April, 2010

Its A Gas, Gas, Gas!

Friday, April 30th, 2010

In 1799 the word “anesthesia” did not even exist.  If you had surgery, dental or otherwise, doctors thought that pain was good.  Doctors at the time believed that screaming would help patients rebound faster.  We can all be very grateful to a young chemist named Humphry Davy who, while searching for a tuberculosis cure, discovered nitrous oxide (laughing gas) instead!

The adventures of young Mr. Davy and other 18th century scientists are outlined in a new book by Richard Holmes entitled Age of Wonder.  The accidental tale of the discovery of this popular dental anesthetic was told on Morning Edition this week (listen here).  Fortunately for all of us,  Mr. Davy had a toothache one day when he was experimenting with the gas – he noticed that the pain temporarily disappeared after he inhaled the gas.

Unfortunately it took doctors another 40 years before they accepted the idea of anesthesia for their patients.  Here at Wilbanks Smile Center the comfort of our patients is our mission.  While some patients are perfectly comfortable with a visit to the dentist, we cater to those who are not.  Thanks to many scientists who have followed in the footprints of Humphry Davy we offer many different options, from Nitrous Oxide to various levels of  sedation, that allow our patients to have their dental needs cared for without causing anxiety or discomfort.

For more information about sedation dentistry and your options for a healthy, white smile contact our office at 706-886-9439.  We proudly serve patients in Banks, Franklin, Stephens and Rabun Counties as a “one stop shop” for all your dental needs.

What is a Crossbite?

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

A Crossbite describes a problem of how your teeth fit together.  Crossbite can range from  involving  just one tooth to a group of teeth.  If your teeth don’t fit together properly, you may have some dental concerns later on in life. Crossbites can be very damaging to the teeth and surrounding tissue.  They cause excessive wear of the teeth, can lead to jaw joint dysfunction (TMD) and cause periodontal problems because the overlapping and crowding do not allow proper cleaning.

Crossbite can be:

  • Posterior Crossbite is where the lower teeth are outside the upper teeth in the back of the mouth
  • An anterior Crossbite is where an upper front tooth is on the inside of the lower teeth

It is always best to repair a Crossbite as early as possible in life but it is never too late. The first step is to ask Dr. Wilbanks at the Wilbanks Smile Center about your options.  One of the  more popular ways to repair this condition is using  Invisalign.

The Invisalign system  is a series of clear, removable aligners that is an alternative to traditional metal braces.  The series of aligners slowly move your teeth into their proper places.   Unlike metal braces they are not cemented to your teeth so you can remove them for eating and cleaning  your teeth.  Most people never know you have braces because they are clear!

If you have any questions regarding Crossbite and Invisalign please do not hesitate to contact our office in Toccoa, Georgia for a consultation at . The Wilbanks Smile Center is a full service practice offering you a “One Stop Shop” for all your dental needs.  Call us at 706-886-9439 we will fully answer your questions and help you achieve a healthy, beautiful smile.

Getting The Mercury Out Of Your Mouth

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

Could you imagine your physician treating your illness with tools used by doctors 150 year ago?  Of course not!  At Wilbanks Smile Center we feel that way about caring for your smile.  Dental amalgam fillings (also called silver or mercury fillings) have been used for over 150 years.  They were initially created as a low cost alternative to gold fillings.  The original recipe contained silver shavings, zinc, copper, tin and mercury.  We now know that mercury is a very hazardous substance but dental amalgam is still used by many dentists because of its low cost.

In addition to the toxic mix that makes up dental amalgam, there are other risks to silver fillings.  The material is very sensitive to temperature changes – it expands and contracts in the presence of heat and cold.  This can cause small cracks and fractures in the filling leading to tooth sensitivity or weakening of the tooth.  Tiny cracks can also allow bacteria to enter through the filling leading to additional decay and creating a bigger problem in the future.  In addition, the dark fillings are not very attractive and, depending upon where they are placed in your mouth can cause unsightly shadows or dark spots when you smile.

Modern dentistry offers many different types of composite fillings that are bonded to your tooth structure.  These composites protect against future decay and help strengthen the tooth.  Once bonded in place, a composite filling won’t change shape or be affected by what you eat or drink.  Best of all, because these fillings are matched to your natural tooth color, they are virtually invisible when you smile.

Mercury fillings have long been controversial and, as time goes on, more and more dentists are following Dr. Wilbanks’ lead and getting the mercury out of their offices and out of the mouths of their patients.  Better health and a more beautiful smile can be achieved with the replacement of old fillings.  Contact our Toccoa, Georgia office at 800-884-9439 for more information about mercury fillings and your health.

Diabetes and Your Dental Health

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Diabetes is a very serious disease that more and more American’s are diagnosed with each year.  The disease causes abnormally high levels of sugar in the patients blood due to a lack of insulin being produced in the pancreas.  Diabetic patients are very susceptible to infections and other chronic diseases as side effects of the disease.  One of the most common infections is periodontal or gum disease and it is one that many diabetic patients can prevent.

The International Diabetes Foundation has stressed the importance of optimal dental health for diabetics in their clinical guidelines.  Diabetics are particularly susceptible to periodontal disease.  According to Dr. Sam Low, President of the American Academy of Periodontology,  “Periodontal disease triggers the body’s inflammatory response which can affect insulin sensitivity and ultimately lead to unhealthy blood sugar levels.  Establishing routine periodontal care is one way to keep diabetes under control.”  Infections in the gums make it more difficult to moderate blood sugar – keeping the gums health helps keep diabetes under control.

Regular dental hygiene visits every three to four months will help keep the risks of periodontal disease low.  Yes, that may be more often than you are used to – research has shown that bacterial colonies reform within about 90 days following a dental cleaning – not six months.  If you are a diabetic patient or have been told that you may be borderline diabetic, a healthy smile can help you keep your disease under control.  Please contact us at 706-886-9439 in Toccoa, Georgia  to arrange your dental hygiene appointment.


Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

A dental abscess is an accumulation of pus that generally forms in the bone surrounding your teeth and drains either through the gums or through a tooth.  Nasty and painful, these events usually start with a bacterial infection either inside the pulp of your tooth or in your gums.

The symptoms of a dental abscess almost always include pain.  The pain may be throbbing and is usually severe, it may even radiate to the ear, jaw or neck.  The affected area may also be sensitive to hot and cold and you may experience a nasty taste in your mouth.  Other symptoms can include a fever and general feeling of being “unwell”.

If you are experiencing symptoms of a dental abscess it is important to see your dentist as soon as possible.  Treatment will include draining the affected area and cleaning the surrounding tissue to prevent further infection.  Antibiotics are usually prescribed for the infection.  Do not attempt to “treat it yourself” by simply taking leftover antibiotics you may have at home.  Left untreated, a dental abscess can cause life threatening infections when the bacteria travel to other parts of the body.

You can do a great deal to prevent ever experiencing a dental abscess.   Brushing and flossing help remove the sticky plaque from your teeth and deprive bacteria of a place to live.  Regular visits to your dental hygienist will ensure that your teeth and gums stay as healthy as possible and that you are performing your home care appropriately.

Contact us today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your dental hygiene appointment and be sure to talk to your hygienist about proper brushing and flossing techniques.

Many people find themselves dealing with dental problems such as this because they are nervous or afraid of going to the dentist.  Dr. Wilbanks and his team can relieve your apprehension through the use of various types of  sedation dentistry so you never have to be nervous about your dental appointment again.  Call for your appointment today.

Kids and Oral Hygiene

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

People often ask about taking care of their child’s teeth.  When should we start brushing their teeth?  When should they come for their first dentist visit?  The answer to the second question is usually around 2-3 years of age.  The answer to the first question is even more important however.  What is done for your child’s teeth prior to the first dental visit can be a key factor in a lifetime of good dental health.

Begin good oral hygiene habits early in your child’s life.  Begin when they are infants, according to pediatric dentist Dr. Sarah Hulland, by wiping their gum tissue with a gauze pad.  Never, ever put your baby to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice.  Dr. Hulland also recommends that parents use a soft, silicone finger brush when teeth first erupt to get the baby used to “brushing”.  When the child is finally ready for their first tooth brush you will need to supervise to make sure a “good job” is accomplished.

Getting your child flossing may be even more important than brushing.  Flossing cleans areas around the teeth where no brush can go.  It loosens the bacteria which allows it to be removed by the toothbrush.  Start flossing for your child at an early age – it allows them to get used to having “fingers in their mouths”.

Teach your children that “prevention is the best form of treatment”.  By preventing periodontal disease and cavities your child can have a lifetime of great oral health – not to mention the savings  by avoiding fillings and treatment for gum disease.

Call our office in Toccoa today to discuss your child’s dental health and make an appointment for a consultation.   Contact us through this link or call 760-886-9439.

Questions About Dental Implants

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Patients often hear about dental implants but don’t always have the facts – here are some answers to common questions:

What is a Dental Implant?

The implant is actually a titanium screw that serves as an artificial tooth root.  This screw is “implanted” into the bone of the upper or lower jaw and serves as the anchor for a replacement tooth.  One implant can be used to replace just one tooth or multiple implants can be used to replace many missing teeth in the form of partial or total dentures.   Fewer follow up visits are required for teeth replaced using implants versus other options such as bridges and removable partials.  Patients with dentures anchored by implants are much happier and have fewer complaints and problems.

What Does It Feel Like?

A dental implant that has been restored feels like a normal tooth.   Implants allow for restorations that don’t require denture glues or pastes because the implant is fused to your living bone and acts just like a real tooth.

What Does It Look Like?

The porcelain crown attached to your implant is matched to the exact color of your teeth and will look completely natural.  Because there is no chance of slipping, like dentures, implants will restore your confidence in eating, speaking and smiling in public.

Are Implants Right For Me?

Dr. Wilbanks will ensure that you are a proper candidate for implants.  If you have lost teeth due to injury or other causes such as decay or gum disease then a dental implant is probably ideal for you – no matter your age.  The ideal patient has healthy gums, good oral health and a strong commitment to flossing and brushing at home.  Enough bone near the missing teeth is needed for the implants to attach to the jaw.  If needed, bone grafting can help prepare your mouth for implants.

What Are The Benefits of Dental Implants?

Every day we are learning more about how important our oral health is to our overall well-being.  Typically when patients lose teeth, they also lose bone.  Because the titanium implant fuses to your jaw, this bone loss is minimized.  Preserving your bone structure is important to help maintain remaining natural teeth as well as your natural facial contours.  The sunken look that denture wearers often have is not from taking their dentures out – it is from bone loss!

Patients that are missing teeth also tend toward poor nutrition – another large factor in maintaining your overall health.  The sense of renewed confidence when smiling, chewing and speaking in itself can be a life changing benefit for some patients.

Please contact our team today at 800-884-9439 to schedule a consultation about how dental implants can improve your smile.

Self Help for TMJ Pain

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Headaches, neck pain, facial pain, weird noises or ringing  in your ears, clicking jaw joints – these are all symptoms of temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) and all difficult to live with.  If you have any one or more of these symptoms you could have a TMJ problem.  Until you are able to get an appointment with your dentist who has been specially trained to treat TMJ dysfunction, here are some do-it-yourself suggestions that can help ease your discomfort.

Ice is your friend. Gel ice packs are available at your local pharmacy.  Simply freeze and they and are easy to apply to the jaw area.  Like you might apply ice to your sprained ankle, ice on the temporomandibular joint helps reduce swelling and pain.  If you can tolerate ibuprofen (Motrin) take some.  It is a wonderful drug to reduce inflammation and help begin healing but follow label directions and always take on a full stomach.

Modify your diet. Again, think of your injured jaw joint like a sprained ankle.  When you eat hard or chewy foods, you are “running” on that jaw joint.  Place yourself on a non-chew soft diet.  Nothing harder than the consistency of cooked pasta.  This is the time for mashed potatoes and smoothies.   No chewing gum or gnawing on ice and stifle your yawns as much as possible.  In general, minimize using your lower jaw as much as possible.

Gentle passive exercises will help strengthen the muscles of the temporomandibular joint  and mouth area.  These are important to help maintain a healthy range of motion.  A referral to a qualified physical therapist is always beneficial in getting the TMJ muscles relaxed and pain free.

Treating temporomandibular joint dysfunctions is not something that every dentist is trained to do.  The jaw joint is among the most complex in the human body and it takes advanced training in  to effectively treat these types of cases.

These self-help tips will not “cure” your TMJ problem but may help make you more comfortable until your appointment.  Please contact Dr. Wilbanks today at 800-884-9439 to schedule your consultation at our Toccoa, George office.

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