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The Healthy Smiles of Saint Louis office is closely and proudly associated with the not-for-profit dental charity Give Kids A Smile. As president of the GKAS Board, Dr. Flavin along with other instrumental board members–including Dr. Mark Ortinau, Dr. Jeffery Dailn, Dr. Anthony Marino, Dr. Craig Hollander, and Dr. Danielle Riordan–has spent years providing free dental care and education to the under-served children of the greater Saint Louis area.

 

GKAS Board

 

Since its inception in the spring of 2002, Give Kids A Smile has served over 14,000 children and has provided them with over $7,000,000 worth of free dental care. GKAS’s dedication to creating new and accessible avenues to dental services and education has made an undeniably important impact on not just the greater St. Louis area, but the nation as well. It has become the primary model for the American Dental Association‘s Access to Care program. So that today hundreds of thousands of kids across the nation receive well-needed, free, comprehensive dental care because of GKAS St. Louis’s passion and dedication to dental health. Every October new members of the Give Kids A Smile Community Leadership Development Institute come to Saint Louis to learn the best practices of the Saint Louis Program. Everyone at Healthy Smiles of Saint Louis is proud to volunteer their time and talent to such a worthy cause, because in the end it’s really all out the smiles!

SMILE!

 

For more information on various GKAS projects click here. For more information about registering to be treated at one of the GKAS clinics click here. Interested in volunteering? Click here!

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Oct4 sleepingYour teeth are at risk all the time–even while you sleep! Here at my Saint Louis dental office, we help our patients protect their teeth day and night with treatment and care tips. We believe a little education can go a long way toward keeping your teeth strong and healthy day or night.

Here are two night-time habits, or issues, and the solutions that may save your teeth:

Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Not only is snoring a possible sign of sleep apnea, a potentially deadly disorder that disrupts your sleep, it’s also a common cause of dry mouth.  Everyone needs saliva to keep their mouths healthy. Saliva works to:

  • Lubricate the tissues of your mouth
  • Cleanse and rinse the oral cavity and teeth, minimizing plaque build-up, washing away trapped food particles, and removing dead cells that can lead to bad breath, infections, and sores.
  • Neutralize the acids plaque produces to stop enamel erosion.

If you snore or wonder if you have sleep apnea, please call us or talk to your physician or dentist right away. Sleep apnea won’t just dry your mouth out, it can lead to all kinds of health problems from extreme fatigue to an increased risk for strokes and heart attacks.

Grinding or Bruxism

Stress, certain medications, and dental problems can all cause people to grind and clench their teeth during sleep, a disorder called bruxism. Bruxism seems pretty self explanatory in the fact that it can cause your teeth to break, chip, crack, and even decay because of enamel erosion, but did you know it can also lead to a variety of other problems?

Problems caused by bruxism may include:

  • Headaches, especially in the morning
  • Toothaches
  • Facial pain
  • Jaw pain and dysfunction sometimes known as TMJ disorder
  • Gum disease
  • Facial aging due to shortening of teeth
  • Tooth damage

If you or someone you know grinds or clenches their teeth at night, please call my dental office in Saint Louis. We’ll work with you to diagnose what’s going on in your mouth and recommend the best solution for you so you can get back to oral health and back to a good night’s sleep.

Welcoming patients from Saint Louis, Affton, and Webster Grove.

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dentist-medievalJust as with all medicine, dentistry is an ever-evolving field. At my dental office in Saint Louis, we’re constantly updating technology and improving our knowledge to better serve patients just like you.

But imagine if you lived 200 hundred years ago. What was dentistry like then? How about during the middle ages? Would the dentists of those times have been able to replace your lost tooth? Would they have been able to fill a cavity? What would they have recommended you do for a toothache?

Let’s take a look.

Dentistry in the middle ages

For the common folk, dentistry consisted mostly of self-care and occasional visits to practitioners or barber surgeons who treated a toothache by pulling the offending tooth and  suggested things like kissing a donkey to cure the toothache. It also wasn’t unheard of to recommend concocting a mixture of newts, lizards, and beetles into a powder and applying it to the painful tooth throughout the day.  

The truth is, in spite of inconsistent professional care, most medieval commoners had clean, white teeth. Why? Their diets were similar to what a modern dentist would recommend for a healthy mouth: One very low in sugar and refined flours and high in calcium.  They also used all kinds of fairly effective tooth cleaners and mouth rinses, including a paste made from crushed peppermint and rock salt.

Dentistry in the 19th Century

Dentistry didn’t begin to resemble what we think of as dentistry today until the early 18th century, and by the 19th century, dentistry began to seem quite modern. European surgeons had begun experimenting with implanting teeth; dentures were being created out of both human teeth, the teeth of animals, and porcelain; and nitrous oxide, the same laughing gas we sometimes use today, was introduced by Humphry Davy around 1800. In 1840, the Baltimore College of Dentistry, the first dental college, was founded by Chapin Harris and Horace Hayden. It was the first step into dentistry as we know it today.

Our Dentistry

At my Saint Louis dental office, we’ve continued to adapt and improve our services as the advancements in dental care improve. We always ensure the utmost in comfort, technology, and service. To schedule an appointment and experience the difference, give us a call today!

Welcoming patients from Saint Louis, Affton, and Webster Grove.

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Sept4FlossAt my Saint Louis dental office, we’re all about creating beautiful smiles and keeping them healthy. An important part to overall oral health is a proper oral hygiene routine, and with that comes regular flossing. However, more than half of Americans don’t floss regularly, and a whopping 20% don’t floss at all. Why are so many people so against flossing? We dug up some research and found some of the main reasons people ditch the floss.  

  • “I Just Can’t Seem To Do It.”

Sometimes individuals with dexterity problems, especially those who have suffered a stroke, injury, or have arthritis, can have difficulty maneuvering the floss. But there are alternatives available. Floss picks, which are those little “Y” shaped plastic devices with a piece of floss strung between the tips, can work wonders. They make it much easier for our differently abled patients.

  • “I Don’t Have Time.”

While flossing may seem like a time-consuming task, if done properly, it should actually only take between three and five minutes. At first, it may take a bit longer as you get used to a technique that works for you, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. Spending at least three minutes flossing can mean fewer dental problems, better check ups, and an overall healthier mouth.

  • “I Don’t Know If It’s Really Necessary.”

Flossing is crucial to proper oral health. Brushing is not even half the battle. If you don’t floss, all the spaces between the teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach aren’t cleaned, and bacteria is left to cause some serious damage. In fact, the most common place for cavities to form is between teeth. A lack of flossing could also lead to more serious problems.

  • “It Hurts and My Gums Bleed When I Do It, So I Don’t.”

Healthy gums don’t bleed or hurt when flossed. If your gums do, you should start flossing more, not less. Bleeding while flossing can also be a sign of gum disease. Gum disease not only affects your teeth, mouth, and gums, but also your overall health and has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.  

Flossing is incredibly important to a happy mouth and healthy body. If you’re having difficulty, want to learn more about the benefits of flossing, or especially if you are experiencing pain, give my dental office in Saint Louis a call. We’ll be more than happy to work with you to find a great, personal flossing solution.

Accepting patients from Saint Louis, Affton, and Webster Grove.

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Sept3BadBreathWhether it was following a particularly garlicky meal, morning coffee, or a few drinks after work, everyone has experienced bad breath at some point in their lives. Usually, it’s nothing to worry about. However, when bad breath becomes an ongoing issue, there’s a possibility your mouth may not be in tip-top shape. At my dental office in Saint Louis, we’d like to offer a few solutions to remedy bad breath and provide reasons why it could be pretty serious and should not be ignored.

What Causes Bad Breath?

Bad breath is caused by high levels of bacteria in the mouth. When bacteria feed on plaque, they produce hydrogen sulfide. It’s this byproduct that gives breath its stench.

Here’s How to Keep Bad Breath at Bay

  1. Brush & Floss. You know brushing and flossing are what helps keep your mouth cavity-free and makes for good dental checkups. But it can also help rid your mouth of bad-breath causing bacteria. Make sure you’re brushing twice a day for at least two minutes each time and scrubbing each surface of each tooth. Flossing at least once a day helps to reach those spots a toothbrush can’t.
  2. Clear the Tongue. The tongue shouldn’t be ignored when brushing. Due to its texture of bumps and grooves, it makes it a favorite place for bacteria to burrow in and hide. You can help remove the bacteria by gently brushing the tongue each time you brush your teeth. If the brush isn’t an option due to a sensitive gag reflex, try a tongue scraper instead.
  3. Drink H₂O. A hydrated mouth is a happy mouth, and a healthy one, too. Drinking plenty of water encourages saliva production. Saliva naturally rinses bacteria away and protects your mouth from bad breath. However, if a mouth becomes dehydrated and dry, it produces less saliva and increases the chance of bacteria lingering around.

Why Is Bad Breath Serious?

While staying hydrated and maintaining excellent oral hygiene can help keep bad breath away, it’s still very important to visit your dentist if it becomes an ongoing problem. Bad breath may be much more than embarrassing. It could actually be a sign of gum disease, which is serious.

If untreated,gum disease may cause increased sensitivity, receding gums, and tooth loss. But that’s not all. Gum disease can also lead to other problems throughout the body like increased risk for heart attack and stroke.

Don’t let something that seems small, like bad breath, create a serious problem for your overall health. If you notice signs of chronic bad breath, schedule an appointment at my Saint Louis dental practice. We’re here to help diagnose what’s causing it and work with you to cure it in a judgement-free, caring office. Give us a call today.

Serving patients from Saint Louis, Affton, and Webster Grove.

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Aug2OsteoperosisOsteoporosis is a disease that mainly affects women over the age of 50. But it can happen to anyone no matter age or gender. Osteoporosis causes bone density to decrease, making breaks and whole-body concerns much more common. At my Saint Louis dental office, we want to talk about how your oral health may be linked to osteoporosis.

Your Mouth & Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis affects 10 million Americans, and there are 34 million more who are at risk. As with many serious diseases, early detection is key. You may not even know there’s a problem until it’s too late. Sometimes signs aren’t obvious. So how do you get diagnosed if you’re not experiencing any symptoms? Your dentist!

In fact, your dentist may be the first member of your healthcare team to catch osteoporosis. When patients visit the dentist, the team is not just looking at their teeth, they also look at x-rays. These x-rays provide a wealth of information about what’s going on below the teeth, including bone density, and show us signs you or your medical doctor may not see or notice.

Signs & Symptoms

While we will be vigilant at your exams, here are some of the signs and symptoms we encourage our patients to watch for:

  • Loose dentures
  • Tooth loss
  • Bone loss around the teeth or in the jaw
  • Gum disease

Prevention

In addition to maintaining visits to your Saint Louis dentist, there are other preventive actions you can take to decrease your chance of osteoporosis.

  • Quit Smoking
  • Consume caffeine limitedly
  • Lower alcohol intake
  • Get out and exercise
  • Get enough vitamin D and calcium

If you’re experiencing any signs of osteoporosis, visit your doctor. Even if you’re not having difficulty currently, make sure to keep up with your regular visits to my dental office in Saint Louis. We actively look for signs of potential osteoporosis and may be the first line of defense against the disease.

Accepting patients from Saint Louis, Affton, and Webster Grove.

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AugFAQAt my dental office in Saint Louis, we get asked a lot of questions. And that’s ok. We know we sometimes use dentist speak, but we’re always happy to clarify and help make dentistry easier to understand. In this blog, we wanted to take some of the most frequent dental questions and answer them once and for all.

“Do I really need to see a dentist twice a year?”

The short answer is yes. Biannual visits are essential. However, we may encourage some patients to come in more often. If you’re at increased risk for gum disease or oral cancer, or if you have several treatments planned, visiting a dentist more than twice a year is normal. If your checkups are problem free, we’ll ask you to come back in about six months. Regular appointments are important for thorough cleaning and early detection. With early detection, you may avoid larger, more invasive, costly procedures in the future.

“Is flossing really necessary?”

Both brushing and flossing are crucial to a healthy mouth, yet about half of all Americans fail to floss on a regular basis. Without flossing, 35% of your tooth surfaces are not being cleaned. This allows bacteria to linger, food particles to fester, and decay to develop. Our best recommendation is to brush twice a day and floss once a day, at the minimum.

“I brush and floss, yet I still get cavities. What’s up?”

Brushing and flossing are only part of keeping decay and cavities away. If you have a diet that’s high in acidic foods or beverages, if you use tobacco, or if you are hard on your teeth, either by clenching, grinding, or crunching hard things, you’re automatically at increased risk for cavities. Acid eats away at enamel, and without enamel, teeth are left exposed to dangerous bacteria. Grinding and crunching alike may lead to tiny chips and cracks which are perfect places for bacteria to hide and create a cavity.

“What’s the purpose of dental x-rays?”

Dental x-rays allow us to see below the naturally visible surfaces of teeth. This helps identify potential problems early, before they become big problems. We can look at decay, bone infections, gum disease, and baby teeth patterns all by using x-rays.

If it’s been a while since you’ve seen a dentist, or if you ever have a question, just ask! We’ll be happy to help. Everyone at my Saint Louis dental office isn’t only here to give you the care you need, we’re here to work with you to make sure all your questions are answered and you’re always comfortable.

Serving patients from Saint Louis, Affton, and Webster Grove.

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July3DentalEmergencyWhile you’re gearing up to head out on summer vacation this year, you’ll probably pack a bunch of first-aid items, extra clothes, and a load of medication because you can’t be too careful. Anything can happen at anytime. But what do you do if you have a dental emergency while away? At my Saint Louis dental office, we’re happy to provide you some tips to take with you.

A Knocked Out Tooth

If this happens, whether on vacation or not, the first thing you should do is remain calm. Second, make sure there are no other serious injuries. Once you confirm all is well, you can start to work on saving that tooth — but only if the tooth is permanent. If a baby tooth is lost, make sure to schedule a visit as soon as possible upon your return to make sure no permanent teeth were damaged. If the lost tooth is permanent, and assuming both the roots and the crown were knocked out, try the following steps:

  1. Only touch the top of the tooth to limit damage to the roots.
  2. Gently rinse it with water.
  3. Attempt to insert it back into the socket.
  4. Control any bleeding with gauze.
  5. Call a dentist as soon as possible.

If you’re unable to get the tooth back into the socket, put the tooth in some milk or a cup of your spit — never store it in water! Then get to a dentist immediately.

Chips and Breaks

An unpopped popcorn kernel, a fall, or using teeth to open packaging can cause a tooth to chip or break. Again, don’t panic. Simply rinse your mouth with warm water to gently wash away any lingering particles. If you’re bleeding, gently apply gauze and use pressure until the bleeding stops.

Pesky Toothaches

Toothaches are usually the mouth’s way of saying, “Hey! Something’s not right in here!” And it’s important to listen. When toothaches happen, the best thing to do is schedule an appointment as soon as you can. But if you’re on vacation, try clove oil or rinsing with warm salt water (1 tsp. sea salt per 8 oz. of water). Cloves have natural anti-inflammatory and anesthetic properties, while salt water can limit swelling and help kill dangerous bacteria.

Emergencies of any kind are no fun, especially if they interrupt a vacation. If you do experience a dental emergency while away, give my dental office in Saint Louis a call as soon as you return. We’ll want to ensure the problem is no longer active and if it is, we will work with you to treat it comfortably .

Accepting patients from Saint Louis, Affton, and Webster Grove.

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forgottoothbrushIt’s the time of year when we all venture out of our hometowns and spend some family time on vacation. To prepare, you’ve packed extra clothes, necessary medications, and even snacks. But you’ve forgotten your toothbrush. Now what? Not to fear, my Saint Louis dental office has some tips to help.

Toothpaste but no brush?

This is probably the best case scenario. When you have toothpaste, you just need to find something to put it on to act as a toothbrush. Some people use a finger, others just swish some around in their mouths. The best thing to do? Find a clean washcloth or paper towel, wrap it around your finger, wet it slightly, and apply the paste. The washcloth or paper towel will act as a toothbrush and is better than a finger alone since they both have texture that can mimic toothbrush bristles. Make sure whatever you choose isn’t coarse or it can damage tooth enamel.

No paste and no brush?

Again we turn to our trusty paper towel or washcloth. Simply wet your make-do brush of choice and wipe each tooth individually from top to bottom for your top teeth, and from bottom to top fro your lower teeth. Make sure to rinse your towel between each tooth to limit the amount of plague that can get transferred from tooth to tooth. When finished, rinse well to remove any loose particles.

Got gum?

As a last resort, sugarless gum (emphasis on the sugarless), a teeth-buffing snack, or both, can help. Chewing gum naturally causes you to produce more saliva. More saliva means more bacteria is rinsed away and doesn’t stick around to cause decay. Nibbling on a smile-happy snack like cheese, crunchy carrots, or crisp apples can serve as micro-scrubbers if a toothbrush is nowhere to be found.

Thirsty?

One of the most important things you can do not only when you find yourself toothbrush-less, but every day, is drink plenty of water. Water hydrates your mouth and is a safe way to rinse away smile-damaging particles that tend to stick around.

If you find yourself without a toothbrush, don’t panic. The tips above can get you through a night or two without one, just don’t make them permanent replacements for a real toothbrush. Get to the store to pick up a new one as soon as you can.

As always, we encourage visits to my dental office in Saint Louis regularly to ensure a healthy smile and to check for any problems. If you’re heading out of town and want to get a checkup before you leave, just give us a call. We’ll be happy to help.

Welcoming patients from Saint Louis, Affton, and Webster Grove.

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brushatworkThere’s been a debate about whether or not it’s acceptable to brush your teeth at work following lunch or snacks. Is it gross to brush in the office bathroom? What do co-workers think about those who do? Is there any reason we should even consider doing this? At my Saint Louis dental office, we’d like to weigh in and explain why we’re absolute supporters of brushing at work.

When it comes to great oral health, one constant is brushing at least twice a day. However, while it’s common to do this at home in the comfort of your own bathroom, there is a huge benefit to storing a toothbrush and toothpaste at work to use after lunch.

After eating, even when all evidence of food is gone, there are still particles lurking in the mouth. If not scrubbed away, these particles contribute to decay and even gum disease. But if you brush following a meal, the chance for dental problems greatly decreases. Not only will following this routine help keep your mouth healthy, it can help keep your career intact too.

Healthy Mouth, Healthy Job

We aren’t saying that your healthy mouth will ensure job happiness or will give you immunity from a demotion, but we will confidently say your oral hygiene may directly affect the opinion of co-workers, bosses, or, if you’re looking for a job, a hiring manager.

According to a study of 1,000 people by the Academy of General Dentistry and Oral-B that asked respondents about oral health care habits at work, the majority did not brush after eating (a whopping 86%) but still said a healthy smile was important in the workplace.

Check This Out

  • 40% said a smile was the first thing they noticed about a co-worker
  • 32% claimed bad breath was the least attractive trait of fellow employees
  • 96% believe a good smile is very or somewhat important to a person’s appearance

If you’re a bit uneasy about brushing in public, don’t be. The workplace is changing and it’s becoming increasingly common for employees to brush in the bathroom. Many bosses actually prefer this over meeting a client with awful breath or missing work time for dental problems. So go ahead, brush away!

Packing a toothbrush in your briefcase and transitioning into this routine of proper oral health care can keep your smile healthy for years to come. Pair that with regular visits to my dental office in Saint Louis and you’re well on your way to a happy mouth and happy co-workers.

 

Accepting patients from Saint Louis, Affton, and Webster Grove.