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Lucy Beaman Hobbs, the first woman to receive a Doctor of Dentistry degree, was quite the trailblazer. Her difficult journey of success inspired more women to get their degree. When Hobbs first applied to the Eclectic Medical School in Cincinnati she was rejected, and the college suggested she apply to dental school instead. She was rejected from Ohio’s program as well, but this time she remained determined to achieve her goal. She was offered the opportunity to train alongside other professional dentists–including Ohio College of Dental Surgery’s dean of students, Jonathan Taft. Eventually, she did what many people chose to do at the time and opened up her own practice where she performed dental work even without a license or official degree (not something we’d recommend to anyone nowadays, but not an uncommon practice at the time).  


Her practice in Iowa was very profitable and highly regarded. So much so in fact, that the Iowa State Dental Society admitted her as a member. A decision that soon later inspired Ohio College to change their minds. They admitted Hobbs, and in recognition of the work she had already shown herself well capable of doing, they expedited her coursework. She graduated with her Doctorate of Dental surgery after only one year. Hobbs later married, taught her husband dentistry, and they opened their own practice in Kansas. Hobbs worked as a dentist, and a women’s rights advocate until she died in 1910. Uncompromising, intelligent, and fearless Hobbs remains one of the most inspiring dentists in history!

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President Truman had a very interesting relationship with the field of dentistry. In 1948 the president signed the bill that created the National Institute of Dental Research, which initiated federal funding for dental research (American Dental Association Dental History Timeline). He paved the way for groundbreaking dental research and technology. But the president wasn’t only interested in providing great dental care to his constituents. He also took his own oral health very seriously. He regularly scheduled check-ups and cleanings–though he did receive many fillings over the years.


It wasn’t all hard work and dedication though. President Truman did find some time to have fun with his smile. While at a press interview the president shocked the reporters by removing his temporary crowns with his tongue and presenting a gap-toothed smile! You can read more about the dental practices of various presidents, in this Chicago Tribune article.

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My name is Dr. Tarah Ridenbark. I am happy to announce I am joining the fantastic team at Healthy Smiles full time! I have met many of you already, but for those I have not, I cannot wait to meet you. Before I do, I thought you might like to learn a few things about me. I am from the small town of Staunton, Illinois where I grew up on a farm raising various animals and growing crops. I have a wonderful, large family of two older brothers and two younger sisters. And I have recently been promoted to auntie!  As a child I enjoyed trips to the dentist and knew that’s what I wanted to do. I received my Associates of Applied Science from Lewis and Clark Community College, Bachelors of Science in Biology from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and my Doctorate of Dental Medicine from Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine. During dental school I was able to provide many hours of community service and education, and continue to volunteer in the community when I can. I also had the opportunity to attend a mission trip to Jamaica, where dental care was provided to thousands of people in need. I intend to volunteer for more missions trips in the future.

I have enjoyed following in the footsteps of Dr. Flavin by participating in the Give Kids A Smile organization.What I like most about dentistry is the ability to communicate with and educate my patients about their dental health and improving their oral condition. I pride myself in being an accessible and personable professional, dedicated to the care of my patients.  Dr. Flavin has been a wonderful mentor to me during my time at Healthy Smiles. Not only has he taught me about dentistry, but his compassion toward each and every patient has made a huge impact on how I practice dentistry. I intend to follow the same practice philosophy and treat each patient as family, just as he has done for many yearsIn my free time I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and traveling.  I am a big fan of the Harry Potter book series, Taylor Swift, and the St. Louis Blues. Most of all I love spending time with my dog, Doc, and fiancé, Tyler. I look forward to seeing you in the office, and in the community. Please do not hesitate to say hello!

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Even though coffee stains our teeth and weakens our enamel it can be really tough to go without our morning cup–or cups! In fact, according to a study done by the National Coffee Association, 64% of Americans drink at least one cup of coffee a day. Check out our tips below to learn how to protect your teeth without giving up America’s favorite drink!

  1. Drink in moderation. Keeping your coffee consumption below 5 cups a day can help prevent serious damage to your teeth. But it’s still enough to get all the awesome health benefits that come with drinking a few cups of coffee a day, like a reduced risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease!
  2. Your enamel has been softened by the acidity in the coffee, so give it some time to strengthen up before you brush your teeth. About 30 minutes should do the trick!
  3. Don’t sip! The longer it takes to drink your coffee the more time it has to damage your teeth.
  4. Try an electric toothbrush! Electric toothbrushes are more effective than regular toothbrushes at cleaning away surface stains from your teeth.
  5. Brush, floss, and use mouthwash regularly! You should brush your teeth twice a day, floss once and day, and use mouthwash after each time you brush!
  6. Visit your dentist regularly! You should get your teeth cleaned professionally every 6 months. A professional cleaning will help reduce staining, as well as protect you from other health risks such as gum disease!
  7. Finally, if your teeth still aren’t as white as you’d like them to be, ask your dentist about whitening options that won’t ruin your enamel.


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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!



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


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.