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  • How to Overcome Dental Anxiety

    Are you afraid of going to the dentist? Millions of Americans suffer from dental anxiety, causing them to delay important dental appointments and cleanings. This can put their oral health at risk. It doesn’t have to be that way. Sedation dentistry uses modern methods to relax dental patients during their visit to the dentist, giving them relief for their anxiety. At West County Dental, we offer the following options for sedation dentistry:

    Oral Conscious Sedation – The Pill Method

    This method of sedation is administered by taking a pill prior to arrival at the dentist’s office. It puts the patient in a relaxed state but lets them stay conscious and able to respond. For safety reasons, the patient will need a friend or family member to drive them to and from the appointment.

    Nitrous Oxide – The Gas Method

    Also referred to as nitrous, laughing gas or NO, nitrous oxide is delivered through a mask over the nose, and the level of nitrous oxide dispensed is carefully controlled by your dentist. Nitrous oxide creates a mild sedative effect that lets the patient relax. As with the pill method, patients remain conscious and able to communicate with their dentist during the entire procedure.

    Both of these methods of sedation dentistry are great solutions for anyone who has become paralyzed with fear at the thought of undergoing a dental procedure. Virtually all of our dental care treatments can be performed under some degree of sedation to help put you at ease. If your dental anxiety is caused by embarrassment about the state of your teeth or gums, rest assured, we have seen it all and do not judge. We know all the reasons why a patient’s dental health may be poor, and many are beyond their control. Our mission is to use our compassion and expertise to put you back into a state of dental health with minimal discomfort.

    Find out More

    If you have any questions at all about sedation dentistry or dental anxiety, give us a call or stop by. 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!

  • Can You Be Allergic to Novocaine

    If you have a dental appointment coming up you have a number of questions and concerns. If one of your concerns is about a possible allergic reaction to a local anesthetic such as Novocaine, or lidocaine (which is more commonly used these days), you can probably stop fretting. While it is possible to have an allergic reaction to them, true allergies to general or local anesthetics is very rare, with frequency ranging from 1 in 5,000 cases to 1 in 25,000 cases. More people are merely sensitive to anesthetics than actually allergic to them. Symptoms of drug sensitivities include shaking, sweating, faintness, and heart palpitations.

    What is an Allergy?

    An allergy is when your body’s immune system overreacts to an otherwise harmless substance, known as an allergen. People are allergic to latex, pollen, bee stings, certain foods or medicines. Allergic reactions can be mild, moderate or life-threatening.

    Allergic reactions to local anesthetics such as Novocaine or lidocaine include skin reactions (rash, hives, itching, swelling, etc.), trouble breathing, or anaphylactic shock, which is extremely rare. Most allergic reactions to local anesthetics involve only temporary itching and skin rash at the site of the injection.

    Other Allergic Reactions

    There are other chemicals in these local anesthetics that may trigger some allergic reactions. Most formulations contain epinephrine, which constricts blood vessels at the injection site. This decreases blood flow to the area so that the anesthetic stays near the injection site longer, making it more effective. Local anesthetics also contain preservatives to keep the epinephrine fresh. Allergies to epinephrine and these preservatives are rare, and any adverse reactions that may occur are often the result of sensitivities.

    Talk to Your Dentist

    If you have any concerns about anesthesia, or any aspect of an upcoming procedure or dental appointment, speak with your dentist. She or he can review your signs and symptoms to help you determine whether you can use Novocaine or lidocaine safely for dental procedures. There are newer sedation methods available that can reduce reliance on anesthetics as well.

    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!

  • Improving Your Smile After Losing Teeth

    Even if you’ve taken excellent care of your teeth, you may eventually end up with a chipped tooth, a broken tooth or a few missing teeth. Fortunately, dental health procedures have come a long way. Here are a few ways that a good dentist can help you improve your smile after losing teeth.

    Dentures and Partial Dentures

    Dentures are replacement teeth, usually fixed to your gum with adhesive. A partial denture replaces part of a tooth. Dentures are seen as inferior to implants because adhesive can be unreliable and unpleasant, and even a choking hazard.

    Dental Implants

    Dental implants are as close as you can get to new, natural teeth. They protect your jaw and surrounding teeth in ways that dentures cannot. They last a very long time and are nearly indistinguishable from natural teeth. The best offices will use a titanium post that acts as the root of the missing tooth. Dental implants can be placed in either the upper or lower jaws. Due to the biocompatible properties of titanium, a dental implant fuses with the bone and becomes a good anchor for the replacement tooth. Dental implants can be used in solutions for replacing single or multiple missing teeth.

    Dental Bridge

    Dental bridges traditionally are a way to replace a gap of one or two spaces surrounded by teeth that are used for stability.

    If all your teeth are missing or need to be replaced, a fixed bridge anchored to dental implants is the best permanent solution. Some benefits include:

    • A dental bridge lets you eat and function like you have a full set of natural teeth
    • It preserves your facial appearance and prevents bone loss

    The treatment procedure and number of visits depends on the condition of the patient’s gums and teeth but often involves multiple visits.

    Dental Crowns

    A crown (or cap) is a tooth-colored, custom-made covering that encases the entire tooth surface restoring it to its original shape and size. Crowns protect and strengthen teeth that cannot be restored with fillings or other types of restorations. They are ideal for teeth that have large, fractured or broken fillings and also for those that are badly decayed.

    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!

  • Tips for a Cavity Free Holiday

    The holidays are a time of togetherness, and presents, and fun, and sweets. Often, lots and lots of sweets. Pumpkin pies, fruit cakes, candy canes, chocolates, eggnog, gingerbread and cookies. All that sugar can take a heavy toll on your tooth enamel. Here are a few tips to avoid getting cavities and rotten teeth for Christmas.

    Have Sweets in Moderation

    You don’t have to avoid all the sweets to keep your teeth healthy. Just pay attention to how much you’re consuming. Consider having half a piece of pie, half a glass of eggnog, or one cookie instead of two. Don’t feel pressured to try every desert your friends brought to the holiday party.

    Brush After Eating

    You’ve been told all your life to brush between meals, but during the holidays, you may want to brush more often. We go to Christmas parties with punch and desserts, get offered cookies at work, and receive sweets from the neighbors. Brushing between meals is great, but it’s better to brush every time we have sugary foods or drinks. And replace your toothbrush when the bristles look worn. A new one will be more effective. If you’re not able to brush where you are, rinse your mouth with water. This removes excess sugar from your teeth.

    Floss Daily

    Many of us don’t like to floss, but it’s important to the health of your teeth and your gums. Buy an extra tooth floss or two so there’s always one available, and make it part of your daily routine. You don’t have to floss after every meal, but do it often enough to keep your mouth healthy, like every night before you go to bed. If you don’t enjoy flossing, consider other flossing products in the dental health section of your pharmacy or grocery store.

    Schedule a Dental Appointment

    Because of all these holiday sweets, it’s a good idea to schedule a dental cleaning or a dentist visit after the holidays. Scheduling regular cleanings and checkups can help you start the new year on a note of great dental health.

    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 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.