Don’t Scare Your Family with Morning Breath this Christmas!

Are you staying at a relative’s house this holiday season? You probably want to avoid wandering downstairs for breakfast and watching your family turn their noses up at your morning breath. Embarrassing! Although, maybe not as bad as your robe falling open… (more…)

Diabetics Must be Vigilant to Prevent Oral Health Problems

be vigilant if you have diabetes.
It’s no secret that diabetes is a health condition that must be treated because of the problems it can cause throughout the body—including in your mouth.  There is a proven link between diabetes and oral health problems.

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month—a time to consider the nearly 26 million children and adults in the U.S. who according to the American Diabetes Association, have diabetes.  St. Louis area dentist Dr. Kevin Postol wants to take some time to consider the effects diabetes can have on oral health.

When people with diabetes experience high glucose levels, those levels could also be helping bacteria thrive—causing major problems for their teeth. Some diabetics have chronic inflammation and infections in their mouths.

Because of the risk, it’s important that diabetics take extra special care of their teeth. People with diabetes have special oral are needs, so it’s vital that you share this information with your dentist.

Common dental conditions associated with diabetes are tooth decay, gum disease, saliva gland dysfunction, infection, delayed healing and more.

Everyone—especially those who have been diagnosed with diabetes, should:

  • Be extra vigilant about brushing and flossing regularly
  • Watch for signs or symptoms of oral disease and report them to your dentist
  • Visit a dentist regularly and tell them that you have diabetes
  • Keep your blood glucose as normal as possible

Some signs and symptoms include:

  • Tender gums
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Swollen gums
  • Puss between the teeth when the gums are pressed
  • Consistent bad breath
  • Consistent bad taste in the mouth
  • A bite that feels different
  • Thrush
  • Poor healing
  • Dry mouth

For more information, give us a call to make an appointment and visit this American Diabetes Association FAQ:

Teeth at the First Thanksgiving

What were teeth like at the first Thanksgiving? In honor of the holiday week, here at St. Louis Dental we decided to have some fun and think about what oral hygiene was like hundreds of years ago for those who attended the first Thanksgiving. Wow, has dental technology come a long way since then!

How did the Pilgrims brush their teeth?
Oral hygiene was not so great for the pilgrims. Toothbrushes and toothpaste weren’t really around in England or America, and wouldn’t be for another couple hundred years.

People generally used whatever they could find to get plaque off their teeth, which might be bones, feathers or sticks. Some historians believe they may have even used salt to remove the filmy grime from their teeth.

Dentistry had just begun to develop in England, but the pilgrims were actually living a lot rougher than the average English citizen. They had just spent months on a boat with limited supplies and were now on a new continent where they knew no one and nothing, and had to make due with what they could find.

How did the Native Americans brush their teeth?
The Native Americans probably had better dental habits than the pilgrims, if only because they were used to their surroundings and knew how to find what they needed.

The tribes in the area used a variety of herbs to clean their teeth, such as a handful of sage rubbed in the mouth like a toothbrush. Some tribes actually used a goop made from the cucacua plant that resembled modern-day toothpaste.

Happy Thanksgiving!
So after sharing a big feast together, the pilgrims and Native Americans probably sat back, their bellies full, and picked their teeth with a small stick or the point of their knife. You might have relatives that do the same thing this Thursday, although they might be on a big, comfy couch watching the football game. Things haven’t really changed that much have they?

Five Common Brushing Mistakes

October is National Dental Hygiene Month, which makes it the perfect time for Dr. Postol to talk about how to properly brush your teeth. Many people don’t know the right techniques to use when cleaning their teeth, so hopefully this post will give you some quick tips.

The biggest thing to remember is that any brushing is better than no brushing, so don’t be discouraged if you are making some mistakes. If you still have questions, try checking out our Oral Hygiene page, or always feel free to contact us!

•    Not Brushing for Long Enough
Do you know how long you’re really supposed to brush? Two minutes, twice a day, says the American Dental Hygienists Association. Try timing yourself tonight and see how you measure up. Chances are, you aren’t brushing for long enough, as the majority of Americans aren’t. Brushing for longer can be a simple way to have a better oral hygiene routine.

•    Brushing Too Hard
Many people think that if they just brush hard enough, then they don’t have to brush their teeth for very long. This simply isn’t the case. In fact, brushing your teeth too hard will actually damage the enamel, and cause much more harm than good. A great way to keep from brushing too hard is to get an electronic toothbrush. If this isn’t an option, just make sure to get the softest toothbrush available and try to take it easy on your teeth.

•    Concentrating on the Tooth Surface
Without even realizing it, a lot of people concentrate their brushing power on the surface of the tooth. If you think about it, this doesn’t make much sense, because food particles aren’t very likely to get stuck on the front of your tooth. Food and bacteria get stuck around the edges and in the corners of your teeth, especially against the gums. The best technique is to concentrate your brushing power (gently) on the gum line each time you brush.

•    Skipping Teeth
It seems like common sense, but you need to brush all of your teeth! An old dentist’s saying goes, “Only brush the teeth you want to keep,” and we’ll just assume you want to keep all of them. The most frequent mistake is accidently skipping over teeth as you flip your brush around. If you’re right handed, this probably means the teeth in the front right corner of your mouth. Just remember to brush a little bit further than you think you have to before flipping the toothbrush, so that you are overlapping in each direction.

•    Thinking Brushing Will Kill All Bacteria
Although it would be nice if brushing was all we had to do to maintain the health of our mouths, this simply isn’t the case. In addition to a proper brushing technique, it is just as important to use floss and mouthwash as well. Finally don’t forget to keep your twice-yearly hygiene exams, because there are places that only we can clean, and problems that only we can diagnose. If you are due for an oral hygiene appointment, call St. Louis Dental today and we will fit you in!

Bruxism, Stress and Your Teeth

When people get stressed, they often say that they are “clenching” their jaw. But did you ever think about what it means to actually do this? What effects it might have on your overall health?

Bruxism is a condition that usually involves people grinding their teeth and clenching their jaws. While most St. Louis area residents do this at some point in their daily lives, when it becomes a regular habit it can cause significant damage to your teeth, mouth and jaw. The problem is that most people don’t realize they are grinding their teeth at all, let alone how often they are doing it.

How to Know If You Grind Your Teeth
Often, it is your sleeping partner who first notices that you grind your teeth when they wake up to the sound or movement. When your loved one brings this to your attention multiple times, it is probably something you should begin to discuss with Dr. Postol.

If no one has pointed out any grinding to you before, there are still other ways to tell. Symptoms of bruxism include:
•    Worn down, flattened, fractured or chipped teeth
•    Increased tooth sensitivity
•    Jaw pain, tightness, or tiredness
•    Earaches
•    Headaches
•    Damage from chewing the insides of your cheeks
•    Indentations on your tongue

Why You Grind Your Teeth
Teeth grinding is usually brought about by stress and anxiety in a person’s life. It can be exacerbated by an abnormal bite, including missing, crooked or improperly aligned teeth.

People who have recently gotten dental work that realigned their teeth, including orthodontic work or many cosmetic dental procedures, may see an increase in bruxism symptoms. Grinding can also be a complication from diseases such as Huntington’s or Parkinson’s, or rarely from some medications, including antidepressants.

The Problems with Grinding
While for most people, bruxism does not interfere with their daily life, it can lead to serious problems, including jaw disorders, headaches, TMD/ TMJ, or even hearing loss. Grinding can damage many dental pieces, including bridges, crowns, implants and dentures.

Help For Teeth Grinding
Dr. Postol can help you figure out the best way to deal with your bruxism symptoms, and one simple way may be to reduce the stress in your life. This can be accomplished through a variety of means, including counseling, exercise, meditation, or other relaxation techniques. Other treatments may include physical therapy, muscle relaxers, or mouth guards.

Dr. Postol can help properly fit you with a mouth guard that is right for you, and will make changes as necessary to accommodate changes in your mouth. Be wary of bruxism guards from anywhere but your trusted St. Louis area dentist, which can actually make your grinding worse and cause more wear on your teeth.

Contact St. Louis Dental today to schedule your bruxism consultation appointment at our convenient Ballwin office!

That Can Stain My Teeth?!


We all know that drinking coffee can darken our teeth.  But here is a list of five things that cause teeth stains, and they just may surprise you!

1)  Sports Drinks
What may seem like a healthy alternative to soda or energy drinks often really contains an acidic pH level that leads to tooth erosion. They also, like many other drinks, have unhealthy amounts of sugar. The best thing to do is drink it relatively quickly instead of slowly sipping it and exposing your teeth even longer to the chemicals.

2) Pepto-Bismol
This pink stomach medicine can sometimes have a strange side effect of turning both your tongue and the surface of your teeth black. The weird reaction comes from a chemical compound that changes color if exposed directly to the tongue, instead of with water. If this happens to you, don’t panic! It can be avoided or fixed by simply brushing your teeth or, for serious incidents, getting a cleaning from Dr. Postol.
3) Over-whitening
Some scientists are still debating this phenomenon, but many feel that the harsh chemicals can thin out your enamel and cause your teeth to become more porous, which actually makes them look dingier. Even if this claim turns out to be false, no one likes glow-in-the-dark teeth, so practice moderation and get a consultation with Dr. Postol if you’re not sure.
4)  Cranberry Juice
This and other dark-colored juices contain a lot of pigment which can stain and yellow teeth. They also have a lot of sugar to sweeten its naturally bitter taste, and that is never good for teeth. Try drinking out of a straw, following it up with water, or switching to white cranberry juice.
5)  White Wine
Although everyone knows that red wine can stain your teeth, new studies show that white wine can actually do more damage. The chemicals can strip away your enamel and darken your teeth, especially if followed by other staining things like coffee or tea. Avoid brushing your damaged teeth for 20-30 minutes after drinking wine; just swish with water. If you think you may have tooth damage from white wine, schedule a consultation with Dr. Postol to check.

Top Five Reasons to Treat Gum Disease

Gum disease affects 3 out of every 4 people, but most cases go untreated. Periodontal (gum) disease is often easy to get under control, especially if caught in its earliest stages. Our St. Louis Dental staff can show you the proper oral hygiene techniques to keep gum disease at bay, and recommend treatments, like antibiotics, if necessary.

So why don’t more people treat their gum disease? Dr. Postol believes that people probably just don’t understand the impact periodontal disease can have on your life. We want everyone to understand how treating gum disease can make your life better!

1) Get more energy
Periodontal disease is an infection of your gums by the bacteria in your mouth. And like any infection, your immune system will try to fight it. You know how when you get a cold you just want to sleep all day? Your body feels the same way when it’s fighting gum disease. Who knows, treat your gum disease and you might find yourself wanting to run a marathon!

2) Have better smelling breath
If you have had untreated periodontal disease for a while, it has most likely developed pockets of puss in your gums. This sounds gross, but you might not even notice it. What you probably have noticed is a bad taste in your mouth or bad smell to your breath. Treat your gum disease and you’ll be able to keep your mouth minty fresh!

3) Hold on to your teeth
Gum disease is the number one reason people lose their teeth. Not old age, not cavities, not black market teeth pirates. Don’t you want to keep your teeth?

4) Keep your baby healthy
Gum disease in mothers has been linked to a variety of problems for newborns, from premature birth to low birth weight. Studies also show that it may take longer for women with periodontal disease to even get pregnant in the first place. If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, make sure to talk to Dr. Postol about ensuring the optimal health for your baby.

5) Get a healthy, beautiful smile
Gum disease can even affect the way your smile looks, because it often turns your gums red and puffy. Besides all that though, it can be painful or uncomfortable to deal with. We want all of our patients to have beautiful and healthy smiles that they can be proud of. Contact St. Louis Dental today to make an appointment and take the first step towards treating your gum disease!

Dry Mouth and Prescriptions

If you have started taking a new medication recently, chances are your doctor told you that a side-effect would be dry mouth. This side-effect is common with many prescriptions, and it now affects nearly half of everyone over the age of 65. Dr. Postol wants to continue recognizing National Healthy Aging Month, by educating his patients and their loved ones about this condition and the importance it has on a healthy life.

What is dry mouth?
The technical term for dry mouth is xerostomia, and it occurs when a person’s saliva glands are not operating properly, generating the three pints of saliva per day that the average person’s mouth produces. There are three kinds of glands that create and excrete saliva for the mouth, and all need to be working right for everything to feel normal and healthy.

Causes of Dry Mouth
While there are many causes of dry mouth, one of the leading sources is from any number of prescriptions. 32 million Americans are taking three or more medications daily, and dry mouth can be a side effect from over 400 of these, including blood pressure medicine, antihistamines, diet pills, antidepressants, stomach medications and sleeping pills.

Along with medications, there are other things that may cause dry mouth, which are also important to note. If your dry mouth comes along suddenly and can’t immediately be traced to a recent change in prescriptions, you may want to consult your doctor about a number of diseases which could be causing the changes in your mouth.

The Big Deal about Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is one of the leading causes of bad breath, which is reason enough for many people to seek help from their Ballwin area dentist. If you don’t feel that you have bad breath though, what is the big deal?

Although it might seem counter-intuitive, not having a lot of saliva in your mouth actually increases your risk of cavities, tooth decay, gum disease, and all of the problems that go along with them. It can greatly affect the health of your mouth and lead you to lose your teeth a lot quicker than you might have otherwise. The good news is that it can be easily fixable!

Help with Dry Mouth
Getting rid of your chronic dry mouth may be as easy as asking your doctor to switch your medications. If this is not possible, or if your dry mouth has other origins, you will need to make sure that you are doing everything you can to take care of your mouth.

Make sure to sip water or sugar-free juices frequently throughout the day. Stimulate the flow of saliva in your mouth by eating foods which require a lot of chewing. Chew sugarless gum. You can even try “sucking” a cherry or olive pit.

For those suffering from xerostomia, it is crucial to maintain a daily hygiene routine. Brush and floss twice daily and make sure to rinse your mouth after sugary snacks or meals. Use a mouthwash recommended by Dr. Postol, being sure to avoid those with alcohol in them, which will only add to your problems.

Of course, your best option will probably be to discuss these issues with Dr. Postol and his team, who may be able to come up with a specific treatment plan for you. If you have any questions please call St. Louis Dental today!

Keep Your Teeth Healthy with Hydrogen Peroxide: Five Tips

A great, cheap product to add to your oral hygiene routine is hydrogen peroxide, which can be used in a number of ways to keep your teeth healthy and clean. Our Ballwin office loves providing our patients with tips to protect and maintain the beauty and health of their teeth, from the comfort of their own home. Just remember to check with us before you try these or any other new treatments, to make sure they are right for your individual needs.

What is Hydrogen Peroxide?

Hydrogen peroxide is a common household product that can be found for very cheap at your local pharmacy or grocery store. Chemically, it is two hydrogen molecules with two oxygen molecules, and it appears as a clear liquid with about the consistency of water. (more…)

Skin Cancer Protection: Don’t Forget Your Lips!

We know that our patients are smart and you all lather yourselves and your loved ones in sunscreen anytime you go outside in the St. Louis sun. You wear your sunglasses, and maybe even a wide-brimmed hat. But do you protect your lips?

Your lips are very sensitive parts of your skin, and you can get skin cancer there just like any other exposed part of your body. At Dr. Postol’s office, we want to make sure everyone is taking proper care of their health and has all the knowledge they need to do so. As always, call us if you have any questions or concerns! (more…)