November, 2010

Protect Your Family From Childhood Cavities

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Through the middle of the 1990’s the rate of dental cavities in children had been decreasing 2-5% annually.  Recently, the Center for Disease Control discovered an incredible increase of 28% in childhood cavities.  Unfortunately the Center is unsure why this change is happening, but they speculate that dietary changes such as highly processed foods and foods high in carbohydrates have made an impact.  More bottled water consumption may also be to blame.

Why these items?  Carbohydrates are the favorite feast of the bacteria that cause cavities and bottled water, unlike most tap water, does not contain fluoride which has been proven to prevent cavities.

Current research into cavities is focusing on the genetics of the bacteria involved.  At the Dental Research Institute, scientist appear to have temporarily stopped the buildup of dental plaque by these bacteria.  Dr. Dennis Cvitkovitch and his team are hoping that one day a mouthwash can be created that would prevent the bacteria from growing and causing cavities.

Until this science becomes a retail reality we will have to prevent cavities the old fashioned way – brushing and flossing.  Fluoride remains one of the most effective means for strengthening your teeth and for fighting cavities.  If you have any questions about cavity prevention for your family please contact Wilbanks Smile Center at 706-886-9439 to schedule an appointment.  A regular dental examination and cleaning will put your mind at ease and set you and your family on the path to a healthy smile.  Remember, our office is always “Mercury Free” and no mercury fillings will ever be used in your family’s teeth.

How To Handle A Dental Emergency When Traveling

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

It never fails.  You are visiting Aunt Tillie for the holidays and just when you bite into her pecan pie you feel something funny – a dental crown has come loose or an old filling has fallen out.   Many of us have experienced a dental emergency – when we are home it is an easy thing to deal with.  You simply call your dentist and arrange for a repair.  But what should you do when you are out of town and are unfamiliar with the dentists in the area you are visiting?

The first thing to remember is NEVER try to repair a loose crown or dental veneer yourself using super glue.  Yes, some people really do try this and for many, many reasons it is a really bad idea.  If a crown has come loose and you want to temporarily place it back in your mouth until you can get to a dentist to have it re-cemented please use a small amount of denture adhesive instead.  Just remember that the denture adhesive will not be a strong bond and chewing on that side of your mouth may cause the crown to come loose again.  Be very careful so you don’t accidentally swallow the dental crown.

It is unusual for a dental veneer to come off but in case you experience this it is best to place the veneer in a container where it won’t be lost or damaged until you can find a dentist to re-cement the veneer in place.   A missing filling should also be seen by a dentist as soon as possible to avoid accidentally breaking the tooth when chewing.

The best way to find a dentist when out of town is to ask for recommendations.  First you can call your own dentist (Wilbanks Smile Center) and ask if they know anyone in the city you are visiting.  Very often I can recommend quality, highly skilled doctors that I have met through continuing education courses.  You can also ask friends or family for recommendations and most hotels have lists of professionals that will take emergency patients.

Dental emergencies rarely happen to patients who maintain a regular schedule of office visits.  Just like regular maintenance visits for your car can prevent breakdowns and expensive repairs – regular dental hygiene visits and examinations can help you avoid experiencing a dental emergency.

Please contact my Toccoa, Georgia full-service dental office today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your examination and dental hygiene visit.  Don’t let a dental emergency ruin your holiday – call today.

What Does My Dentist Have to Do With My Diabetes?

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

It is National Diabetes Health Month and it is time to talk about the importance of the health of your mouth and how it relates to managing diabetes.  Diabetes affects the lives of millions — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate about 24 million Americans have the disease.  Research studies completed in the past few years have proven the link between gum disease and diabetes.

One of the first signs of diabetes may be a change in the health of your gums.  People with diabetes are more prone to infection and the disease can cause gingivitis to progress very quickly to serious periodontal disease.  The Academy of General Dentistry urges patients with diabetes to adhere to a schedule of regular dental checkups and to be especially diligent when brushing and flossing their teeth.  The standard six month recall for dental hygiene appointments may not be enough for diabetic patients, depending upon the health of their gums, so appointments may need to be scheduled more often.

While gum disease can be a sign of diabetes it can also cause the diabetic patient to have a more difficult time managing their blood sugar levels.  Recent research has shown that treatment of infected gum tissue and proper management of periodontal disease in diabetic patients can make a difference in management of blood sugars.  While most diabetic patients would not think of ignoring their diabetic medication or miss testing their blood regularly, many avoid treating their oral health just because they don’t think it is that important.  A healthy mouth, free of infection is one of the goals a diabetic patient should set for themselves

If your gum tissue bleeds easily when brushing and flossing or appears puffy or red please schedule an appointment today.  Contact my Toccoa, Georgia full-service office today at 706-886-9439.  If you feel anxious about visiting a dental office please ask about your options for sedation dentistry – the anxiety-free method of receiving the care you need.

When to Visit a Cosmetic Dentist

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Many people think they they will never need a cosmetic dentist — after all cosmetic dentistry is just for “Hollywood types”.  This idea couldn’t be further from the truth.  For example, you accidentally break a front tooth.  Repairing this tooth will require placing a crown (some people call them “caps”).  All dentists are trained to prepare and place dental crowns.  However, placing a crown in the front of the mouth that matches the surrounding teeth and has the same translucent, vibrant appearance as the adjoining “real” teeth requires extensive training beyond what is taught during a dental education.

A good example is the following photo.

This patient had cosmetic dentistry performed by a general dentist that did not have higher level training. When compared to the same smile made over by a cosmetic dentist, I think the difference is obvious.

Many people have a family dentist that they trust, and the family dentist thinks that he or she can do cosmetic dentistry.  The truth is that doing cosmetic dentistry well requires much specialized study. Thus, his or her attempts often need to be re-done by a true cosmetic dentist. The first dentist is probably well-intentioned and also is probably reluctant to refer the patient to an expert cosmetic dentist for fear of permanently losing that patient.

If you love your current dentist – that’s wonderful.  We all hope that our patients are loyal and like coming to the office.  However, if you are in the market for cosmetic dentistry – whether for an entire smile makeover like the photo above or just repairing one broken tooth so that it brings your smile back to its original beauty you need to check the cosmetic dental training and experience of your dentist.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center at 706-886-9439 to schedule your cosmetic dentistry consultation.  A radiant, beautiful smile can be yours — just in time for the holidays!

Year End Dental Appointments Going Fast

Monday, November 15th, 2010

When I purchased a gallon of milk today I noticed that the date stamp said December 1 – where has the year gone?  Most of our patients with dental insurance  have a set dollar amount of benefits that may be used each year.  It never fails that December becomes very busy as people try to use their remaining benefits for dental care that they have been putting off.

If you find yourself in this situation PLEASE – contact our office at 706-886-9439 as soon as possible.  Our appointment schedule typically fills up around this time of year and we would hate to have to put your appointment back to January.

Please remember that Wilbanks Smile Center does not accept your dental insurance as payment.  However, if you have dental insurance, we are anxious to help you receive your maximum allowable benefits.  In order to achieve these goals, we need your assistance, and your understanding of how we work with insurance.

  • We ask that you come prepared to handle your account at each visit.  We accept cash, checks, Discover, MasterCard, Visa, and American Express.  We offer a 5% discount to those patients who pay by cash or check.
  • We are happy to prepare and file insurance forms.  We will provide you with necessary documentation for the services you receive.  You will receive reimbursement directly from your insurance company.
  • Your insurance is a contract between you, your employer and the insurance company.  We must emphasize that as health care providers, our relationship is with you, not your insurance company.
  • Not all services are a covered benefit in all contracts. Your employer has selected the services that your insurance plan will cover.
  • Due to the overwhelming number of insurance plans, it is impossible for us to be able to guarantee any coverage by your individual insurance plans.

Again, we look forward to helping you maximize your benefits before year end so don’t delay, call us today at 706-886-9439.

Untreated Sleep Apnea Claims Life of Politician

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Pennsylvania State Representative Robert Donatucci was re-elected with an astounding 84% of the vote – giving him a 16th term in the State House.  The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Mr. Donatucci died earlier this week because of his untreated sleep apnea.

According to his brother, Ronald, Representative Donatucci knew that he had sleep apnea but found the mask uncomfortable.  He had resolved to lose a few pounds, his brother said.  He had no history of heart problems.

Many patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea are like Robert Donatucci.  They find the masks and tubing to be uncomfortable and confining and an estimated 25-60% of patients do not use their CPAP machines to treat their sleep apnea.  Many patients that do use their CPAP machines admit to using them for only part of the night or only for a few nights each week.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious, life threatening disease.  If CPAP treatment is not working, another recommended option is oral appliance therapy.  Oral appliance therapy works by using a custom fabricated appliance which is worn in the mouth during sleep.  The oral appliance positions the jaw in a forward position which keeps the airway open and allows the patient to breath normally while sleeping.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, Georgia today at 706-886-9439 to discuss your options for treating obstructive sleep apnea.

Ban on Mercury Dental Amalgam in California City

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Costa Mesa has become the first American city to pass a resolution calling for banning the use of dental amalgam.   The silver colored filling material is controversial because about half of it is mercury, a known neurotoxin.  The resolution passed by the city council calls on federal and state agencies to ban amalgam, for dentists in Costa Mesa to voluntarily switch to non-toxic alternatives and for the other 33 cities in Orange County to adopt similar measures.

California already has declared the mercury in amalgam to be a reproductive toxin and the Dental Board of California requires dentists to distribute a fact sheet to each patient disclosing amalgam’s risks.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will hold hearings at the end of 2010 to consider banning amalgam for children and pregnant women.

Costa Mesa City Council Member Gary Monahan said that dentists and dental workers will benefit because without mercury vapors, dental offices will be a much safer workplace environment.  He also noted that consumers have been deceived by the term “silver fillings” and explained that a 2006 poll showed that over 80% of California residents would pay more to get non-mercury fillings but only 40% of them knew that amalgam’s main component was mercury.

Wilbank Smile Center is proud to be a mercury-free environment.  Our commitment to the total health of our patients means that we offer only mercury-free dentistry.  Removal of old mercury amalgam fillings and replacement with new composite filling material will reduce exposure to mercury and reduce further damage to teeth from old, cracked amalgams.

Please contact my Toccoa, Georgia full-service dental office today at 706-886-9439 for more information about mercury dental amalgams and your health.

Does Fish Oil Help Gum Disease?

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Researchers at Harvard Medical School have found that dietary intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as  fish oil, may be  effective for treatment and prevention of periodontitis.  Periodontitis occurs when gum infection such as gingivitis is left untreated.  The infection spreads from the gums to the ligaments and bone that support the teeth.  The teeth eventually become loose and fall out.  Periodontitis is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults.

The study showed that people who had the highest amount of polyunsaturated fats as a part of their diet were approximately 20% less likely to have periodontitis.  Foods that contain significant amounts of the good fats include fatty fish like salmon, peanut butter and nuts.

Dr. Elizabeth Kaye of the Boston University School of Dental Medicine noted three interesting results emerged from this study.  One was that the odds of developing periodontal disease were significantly reduced even when the intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids was modest.  She notes that the study also showed that more is not better in this case – higher intake did not create any further reduction in the odds of having the disease.  Thirdly, the results did not change when dietary sources plus supplements were studied.  This means that getting a moderate dose of these good fats through diet seem to work just as well as adding pills.

What does this mean for our patients?  At this time we know that eating good fats such as salmon and nuts a few times per week are good for lots of things in our bodies – now we are adding gum health to the list.  Popping fish oil pills won’t cure your periodontal disease however.  Treatment by a dental professional is required to reverse the damage done by infection and inflammation.

If you have any of the following symptoms you have a type of gum disease and should seek treatment as soon as possible.  The disease does not go away on its own and will only worsen over time.

  • Bad Breath
  • Bright red or reddish purple gums
  • Shiny or swollen gums
  • Bleeding when you brush or floss
  • Gums that are tender to the touch
  • Loose teeth

Please contact my Toccoa, Georgia full-service dental office at706-886-9439  as soon as possible to arrange your appointment.  If you have avoided dental care due to fear or anxiety please ask about your options for sedation dentistry. At Wilbanks Smile Center you can get the care that you need without worry.

Denture Cream and Zinc Update

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

A few weeks ago an episode of the television show “House” featured an older gentleman suffering from tingling and numbness in his hands and feet.  The diagnosis – zinc poisoning from excess use of over-the-counter denture adhesive cream.  The problem of zinc in denture creams came to light a couple of years ago when a research paper was published in the journal of The American Academy of Neurology.  While the human body does require some zinc to function well, too much zinc is toxic.  Zinc is a common ingredient in many products, including denture creams.  The problems arise when people with ill-fitting dentures use more than the recommended amounts of denture adhesive, unknowingly poisoning themselves.

The fallout from the zinc toxicity report is ongoing.  GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of Poligrip, has either stopped making or is reformulating three versions of its popular denture adhesive.   The number of lawsuits against the manufacturers of denture adhesives continued to grow. A Google search using any combination of the words zinc and denture cream brings up pages and pages of websites for lawyers seeking clients.

How can you protect yourself if you wear dentures?  The most important thing is to make sure your dentures fit correctly.  Visit your dentist if fit is a problem rather than relying on over-the-counter products.  Remember that once a denture is made it will not fit perfectly forever.  Without teeth anchored in the jaw bone the bone will recede over time and your denture will not fit as it used to.

One way to avoid denture slippage completely is to have your denture anchored by dental implants.  The dental implant holds your denture firmly in place so embarrassing slips are eliminated.

Please contact my Toccoa, Georgia full-service dental practice at 706-886-9439 today to discuss options for making your dentures more comfortable and more secure.

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