You’ll notice it in any group picture: There’s always that one person who doesn’t smile, or only gives a half smile without showing their teeth. “It’s because they’re trying to hide how their teeth look,” says Dr. Michael Barbick of the Oral Facial Surgery Institute and Implant Center at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center. One of the most rewarding things about oral and facial surgery is to see how people’s lives are changed when they regain a beautiful smile, he explains. “It’s night and day the way the patient reacts and responds to us differently when we work with a general dentist to give them back that beautiful smile. They’re proud of their teeth and they have the ability to chew better. It gives them more confidence to go about their life.”

    One of the most common surgical procedures seen at the practice is the placement of dental implants for patients with dentures or who need a teeth removed, Barbick says, adding that many technological advances have been made in this area in recent years. Dental implants can be used to provide stability for dentures to prevent rocking, moving or falling out during eating. “We evaluate their needs using the latest, state-of-the-art technology, and are able to custom design treatment based on a CT scan,” he says. “The end result is something that’s permanent and allows them to eat and chew comfortably, and achieve great aesthetics similar to the days when they initially had their teeth.”

    Barbick notes that technological advances have made the placement of dental implants less invasive—while implants used to require weeks of waiting for the crown to be made, now the process can sometimes be done in one day. “Immediately upon removing the tooth due to cavities, periodontal disease or traumatic events, we can replace it with an implant and work with a general dentist to provide the crown that goes on top of it,” he says. The Oral Facial Surgery Institute is able to do procedures using either local anesthetic or intravenous sedation, he adds, which can alleviate anxiety for patients and help provide a more comfortable experience.

    In addition to dental implants, the surgeons of this 21-year-old practice also offer a full range of oral and facial surgery, including tooth removal, bone grafting, facial cosmetic surgery, TMJ surgery, reconstructive jaw surgery following facial trauma, corrective jaw surgery, microsurgical nerve repair for patients with facial numbness or pain, treatment or removal of cysts and tumors of the jaw, and sleep apnea surgery. The practice has locations at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center and in Kirkwood, Chesterfield and Eureka.

    The doctors in the practice pride themselves on a high level of personal service and care, Barbick says. “We’re not a franchise practice; we’re an independent, private practice. The person they consult with is the person who performs the surgery and is available any time afterwards to provide continuing care.”  LN

The Oral Facial Surgery Institute and Implant Center at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center, in its 21st year of practice, has four locations: at St. John’s and in Kirkwood, Chesterfield and Eureka. An experienced team of eight doctors specializes in oral and maxillofacial surgery.  For more information, call 251-6725 or visit

Cover photo by Jason Mueller. Cover design by Andrew Nelms