October, 2010

Japanese Study Links Facial Changes to CPAP Use

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

A small study out of Japan recently showed that using nasal CPAP for just three years showed changes in the jaws and teeth.  The lead author of the study, Dr. Hiroko Tsuda noted that “the whole front area of the maxilla was pushed back…” and that “these changes may affect the profile, tongue space and OSA symptoms”.  This study has generated controversy on many CPAP support group websites.

One posting noted:  “Certainly it affects some people ‘cos at least two of of us on this list have changes. Mine are on the point of making chewing impossible and it is 100% caused by CPAP mask pressure.  I have been on CPAP at least 7 years.  However, as you say, CPAP is a life saver so that means working with it rather than giving up. Unthinkable to give up even if I must puree my food.”

These comments, along with this study, simply underline the need for a team effort in the treatment of patients with obstructive sleep apnea.  Even for the minority of patients fortunate enough to tolerate CPAP therapy should be visiting a dentist regularly.  Hopefully they are visiting a dentist trained in dental sleep medicine and one with experience diagnosing and treating temporomandibular joint dysfunction.  Having your dentist monitor your jaw and bite can help prevent problems like the ones afflicting the lady who wrote the post about pureeing her food.

If you are unable to tolerate CPAP therapy don’t despair of treating your OSA.  Oral appliance therapy is a good option for mild to moderate sleep apnea and may be used in more severe cases when the patient is CPAP intolerant.

Please contact my Toccoa, Georgia full-service dental office today at 706-886-9439 for more information regarding diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.

Coffee Drinkers and Oral Cancer

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Remember when drinking coffee was bad for you?  Now it seems that coffee is not only a source of antioxidants but is associated with reduced risk of oral cancer.  Italian researchers performed a meta-analysis of previous studies on the subject.

The investigators discovered that drinking coffee is associated with a 36% reduction in the risk for cancer of the mouth area and pharnyx.  How many cups per day are required to give this benefit was not determined.  However, most of the studies analyzed compared drinkers of 3 or more cups per day to drinkers of less than a cup a day showing “a favorable effect of coffee at moderate/high doses”.

The study authors also point out that coffee drinking has been shown to reduce risk for liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, endometrial cancer and colorectal cancer.   It seems coffee has more to offer us than just a morning wake-up!

Coffee does have its downside as well.   Caffeine is not tolerated well by everyone and for some medical conditions it should be avoided.  Talk to your physician if you are unsure.   Remember that an oral cancer screening is always part of your comprehensive oral examination at Wilbanks Smile Center.

Coffee can also cause teeth to stain.  While regular dental hygiene appointments for cleaning and polishing can remove most stains on teeth if you are looking for a whiter, brighter smile ask about your options for dental bleaching.

Please contact my Toccoa, Georgia full service dental office at 706-886-9439 to schedule your appointment for your comprehensive examination including oral cancer screening or your dental hygiene appointment.  Don’t forget to ask about dental bleaching for a younger, brighter smile.

Putting Under Armour Performance Mouthguard to the Test

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

A columnist for the online basketball magazine Slam Online is in the process of testing the Armour Bite technology for himself and posting the results in his column.  He is testing to see if the device actually enhances his physical performance as it claims to do.

Under Armour Performance Mouthwear is a product developed by Under Armour and Bite Tech.  The science behind the mouthguard is simple.  When you stress your body athletically, you automatically clench your jaw.  The clenched jaw and teeth compress the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) which triggers the release of cortisol, a hormone that causes stress, fatigue and distraction.  The technology of the Under Armour Performance Mouthwear prevents your teeth from clenching and moves the jaw forward to avoid pressure on the TMJ.  This allows for an increase in strength (average 17%), flexibility and better response to auditory cues.

The author tested the device on the golf course and felt that his golf swing was indeed improved when hitting the ball using the mouthguard than when he hit without wearing it. It will be interesting to see how he performs in other sports.

Performance mouthguards are not just for elite athletes.  Weekend warriors who participate in golf, tennis, weightlifting and running can all benefit from improved performance with this technology.  Not all dentists are trained to fit performance mouthwear.  Ask about Under Armour Performance Mouthwear when you contact my office at 706-886-9439.

Dental Care Available for Fearful Patients

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

As many as 20% of patients who don’t make regular trips to the dentist cite the fear of dentists as the primary reason why they don’t seek regular dental treatment.

Since it is so important for patients to receive regular dental care for overall health, here at Wilbanks Smile Center we try to encourage our patients to keep their regular dental appointments by making visits as comfortable and stress free as possible. In addition to the early detection of dental problems like oral bone loss, infection, and gum disease, poor dental hygiene can also lead to an increased risk of strokes and heart disease.  Part of your comprehensive examination also includes a regular check for oral cancer, which may otherwise go undetected.

The fear of dentists can be the result of numerous situations, but is frequently the result of the anticipation of pain, either involving the procedure itself or the needles that are associated with the numbing process. Many older patients may have endured dental treatments that were unduly painful prior to modern pain free dental techniques.

A feeling of not being in control may also result in a fear of dentists and in some rare cases, a phobia of dental care.

Despite the nature of fearful symptoms in some patients, there are numerous options that are available to provide successful dental treatment.

Sedation dentistry uses a range of medications and most anxious patients respond well to it.  While local anesthetics may also be needed during a potentially painful procedure, the injection is usually given following the administration of a sedative.  Before appointments, oral sedatives may be given to patients inducing a feeling of relaxation and sedation by IV is another option available for patients that require it. Another tool that is used in sedation dentistry is nitrous oxide which gives the patient a calm and relaxed feeling when it is inhaled.

Please contact my Toccoa, Georgia full-service dental office today to discuss your options for anxiety-free dental treatment.  Get the care you need without the stress by calling 706-886-9439 today.

Healthy Smiles Equal Healthy Hearts for Women

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

In October everything turns pink for breast cancer awareness which is a really worthy cause and has helped save many lives.  What many women don’t know that they are actually at a much higher risk from heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.  The ways of protecting yourself are mostly familiar, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and don’t smoke.

Women need to add visit the dentist regularly to this list.  A new study led by a University of California, Berkeley researcher shows that women who got dental care reduced their risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular problems by at least one-third.

The journal Health Economics reported that the study compared people who went to the dentist during the previous two years with those who did not.  “Many studies have found associations between dental care and cardiovascular disease, but our study is the first to show that general dental care leads to fewer heart attacks, strokes, and other adverse cardiovascular outcomes in a causal way” said study author Timothy Brown.  The method used in the study ruled out the possibility that people who seek out dental care  are perhaps healthier in general that those who don’t.

The study authors suggest that for dental care to be protective of women’ s  hearts it should occur early in the development of cardiovascular disease.    It seems to me that lifelong good oral hygiene care would be best of all.

If you are a woman who has not visited the dentist recently, or if a female loved one is skipping her dental visits it is important to contact my Toccoa, Georgia office at 706-886-9439 to schedule an appointment.  A healthy smile and a healthy heart go hand in hand.

Halloween Candy - Scary for your Smile

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Halloween is almost here with the cute kids in costumes and the not-so-cute bowl of  Halloween goodies lurking by the front door.  The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD)  has provided recommendations to help preserve children’ s teeth in October and throughout the year.  These suggestions work for everyone – not just the kids!

  • Avoid chewy treats that stick to teeth and cause more damage
  • Monitor candy consumption – allow treats in moderation
  • Mix in healthy snacks.  Have some cheese or yogurt along with that piece of candy.
  • Floss after snacking – teach your children the proper technique (if you are unsure ask your dentist)
  • Make tooth brushing fun – Seasonal tooth brushes can get kids excited about brushing.
  • Schedule a visit to the dentist.

According to Dr. John R. Liu, President of the AAPD “Let’s face it, Halloween is a holiday that every child looks forward to and embraces each year.  Rather than denying children the option to trick or treat, we advise that parents maintain their regular routine.”  He suggests “Choose each child’s favorite treat and allow them to enjoy one piece after a meal.  The remainder of the candy can be given to a local homeless shelter or a food bank in order to prevent overindulgence.”

Candy is no more likely to cause cavities than most other foods but children, and adults, who snack frequently are at the greatest risk for cavities.  Reduce the risk of cavities for you and your family by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center today at 706-886-9439 and scheduling your appointment.  Unlike Halloween ghosts and goblins, there is nothing to be afraid of at Wilbanks Smile Center where you have several options for anxiety-free dental care.  Ask about your sedation dentistry options when you call.

5 Reasons for Getting a Dental Implant

Friday, October 8th, 2010

There are many ways to replace missing teeth but only one method – the dental implant - so closely matches how natural teeth work in the mouth.  Here are some reasons you should consider an implant:

1.  Dental implants help save your jawbone.  The old adage “use it or lose it” applies to the bone in our jaw as well.  Without the tooth roots the bone has no stimulation and will simply be absorbed  into the body.

2.  Dental implants make you look younger!  Our teeth and bones support our facial features, keeping them in place.  Losing teeth (and jaw bone – see above) ages your facial appearance.  Dental implants also allow you to smile and laugh without worrying which makes you feel better and when you feel good you look great!

3.  Dental implants last longer.  Ordinary wear and tear and decay underneath attached teeth can cause normal dental bridges or partial dentures to need repair and replacement after several years of use.  A successful dental implant can easily last 20 years or more and will never decay because they are made of titanium.

4.  Dental implants improve your speech.  No, they won’t get rid of the accent you’ve been trying to lose for years but they help you avoid the clicking or whistling that can accompany poor fitting partial or full dentures.  Dentures can be bulky and frequently come loose.  Since dental implants act like real teeth – you can speak with confidence.

5.  Dental implants help keep your remaining teeth where they belong.  When one tooth is removed, the others start to wander to fill in the empty spot.  This can lead to a bad bite and its accompanying headaches, jaw pain and muscle soreness.  A dental implant keeps the existing teeth in their rightful places and maintains your good “bite”.

While dental implants may initially cost more than alternative tooth replacements in the long run, over the life of the implant,  the costs may even out.  Plus the  dramatically better quality of life and comfort given by a dental implant is hard to put a price tag on.

Please contact my Toccoa, Georgia full-service dental office today at 706-886-9439 to discuss whether you are a candidate for a dental implant.

Sexy Smile Survey

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Based on a new survey conducted by Waterpik a clean mouth is a turn-on.  The survey suggested that partners preferred good oral hygiene over date night standards such as dimming the lights, candles, wearing perfume or listening to mood music.  According to Kelton Research “the results of this study reinforced some of what we already knew- that most consumers simply don’t like to floss with string – but we were surprised at how important oral hygiene was in order to be attractive to your significant other.”

The survey also found that despite valuing  good flossing habits in others, Americans have a complicated relationship with floss.

Survey shows – Americans are most likely to floss when food is stuck in their teeth (64%) or right before going to the dentist(51%).

Survey shows – Almost 60% say they deserve a barely passing grade (C or lower) for their efforts to floss every day.

Survey shows – Almost the same percentage (57%) says that floss makes their gums bleed or that the floss gets stuck between their teeth.

The last part of the survey is the most disturbing – if your gums bleed when you brush or floss it means that gum disease is present.  Gum disease not only affects your oral health, causing bad breath, sore gums and potential tooth loss – the oral bacteria involved have been linked to illness such as diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers and stroke.

If your gums bleed when you brush or floss please contact my Toccoa, Georgia full-service dental practice today at 706-886-9439.  Gum disease is treatable and new advances have made treatment much simpler than in the past.  If fear or anxiety are the reasons you have avoided dental treatment please ask about your range of options for sedation dentistry, an anxiety-free, relaxing way to get the treatment you need.

Dental Mercury Waste - Where Does It Go?

Friday, October 1st, 2010

According to the American Dental Association (ADA) the Environmental Protection Agency has plans to set up rules to reduce mercury waste from dental facilities.  The EPA expects the new rules to take place in 2012.  While the ADA has a policy that encourages dentists to voluntarily reduce amalgam in dental office wastewater it is now expected to review its amalgam separator policy before the EPA rule is is place.

The EPA believes that dental amalgams are responsible for 3.7 tons of mercury discharged into wastewater from dental facilities each year.  Technology called “amalgam separators” can reduce 95% of this mercury that is normally sent to local wastewater treatment plants.  The separators capture the mercury which can be recycled and reused.

Countries worldwide have banned dental amalgam completely because of the dangers of mercury.  Here in the United States it is still used primarily because it is cheap and easy to use.  Wilbanks Smile Center is mercury-free and more and more dental offices are deciding that, like Wilbanks Smile Center, using amalgam is unacceptable.

If you have old mercury-based amalgam fillings it is probably time to have them replaced.  Amalgam expands and contracts when in contact with heat and cold.  This leads to leaks in the filling itself which allow bacteria to begin decay of the tooth under the filling.  It can also lead to cracking of the tooth when the filling expands.

Please contact my Toccoa, Georgia full-service dental office at 706-886-9439.  Ask about your options for replacing mercury-based dental amalgam today.

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