate the root of your missing tooth. The post serves as a stable anchor for the abutment, which is screwed on top. The final piece is a natural-looking, enamel-colored crown, which is crafted to match the color and size of your natural teeth. The crown adheres to the abutment, restoring your smile, speech, and chewing capabilities in the process.

    Could dental implants be the right way to fill the gap in your smile? Consider these important facts about dental implants to help you make the best decision for your oral health.

    Dental Implants are Permanent

    Unlike dentures, dental implants are not removable. They are also not subject to decay thanks to their durable titanium, porcelain, and ceramic construction. While other restorative options must be replaced every five to 10 years, you can expect implants to last 20 years or more with proper care.

    Dental Implants Have a High Success Rate

    Before pursuing any restorative dental procedure, it’s wise to consider the success rate. Dental implants are successful over 95 percent of the time. Replacing missing teeth with fixed bridges or dentures has a lower success rate, which can lead to more tooth loss and other oral health problems.

    Dental Implants Look and Feel Natural

    Implants are placed directly into the jaw, so there is no risk of poor fit or slippage. It’s impossible to tell the difference between natural teeth and dental implants, ensuring comfortable chewing, normal speech, and a natural-looking smile.

    Dental Implants are Easy to Care For

    Unlike dentures, dental implants don’t require any special care. There’s no need for nightly cleanings, messy adhesive, or fearing your false teeth will fall out while you eat. Simply brush and floss your teeth like normal. This is your second chance at a beautiful smile, so be sure to take self-care seriously for good oral health moving forward!

    Dental Implants Promote a Healthy Jawbone

    Tooth loss causes your jawbone to weaken and shrink. Over time, this can change your facial appearance, making you look older. Dentures and bridges may restore tooth function, but they do nothing to slow jawbone deterioration. In fact, ill-fitting dentures can even accelerate bone loss. On the other hand, dental implants stimulate bone growth, protecting your facial structure and jawbone health as a result. Implants are the only restorative procedure capable of this feat.

    Dental Implants Preserve Healthy Adjacent Teeth

    Dental bridges involve anchoring the replacement tooth to the surrounding teeth. This may require filing down one or two healthy teeth and capping with crowns. Dental implants don’t rely on neighboring teeth for support, so the rest of your mouth can remain untouched.

    Dental Implants Require Healthy Bones and Gums

    Not everyone is a candidate for dental implants. The post needs a healthy underlying jawbone and gum tissue to attach securely. If too much deterioration has occurred, a bone and tissue graft may be possible. You can also consider dentures and bridges as alternative tooth replacement options.

    Schedule a Dental Implant Consultation

    West County Dental is pleased to offer state-of-the-art dental implants in St. Louis. We offer numerous implant options to meet your needs, from single tooth replacement to full arch replacement and more. If you’re interested in determining your eligibility for dental implants, please call us at (314) 488-2921 or contact us online. We’ll discuss your needs and answer your questions.

  • Stress-Related Facial and Jaw Pain During the Pandemic

    The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching consequences on people’s lives all over the world. Schools and businesses have closed, leaving young families cooped up at home where they’re inundated with a steady stream of apocalyptic news. Many workers have lost their jobs or been asked to work from home under trying conditions. Grocery store shelves have run bare, making it difficult to find essentials. Healthcare professionals have become the frontline workers in this fight against a new, unfamiliar virus. And just about everyone has worried about what would happen if their friends and family became ill with the disease.

    No matter how you have been personally affected during the pandemic, you are likely facing increased stress and anxiety. Stress can affect your health in many ways, including increasing the amount you clench your jaw during the day and grind your teeth at night.

    Jaw-clenching and teeth-grinding, also known as bruxism, are both categorized as temporomandibular disorders (TMD). These unconscious behaviors can lead to numerous problems, all of which have occurred in increased numbers among dental patients since the start of the pandemic.

    Tel Aviv University Study

    A formal study from Tel Aviv University found a 15 to 34 percent increase in TMD symptoms among Israel and Poland residents during the initial COVID-19 lockdown last spring. People who already struggled with TMD before the pandemic saw a rise in symptoms once the lockdown began. Researchers confirmed the link between people reporting greater levels of stress and experiencing higher rates of jaw-clenching, teeth-grinding, and facial pain.

    The study found that the people most likely to experience TMD symptoms from increased stress were those in the “middle generation” with young children at home and elderly parents to worry about. Pandemic stress also seemed to more significantly affect women, who exhibited worse TMD symptoms than their male counterparts. In all, the most profoundly affected group was women aged 35 to 55.

    The study leaves little doubt—stress and anxiety brought on by the coronavirus pandemic have increased the prevalence of TMD symptoms. These results aren’t surprising, considering that the uncertainty and worries of living through a pandemic are sure to increase stress and anxiety, and jaw-clenching and teeth-grinding are well-known manifestations of emotional duress.

    TMD symptoms aren’t just increasing in Israel and Poland. Dentists across the United States say they have noticed a surge in bruxism cases among their patients since the pandemic began. Of course, it didn’t help that dentist offices around the country were required to close for an extended time in the spring, forcing all but emergency patients to wait weeks for dental care. Fortunately, the period of mandatory closures is over, and patients can now visit the dentist with confidence.

    Symptoms of Jaw-Clenching and Teeth-Grinding

    The most common problems that people with TMD and bruxism complain about include:

    • Worn enamel: The outermost layer of the tooth, known as enamel, serves to protect the underlying tooth structure beneath it. Enamel is the hardest substance in the body, but months of grinding your teeth for hours every night can wear enamel down.
    • Tooth fractures or tooth loss: Worn enamel can damage teeth, changing their shape, affecting your bite, and even causing teeth to break. In serious cases, tooth loss can also occur.
    • Facial pain and temporal headaches: Excessively exercised jaw muscles may cause facial pain or temporal headaches, which are felt as pain in the temples on the sides of the head.
    • Jaw pain: Jaw muscles overworked from clenching may hurt while talking, chewing, or yawning. It’s also common to wake up with jaw pain after a night of grinding your teeth.
    • Jaw joint issues: In addition to causing pain, clenching and grinding may restrict the jaw joint’s range of motion, limiting the ability to fully open and close your mouth.

    If you are experiencing facial pain, jaw pain, or other stress-related problems during this pandemic, please contact West County Dental for help. Our St. Louis dentist takes the necessary precautions to keep our team and patients safe while reducing the spread of the coronavirus. Let us address your dental concerns today—call (314) 488-2921 or contact us online to schedule your next visit.

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    https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/jaw-clenching-and-teeth-grinding-during-the-pandemic

    https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-10-stress-covid-surge-teeth-dentists.html

  • Is it Safe to Visit the Dentist During COVID-19?

    By now, everyone knows the basic precautions to slow the spread of the coronavirus—wear a mask, stand at least six feet apart from others, and avoid touching your face. So it’s logical to wonder—is it safe to visit the dentist during COVID-19? After all, this is a setting where you sit face-to-face with a medical practitioner, maskless and open-mouthed for an extended period of time.

    Despite these seemingly egregious concerns, you can rest assured that visiting the dentist is safe, even during a pandemic. Here’s why.

    Dentists already practiced excellent infection control.

    Even before the pandemic brought about new sanitation rules, dentist offices led the way in infection control measures. Dental professionals were already accustomed to wearing masks and gloves while treating patients, a practice that began in earnest during the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. It was also the norm to disinfect or dispose of tools regularly before the age of the coronavirus—dentists are now simply doubling their efforts to ensure team and patient safety.

    Dentists have enacted numerous pandemic precautions.

    A slew of changes should be obvious as soon as you walk through the door. Here’s what to look for:

    • Socially distanced reception rooms
    • Clear plastic partitions at the reception desk
    • Open office doors to avoid touching doorknobs
    • Lots of hand sanitizer

    In addition to changing the office setup, many dentists have adopted additional safeguards. Common practices during a pandemic include:

    • Staggering check-in times
    • Allowing patients to wait in their cars until their appointment
    • Taking temperature checks
    • Requiring patients and team members to wear face coverings or other personal protective equipment at all times while in the building

    Dentist offices have been working in pandemic conditions for months.

    Under the direction of the American Dental Association (ADA), dentist offices around the country closed for weeks when the coronavirus first appeared in the United States. Information about COVID-19 was scarce at the time, and the immediate goal was to limit possible viral spread by restricting all non-emergency procedures.

    Starting in May, practices began reopening, following guidelines from the ADA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about how to do safely. Today, patients can confidently visit their local dentist for preventative care, cosmetic restoration, and emergency procedures.

    Delaying dental care is a major health concern.

    Avoiding the dentist because you fear contracting the coronavirus could put your oral health in jeopardy. Consider this—the risk of developing cavities or gum disease if you don’t visit the dentist is much higher than the chance of being exposed to COVID-19 at a dental office. Non-severe conditions—such as a cracked filling, loose crown, or toothache—can also worsen dramatically if not treated promptly. If you experience a problem like this, don’t delay dental treatment for any reason.

    At West County Dental, patient comfort and safety have always been important to us. This is true now more than ever. That’s why we maintain strict sterilization processes to avoid cross-contamination. We also follow the standards set by the ADA, CDC, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for maximum safety. If you have any questions about the coronavirus safety measures we’re taking, or you want to reserve an appointment, please call us at (314) 488-2921 or contact us online today.

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    https://dental.washington.edu/is-it-safe-to-visit-the-dentist/

    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/09/how-to-safely-go-to-the-dentist-during-coronavirus-pandemic-cvd/

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/08/10/well/going-to-the-dentist-during-covid-pandemic.html

  • How Smiling Affects Your Health

    Your smile is one of the first things people notice about you. But smiling does far more than just make a good first impression—it can even impact your mental, physical, and social health. Here’s why it’s good to smile as often as you can.

    How Smiling Affects Your Mental Health

    Chemical reactions occur in the brain every time you crack a smile. Here are three specific ways these chemical reactions affect your mental health:

    • Improved mood: Smiling releases serotonin, a feel-good brain chemical that acts as an anti-depressant and mood booster. Many pharmaceutical treatments for depression work by influencing the levels of serotonin in your brain. Smiling does this naturally. Don’t believe it? Try forcing yourself to smile when you’re feeling blue, and you just might feel better.
    • Lower stress and anxiety: Smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that fight off stress. This leads to greater feelings of happiness and improves your ability to handle and recover from stressful situations. It’s one reason some people laugh to relieve the tension during an awkward encounter.
    • Natural high: Similar to exercising, smiling releases endorphins. These neurotransmitters create feelings associated with a “runner’s high.” Smiling also produces dopamine, which plays a role in how you feel pleasure. It’s the same chemical released when you satisfy a food craving or listen to your favorite music.

    How Smiling Affects Your Physical Health

    Because your brain and body are closely linked, the mood-boosting, stress-relieving, pleasure-inducing effects of smiling also impact your physical health. Here’s how:

    • Natural pain relief: The endorphins released when you smile can relax your muscles and act as a natural pain reliever. In this way, smiling can lessen some types of aches and pains, or at least distract you from them for a while.
    • Better heart health: The stress-reducing capabilities of a smile can also protect your heart. After all, when you’re less stressed, your heart rate and blood pressure go down, which is good news for heart health. In fact, smiling every day can reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
    • Stronger immune system: Have you ever noticed that people with positive attitudes are more likely to recover from illnesses? It’s not just your imagination—smiling and laughing can increase the level of immune-boosting white blood cells and infection-fighting antibodies. Laughter really is the best medicine!
    • Improved cellular health: If you’re not already sick, smiling can help you stay that way by keeping stress-induced inflammation and tension at bay. When these conditions run rampant, the body’s cells become more susceptible to mutation and disease. Some cancers have even been linked to high stress levels. Smiling more is an easy way to protect yourself from illness.

    How Smiling Affects Your Social Health

    The world is simply a better place when you smile, so watch funny movies often, smile at strangers, and vow to be the positive person in your group of friends. When you make smiling a routine part of your day, here’s how you benefit socially:

    • More attractive, youthful appearance: You look your best when you smile. Both men and women rate each other as more attractive when they smile and make eye contact. You may even appear years younger simply by cracking a smile. So don’t worry about those laugh lines—smile big and smile often!
    • Better relationships: People treat you differently when you smile. This facial expression makes you appear more relaxed, friendly, sincere, and likable. Exhibiting these characteristics gives you a better chance of building and maintaining relationships, which benefits your overall well-being.
    • Ability to spread positivity and joy: Looking at a smiling face activates the orbitofrontal cortex, the brain region that processes sensory rewards. This suggests that others feel rewarded when they see you smile. Then, their brain coaxes them to return the favor. That’s why smiling is contagious—it helps everyone feel happier, healthier, and less stressed.

    Protect Your Smile with Routine Dental Visits

    Having good oral health increases all the mental, physical, and social benefits of smiling. To make sure you always want to show off your smile, remember to reserve regular teeth cleanings and oral exams.

    When the team at West County Dental cares for your smile, we look for any oral health concerns that might require intervention. With our watchful eye combined with good at-home care on your part, you’ll be able to smile with confidence for years to come. Give us a call today at (314) 488-2921 or contact us online to reserve your next visit to our St. Louis, MO dental office.

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    brightspringhealth.com/blog/7-health-benefits-of-smiling/
    orthodonticslimited.com/teeth/how-smiling-affects-your-body/
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201206/there-s-magic-in-your-smile

  • How to Care for Your Smile During the Holidays

    It’s easy to neglect your mouth during the hectic holiday season, but oral care is extra important this time of year. After all, with sugary snacks readily available and stress levels at their peak, your teeth and gums need all the attention they can get. Here’s how to care for your smile during the holidays.

    Keep Up Your Dental Care Routine

    The excitement of family visits, holiday parties, and gift-giving may distract you from your regular dental care routine. Keep your mouth healthy by remembering to do the following:

    • Brush for good dental hygiene: Brushing your teeth is a fundamental part of good oral health. For the best results, brush at least twice a day for two minutes. Hold your toothbrush so the bristles run along your gums at a 45-degree angle. Gentle, back-and-forth scrubbing motions are best. Don’t forget to clean your tongue as well, which harbors bacteria that can cause bad breath.
    • Pick the right toothbrush and toothpaste: Select a small-headed, soft-bristled toothbrush that fits comfortably in your mouth. If you are prone to plaque buildup and gum problems, consider using an electric toothbrush. Buy a new toothbrush (or toothbrush head for your electric model) every three months. Also, unless your dentist instructs you otherwise, use fluoride toothpaste.
    • Floss daily: Even the most thorough brushing leaves plaque, food particles, and bacteria between your teeth and under the gum line. To remove them, remember to floss once a day. Gently guide the floss between each tooth, being careful not to snap it against your gums. Remember to get behind your rear molars as well.
    • Use mouthwash for extra protection: Your teeth account for less than half of the surface area in your mouth. Rinsing with mouthwash is important to remove biofilm and bacteria that brushing and flossing leave behind. When selecting a mouthwash, find one with fluoride and antimicrobial properties for the most noticeable benefits.

    Eat the Right Food

    It can be hard to resist temptations this time of year, but for the sake of your oral health, it’s important to say “no” to your favorite treats sometimes. Enjoy everything in moderation this holiday season, but keep the following in mind:

    • Drink plenty of water: Staying hydrated isn’t just important for your overall health—drinking water also rinses your mouth of food particles and harmful bacteria, helping you avoid plaque buildup and cavities.
    • Choose healthy treats: When you want a snack, reach for carrots and apples this holiday season. These deliciously crunchy snacks are packed with nutrients and effectively scrub your teeth as you eat them.
    • Chew sugarless gum: Chewing sugarless gum after a meal stimulates saliva flow to wash away food particles and neutralize the pH in your mouth. This can help prevent tooth decay and cavities. Plus, minty gum freshens your breath.
    • Avoid certain beverages: Many popular holiday drinks can damage your smile, including tooth-staining coffee, acidic white and red wine, and sugary hot chocolate, apple cider, and eggnog. It’s okay to indulge in your favorites at times, but rinse with water afterward to remove sugar, acids, and dark colors from your mouth.
    • Avoid sticky treats and hard candies: Caramel, taffy, and dried cranberries may taste delicious, but these sticky treats cling to your teeth, promoting cavities and sometimes even yanking out fillings! Then, the sugar in candy canes, suckers, and other hard candies linger in your mouth, feeding bacteria that can cause tooth decay.
    • Avoid starchy foods: Sugar cookies, rolls, crackers, chips, and other starches tend to leave particles wedged between your teeth, sometimes for hours. If you indulge in these goodies, rinse with water or chew gum afterward to clear out your mouth.

    Know When to Visit the Dentist

    The holidays are a busy time, but you may still need to see your dentist before the season is out. Here’s how you know it’s time to reserve your next visit:

    • It’s been six months since your last cleaning: The American Dental Association recommends visiting the dentist regularly. For most people, this means reserving an exam and cleaning twice a year. If you have periodontal disease or other oral health problems, you may need more frequent visits. Just follow your dentist’s advice.
    • You feel self-conscious about stained or discolored teeth: If dark-colored drinks and acidic foods have left their mark on your smile, you don’t need to wait six months between each cleaning. Many patients reserve dentist appointments every three to four months to ensure they can always smile with confidence.
    • You experience toothaches or sensitivity: From dull pain to throbbing toothaches, any discomfort in your mouth is worth checking out. Sudden temperature sensitivity is also a cause for concern. If any oral changes affect your ability to sleep, speak, or eat, see your dentist right away.
    • Your dental crown, bridge, or dentures aren’t fitting well: Teeth are prone to shifting over time, so if any dental work or removable appliance feels too tight, too loose, or simply “off,” call your dentist.
    • Your gums bleed a lot when you brush or floss. A little blood isn’t a huge concern, but if the bleeding is significant or lasts for weeks after establishing a new flossing routine, this could indicate a gum problem. If left unaddressed, you could develop periodontal disease.
    • You injure or knock out a tooth: Emergency dentistry aims to alleviate pain, stop ongoing bleeding, and save damaged teeth. If you or your child needs emergency dental care, call your dentist right away.

    Reserve Your Next Visit at West County Dental

    As a family dental practice in St. Louis, MO, we are devoted to restoring and enhancing the natural beauty of our patients’ smiles. We offer state-of-the-art preventative and restorative services to help keep your teeth merry and bright throughout the holiday season and beyond! Give us a call today at (314) 488-2921 or contact us online to reserve your next visit.

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    kloosterfamilydentistry.com/2018/12/03/how-to-care-for-your-teeth-during-the-holiday-season/

    https://www.elitedaily.com/p/heres-how-to-take-care-of-your-teeth-during-the-holidays-so-your-smile-stays-merry-bright-13213882

    https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/holiday-foods

  • Is Laser Dentistry Really Pain Free?

    Most people would advise against sticking sharp metal things in your mouth, but then dentists come at you with a noisy metal drill and that’s supposed to be normal? No wonder people are afraid of going to the dentist when many dental procedures require anesthesia injections, stitches, and lots of recovery time. Fortunately, there is a new game in town that is helping highly skilled dentists in St. Louis take the “Ouch!” out of dental visits. Laser dentistry is a fast and effective method that uses heat and light to perform a wide variety of dental procedures. Most importantly, laser dentistry is virtually pain-free!

    How laser dentistry works

    How laser dentistry works

    A laser dental treatment works by honing an intense beam of light energy to perform precise dental procedures. They are easy to control and allow dentists to painlessly cut or vaporize tissue on contact, eliminate decay in teeth, and remove soft tissue from gums. Blood loss is minimized because the high-energy light beam cauterizes as it works, which drastically reduces recovery times and the need for over-the-counter pain killers. Lasers also prevent bacterial infections by sterilizing the area and minimizing damage to the surrounding tissues.

    What makes laser dentistry painless?

    If just the thought of a scalpel going near your mouth gives you the shivers, then laser dentistry is your new best friend. This high-energy light technology is vastly less invasive than traditional methods. It eliminates the use of drills and scalpels in many dental procedures, which also reduces the need for anesthesia. Even biopsies and cavity fillings are made painless with laser dentistry! All procedures are performed with pinpoint accuracy to protect the surrounding tissues, and there are no stitches to care for afterwards. As an added bonus, lasers sterilize as they go, which reduces the risk of painful bacterial infections.

    The Solea laser

    As the number one selling hard and soft tissue laser in the industry, the Solea laser is the epitome of painless dentistry. If you are an anxious dental patient, you may lean on anesthesia to get you through a dental visit, even if you hate the groggy or numb feeling you are left with after the fact. But with the Solea laser, most dental patients skip anesthesia all together because they just don’t need it! Solea is the first CO 2 laser that uses a unique wavelength guided by sophisticated computer controls to vaporize tissue and enamel from any angle with amazing speed and accuracy. With no pain-triggering vibrations and anesthesia-free results, you can now undergo several hard and soft tissue procedures in one comfortable dental visit.

    Painless dentistry really is possible with the revolutionary laser dental treatments provided by West County Dental. Our exceptional team is dedicated to making your time in the chair comfortable, and we are always happy to answer your questions or address your concerns to ensure the absolute best dental experience.

  • 4 Tips to Save Time and Money at the Dentist

    If you are one of the many people who have shied away from visiting the dentist because of time or money issues, you are definitely not alone. The huge cost of dental care can create financial hardships and take up countless sick days, but there are several ways to reduce your dental costs. Here are 4 tips that will help you save a lot of time and money on your next dental visit.

    Ways to reduce your dental costs

    Establish an effective preventative care routine

    First things first, not getting a cavity is always cheaper than the lowest-priced filling. Regular brushing and flossing sound like a no-brainer, but your family dentist will have a variety of tips and tricks to help you maximize your daily routine. West County Dental even uses intra-oral cameras to show you where to focus on brushing, thus helping you avoid expensive dental procedures and special trips to the dentist down the line.

    Visit the dentist regularly

    Routine checkups are also a key ingredient to lower dental care costs. An experienced family dentist can remove harmful plaque and tartar build-up, administer fluoride treatments and dental sealants to protect teeth between cleanings, and treat oral diseases at the earliest possible stage. High-tech dentists also streamline procedures by using 3D imaging for faster, more accurate diagnostics, which reduces patient costs and recovery times.

    Choose a family dentist that uses laser dentistry

    One of the best ways to ensure faster and less painful dental procedures is to select a dental care facility that utilizes laser dentistry. This technology accurately pinpoints certain areas that need work, removes tooth decay, prevents gum disease from progressing, and sterilizes areas for fillings all while leaving the surrounding tissue intact. Laser dentistry reduces the need for anesthesia and causes less bleeding and swelling, allowing for better results with less pain, time commitments, and out-of-pocket costs.

    Inquire about 3D printing services

    When it comes to crowns or dental implants, many dental offices have to order the materials from a lab, wait for the product to be produced, and then wait for it to be shipped back to them. Since this lengthy process is not cost-efficient, many practices like West County Dental have invested in 3D printers to print their own materials. This technology drastically cuts down on turnaround times and makes high-quality, same-day crowns and dental implants possible. 3D printing can also be done for a fraction of the price of traditional methods, which is reflected in lower dental fees.

    Faster, more affordable dental care is out there if you know where to look, especially when your search leads you to West County Dental. Our highly trained dental team uses the latest advances in technology to streamline dental procedures and eliminate extraneous costs, passing the savings in both time and money directly on to you.

  • How 3-D Imaging Will Change Dentistry Forever

    Typical dental x-rays can be a tedious and uncomfortable process. Numerous individual images are required to cover the entire mouth, which allows for too much cranial exposure to radiation. Also, traditional x-rays only focus on your teeth with no way to enhance the images, making it almost impossible to study the surrounding bone structure, bone density, tissues, and nerves for diagnostic purposes. But times are changing and the newest advances in 3-D imaging and digital technology are taking the dental industry by storm. Here are just a few of the remarkable ways 3-D dentistry is changing the way family dentists in St. Louis take care of your teeth.

    3-D dentistry

    Revolutionizing the way dentists gather information

    Instead of interpreting two-dimensional information to diagnose tooth and gum conditions, 3-D dentistry allows dentists to see a much clearer picture of what is going on in your mouth. All you have to do is sit in a chair while the scanner moves in a complete circle around your head, gathering data all along the way. Then, the dentist can instantly call up any image, view it from all angles, and enhance or modify it. These 3-D images can show fractured roots, accessory canals, nerve placements, the density and structure of surrounding bones, and even early signs of gum disease. With all of this information at their fingertips, dentists can more accurately diagnose any potential conditions and create a more effective dental treatment plan.

    Making dental visits as painless as possible

    Painless dentistry is within reach using the latest advances in 3-D imaging. In its simplest form, 3-D dentistry can show dentists where nerves are located, thus allowing them to steer clear during dental procedures. 3-D images can also help dentists pinpoint the appropriate size, type, and placement for dental implants, reducing the likelihood of painful problems further down the road. Tumors, oral diseases, or impacted teeth can be identified and dealt with in the early stages, and any necessary surgical procedures can be mapped out from start to finish in order to maximize efficiency and reduce recovery times.

    Transforming smiles in just one day

    Long gone are the days where dental implants and natural-looking crowns took weeks or even months to install. Now, an experienced dental team can transform your smile in just a day with the latest advances in 3-D dentistry. The transformation process begins with a non-invasive 3-D photo scan, which is then optimized or enhanced by the dentist and transferred to an on-site milling device. Since the entire process is completed in one day, there is no need for painful temporary crowns or messy impressions, and the end result is a custom restorative device made from color-matching ceramic that is indistinguishable from your existing teeth.

    Not only is 3-D dentistry giving dentists a more detailed view of the mouth and skull, but it has also led to more accurate diagnostics, advances in painless dentistry, and transformative same day crowns or dental implants. For more information on how West Coast Dental utilizes 3-D imaging in their outstanding dental services, give us a call at (314) 821-2712!

  • What You Should Know Before a Root Canal

    At your last dental visit, your dentist uttered two words that many people fear: root canal. While the procedure will eliminate your lingering tooth pain and hopefully reduce your immense sensitivity to hot and cold, the very idea of a root canal procedure can be a bit frightening. Here is a helpful guide that covers the most important things you should know before getting root canal therapy.

    Root canal therapy

    What exactly is a root canal?

    When the blood or nerve supply of a tooth, also known as the pulp, is infected, root canal therapy is necessary to remove the infected tissue. Unfortunately, a root canal cannot save the tooth, but by preserving its natural structure, you will be able to chew food and speak properly.

    What are some of the symptoms?

    There are several signs that you may need a root canal procedure, including:

    • Lingering or spontaneous pain in response to hot or cold drink
    • Positional pain that is worse when you lay down, stand up suddenly, or run in place
    • A white, yellow, or red pimple-looking blister on your gum
    • An abscess, which will show up on an x-ray
    • Pain in your jaw, ear, or surrounding teeth

    Why is root canal therapy needed?

    If an infection in the pulp of a tooth spreads to the underlying root canal system, it can lead to an abscess, which is an inflamed pus-filled pocket that causes swelling around the tooth. If a root canal is not done, the infection may spread to other areas of the face, you may suffer bone loss around the tip of the root, or the tooth may have to be extracted.

    What does the procedure entail?

    During root canal therapy, a dentist will remove the inflamed or infected pulp and carefully clean out and shape the inside of the tooth. Then, they will fill and seal the space to prevent further infection. The final step is for the dentist to place a crown on the tooth to protect its structural integrity. After a root canal procedure is completed, your tooth will function like any other tooth.

    Is the procedure painful?

    No, there should not be any root canal pain. With the use of a local anesthetic, the procedure should be no different than if you were having an ordinary filling done. Afterwards, you may feel a bit sore, but that will diminish over time.

    How long will the root canal procedure take?

    A root canal is a time-consuming procedure that often involves two or more visits to your dentist. The first appointment may be quite long as the dentist needs to remove the infected tissue and allow any abscesses to drain. Once the tooth is closed and shaped for filling, a temporary cap is put in and the tooth is left to settle. At the next appointment, the tooth is checked and if all is clear, it is permanently filled and capped.

    Is any special care necessary after treatment?

    Care instructions will be given out after each appointment, but good oral hygiene and regular dental visits are essential to ensuring the best results.

    If you are experiencing tooth pain, don’t suffer in silence! Instead, utilize the knowledge and expertise of the West County Dental team in St. Louis, MO to help you find relief.