June, 2011

No More Dental Fears

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

It has been estimated that between 9 and 15 percent of Americans avoid getting the dental care they need because of fear and anxiety — that’s 30 to 40 million people. People with a phobia about dentists put off routine care, tolerate gum infections and pain, even learn to live with broken teeth. Too often simple problems turn into major health issues because regular care is ignored.

The solution to this problem – sedation dentistry. There are several choices in the type of sedation used for patients with dental fears. Depending upon the health and level of anxiety experienced by the patient the doctor will guide the patient in choosing the type of sedation that is right for them. Choices include nitrous oxide, and oral or IV sedation.

Sedation dentistry allows years of neglect to be corrected in just one visit with the patient feeling completely relaxed and comfortable.  Each patient is closely monitored during treatment so that he or she will receive the correct dosage of sedation to reach the level of relaxation desired. There is typically an amnesiac effect that goes along with sedation dentistry so even though patients are not completely asleep during the visit they still don’t remember the experience.

Gum disease can affect more than just your mouth. Oral bacteria can travel to other parts of the body and have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and problems in pregnancy. Tooth infections can spread to surrounding bone if left untreated leading to serious illness and even hospitalization.

If you have avoided caring for your dental health because of fear and anxiety you can get the care you need in a caring, safe environment through the use of  sedation dentistry. Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, Georgia today at 706-886-9439 today and ask about sedation dentistry.

FDA Includes Oral Cancer Warning on Cigarette Packs

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

The new regulations about the health warnings that are required on packages of cigarettes and on cigarette advertising will include warnings about oral cancer.

The graphic images that have been selected by the FDA warn about various smoking related diseases, pregnancy complications and death. The image chosen to portray oral cancer features a nasty looking cancerous lesion on a lip with a truly horrible looking set of teeth.

This image seems to actually serve two purposes – the obvious warning that smoking causes cancer but it also portrays the damage that smoking does to teeth and gums. According to the FDA the image was tested in focus groups and scored very high on the emotional scale and the “difficult to look at” measure. The FDA regulatory document stated “the selected image ‘cancerous lesion on lip’ is likely to have particular relevance for youth… the research literature suggests that youth are likely to relate to and be susceptible to cigarette warnings depicting the negative short-term impacts of smoking on their personal appearance, including their lips and teeth.” In other words, teenagers worry about their looks and what they will look like in six months to a year, the idea that they might get cancer seems a long way away but having ugly teeth or lips is something that will actually make them think twice about having that first cigarette.

Here at Wilbanks Smile Center we have seen teeth and gums damaged by years of smoking. If you are an ex-smoker – congratulations! You have achieved a difficult goal. Let us help you restore your oral health and give you the smile you have always dreamed of. I guarantee that seeing a beautiful, white, healthy smile in the mirror every day will make it easier to avoid temptation.

Please contact our Toccoa office at 706-886-9439 to discover your beautiful smile.

Oral Health Changes When Kids Hit Puberty

Friday, June 24th, 2011

There are many obvious body changes when children hit puberty. Other changes are not so obvious and one that most parents are not aware of is how changing hormone levels affect kids oral health. Changes in hormone levels, especially in girls, cause changes in the bacteria in the mouth. The results tend to be inflamed, irritated gums.

While it seems like the kids should be old enough to keep track of their own oral hygiene (freeing you from one parental duty) now is the time to increase the nagging about flossing. Because gums may be tender and/or bleed there may be arguments about flossing. Brushing for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste after meals should be emphasized. Brushing before bed is even more important because of reduced saliva flow while we sleep. A clean mouth at bedtime is highly effective in preventing tooth decay and gum disease.

Since kids become much more aware of their looks at this age a crooked smile can wreak havoc on self-esteem. Orthodontic treatments today start much earlier for children and typically take from one to three years. Don’t think that orthodontic treatment is done solely to improve appearance. Over time crooked teeth tend to have more cavities because they are harder to keep clean. Jaw joint pain can also occur when teeth don’t fit together properly.

Please contact us today at 706-886-9439 to schedule an appointment for your child. Working as a team we can help your child navigate the journey to healthy adult oral care habits.

Mercury Based Fillings Still Used In Large Dental Clinics

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

The Journal of the American Dental Association just reported that US dentists are still placing more mercury based amalgam fillings than composites and that dental schools are still emphasizing the old-style fillings. Researcher Dr. Sonia Makhija of the University of Alabama said “I thought that most people were using composite.” She went on “It was surprising that so many people are using amalgam.”

I agree with Dr. Makhija, these findings are surprising considering the improvements in resin-based composite technology in the past several years and the fact that silver amalgam fillings are almost one-half mercury, a known neurotoxin.

Composite fillings are more natural looking because they are tooth-colored. They also are less invasive because less tooth structure needs to be removed and studies have shown they are just as durable as the old-style fillings.

The study did note that large group dental practices which typically employ new dental school graduates place more mercury based amalgam fillings. These large practices use materials that may be dictated by managers rather than dentists themselves.  For these types of  clinics “It’s quicker, it’s easier and it’s cheaper to use amalgam” said Dr. Makhija.

Wilbanks Smile Center is a mercury free practice and we are proud to offer our patients only the finest in restorative materials. Avoiding mercury is healthier for our patients, our team members and our environment.

Please contact our Toccoa office at 706-886-9439 today to schedule your appointment. We’ll be happy to explain Mercury-Free Dentistry and how it benefits you!

Dental Implants Offer a More Natural Smile

Friday, June 17th, 2011

I realize that putting the words “dental implants” and “natural” together may not seem like it makes sense but it is a true statement for a number of reasons. It used to be that the only choice for replacing a missing tooth or teeth was a bridge or a partial denture. While these were fine methods for replacing that missing tooth they were far from natural in feel or in appearance. If you have had experience with either of these you know that your speaking and especially, your eating habits are greatly impacted.

Fast forward to 2011 and dental implants are the preferred tooth replacement method for most patients. A dental implant is a screw-like device that is placed in the bone where your old tooth used to be. Your bone bonds and grows around the implant anchoring it in place, just like a real tooth root. A special type of dental crown completes the process. The final product looks and feels just like your natural tooth. Eating and speaking will feel just like they did before the tooth loss.

The best way to find out if you are a candidate for dental implants is to ask your dentist. Dental implants can also be used to anchor complete set of dentures giving you a beautiful smile without the worry of slippage.

We will be happy to answer any of your questions about dental implants. Please contact our Toccoa office at 706-886-9439 today.

Patients Confused By Oral Cancer Discussions on TV

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Television shows like Dr. Oz, The Doctors and Oprah have done a wonderful job explaining frightening health conditions to the general public. Actually I should say that most of the time these shows do a wonderful job. Because their time is limited and because of commercial interruptions the information can become disjointed and confusing for viewers.

Dr. Oz recently did a show about oral cancer and the importance of screening for the disease. Overall the show did a great job explaining how deadly this disease can be and how regular screening could save so many lives. The show also talked about risk factors for the disease. After a discussion with a patient the other day I think some of the information may have gotten confusing for viewers.

The topic of discussion was the new phenomenon of younger people getting oral cancers. This used to be a disease that would mostly appear in middle-age or older adults, primarily male and usually with a history of smoking or drinking alcohol (or both). The reason young people are showing up with the disease is HPV. The Human Papillomavirus or HPV as it is commonly called is a sexually transmitted disease that is also responsible for many cervical cancers in women.

My patient  believed that since she didn’t have HPV she could never get an oral cancer. Not true! There are many causes for cancers that we do not know about and even those who have no known risk factors have gotten the disease. The best protection is regular screening – no matter what your age. The survival rate for oral cancers that are caught early is incredibly high – unfortunately most cases are not discovered until the disease is very advanced.

Please contact our Toccoa, Georgia office today at 706-886-9439 today to schedule your appointment for your dental examination including an oral cancer screening.

Over the Counter Can Mean Over Bleaching

Monday, June 13th, 2011

People wanting a bright, white smile is not a modern phenomenon. In the 1100′s people were told to scrub their teeth with a sage and salt mixture to make them firm, white and healthy. In later years different types of acids were tried as a method of stripping stains. Unfortunately they also stripped away all the enamel on the teeth! During the 1980′s we started to see the beginning of in-office bleaching treatments and today there are many options for a whiter smile.

While tooth bleaching under the direction of your dentist is very safe and effective, the abundance of  drugstore products have given rise to a new dental health problem – attempting to over bleach the teeth. American’s spend almost a billion dollars each year on over-the-counter whitening products. Some of these products are effective, others are simply destructive but they are all being over-used.

The problem with becoming a whitening addict is that overuse of these products actually strips away the protective enamel on your teeth which, ironically, will cause them to look yellow. Since tooth enamel doesn’t grow back, the teeth are left weak and prone to decay and breakage.

Your smile can be whitened safely but like anything else – moderation is the key. To protect your smile it is always best to have your dentist supervise your bleaching process.  For those who are seeking immediate gratification – the Zoom or Rembrandt in-office bleaching system is perfect. Custom bleaching trays worn at home with professional strength whitening gel is another option or we can combine the two methods to achieve your brightest, whitest smile while keeping that important tooth enamel safe from damage!

If you are thinking of whitening your teeth please contact us at 706-886-9439 to discuss your options to safely achieve a beautiful bright, white smile.

Oral Cancer Discussed on Dr. Oz

Friday, June 10th, 2011

One person dies from oral cancer each hour — this is a terrible statistic for a disease that is so easily spotted and diagnosed. In fact, when diagnosed early the disease has a very high rate of cure. Unfortunately, most people don’t get diagnosed until much too late. The Dr. Oz television show discussed the importance of screening and early detection this week.

Oral cancer screening should be a part of every comprehensive dental examination. If your dentist is not performing oral cancer screenings on you and your family it might be time to seek a higher quality of care. It was surprising the number of audience members on the Dr. Oz show that did not remember having their dentist perform an oral cancer screening during their visits.

One fact that surprised Dr. Oz was the growth in the number of oral cancer cases in young adults. Oral cancers used to be seen in older men who smoked and drank alcohol. Today many young people are becoming victims of oral cancer due to HPV infection.

Dr. Oz also informed his audience what symptoms  look for in their own mouths. The signs  of oral cancer include:  a lump in the throat, a lump or thickening in the lining of the mouth, red or white lesions in the mouth, and any dark spots on the tongue. If you notice any of these symptoms please contact your dentist for an immediate oral examination and diagnosis.

If you have not visited the dentist in a while – don’t delay any longer. Please contact our Toccoa, Georgia office at 706-886-9439 today to schedule your appointment.

Headaches May Be Caused By Poor Bite

Friday, June 10th, 2011

More people complain about headaches than any other medical condition. About 45 million Americans suffer from headaches each year robbing them of time at work, school or with their families. Attempting to discover the reason for the headaches often leads to many visits to physicians and specialists without receiving a diagnosis.

Continual headaches or migraines, especially in the morning, may be a sign of temporomandibular joint dysfunction or TMJ. The temporomandibular joint (jaw joint) is one of the most complex in the human body. A common cause of TMJ pain is a poor bite which is also called malocclusion.

Malocclusion can occur for many reasons. Teeth may not fit together properly because of old, broken dental work, misaligned teeth or missing teeth. A dentist who has specialized training has the ability to correct the improper bite and relieve stress on the temporomandibular joint. This relieves the recurring headaches and the neck and shoulder pain that often accompany them.

If you suffer from frequent, recurring headaches please contact Wilbanks Smile Center today at 706-886-9439. Relief from headache pain is within reach.

Women Beat Out Men When It Comes to Oral Health

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) women are the stronger sex when it comes to dental health. Why? Simply because they seem to make their oral health more of a priority than men do. Women get routine dental checkups more frequently and are more likely to visit the dentist quickly when they have an injury or believe they have a dental problem.

The research published in the Journal of Periodontology also shows that women are 26% more likely to use floss on a daily basis. Seventy-five percent of the women polled would feel embarrassed and frustrated if they were missing a tooth. Only half of the men said they would feel embarrassed about a gap in their smile. Women also notice missing teeth in others much faster than men do.

The frightening statistic for men is that only one-third of the men felt that controlling periodontal disease was important to maintaining good overall health. Unfortunately even though more women understood the importance of periodontal health only 44% believed it affected their overall health.

While women in general have a much better attitude and understanding about the importance of dental health it looks like the dental community still needs to spread the word about oral infections and how they can affect the rest of your body.

Ladies, keep up the good work! Proper home care works as shown in the study – the women had fewer signs of periodontal disease (bleeding gums and dental plaque) than the men. Remember that regular dental hygiene visits are still needed to maintain oral health.

Please contact our Toccoa, Georgia office today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your appointment today. Don’t forget to schedule one for the man in your life as well!

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