• A Safe Place Receives Matching Grant - Needs Community Support

    A Safe Place Receives Matching Grant - Needs Community Support

    A Safe Place Receives Matching Grant - Needs Community Support

    January 29, 2019

    Festus, MO (January 29, 2019) – Mary’s House of Hope at A Safe Place transitional housing project is pleased to announce it has received a $300,000 one for one match challenge grant from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation, and a $160,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank. Funds will support building transitional housing for women and children who have experienced domestic violence.

    To receive the challenge funds from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation, the additional $300,000 needs to be raised by community members before November 1, 2019. Your financial support is necessary to guarantee this grant.

    To satisfy the conditions of the Federal Home Loan Bank, construction must begin by June 1, 2019.

    COMTREA and domestic violence survivors need your help to match the challenge grant through monetary gifts or making a monthly pledge. On average, more than $30,000 will need to be raised each month. Make your monetary gift or pledge online at

    “Receiving these grants means that we are closer to achieving our goal of providing additional safe housing to women and children who have been affected by domestic violence,” said Kim Elbl, VP of Fundraising and Development at COMTREA. “This project will allow us to serve more families that are seeking immediate emergency shelter.”

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  • April Showers, May Flowers, and a Stuffed-up Nose

    April Showers, May Flowers, and a Stuffed-up Nose

    April Showers, May Flowers, and a Stuffed-up Nose

    May 1, 2019

    For those with allergies, many oral health issues can arise when you have a stuffed-up nose or sinus inflammation.

    Stuff-Up Nose: A stuffed-up nose often leads to mouth breathing. This action can cause inflamed gums along those front teeth. This can lead to periodontal issues if it continues long-term.

    Take nasal decongestants before bed and keep a glass of water near you for sips throughout the night. The water will help keep those tissues hydrated and prevent the inflammation.

    Sinus Inflammation: Sinuses are so close to the roots of your teeth that when they are inflamed or enlarged, they can actually cause your teeth to shift and hit harder when you chew and talk. This constant banging and pressure on the roots of the teeth may feel like a toothache!

    First try gargling with salt water - sometimes this can help release sinus drainage. See your dentist and primary care physician to see what you can do to relieve this pain and pressure.

    Watery Eyes and Nose: Some preventive medication may lead to oral health issues. Antihistamines can dry out your mucous membranes and lead to dry mouth. A dry mouth can allow bacteria and food to accumulate and cause cavities. See your dentist for products that can help with this short-term problem.

    Sore Throat & Post Nasal Drip: The leading issue of a sore throat and nasal drip is bad breath. Using a mouthwash in the morning and at night following brushing and flossing should prevent bad breath. Also, make sure you stay hydrated!

    The great news about all of these issues is that they are short-term. As long as you frequently visit your primary care doctor and your dentist, many of these issues will be prevented. 

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    Dr. Brian Darling


    July 12, 2018

    This summer, COMTREA will be offering quality dental care for your whole family!

    We are eager to welcome our new Pediatric Dental Specialist, Dr. Brian Darling, to our Arnold dental location beginning in August 2018.

    Dr. Darling will be the only Pediatric Dental Specialist accepting Medicaid in Jefferson County. While other dental facilities may offer pediatric services, COMTREA will be the only facility with a pediatric dentist who is specially trained to manage emergencies during treatment, in addition to sedation services in the near future.

    A Pediatric Dental Specialist receives an additional two-year training to successfully treat children with special needs and complicated medical backgrounds. Pediatric dental facilities are equipped with specific equipment and decorated with children in mind.

    Dr. Darling is an alumni from NYU Langone Health, where he received his Advanced Education in Pediatric Dentistry. He has experience serving children with special health care needs, such as left cleft lip and palate.

    As a Federally Qualified Health Center, COMTREA offers full dental services at an affordable cost. Our staff provides a comfortable, patient-centered experience at all of our dental locations. Our goal is to ensure your overall health and well-being through comprehensive care in dental, primary, and mental health services.

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    Dental leadership accepting award

    COMTREA Dental Care Receives National Award

    June 28, 2018

    COMTREA Dental Care is proud to accept this year’s Henry Schein Cares Medal.

    Dental Care leadership, Dr. Courtney Garland, DMD, Oral Health Director, and Dr. Nathan Sutter, DDS, attended the national ceremony to accept the bronze medal.

    “This is a large accomplishment for the Dental Care Department. We were able to be recognized for all the hard work, initial launch of tele-dentistry (remote dental services and consultations), and efficiency of workflow and progress providing another avenue of care for our patients,” said Garland.

    With this bronze medal, Dental Care will receive a $5,000 cash prize and $10,000 of product from Henry Schein.

    “We will be able to utilize $10,000 of product to increase supply and equipment for our mobile dental program (Tooth Titan) to assist with school services,” said Garland.

    COMTREA Dental Care is one of three finalists in an award which receives over 150 applications.

    Dr. Garland is very proud and believes this award highlights all they have accomplished in the past five years.

    Henry Schein, the world’s largest provider of business and clinical technology solutions, focuses on enhancing the efficiency of office-based dental, animal health, and medical practitioners caring for the under-served.


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    COMTREA Dental Leadership receiving award

    COMTREA Dental Receives Award from the Suburban St. Louis Nurses’ Association

    October 16, 2018

    The COMTREA Tooth Titans Mobile Team accepted an award from the Suburban St. Louis Nurses’ Association on October 11, 2018.

    COMTREA was nominated for work with Parkway Schools​ and future work with the Rockwood School District​.

    Representing Comtrea Dental​ was Makenzie Beckham, Renee Blanken, Dr. Garland, and Sandy Holifield (left to right). Not in attendance to receive the award was Tiffany Grant, Kamrie Reynolds, Danielle Greenlee, and Kate Poleos, Tooth Titans staff at COMTREA. 

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  • COMTREA Dental Temporarily Closing Two Locations

    COMTREA Dental Temporarily Closing Two Locations

    COMTREA Dental Temporarily Closing Two Locations

    August 14, 2019

    COMTREA will close two dental service locations as the organization reallocates resources. Twin City Dental Center in Festus, which provides emergency dental care, will be temporarily closed as of August 19, 2019. COMTREA’s MAP mobile dental clinic, which relocates in Jefferson County every few months, will temporarily close in September.

    “Due to the shortage of dental staffing in Jefferson County, we chose to temporarily close the locations to ensure patients receive the best care when they visit our offices,” said Sue Curfman, CEO of COMTREA.

    COMTREA will reopen these locations at a later date.

    All dental services may be obtained at COMTREA locations in Arnold, Hillsboro, and House Springs.

    Hickory Plaza Health Center located at 4 Hickory Ridge Road, Suite 600 in Hillsboro is open to the general public Monday through Friday from 7:30 AM until 6:00 PM.

    COMTREA Health Center at the Valley located at 4300 Gravois Road in House Springs is open to the general public Monday through Friday from 2:30 PM until 6:00 PM.

    Fox Dental Center located at 849 Jeffco Blvd, Suite 200 in Arnold is open to the general public Monday through Friday from 4:00 PM until 6:00 PM.

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  • COMTREA Offering Immediate Walk-in Behavioral Health Care

    COMTREA Leadership and community members before cutting the ribbon at COMTREA Welcome Center.

    COMTREA Offering Walk-in Behavioral Health Care

    February 22, 2019

    COMTREA Leadership and community members before cutting the ribbon at COMTREA Welcome Center.

    COMTREA Leadership and community members before cutting the ribbon at COMTREA Welcome Center.
    (Left to right) Tony Sokolic, Linda Hurley, Margo Pigg, Sue Curfman, Dr. Raymond V. Cummiskey, Colton Baker, Becky Ruth, Dennis Gannon, and Timothy Fasnacht.

    200 residents each month are now receiving walk-in behavioral health services in Jefferson County. COMTREA Welcome Center located in Crystal City offers walk-in care on a first-come first-served basis for mental health and substance use treatment.

    “In 2017, COMTREA was designated as a Certified Community Behavioral Health Center,” said Sue Curfman, CEO of COMTREA. “With that designation, we were tasked to find ways to provide walk-in access for individuals seeking behavioral health care. We have done that through our Welcome Center.”

    At the Ribbon Cutting and Open House on February 22, 2019, attendees toured the facility, met with COMTREA leadership, and heard from Sue Curfman, CEO of COMTREA, Margo Pigg, Chief Behavioral Health Officer at COMTREA, Tim Fasnacht, Welcome Center Assessment Manager at COMTREA, and Colton Baker, Recovery Coach at COMTREA.

    Since opening on February 5, 2018, COMTREA Welcome Center has completed 3,400 screenings with 2,372 individuals receiving further assessment.

    New clients can receive care Monday through Friday from 7:30-11:00 AM with a limited number of assessments available each day. Residents should bring proof of Missouri residency; if eligible, staff will coordinate treatment that best meets the individual’s needs. The center is located at 2310 North Truman Blvd in Crystal City, Missouri.

    The facility is designed to separate adult and youth services to ensure all clients feel comfortable. Staff are trained to provide personalized care, even in emergency life situations.

    COMTREA takes all forms of insurance, and provides one-on-one meetings to help navigate and apply for Medicaid or a sliding fee scale.

    COMTREA serves Jefferson County from twenty locations as a Certified Community Behavioral Health Center and a Federally Qualified Health Center offering health care services in primary care, dental care, and psychiatry, and community services such as mental health, substance use treatment, children’s advocacy, school liaison services, canine therapy, and a domestic violence shelter.

    In emergencies, call the Behavioral Health Response Hotline at 1-800-811-4760 or call 911.

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  • COMTREA Opens Health Center in the Dunklin R-5 School District

    COMTREA Health Center - Dunklin ribbon cutting. From left to right (Becky Ruth, Missouri Congresswoman, Sue Curfman, COMTREA CEO, Allison Izsak, Director of Communications of Delta Dental, and Stan Stratton, Dunklin District Superintendent).

    COMTREA Opens Health Center in the Dunklin R-5 School District

    February 1, 2019

    Healthcare is now easier to access in the Dunklin R-5 School District. With a grant from Delta Dental of Missouri, COMTREA Health Center – Dunklin has opened as a new school-based health center at Senn-Thomas Middle School.

    “This school-based health center would not have been possible without the support of Delta Dental of Missouri,” said Sue Curfman, CEO of COMTREA.

    At the Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting of the center on February 1, 2019, attendees toured the facility and heard from Stan Stratton, Dunklin District Superintendent, Sue Curfman, CEO of COMTREA, Allison Izsak, Director of Communications of Delta Dental, and Becky Ruth, Missouri Congresswoman.

    School-based health centers promote healthy living to students and their families, offering quality care without leaving school property.

    All students in the district can receive dental care or behavioral health services during regular school hours. A shuttle bus transports students between buildings, removing barriers of access such as parents leaving work early or students missing multiple class periods.

    COMTREA takes all forms of insurance, and provides one-on-one meetings to help navigate and apply for Medicaid or a sliding fee scale.

    Delta Dental granted COMTREA $99,724 to fund renovations of an existing classroom in the school, along with acquiring equipment and supplies for a two-chair dental clinic.

    Fox C-6 School District and Northwest R-1 School District have previously partnered with COMTREA Health Center to open school-based health centers, reaching students, families, and communities in need of accessible and affordable health care.

    COMTREA Health Center serves Jefferson County from twenty locations offering health care services in primary care, dental care, and psychiatry, and community services such as mental health, substance use treatment, children’s advocacy, school liaison services, canine therapy, and a domestic violence shelter.

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  • COMTREA to Offer 55% Tax Credit Opportunity

    COMTREA to Offer 55% Tax Credit Opportunity

    COMTREA to Offer 55% Tax Credit Opportunity

    April 24, 2019

    Community Treatment, Inc. (COMTREA) was awarded $200,000 in Missouri tax credits from the Missouri Housing Development Commission Affordable Housing Assistance Program (AHAP), which will allow COMTREA to offer Missouri business donors a 55% tax credit on donations.

    Donations will benefit the building of Mary’s House of Hope at a Safe Place Transitional Housing, serving survivors of domestic violence in Jefferson and surrounding counties. Women and children will reside in the transitional housing, receiving counseling, education, and shelter, as they prepare for independent living.

    Eligible donors include corporations, partnerships, banks, insurance companies, foundations, sole proprietorships, and individuals with income from rental properties, royalties, or farm income.

    Missouri businesses may donate cash, materials, products, real estate, stock, and professional services for the project to receive the 55% tax credit.

    The AHAP offers a one-time tax credit to business owners which benefits non-profits offering affordable housing activities.

    To claim these credits, donation must be received by June 30, 2019.

    Please consider donating to Mary’s House of Hope at A Safe Place. Your generous donation is building hope for a strong, safe, independent future.

    For more information contact Kim Elbl, Vice President of Fundraising and Development at 636-232-2339.

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  • Dental Care Education - You Mean I Can’t Have ANY Candy???

    Primary Care Education - ou Mean I Can’t Have ANY Candy???

    Dental Care Education

    You Mean I Can’t Have ANY Candy???

    October 6, 2018 by Sandra Holifield, Oral Health Outreach Manager 

    With Halloween coming up, children will be getting that candy filled gleam in their eyes, trying to find the most popular costume, and start counting down the days until their “Candy Coma”.

    So, is eating candy really that horrible?

    The simple answer is no…if you follow some simple guidelines.

    The bad thing about candy is the amount of sugar it contains. Most candy is made up of sugar, but the most popular and worst choices are based on sugar content, with nearly 40 grams or 7 teaspoons of sugar in each piece of candy!

    Try this when you are at home - take a teaspoon and measure out 40 grams of sugar. That’s what a child will consume with each candy bar or sticky, chewy serving of their Halloween treats! Now, multiply that by 100, because if your child is anything like me as a child, they will gorge themselves until they fall into a sleep sugar coma.

    How can I say that eating candy isn’t that horrible?

    Well, like most things today, eating in moderation is important to consider. If your child has a huge pillowcase full of candy, find a great hiding place to store some of the candy.

    The first and foremost tip to follow, whether candy is involved or not, is to have an established home care routine. This routine must involve proper technique, adequate time, and parental supervision and help. You shouldn’t expect little Billy at 4 years old to go into the bathroom and brush his teeth effectively.

    Children typically do not have the dexterity and control to brush for themselves until they can write legibly, which is about 8-9 years old. For children who need to “do it myself”, you can allow them to brush, but always follow up and brush after them.

    Are all candies the same when it comes to oral health? Simple answer…no.

    Sticky, chewy candies tend to stick in the grooves of teeth longer and have the potential to cause more damage. The best candies would be the ones that melt quickly or can be ingested quickly.

    However, these things won’t matter if your child is consuming candy constantly; the sugar will still sit on their teeth. Again, this is why you’ve already taken the pillowcase and found a great hiding place for it!

    So, remember that Halloween is a fun time for kids, but should always be supervised and always, always be followed by proper brushing and flossing either with you or by you! Have a great and safe Halloween!

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  • Dental Education - Dental Health IQ and How it Affects Your Children

    Dental Education - Dental Health IQ and How it Affects Your Children

    Dental Care Education

    Dental Health IQ and How it Affects Your Children

    August 17, 2018 by Sandra Holifield, Oral Health Outreach Manager

    Having been in the dental field providing screenings and care for over 13 years, I have been able to see the trend of a caregiver’s (parent or grandparent, etc) dental health IQ and dental decay. Here are some of the findings:

    • How much you know about taking care of your teeth affects your children 
    • The caregiver is the key to success for a child’s dental health 
    • Caregivers are, or should be, the most influential person in a child’s life 
    • Parents and grandparents have the ability and responsibility to their children to keep them healthy…mind, body, and spirit 
    • Children are watching and learning by example 
    While these points may be known to some parents, they are not known to all. I have heard several excuses for children having health problems, anything from “He will cry if I don’t give it to him” referring to candy or a bottle at night, to “well, it didn’t hurt me as a child”. These thought processes can be very damaging to your children.

    So what can you do? Stand up and make a change. Your children are important to you; make the necessary changes in their lives, if not your own, that will provide them with the education and environment that will cause change.

    The numbers don’t lie. Over the past year, I have personally been working with several school districts providing dental screenings and collecting data. The average rate of dental needs (one or more areas of possible cavities) hovers around 30-35%. This is alarming! Every third child that was screened has suspected dental decay or other dental related problems!

    Why is this an issue? Primary teeth, or baby teeth, have several very important jobs. They do fall out and are replaced by adult teeth, so why even bother fixing them or putting the effort in to preserve them? The simple fact is, children need their baby teeth!

    These teeth hold the place for adult teeth to erupt; they help guide the adult tooth into the proper place. They have nerves and can cause life threatening abscesses just like adult teeth. Children with dental issues can run fevers, suffer from infections, and lose attention in school due to pain.

    Even today, the value placed on body health far outweighs the value of dental health. The stigma that you can live without teeth is rampant. The mouth is most definitely part of your body! There have been several links discovered with oral health and medical issues such as:



    Arteriosclerosis-- Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 2003; 23:1245

    Heart Disease--Journal of Periodontology, Dec. 2007; 78(12)2289-302


    Preterm labor in pregnant women

    Preeclampsia in pregnant women

    You obviously want to protect your children from these health issues, and it could be as simple as taking them to a dentist on a regular basis and maintaining their dental health at home through routine home care. Children should see a dentist before the age of one…many general dentists will not see a child until the age of three or four, but this does NOT mean that they should not be seen by a dental professional. If this dentist does not see infants, then find a dentist that will. I have personally discovered two-year-olds and younger with rampant decay and abscessed teeth!

    Here are some helpful hints to helping your child maintain their dental health, and help protect their overall health in the future.

    • Help brush your child’s teeth until the age of seven or eight. They do not have the manual dexterity to reach all the areas or get all the angles that they need to keep their mouth clean. Even if it appears that they are doing a good job, they are missing something! 
    • Brushing must be done twice daily, for two minutes using fluoride toothpaste. Children under the age of two can now use fluoridated toothpaste, but the amount should equal the size of a grain of rice. Over two years of age should have a small pea sized amount of fluoridated paste, and if spitting well while brushing, you can use a pea sized amount of paste. 
    • Chalky white spots along the gums of their front teeth are signs of dental decay; these areas should be evaluated by a dental professional. Dark spots are possible evidence of more advanced dental decay; please have your child see a dentist to discuss your options. 
    • Just because you lost your teeth, does NOT mean that your child will. Even though there are genetic links to dental decay or periodontal disease, this does not mean that it is inevitable. This simply means that you need to be more proactive in your child’s care. 
    • Pacifiers and thumb sucking should be subsided by age two. These habits can affect the growth of their mouth. These can cause what is called an “open bite” in which the front teeth are flared and do not touch when your child closes their teeth together. This can make it difficult for the child to eat certain foods. 
    • Bottles and sippy cups at bedtime are not recommended, and if they are used, NOTHING but WATER should be given at bedtime. Anything else can sit on the child’s teeth and cause cavities to form. I hear parents say “But they cry and can’t sleep without their milk”. My response is always that they will have a few rough nights and so will the parents but in the long run, it’s better for their health. 
    As more and more research is conducted, the evidence points to the link between dental and overall health. If you become proactive in your child’s dental care, you may be saving them the heartache of major medical issues in the future. You love your children, no doubt about that. Sometimes it is hard to know or follow through with the right care. Fight the fight and pick your battles with your children, but do not let the important things fall through the cracks! Dental health care is definitely one of these important battles.

    As a registered dental hygienist, I perform dental screenings for the WIC program in the St. Genevieve Health Department on Mondays, and can provide free dental screenings to your children. We also have other dental hygienists available at the Hillsboro WIC office in Jefferson County. Please call COMTREA at 636-232-2334, for more information. 

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  • Dental Education - Got Sensitive Teeth?

    Dental Education - Got Sensitive Teeth?

    Dental Care Education

    Got Sensitive Teeth?

    September 7, 2018 by Sandra Holifield, Oral Health Outreach Manager

    Got Sensitive Teeth?

    Think you won’t ever be able to have ice cream again? Well, good news, you don’t have to live with sensitive teeth!

    There are several reasons why your teeth may become sensitive, ranging from mildly-severe worn tooth enamel to something a bit more detrimental such as a fractured tooth.

    Here are some other possible causes:

    • Brushing too hard resulting in gum recession. This means your protective gums are not covering the most vulnerable parts of your tooth!  
    • Fractured teeth, missing fillings, gum disease or periodontitis, and cavities can also be painful. 
    If you find yourself with some sensitivity, there are options for you depending on your certain situation, and you should always consult your dental professional for detailed answers. Don’t live with the possibility that it could get worse!

    Your dental professional may suggest some of the following treatments for sensitivity:

    Sensitive Toothpaste: This is specially designed to help fill in microscopic tubes in your tooth enamel, which helps to insulate the nerve and help protect it from cold and hot foods or drinks.

    Fluoride Varnish: This would help relieve sensitivity by adding a protective layer over the sensitive area.

    Desensitizing Agents: This treatment can be received at a dental office. Desensitizing treatment is stronger than over-the-counter sensitivity products.

    Gingival Grafting: If your sensitivity is due to brushing too hard or trauma that has removed gum tissue, you may need surgical intervention to help replace the tissue that generally does not grow back on its own. This is called grafting which it is a minor surgical procedure done with a specialist in office under local anesthetics.

    Root Canal: If you have sensitivity due to a large cavity, there is also hope for you! The tooth could undergo a root canal to save it. This is also a procedure done in office under local numbing and helps preserve your smile!

    How do you prevent tooth sensitivity?

    Most of these situations that cause sensitivity can be avoided. If you brush with proper technique and a soft bristled toothbrush, the chance of brushing away the gum tissue is minimal. Ask your dental hygienist how to brush properly and effectively! Brushing also helps prevent tooth decay, or cavities, which helps reduce the need of a root canal in the future!

    Prevention is the key to a less expensive and less painful dental situation! If you have any questions about tooth sensitivity or any other issues with your teeth, gums, or mouth, your dental professional is ready and willing to answer them for you!

    Mouth Healthy. (n.d.-a). Sensitive Teeth. Retrieved from

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  • Dental Education - Is Thanksgiving Food Bad for You?

    Dental Education - Is Thanksgiving Food Bad for You?

    Dental Education - Is Thanksgiving Food Bad for You?

    November 6, 2018

    Is Thanksgiving food BAD for you??

    The short answer is it could be! But, that does not mean you cannot partake!

    Many traditional Thanksgiving foods can be slightly harmful for your teeth, but there’s hope. As long as you take care of your teeth, you can indulge, especially since it’s only once a year.

    It seems that the general public tend to know what foods or drinks are good and bad for you.

    What do you do when you don’t know? Go ask the professionals! Several websites offer great advice for navigating your holiday meals.

    Some of the worst foods to partake of on your holiday retreat would be starchy and sugary foods. Items like candied yams, stuffing, candied nuts, and rolls all contain sugar or starch. These can help feed the bacteria responsible for cavities. And yes, unfortunately, this includes the infamous pecan pie! It’s always best to eat these foods followed by a swish of water or even brushing, if possible.

    Another cavity culprit is soda! We should all know by now that soda contains sugar and acids that help bacteria hosting the perfect environment to thrive. Again, if you drink soda, swish with water or brush, if possible.

    Now that we have an idea of what foods to either avoid or swish after eating, let’s look at foods that might actually be good for your teeth!

    The following advice is available on about the best foods for your oral health around this grateful holiday.

    Some foods that actually combat the bacteria include some holiday appetizers like cheese, raw veggies, and mixed nuts.

    Cheese helps buffer the acid that is needed to break down foods, but this acid can have a negative effect on your teeth if left too long. Eating cheese after drinking soda, for example, would help prevent those negative effects caused by the acid in soda. We also recommend indulging in fresh fruit trays. These can meet your sweet treat needs, but not create damage to your oral health.

    Lastly, let’s talk about drinks. Although there are several options to quench your thirst around the holidays, there are two main drinks that we would recommend: water and tea.

    Water is always the best choice when you are thirsty, holiday or not. Tea contains fluoride and helps keep you hydrated, a home run for oral health!

    So, eat well, drink well, and make great Thanksgiving meal choices. You will have those pearly whites for many Thanksgivings to come! 

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  • Dental Education: "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth"

    Dental Education: "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth"

    Dental Education: "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth"

    December 11, 2018

    Why does it seem like your children’s teeth fall out all at once?

    When should my child expect to lose their two front teeth?

    Tooth losing patterns may vary from child to child, but typically follow the same pattern and timing.

    With infants, you might see a little smidge of a tooth start showing around the six month mark. But do not worry if your child is older and has not had anything visible begin to poke through their gums. In most cases, they may be on their way!

    Some children have been known to be toothless all the way up until their two year birthday!

    If you are worried, most children should go to see the dentist at the age of six months, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends they see a dentist prior to their first birthday. Take this opportunity to speak to a dental professional about any questions or concerns you may have for your child. They can help with questions about pacifier use, sippy cups, thumb sucking or other habits and nutritional needs for your child.

    So, when does the old holiday song, “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth” come into play?

    Well, most likely your child will start singing this tune around the age of 6 or 7. This is the most typical age when the two front teeth have wiggled their way out of your child’s mouth and under their pillows for the Tooth Fairy!

    Even if they lost their two front teeth a while ago, rest assured, they may be singing this tune even around Christmas.

    And unfortunately, you may not be able to give them what they really want for Christmas since their two front teeth will decide when they feel like appearing.

    Additionally, you may notice that children lose all of their back teeth around the same time.

    Between the ages of nine and twelve, your child will lose about twelve teeth. Children will have twenty primary teeth in their childhood, and thirty-two teeth as adults. Their first adult tooth should appear at the young age of 6 years old.

    This is why having a parent helping them brush their teeth is so crucial. Most kids don’t develop the needed brushing dexterity and ability until age 8 or 9, which is necessary for removing plaque and keeping them healthy, even if they insist they don’t need help!

    Whether your child is just starting to teeth or is singing “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth,” remember that your role in their dental health can be crucial.

    Happy Holidays!

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  • Dental Education: Do Your Teeth Need Sunscreen?  Summertime Tips for Healthy Teeth

    Do Your Teeth Need Sunscreen?  Summertime Tips for Healthy Teeth

    Dental Education: Do Your Teeth Need Sunscreen?  Summertime Tips for Healthy Teeth

    June 1, 2019

    During the summer months, we’ve all heard how important sunscreen is to protect your skin. But, what about your teeth? Do they need protection?

    Many summer sports offer the opportunity for misfortune when it comes to trauma and your mouth.

    Wearing a sports guard is highly recommended, if not required, for many contact sports or when it’s possible to have some mishap happen to your teeth. Ask your dental professional which option would be best for you.

    Other summer sports, like swimming, can also have a negative effect on your teeth.

    Swimmers who are frequently in chlorinated pools may be plagued with something called “swimmers stain”. “Swimmers stain” is caused from the chemicals used to keep a pool clean. Usually, this stain is easily removed by your Registered Dental Hygienist or can be polished off.

    Staying hydrated is very important during the hot months.

    What’s the best thing to quench your thirst and keep you healthy? Simple: water.

    Water is the best thing to drink for your teeth. Any drink with bubbles (carbonation) cause acidity levels to rise, which can eventually affect your teeth enamel. Sports drinks can also cause acid to rise. These drinks can be consumed occasionally, but you’ll want to at least swish with water after having them to buffer the acidity.

    So, while you are relaxing in the pool or having fun in the sun, make sure you stay hydrated, protect your teeth, and wear sunblock!

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  • Dental Education: How Exercise Helps Your Teeth

    Dental Education: How Exercise Helps Your Teeth

    Dental Education: How Exercise Helps Your Teeth

    January 8, 2019

    With the New Year upon us, many people take this as an opportunity to improve their health with various resolutions. Some will vow to start working out, attempt to eat better, or even replace bad habits with good routines.

    This poses a very important question about your oral health! Do any of these New Year’s resolutions help your teeth and gums? The answer is YES!

    According to, exercise can actually improve your dental health, while improving overall health.

    Exercise helps reduce the toxins found in your body, and also helps reduce C-reactive proteins. This is all part of the inflammatory response in your body.

    Reduction in the C-reactive proteins and inflammation improves the healing ability of your gum tissue, which helps support your teeth.

    Along with exercise, making good choices when eating helps improve your oral health, and of course, your overall health.

    When your body is receiving the correct types and amounts of nutrients needed, it functions much better. This includes being able to heal and support the needs of your teeth, gum tissue, and the bones supporting your teeth.

    As you think about New Year’s resolutions, consider adding physical activity and a great dental care routine, like visiting your dentist twice a year!

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  • Dental Education: How to Get Rid of Bad Breath

    Dental Education: How to Get Rid of Bad Breath

    Dental Education: How to Get Rid of Bad Breath

    February 27, 2019

    Have you ever had consistent bad breath that just didn’t seem to go away with brushing, flossing, or rinsing with mouthwash? Could it be what you eat? Your home care habits? Or something more serious? Let’s go into what causes bad breath and what you can do.

    Bad breath can come in many forms: morning breath, coffee breath, periodontal disease, food stuck between your teeth, or inadequate home care. Any of these can have an effect, but some are more serious.

    Less serious halitosis, or bad breath, can be caused by short-term issues: not brushing your teeth, not flossing food particles from your teeth, drinking coffee, or eating certain foods like onions or garlic. You can increase the frequency of proper brushing, start flossing to remove food particles, and add an ADA approved mouthwash to your routine. You can also try to avoid foods and drinks that may have that negative affect such as morning coffee, onions at lunch, or garlic bread at dinner.

    Other more serious issues can occur in which halitosis would be a symptom. Periodontal disease, which is caused from a lack of regular home care and regular visits to your dentist, is the deterioration of bone that holds your teeth in place. If left untreated, this could result in removing teeth. In addition, some medical conditions and genetics can make this breakdown happen faster. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss and is usually preventable. This disease may affect other aspects of health including Alzheimer’s, arteriosclerosis, and more.

    Some other issues may be: tonsil stones, GERD, acid reflux, other GI issues, or a plethora of other issues.

    Ultimately, if you find yourself doing the “sniff test” and discovering that you may indeed have bad breath, please see your dental professionals and don’t be afraid to discuss this with them. 

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  • Dental Education: Spring Cleaning is Not Just for Your Home

    Dental Education: Spring Cleaning is Not Just for Your Home

    Dental Education: Spring Cleaning is Not Just for Your Home

    April 1, 2019

    Well now that it’s April, spring has sprung! Flowers are popping up and trees are showing their buds!

    Many people take this as an opportunity for a fresh start, to clear away clutter that’s been plaguing them for the past year. But, “Spring Cleaning” is not just for your home! Spring is a wonderful time to look into an oral health overhaul!

    Several things can lead to neglecting your oral health: laziness (yes, just admit it), lack of insurance or financial ability, apathy, schedules, and many other reasons. Now is the PERFECT time to get back on track!

    What can you do for a fresh start:

    Change your toothbrush or toothbrush head! This should typically be done every three months; if you’ve forgotten, now is the time!

    Schedule your cleaning! If you’ve been putting it off, here is your reminder! Your dental office WANTS to see you and help you stay or get healthy!

    Check expiration dates on mouthwashes or toothpastes…YES-they can expire! This expiration date will let you know when the components will lose their efficacy. In other words, the power of fluoride may be reduced, or the potassium nitrate that helps fight sensitivity to hot or cold may not be accomplishing the job it should.

    Build a new routine! Do you forget to brush at night because you are too tired, too busy, or too lazy? Well, now is the time to develop that oral healthcare routine. Let’s build that brighter, healthier smile today.

    Let’s SPRING into action and start this new season off right!

    If you need help with establishing a great routine for yourself, your dental professionals are ready, willing, and able to help out. We care about your oral health just as much as you do, and want to help you succeed in keeping your body healthy. Not keeping your mouth healthy has been linked to many negative health issues, and we want to keep you around for years and years to come!

    COMTREA has several locations and wonderful, friendly, and caring staff that are here for you to accomplish your oral health “Spring Cleaning” goals! Give us a call today at 1-877-COMTREA.

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  • Exposing Substance Use Disorder in Jefferson County

    Exposing Substance Use Disorder in Jefferson County

    Exposing Substance Use Disorder in Jefferson County

    January 25, 2019

    As we ring in the New Year, it is important to bring awareness to issues that affect our community.

    National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (January 22 – 27) is recognized to raise awareness of the impact of substance use disorder in adults and adolescents.

    In a 2018 report on the use of substances by adolescents, the Missouri Department of Mental Health exposed that 1/3 of students consumed alcohol, 1/3 of students used electronic cigarettes, and 17% of students used marijuana.

    There are multiple reasons why students begin using substances at a young age.

    “We work with many adult patients who began using opioids in their teens, which may have begun by receiving prescriptions to treat injuries or taking a parent’s or friend’s prescription,” said Rachael Bersdale, Vice President of Adult Behavioral Health at COMTREA.

    “These medications can be overpowering to the brain, creating physical and psychological dependence that continues when the prescription ends. This dependence includes intense withdrawal and cravings which make it difficult to stop using and can lead to use of other opioids including heroin,” said Bersdale.

    Other possible reasons for addiction are peer influences at parties or relying on substances as a coping mechanism after experiencing a traumatic event.

    National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week explores common myths about drugs and alcohol. Rod Campbell, Associate Vice President of Youth Behavioral Health at COMTREA states, “We need to dispel the myth that substance use is an adult disease or best treated in adulthood. The reality is the factors contributing to problems with substance use can be identified and treated in childhood. The belief here is that treating these factors early on will equip individuals and families with skills necessary to develop in a healthy manner. In doing so, the hope is to bypass a substance use disorder in adulthood altogether”.

    Another common myth is that “substance use disorders only happen to certain kinds of people” said Bersdale. “Many patients say, ‘I didn’t think this would ever happen to me.’ We have patients from all professions, socioeconomic and education levels, races, and ages”.

    If a loved one or close friend struggles with substance use disorder, it may be difficult to know the best way to approach the situation.

    “The most important thing is to get educated and start the conversation. Let them talk about what they are going through, that you have learned about how difficult this is for them, and that they are loved and have your support,” says Bersdale.

    “Finally, let them know that there is hope for recovery, this is something they don’t have to do alone, and there are resources available for getting effective treatment. With withdrawal, cravings, and trauma that many individuals with substance use disorder experience, they may not be ready to stop using,” said Bersdale.

    “I think it is really helpful for families and friends to have support in dealing with how a loved one’s substance use has affected them,” continues Bersdale. “We are creating a group at COMTREA to help support families and friends, which will be available to the community at no charge”.

    Treatment and resources for support are available from many organizations and providers in Jefferson County and across the state, including inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, and self-help groups.

    COMTREA provides personalized services based on the level of care a patient needs. Visit the COMTREA Welcome Center at 2310 North Truman Blvd, Crystal City, MO 63019 for immediate care, call 636-220-5397, or attend the Open House on February 22 from 2-4 PM.

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  • Lisa Wigger, Executive Manager

    Lisa Wigger, Executive Manager

    Meet Our FamilyTrea

    Lisa Wigger, Executive Manager

    July 23, 2018

    In January 2017, I walked into COMTREA to meet Sue Curfman, CEO, for an interview. Within minutes of meeting with Sue, I knew I wanted to work for her. The excitement and passion she had for COMTREA intrigued me and I wanted to be a part of it!

    From day one, I have felt that COMTREA was the place I was supposed to work. I drive to work every day with a smile, feeling blessed to have my job. I put in the extra effort with everything I do, because I am grateful to be able to work. I remind myself to LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST, NO MATTER WHAT!

    My work day consists of many different tasks and responsibilities. I work directly with the COMTREA Board of Directors to make sure we document all decisions. This is important, especially when it comes to HRSA, the governance of our Health Center. In addition, I work on the annual stakeholder surveys, our annual report, United Way reporting, and guest visits. I also keep track of everything in Sue’s calendar and any special projects that pop up along the way. Other tasks include putting together Leadership Reports, PowerPoints, monthly newsletters, serving as COMTREA’s representative on the JCGA Board, taking notes for various committees, and much more!

    I rarely have any down time and no day is exactly the same; I am generally juggling multiple tasks at the same time and love a challenge. My door is always open and I am always willing to help anyone with anything.

    Away from work, I enjoy hanging with my “chaos crew” aka my three wonderful children or you can often find me working in the yard or completing house projects.

    I have chosen to “live every day like it was your last”, and encourage you to do the same.

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