What Are the Benefits of Regular Periodontal Maintenance?

When you think of dental care, you probably think of brushing and flossing regularly and visiting your dentist twice a year. While these habits certainly help establish the foundation for good dental health, they only begin to scratch the surface. There’s a lot more to maintaining healthy teeth and gums than simply covering the basics.

This is where periodontal maintenance comes in. Regular periodontal maintenance plays a key role in enhancing your overall gum and bone health. This procedure also goes above and beyond routine dental cleanings to keep gum disease at bay. If you’re ready to give your smile the boost it needs, here is everything you need to know about periodontal maintenance.

Periodontal Maintenance vs. Regular Cleanings: What’s the Difference?

Periodontal maintenance, also known as deep cleaning, is a special dental cleaning procedure that typically occurs more frequently than a regular cleaning. While a standard dental visit is normally scheduled every six months, periodontal care tends to takes place every three to four months.

Regular dental cleanings are also preventive, while periodontal maintenance targets existing dental issues. The goal of this procedure is to get to the root of gum problems and prevent periodontal disease from advancing. If you currently have gum disease, it’s crucial to schedule periodontal care on a regular basis to keep your gum and bone health in optimal condition.

Benefits of Periodontal Maintenance

Stopping by your dentist’s office for regular periodontal care can lead to incredible benefits. Here are some of the main ways a deep cleaning can transform your smile for the better.

1. Slowed Progression of Gum Disease

The most important benefit of regular periodontal maintenance is slowing the progression of gum disease. Periodontal care is typically recommended to dental patients who have already been diagnosed with gum disease and need rigorous treatment to address the problem. Fortunately, periodontal treatment sessions can help prevent gum issues from becoming more severe.

It’s important to remember that a single periodontal maintenance therapy session isn’t enough to tackle chronic gum problems. To properly protect your teeth and gums from further damage, be sure to schedule periodontal care at least every three to four months.

2. Thorough Plaque Removal

Over time, plaque and tartar build up on the surface of your teeth, which can lead to gum disease and other forms of damage. While regular brushing and flossing can help slow down the accumulation of plaque, it’s a good idea to supplement with professional periodontal maintenance therapy to remove any unwanted buildup.

Periodontal treatment is so thorough that it targets various other dental problems as well. Through the use of specialized dental equipment and techniques, periodontal experts can effectively remove bacteria, gum pocket deposits and other forms of debris that have built up on your teeth.

3. Fresher Breath

One of the most common symptoms of periodontal disease is bad breath, also known as halitosis. This occurs when food particles that are trapped below your gum line begin to rot. Over time, hidden particles of food can lead to gum infection and other types of periodontal issues.

During periodontal maintenance therapy, a skilled hygienist will thoroughly remove any plaque, tartar, hidden food particles or other forms of debris from your teeth. This process helps to alleviate any existing irritation and keeps further problems at bay. The result is fresher, cleaner breath that gives you a healthy and rejuvenated feel.

4. Aesthetic Appeal

Periodontal care doesn’t only keep your teeth clean and healthy. This dental cleaning also plays a key role in promoting a more polished smile. Oftentimes, people who struggle with periodontal disease have yellowed, stained teeth that they may try to hide in photos or even when they’re talking to other people.

Fortunately, regular periodontal maintenance can help restore your confidence in your smile. Once you’ve parted ways with harmful buildup, your teeth will take on a new, radiant look that you’ll want to show off to everyone you see.

5. Stronger Teeth

If you let your dental problems persist, they may become serious enough that your teeth begin to fall out. There are a number of reasons this may happen, including periodontal disease, cavities, recessed gums, poor dental hygiene and a decline in bone strength. It’s crucial to take the right precautions to keep your teeth strong and guard them against decay.

Periodontal treatment is designed for this exact purpose. By cleaning up any lingering debris and addressing existing gum issues, periodontal maintenance experts allow you to maintain stronger teeth that are less likely to fall out. This is vital to keeping your smile healthier overall.

6. Reduced Risk of Infection

One of the goals of periodontal care is to reduce the depth of pockets in your gums. If these pockets are left untreated, they will continue to deepen, causing bacteria to accumulate inside your gums. This bacteria may then begin to travel through your bloodstream, where it can spread and infect other areas of your body.

By curbing the growth of harmful bacteria, periodontal maintenance can significantly reduce the risk of infection. This helps to promote optimal health and well-being overall. The next time you schedule a periodontal appointment, think about all the good you’re doing for your entire body—not just your pearly whites.

Be Proactive About Your Dental Health

When you’re diligent about keeping your teeth and gums in good shape, you help build the foundation for better dental health. Don’t put off periodontal maintenance therapy if you have existing gum damage or notice signs of periodontal disease. The earlier you take action, the easier it will be to address any issues you have and prevent your gum disease from advancing.

Once you’re ready to give your smile the care it needs, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kevin F. Postol. His unwavering commitment to high-quality dental care ensures that you’re in good hands. Our team is eager to learn more about your needs and give you the smile you deserve.

How Does Invisalign Work?

Traditional braces involved metal wires, headgear, rubber bands and visits to the orthodontist that left your mouth sore afterward. Adults who need braces often choose crooked teeth over a mouth full of metal. However, technological advancements have replaced the metal wires with clear, removable braces. Dr. Kevin F. Postol and his team set you up with clear braces that gradually adjust your teeth, offering minimal pain and discomfort.

While they might work gradually, clear braces are more efficient than traditional braces. Typically, they straighten your teeth within six months or less. No one will notice that you’re wearing braces–and when you need to floss or brush your teeth, they detach in seconds. Schedule an appointment to talk about starting an Invisalign regimen.

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign braces are clear aligners that fit directly over your teeth. Each aligner is custom made to fit your teeth while applying a slight pressure. As you wear the aligners, the pressure gradually straightens your teeth. You’ll use multiple aligners over the course of the treatment. Invisalign braces are removable, non-invasive and virtually invisible, allowing you to correct your teeth in adulthood without feeling self-conscious.

What Are the Benefits of Invisalign?

Here’s why patients prefer Invisalign over metal braces:

  • Invisalign is invisible–no metal bands or wires that everyone notices immediately. You can go to work, attend school and smile in photographs, and no one will notice the difference.
  • Invisalign is safer and more comfortable than traditional braces. When an orthodontist installs metal braces on your teeth, you have to return periodically to get your braces tightened, making your mouth sore again. Plus, loose wires and brackets can injure the inside of your mouth.
  • Invisalign is removable so you can take out the aligners to brush and floss your teeth. You won’t have to brush around metal brackets and hope you don’t get cavities.
  • Invisalign fits directly over your teeth. Since you don’t have complicated metal brackets and wires, food particles won’t get trapped in your teeth and cause tooth decay.

Do You Qualify for Invisalign?

Many patients choose Invisalign simply because they want a better smile. If you have crooked or uneven teeth, Invisalign straightens your teeth and improves their appearance. However, your dentist might recommend Invisalign if you suffer from certain conditions like overbites, underbites, teeth crowding, jaw pain, bone loss and sleep disorders. You’ll improve your health and enjoy a straighter smile at the same time.

While Invisalign is popular with adults, children and teenagers also choose Invisalign as an alternative to metal braces. Traditional braces are painful and unattractive, which makes children feel self-conscious. Invisalign is virtually invisible–in fact, no one will know that your child’s undergoing treatment. They’ll feel increasingly confident as they watch their teeth become straight and even.

Is Invisalign as Effective as Traditional Braces?

Invisalign is actually more effective than traditional braces. While metal braces take up to four years to straighten your teeth, Invisalign corrects your teeth in two years or less. In fact, some patients end their treatment after six months. You’ll enjoy the benefits of traditional braces with none of the metal brackets, wires, rubber bands or cement.

How Does Invisalign Work?

Here’s what happens when you undergo Invisalign treatments:

  1. You’ll set up an appointment with our team. When you arrive, we’ll take impressions of your teeth that we’ll use to craft the aligners.
  2. We’ll create a set of dental trays and give them to you at your next appointment. You’ll use these trays one at a time until you’ve completed your treatment.
  3. To start, you’ll wear the first set of aligners. The aligners apply pressure to your teeth that gradually makes them shift.
  4. After a certain time frame, you’ll swap out the trays for the next set of aligners. These aligners continue to apply pressure to your teeth, straightening them even further.
  5. You’ll continue the process until you’ve used all the trays. Periodically, you’ll return to our office to see how your treatment is going.
  6. At the end, you’ll have straight teeth, better health and less discomfort.

We’ll discuss the process in more detail when you arrive for your consultation.

How Do You Get the Most Out of Invisalign?

While Invisalign is faster and more comfortable than other treatments, you’ll still need to stay on track to make it work. Wear your Invisalign trays for at least twenty hours day, and remove them only for brief periods, like when you brush your teeth. Swap out the trays according to schedule to keep straightening your teeth. If you stop wearing the aligners too early or take them out too often, your teeth will remain crooked.

Does Invisalign Come with Any Risks?

Invisalign is a non-invasive procedure that comes with few risks. At most, you might notice a slight lisp when you first start wearing your aligners. In rare cases, you could damage the aligners if you clench your teeth hard enough. Let us know if you have a polyurethane allergy that makes you ineligible for Invisalign. Otherwise, slight discomfort is the most you’ll experience during your treatment.

How Do You Get Started?

When you’re ready to straighten your teeth, contact us to set up an appointment. We’ll discuss your options and decide if Invisalign is the best treatment for you. If you qualify, we’ll move onto the next steps and start treatment as soon as possible. With Invisalign, you may enjoy a brighter, straighter smile in two years or less.

Other services at our clinic include X-rays, screenings, preventive cleanings, cavity fillings, crowns, bridges, sealants and cosmetic dentistry. We serve patients at every age–children, teenagers, adults and the elderly. If you have anxiety about visiting the dentist, we’ll employ relaxation dentistry techniques that keep you calm during your visit.

Call our office, or request an appointment online to get started. We’re accepting new and returning patients. If we ask you to fill out forms before your visit, print them directly from our website and bring the forms when you arrive.

Sleep Apnea: Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Sleep apnea is a condition that blocks the airway during sleep, forcing you to wake up several times in the middle of the night to begin breathing again. It’s often accompanied by loud snoring and can make it unpleasant for your partner, who’s unable to sleep due to your snores. Millions of Americans suffer from sleep apnea and aren’t getting the quality of restorative sleep they could be.

You may be surprised to learn that dentists are able to treat sleep apnea. Dr. Kevin F. Postol has been treating patients with sleep apnea for over 15 years with a success rate of over 85%. It’s even possible to have your treatment covered by your medical insurance if you’re diagnosed by your primary care physician.

How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

There are two ways you can be tested for sleep apnea. You can obtain a home sleep apnea test if you’d prefer to test yourself in the comfort of your own bed or to conduct a sleep study in a lab. During the study, you’re observed during a full night while equipment monitors your breathing patterns, when you wake up and if your oxygen levels drop while you’re sleeping.

There are three types of sleep apnea you might be diagnosed with:

  • Central sleep apnea: Patients suffering from central sleep apnea have open airways, but their lungs aren’t drawing air during sleep. The problem is the brain’s control over their lungs or diaphragm and not the position of the jaw or tongue.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea: Patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea have lungs that function as they should, but their airways are blocked, depriving them of the oxygen they need. They may wake up for several moments, adjust the position of their jaw or tongue and be able to breathe again before falling back asleep.
  • Mixed sleep apnea: This form of sleep apnea has symptoms of the other two, which means the brain isn’t communicating with the lungs well and there’s an obstruction in the airway.

Traditional Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea

A doctor may recommend a treatment plan based on the type and severity of your sleep apnea. In many cases, patients are prescribed a device called a CPAP machine. The machine keeps your airway open through the night by delivering enough air to your lungs to keep your airway open. Many patients are uncomfortable with devices covering their faces while they try to sleep and view CPAP machines as a hassle.

Sometimes, patients might need surgery. Surgical procedures may remove tissue in your mouth or airway, stimulate the nervous system, create a new path for air to travel through or insert implants into the patient’s soft palate. Surgical intervention should always be seen as a last resort.

An alternative to CPAP machines many patients consider is the use of oral appliances to reposition the jaw and keep the airway open through the night. An oral appliance is more comfortable, less invasive and easier to use than a CPAP machine and can be just as effective in many cases.

Types of Oral Appliances

Dr. Kevin F. Postol offers five types of oral appliances to treat sleep apnea. What’s most effective varies by patient, so Dr. Postol will help determine which type of appliance is most comfortable and efficient for you. All of the appliances we use to treat sleep apnea are custom made so they’ll fit your mouth correctly. Our most popular options are the following:

TAP ® 3 Appliance

This option treats obstructive sleep apnea and works regardless of how severe your condition may be. The appliance works by aligning the upper and lower jaw with a small hook and socket. You can adjust the adjustment using a key so that you can adapt gradually and avoid overstraining your jaw while it adjusts over time. Patients like this device due to how easy it is to adjust and that they’re able to manage adjustments on their own.

EMA Appliance

The EMA is custom fit to your mouth and designed to be worn over your teeth. It’s ideal if you have a small mouth because the plastic straps are thinner than the material used in other appliances. You can use five different strap lengths over time to adjust the position of your jaw during sleep as time goes on. It can’t be adjusted as well as alternative appliances can and the plastic isn’t as durable as the materials other appliances are made from.

Herbst Oral Appliance

The Herbst OA is made of acrylic and supported by a metal frame. It can be adjusted using pistons and tubes on the side of the device. Because it allows you to move your jaw more freely, Dr. Postol recommends this option to patients who grind their teeth at night. While you’re still able to open your mouth partially, the rubber bands in the device prevent your jaw from falling completely open. Patients report feeling more comfortable when using this device.

How to Pay for an Oral Appliance with Insurance

Sleep apnea is considered a medical condition, so if you’ve been diagnosed and referred by a physician, it’s possible to have your health insurance billed for your oral appliance instead of using dental insurance or paying out of pocket. Dr. Postol is a part of the Cigna and United Healthcare networks and works with Medicare too. Our team can help you file a claim to see if your insurance will cover the cost of your oral appliance.

Learn More About Oral Devices

Dr. Kevin F. Postol has been treating sleep apnea for over 15 years and his patients see a success rate of over 85% in improved quality of sleep and reduced symptoms. If you’ve been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, he can help you get a better night’s sleep with the right oral appliance. Contact us today to arrange an appointment so that we can review your treatment options and decide what’s right for you.

Knowing When You Need Emergency Dental Care

While dental care is often considered a luxury, this couldn’t be further from medical reality. In truth, dentistry is so vital to your general health that it may be the oldest form of medicine. Tooth and gum problems can be terribly detrimental to your comfort and quality of life, and infections can quickly spread from these locations to your airways. It’s essential to know when your toothache, sore, or other issue constitutes a dental emergency and what to do when you experience one of these issues.

Common Dental Emergencies and How to Handle Them

Some of the most common dental emergencies include:

  • Severe toothaches
  • Knocked out, chipped, or otherwise damaged teeth
  • Infections
  • Harm to the soft tissues of the mouth

While just about everyone has had some mouth sores or minor tooth pain at one point or another, what separates these incidents from dental emergencies is a matter of degrees. Most situations where you’ll require emergency dental care will accompany severe pain, although there are some exceptions to this rule. In particular, severe toothache pain stopping suddenly is actually indicative of greater danger than the pain you were previously experiencing.

The approach from one dental health incident to the next varies considerably, but there are a few rules of thumb that you can consistently rely upon. For instance, do not use aspirin to treat pain associated with any mouth problem that includes bleeding. Aspirin prevents blood from clotting, so even a relatively small amount of blood flow could grow into something serious after taking aspirin. Likewise, never assume that oral pain is unserious; anything that affects the mouth can quickly spread elsewhere.

Oral Infections

Pain and swelling of the gums are the telltale signs that you have some sort of oral infection. If you see numerous, small marks around the gums, that indicates you have a tooth infection. When this spreads or you have widespread swelling of the gums, then the gums themselves have developed an infection and you might have inflammatory gum disease.

In any event, you shouldn’t respond to any sort of oral infection with home remedies or by hoping that it goes away on its own. These infections can cause lasting damage, and it’s even possible for an oral abscess to travel to the brain and become potentially life-threatening. If you suspect you have an oral infection, you should schedule an emergency appointment with Dr. Kevin F. Postol.

Cracked Teeth

When physical trauma damages your tooth, the proper response varies depending on the extent of the damage. If only the enamel is chipped and none of the underlying materials experience exposure, then it’s not an emergency at all. While you’ll need to take care to avoid putting pressure on the tooth and should seek a professional opinion, there’s no urgent risk.

However, emergency dental care is absolutely necessary if the interior of the tooth is exposed. If there’s visible red inside the tooth, that means that the sensitive pulp has no protection from bacteria. Without urgent care, you’ll have a high risk of infection.

Knocked-Out Teeth

When a tooth is knocked out, you should attempt to preserve the tooth as well as possible. Pick it up by the crown, avoiding the root and attempt to insert it back into your gums and secure it there with gauze or cloth. If it’s impossible to reinsert, then placing the tooth in milk will help expand its life and increase the odds of a successful reimplantation. The longer you take to receive care, the slimmer the success rate for saving the tooth becomes.

Soft Tissue Damage

When it comes to the mouth, soft tissue damage can take many forms. Common sores, scratches, and burns from eating excessively hot food technically qualify, but are unserious. What’s more worrisome is fluid-filled abscesses and swelling that’s either highly painful, or sufficiently severe in itself as to be externally visible when your mouth is closed.

Sudden Toothache

Relatively small issues such as trapped food particles can cause significant tooth discomfort. Before assuming that your toothache is a sign of an infection, try cleaning the area. Brush your teeth and use a saltwater mouthwash to flush the area and see if that relieves the pain. If it does, then your toothache is likely not serious. On the other hand, persistent pain can indicate a deeper problem that warrants emergency dental care.

If the pain suddenly stops without any apparent reason, that’s not a cause for relief. This is because the most likely reason for a severe toothache subsiding on its own is nerve death. Rather than indicating that the problem has undergone remission, the problem has killed the tooth nerve and pain signals can no longer transmit to your nervous system. Without the sensation of pain, you could easily ignore the problem until it grows into something much more severe. In this event, seek an examination and the advice of a dentist such as Dr. Postol.

Preventing Dental Emergencies From Arising

Many people are going to need emergency dental care throughout their lives, but you can minimize these risks by taking good care of your teeth. Brush daily, floss frequently, and avoid putting your teeth at risk with your diet or lifestyle choices. Some of the ways that you can minimize the likelihood you’ll need emergency dental care include:

  • Practice good dental hygiene
  • Reduce consumption of sugary and acidic foods
  • Protective measures, such as wearing mouthguards while playing sports
  • Schedule routine dental care

While you can reduce your odds of needing urgent dental care, no one is immune to infections and accidents. When you find that you need emergency dental care, reach out to the office of Dr. Kevin F. Postol for responsive, first-class treatment.

Bleeding Gums: Causes and Symptoms

You may be brushing or flossing one day and notice a little pink on your toothbrush or floss or in the sink. It might cause you to wonder why this is happening and what has caused bleeding gums. Knowing the causes and symptoms of bleeding gums will help you learn more about bleeding gums in general and bleeding gums treatment options.

Bleeding of the gums is sometimes referred to as gingival bleeding, and it may occur during brushing or flossing. Certain dental conditions cause bleeding gums and make them more sensitive and prone to bleeding. The truth is that some causes are more serious than others and some warrant a trip to your dentist while others can be managed by you at home.

Causes

First, you should know that bleeding gums is not routine or normal and should always be cause for concern. If left unchecked, it may be hazardous to your mouth and dental health. The only time it’s considered normal and usual is if you’ve started a new flossing or brushing routine, but it should only go on for about a week or so. One cause may be due to the early onset of Gingivitis. Take note if your gums bleed after daily flossing and report it to your dentist. If left untreated, Gingivitis can develop into more pronounced problems such as periodontitis (inflammation around the tooth) and advanced periodontitis. Additional causes of bleeding gums are as follows:

  • Brushing too hard or your toothbrush isn’t soft enough
  • New flossing routine
  • Taking certain medications
  • Have inflamed gums because you’re pregnant (Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can cause the gums to be more sensitive.)
  • Have dentures that don’t fit well
  • Inadequate plaque removal
  • Bleeding or swollen gums can be a warning sign of type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Bleeding disorders like hemophilia and leukemia
  • Stress or poor diet

It’s in your best interest to determine the cause and figure out if it’s a simple fix or a sign of a health condition you need to get checked out and address.

Symptoms

There are also symptoms of bleeding gums to be aware of so you can take action quickly if you notice these signs. For instance, inflamed and irritated gums when brushing or flossing may be gingivitis, which is the first stage of gum disease. Gingivitis is usually a painless condition and bleeding gums may be the only symptom. You should also look out for symptoms such as, swollen, red, or tender gums, persistent bad breath or taste, teeth that are loose, and a change in the way your teeth fit when you bite. You should also be on the lookout for mouth sores or lumps on your gums.

Periodontal disease (periodontitis) can occur when gingivitis becomes advanced. Periodontitis can cause your teeth to loosen or fall out. It’s an infection of the gums, jawbone, and supportive tissues that connect your teeth and gums. Signs and symptoms of periodontitis include, swollen or puffy gyms, bleeding gums, bad breath, and gums that feel tender when touched.

Treatment Options

The first step you should take when managing bleeding gums is to practice good dental hygiene daily. You must commit to brushing twice per day using a soft toothbrush and floss at least once per day. You might also consider using an electric toothbrush that can help you to clean your gum line more easily than a manual toothbrush. Proper brushing and flossing can remove plaque from your gum line and reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.

There are preventative actions you can take at home as part of your overall dental routine. Brushing your teeth daily should be automatic for you. Brushing should be done in a circular motion, for two minutes, spending an equal amount of time in each part of the mouth. Floss at least once per day and follow the curve of your teeth to avoid damaging the gums.

Dental visits are an excellent way to take preventative action against bleeding gums. Dr. Kevin F. Postol will perform an oral exam and can identify any signs of gum disease early on before it progresses. The cleaning entails removing plaque from your teeth in hard-to-reach areas. If you notice any of the signs and symptoms of bleeding gums or that a health condition is causing them then it’s best to schedule an appointment, outside of the recommended twice per year professional cleanings. Dr. Postol can review with you the best ways to brush and floss your teeth and check for signs of gingivitis.

Even if you have reached the advanced stages of gum disease, there is still time to fix the damage. Dr. Postol may perform scaling or root planning to treat advanced periodontitis. The goal and what these procedures will do is to remove the bacteria or plaque that caused the gum disease in the first place.

Next Steps

Regular dental visits are essential for early detection of gum disease, which will give you a better chance of reversing the damage already done. We are one of the best around when it comes to dental care and addressing bleeding gums. Do you have bleeding gums that won’t go away and want an opinion about what may be causing the bleeding? We invite you to schedule an appointment with Dr. Postol for bleeding gums treatment today.

At Kevin Postol, DDS, Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, our caring dental team is experienced in all areas of dentistry. We offer restorative and cosmetic dentistry, using state-of-the-art dental techniques and a gentle touch to improve your general health and quality of life.

Each time you enter our dental office, you will be welcomed warmly and sincerely. We understand that choosing a new dentist can be a challenge, leaving you with some uncertain feelings. If the value you place on your teeth and health coincides with our beliefs in quality dentistry and the prevention of dental disease, a mutually rewarding relationship should evolve for both parties. Contact us to schedule an appointment today!

What is Periodontal Therapy?

While the vast majority of patients understand the dangers caries pose to their oral health, there’s less understanding of periodontal disease – a condition that affects the gums.

You can think of periodontitis as a more serious and entrenched form of gingivitis. While the latter tends to affect only the superficial gum tissues, periodontitis goes deeper and can damage the roots of teeth, and even the jawbone. Furthermore, the inflammation it produces is systemic, meaning that it can lead to serious health issues elsewhere in the body, including the heart.

Fortunately, periodontal therapy can help. The goal of these treatments is to eliminate disease-causing bacteria and return your mouth to normality.

Periodontal Therapy Procedures

Periodontal therapy isn’t a single procedure. Instead, it’s a bundle of interventions, both surgical and non-surgical, that aim to address the underlying cause of the periodontal disease.

Pocket Reduction Procedures

During the course of periodontal infections, the gum can develop “pockets” – small flaps of gum that pull away from the teeth.

Pockets are problematic because food can become trapped inside them easily, leading to further infections and preventing healing. Pocket reduction surgery seeks to reduce or eliminate the size of the gap between tooth and gum, preventing recurrence.

Gum Grafting

Gum grafting is a procedure that involves taking tissue from one part of the mouth and surgically implanting them in another. Typically, dentists will use gum grafting to extend gums in patients with severe recession, but it can also be a powerful tool in the fight against periodontal disease. Gum grafts can extend the reach of the gum, allowing it to create a tighter collar around the tooth, preventing future bacterial infiltration.

Ridge Augmentation

Ridge augmentation is a technique that helps to reverse depressions in the gum line resulting from trauma, tooth loss, and decay. The soft tissue version of the procedure takes tissues from other parts of the mouth, similar to a gum graft, and stitches them in the target location. The synthetic version uses grafts which act as scaffolds, encouraging the regrowth of the surrounding tissue.

Crown Lengthening

Crown lengthening surgery is a popular procedure that involves reducing the area of the crown covered by gum and bone tissue. Patients get it to make their smiles appear more symmetrical or less gummy or to help with the fitting and securing of new dental crowns.

Periodontal Laser Treatments

Periodontal laser treatments are a range of therapies that use non-surgical laser-based techniques to excise infected tissue and restore your gum line to health. They involve pointing a beam of light at the affected tissue (including below the gum line), sweeping out bacteria, and creating a barrier between healthy and diseased tissue. The benefits are improved healing times and less gum shrinkage compared to traditional therapies.

Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and root planing use dental instruments to remove plaque and tartar buildup below the gumline. We use both ultrasonic instruments and hand scalers to get rid of calculus and remove bacterial buildup, providing the gum with an opportunity to heal.

Periodontal Cosmetic Surgery

Periodontal cosmetic surgery involves any treatment to enhance the appearance of the gums and surrounding tissue. Examples include many of the techniques listed here, including gum grafts and crown lengthening.

What Are The Benefits Of Periodontal Therapy?

Periodontal therapy offers a set of potent techniques. But what are the specific benefits?

A More Beautiful Smile

When it comes to beautiful smiles, the vast majority of people focus on the teeth. However, gums matter too. If you have indentations or depressions in your gum line or an undesirable tooth-to-gum ratio, then it can make you feel self-conscious. Periodontal therapy deals with these issues, restoring balance to your aesthetic.

Fresher Breath

Periodontal disease is not only incredibly painful, but it can also lead to bad breath. Bacteria beneath the surface of the gum continually churn out foul-smelling sulfurous compounds. And because they make their home below the gum line, you can’t sweep them out by cleaning your teeth.

Periodontal therapy deals with halitosis (or bad breath) by removing bacterial buildup below the gumline and preventing it from recurring in the future. Scaling and root planing combined with excellent oral hygiene foster natural healing.

Reduced Pain

Once you’ve had a periodontal infection, it can be hard to forget. The gum will often swell, and it will ache terribly. In some cases, over-the-counter painkillers are not effective.

If you have an active infection, we will take a two-pronged approach. First, we prescribe antibiotics to eliminate the infection. Then we consult with you about the best approach you can take to prevent the disease from recurring in the future.

Removal Of Plaque And Tartar Beneath The Gumline

Regular brushing removes plaque and tartar from teeth above the gum line, but it can’t address issues around the roots. Because of that, once periodontitis begins, it seldom resolves on its own.

Periodontal therapies address the cause of periodontitis by removing bacteria and their waste products below the gumline. Scaling uses physical tools to remove any calculus from the surface of teeth, leaving them healthy.

Identify Health Problems

Lastly, periodontal conditions can sometimes reveal important information about your overall state of health. It could be an early warning sign of chronic diseases such as diabetes.

Schedule An Appointment

If you have a problem with your gums, then schedule an appointment for periodontal therapy with Dr. Kevin F. Postol today. He has more than a quarter-century of experience and can help keep your mouth healthier for longer. Contact us today!

CPAP Alternatives for Sleep Apnea Treatment

Sleep apnea is a condition in which the airway becomes occluded during sleep, reducing airflow. In some patients, the blocking of the airway is partial, leading to loud snoring. In others, it can occlude entirely, activating the body’s stress response and causing the patient to startle awake to resume normal breathing.

Sleep apnea is difficult to diagnose because it occurs when a person is in an unconscious state. Often, the only sign of sleep apnea is waking up in the morning feeling groggy, as if you have not had a proper night of rest. Unfortunately, if you allow the condition to continue long-term, it can lead to several severe health issues, including problems concentrating, irregular heartbeat, headaches, and, in some extreme cases, heart attack.

Currently, CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is a popular treatment method that seeks to manage sleep apnea symptoms and facilitate better rest. The device uses a mask connected to a pump that maintains mild positive air pressure in the airways at all times, preventing occlusion.

Generally, the therapy is the most recommended treatment option for obstructive sleep apnea patients, but it comes with some drawbacks. The main issue is the feeling of claustrophobia that many patients get when wearing the CPAP mask. Covering the mouth and nose leads to the sensation of being enclosed – not something that patients want when trying to get a restful night’s sleep. Furthermore, CPAP can lead to nasal congestion and a runny nose – an annoying side effect for a surprisingly large number of sleep apnea patients.

Alternatives To CPAP Treatment

Fortunately, several appliances can alleviate symptoms of sleep apnea for patients who can’t tolerate CPAP machines. Many of these options are non-invasive and simply insert into the mouth at night.

Dr. Kevin F. Postol offer three devices that function as CPAP alternatives: EMA, the TAP 3, and the Herbst OA. Tap 3 is a proven treatment for patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. The device works by attaching the top and bottom of the jaw via a small hook. The on-board key allows patients to adjust the guard’s position incrementally until they achieve the desired position.

The Tap 3 is famously non-invasive and has a compliance rate of around 95 percent. Patients can continue adjusting the key until the appliance is wholly closed inside their mouth,

The Herbst OA works on a similar principle but uses a set of pistons that slide within a tube instead. The device provides the user with a high degree of freedom, allowing them to move the jaw slightly while also protecting against teeth grinding. Durable elastic bands on the device prevent the jaw from flopping open during sleep (which could put them at risk of experiencing sleep apnea symptoms).

Oral appliances work by moving the lower jaw forward to ease the airflow and prevent the airway from becoming blocked by the tongue or soft palate. They fit very similarly to mouthguards, allowing you to insert and remove them whenever you like.

The Effectiveness Of CPAP Alternatives

While CPAP machines are the current go-to device for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), oral appliance therapy is also highly effective and may have greater compliance. According to data from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, devices like TAP 3 and Herbst OA have a 40 percent success rate among patients with severe OSA and a 60 to 75 rate of success for those with mild to moderate symptoms.

Thus, Dr. Postol typically recommend oral appliance therapy for patients with mild sleep apnea over and above CPAP as a first line of treatment. CPAP alternatives are much quieter and more comfortable, and they do not rely on the maintenance of positive air pressure, which can feel upsetting to some patients.

Interestingly, even those who just snore (and don’t have sleep apnea) can benefit tremendously from oral appliances. Around 85 percent of snorers who receive this type of therapy experience quieter, higher-quality sleep.

Who Are CPAP Alternatives For?

Primarily CPAP alternatives are for patients who refuse or cannot tolerate CPAP or for whom CPAP fails. It is an excellent choice for anyone with low tolerance of nasal CPAP or who primarily wants something that they can use during travel for mild to moderate OSA (or snoring).

What Are The Side Effects Or Oral Appliance Therapy?

Oral appliance therapy is a low-risk treatment. However, you may experience some transient symptoms as you adjust the device. Because the prosthetic changes the lower jaw’s position, it is not uncommon for patients to experience some tension after wearing it for a prolonged period. For the same reason, it can also lead to sore gums and teeth.

Some symptoms are more dangerous than others. If you experience permanent changes in your bite or lose your dental crowns and bridges, you’ll need to talk to Dr. Postol as soon as possible.

Is Oral Appliance Therapy Better Than Surgery?

Surgery is widely considered the last resort for sleep apnea treatment, even though it is often touted to cure it. However, there are some drawbacks. As patients get older, the skin at the back of the throat relaxes. This natural process can occasionally cause the tongue to collapse back into the palate, negating the procedure’s effectiveness.

Most patients benefit from a combination of oral appliance therapy plus evidence-based lifestyle modifications that may improve symptoms. Appliances are useful for considerably more than half of all patients with mild to moderate OSA. It is an excellent non-invasive option.

Get Treatment For Sleep Apnea

If you believe either you or a partner has sleep apnea; please contact us for an appointment. We have more than twenty-five years of experience helping patients take back control of their sleep and we can help you too. It takes around three weeks to fabricate oral appliances for OSA, so the sooner you get help from us for your condition, the better.

Causes and Symptoms of TMJ

Everybody experiences pain in their jaw from time to time and that’s normal, but if you experience jaw pain and tightness on a regular basis, you may be suffering from a TMJ disorder. Your TMJ or temporomandibular joint connects your jaw to the temporal bones on the side of your face, and it is this joint that allows you to open and close your mouth when speaking or chewing. In some patients, issues with the TMJ can lead to pain and locking in the jaw.

It is estimated that around 25% of the population will experience TMJ disorders, many of them women between the age of 20 and 40. Every patient is different and while some people will experience mild pain that can be dealt with using simple medications, some patients experience severe pain and require more extensive TMJ treatment. If you are experiencing a lot of pain in your jaw and you think that you may be suffering from a TMJ disorder, you should schedule an appointment with Dr. Kevin F. Postol immediately. Our expert team has experience in a wide range of treatments and we will work with you to find the right TMJ treatment for you.

What Are The Symptoms Of TMJ Disorders?

Although pain is one of the most common symptoms of TMJ disorders, it affects patients in a range of different ways. Common signs of a TMJ disorder include:

  • Pain and tenderness in the jaw.
  • Pain in the temporomandibular joints (in some cases, you will only experience pain on one side of the face).
  • Pain while chewing, or difficult moving the jaw while chewing.
  • Aching around the ears or in other areas of the face.
  • Swelling around the face.
  • Stiff joints or locking, which makes it difficult to open and close your mouth when eating or speaking, especially when trying to open your mouth wide.

In some cases, patients notice a clicking or popping sound when they open and close their mouth. Lots of patients experience this clicking but they don’t have any pain or difficulty opening and closing their mouth. In this case, you may not need TMJ treatment if you are willing to live with the clicking. However, if your symptoms are more severe, it is important that you schedule an appointment to come and see us right away.

When Should You Seek Medical Advice?

Many people live with a TMJ disorder for a long time before seeking medical advice because they are unsure whether they need TMJ treatment or not. In mild cases where you only experience a clicking or popping sound, without any pain, you do not necessarily need TMJ treatment. However, if you experience regular pain in the jaw, ears, or face, you should seek help. If you have trouble opening and closing your mouth and it makes it difficult to eat or speak, that is also a sign that you may need TMJ treatment. If you start to notice any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment right away and we can recommend the right TMJ treatment for you.

What Causes TMJ Disorder?

The short answer is, we don’t know. Unfortunately, there is no clear reason why people suffer from TMJ disorder and, in most cases, it is caused by a combination of different factors. The temporomandibular joint is made up of a hinge joint that also involves sliding actions. There is cartilage and a small shock absorbing disk in between the bones to keep the movements smooth. In many patients, TMJ disorder is caused by damage to the cartilage as a result of arthritis, or the disk wearing away or moving out of alignment. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases, the causes of TMJ disorder are less clear.

If you have recently sustained a head or facial injury, the impact can cause damage to the joints and that can lead to a TMJ disorder as well. This is particularly common in people that experience whiplash.

TMJ disorder can also be caused by certain habits that people have. Clenching of the jaw or grinding of the teeth (known as bruxism) can lead to issues with tightness and pain in the jaw. People that suffer from excess stress often clench their jaws and this may be the cause of your TMJ disorder.

Risk factors for TMJ disorder

Although anybody can suffer from TMJ disorder, there are risk factors that make it more likely in certain patients.

People that suffer from rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis are more likely to develop problems with the joints in their jaw, which require TMJ treatment. Anybody that has suffered a recent jaw injury should also seek medical advice if they notice ongoing pain and stiffness. If you have a connective tissue disease, this may potentially cause problems with the temporomandibular joint as well.

Diagnosing TMJ Disorders

If you notice one or more of these symptoms and they persist for an extended period, contact us and our expert team can diagnose the issue and offer tailored TMJ treatment. There is no widely recognized method for diagnosing TMJ because the exact causes are unknown and it is often caused by a variety of factors. When you come for your appointment, our team of highly trained dental professionals will consider your symptoms and ask some simple questions about your medical history. In some cases, we may also recommend x-rays so we can examine your jaw in more detail.

Using this information, we will then recommend the best TMJ treatment for you. In many cases, changing habits like teeth grinding and taking medications to relax muscles and manage pain will be enough to deal with the issue. However, in more severe cases, we may also recommend a more advanced TMJ treatment.

Many patients live with undiagnosed TMJ disorders for a long time, and it can have a big impact on your life, making it difficult and painful to do simple everyday things, like talking and eating. But there is no need to suffer in silence because we are here to help. If you notice any of the symptoms described above, schedule an appointment with Dr. Kevin F. Postol today and we can provide the right TMJ treatment to give you the relief that you need.

Treatment Options for TMJ

TMJ disorders are a common issue that arises when there is a problem with the Temporomandibular Joint, which connects your jaw to your skull. The bones and muscles allow you to move your jaw up and down, so you can speak and chew food. Dr. Kevin F. Postol and his team of highly trained dental professionals can help to diagnose and treat TMJ disorders, so if you think that you may be suffering, schedule an appointment right away.

Symptoms of TMJ disorders include pain or tenderness in the face and jaw area, a locking jaw, clicking or popping sounds when you move your jaw, trouble chewing, and swelling on the sides of the face. TMJ disorders can affect anybody and there is a wide range of possible causes. Many patients experience TMJ disorders following an injury to the jaw, neck or head. It may also be caused by arthritis in the joint, movement between the soft tissue between the ball and socket in the joint, clenching your teeth, or even stress, which causes you to tighten your face muscles.

Dr. Kevin Postol can identify the causes of your TMJ disorder and decide on the most appropriate treatment. In some cases, TMJ disorders will go away on their own, but most patients require some kind of TMj treatment. If you schedule an appointment, there is a wide range of different treatments that may be recommended.

Medications

Medications can be used to relieve the symptoms and treat the pain caused by TMJ disorders.

Pain relievers and anti-inflammatories

For mild cases of TMJ disorder, some patients find that over the counter pain medications are adequate. However, if the pain is more severe, we can prescribe stronger pain relievers. Medications such as prescription-strength ibuprofen, for example, may be prescribed for a limited time.

Antidepressants

Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, are most commonly used to treat mental health issues, like depression. However, in small doses, they can be used for pain relief and to improve sleep patterns. They can also be used to treat bruxism (excessive grinding of the teeth), which may be a cause of TMJ disorders.

Muscle Relaxants

If we suspect that your TMJ disorder is caused by tight muscles around the jaw, often as a result of stress, we can prescribe muscle relaxants. After a few weeks of use, you should notice a reduction in pain and symptoms.

Mediations can be very effective when trying to manage the symptoms of TMJ disorder and some patients will find that the issue goes away after taking medication. However, these medications will not always deal with the root cause of the issue and our team may recommend other treatment options.

Non-Drug Therapies

If medication is not giving you enough relief or you want to avoid taking medication, if possible, there are some non-drug therapies that we can offer.

Oral splints and mouthguards

Many patients that suffer from TMJ disorders benefit from a mouthguard or a splint in the mouth. It is a very beneficial non-drug treatment for a lot of patients that suffer from TMJ disorders.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is another effective TMJ treatment that treats issues with the muscles and joints around the jaw. We may prescribe certain stretches and exercises that are designed to stretch and loosen muscles in the jaw and strengthen them. In some cases, we can also offer treatments using ultrasound or heat and ice.

Counseling

If we believe that your TMJ disorder is caused by habits such as teeth grinding, biting your fingernails, and leaning on your chin, we may prescribe counseling. This will help you to understand why you engage in these behaviors, which are often caused by stress or anxiety. Many patients find that counseling helps them to avoid these behaviors, so they see a reduction in symptoms of TMJ disorder.

Surgical Procedures

If other methods of TMJ treatment are not working, Dr. Kevin Postol will take you through your different options for surgical procedures to deal with TMJ disorders.

Arthrocentesis

Arthrocentesis is a simple procedure that involves using small needles, which are inserted into the muscles in the jaw. This will remove fluids and reduce inflammation in the muscles. It is a minimally invasive procedure that does not require major surgery and many patients find that it is very effective.

Injections

You may also benefit from injections of corticosteroids into the jaw muscles. In rare cases, patients also benefit from botox injections into the jaw to prevent pain when chewing.

TMJ arthroscopy

Arthroscopy is often used as an alternative TMJ treatment to open-joint surgery as it is less invasive. A small tube, known as a cannula, is inserted into the joint space, then an arthroscope is inserted and small surgical tools are used to perform surgery. Although there are fewer risks involved than there are with open-joint surgery, this treatment is limited and, in some cases, open-joint surgery is necessary.

Modified condylotomy

Modified condylotomy is a TMJ treatment that involves surgery on the mandible rather than the jaw itself, but it can still address issues with a locking jaw and pain that are caused by TMJ disorder.

Open-joint surgery

If all other types of TMJ treatment are ineffective, we can offer open-joint surgery to address the issue. This is usually required when structural problems with the joints in the jaw are causing a TMJ disorder. Rebuilding or replacing the joint itself is necessary for some patients, and this is when open-joint surgery will be used. However, we will only use this in cases where other TMJ treatments are ineffective because there are more risks involved.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of a TMJ disorder, schedule an appointment with Dr. Kevin Postol today. Our experienced team can assess your issue and try to determine the root cause of your TMJ disorder. We will then recommend one of these TMJ treatments so you can find relief and manage your pain. Many people live with this disorder for too long before seeking TMJ treatments, but you don’t have to put up with the pain, so contact us today so we can help you.

Why You Should Consider Cosmetic Dentistry

Dr. Kevin. F. Postol and the team at our Ballwin dental practice like to ensure that every patient who steps through our doors can feel confident and comfortable with the treatment we provide. Besides guaranteeing some of the best care standards possible, we also like to make sure that you choose the best options for you.

When it comes to helping to improve the appearance of your teeth, cosmetic dentistry solutions are likely to be the best fit. Here are some reasons why they’re worth considering.

Improve the appearance of your smile

Perhaps the most common cosmetic issue our team deals with, above all else, is tooth discoloration. Your teeth can be discolored over time due to age, neglect of your dental routine, certain foods, medications, and smoking. Yellowing, greying, or browning teeth can affect your confidence in your smile, but from teeth whitening techniques to porcelain veneers, we can help you smile proudly.

You can repair all kinds of damage

The line between cosmetic and restorative dentistry can seem blurred. Both the porcelain veneers and dental crowns we offer can help you address discolored teeth, cracks, chips, and other damage that may compromise your smile. As well as improving and repairing the appearance of your smile, cosmetic treatments can also improve the health and function or your teeth. You will be able to eat as you could before any damage occurred.

Ensure the long-term health of your teeth

Issues like cracked and crooked teeth aren’t just cosmetic problems. They can be an issue for your general dental health, as well. Teeth that become more crooked over time can cause pain, tooth decay, gum disease, and damage to other healthy teeth. The Invisalign treatment provided by Dr. Postol can help you address this risk, improving your overall well being.

Long-lasting results

One of the best reasons to consider cosmetic treatments is that, as a patient, you can rest assured that the results are likely to last you for years. Some treatments, like teeth whitening and Invisalign, need to be carried out over multiple visits to ensure the best possible effects. With treatments like using veneers and crowns, you can expect them to last up to as long as a decade. Of course, this largely depends on the condition of your mouth and which treatments are best suited to your needs.

Improved quality of life overall

You should consider the physical reasons to look at our cosmetic dentistry services, but you should think about the positive impact they could have on your mental health. If you feel yourself being shy with your smiles, are self-conscious about photos, or how you appear in public settings due to your teeth, then we can help.

Dr. Kevin F. Postol and his team are equipped and ready to help patients address all kinds of cosmetic dentistry needs. Whether you’re dealing with discolored, cracked, chipped, or crooked teeth, schedule a consultation with us to find the best way to fix them. Contact us today!