July, 2011

DIY Not Always A Good Idea

Friday, July 29th, 2011

There is an entire network devoted to DIY or Do-It-Yourself. We also search the internet for DIY advice on many subjects. The problem is that not all of the information on the internet comes from legitimate sources. One potentially dangerous problem that is appearing in Europe and the United States is do-it-yourself tooth whitening advice.

Blogs, You-tube videos, and websites detailing the how-to’s of DIY dental whitening abound. Most cite the expense of professional tooth whitening — what they don’t tell you is that some of these “treatments” can actually dissolve your tooth enamel leaving your teeth permanently dark in color, extremely sensitive and subject to decay. Repairing this type of damage is extremely costly. This is one of those times where the costs outweigh any savings.

According to Anthony Eder, Clinical Director of the London Tooth Wear Center “Household baking soda is very abrasive, so that with repeated use the white enamel may be worn away and leave teeth browner and with increased sensitivity. Salt crystals will scratch the enamel. Any treatment involving acid is particularly harmful.”

Professional tooth whitening is designed to safely brighten your smile. Not all types of whitening work for all types of dingy  teeth and your dentist can tell you what method will work best for you. For patients with severely damaged or destroyed enamel and certain types of staining no amount of bleaching will get their teeth white.

A whiter smile is a wonderful goal — but to make sure you reach that goal safely please contact our office today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your tooth whitening consultation. Remember,  teeth that have not been professionally cleaned will not whiten evenly so it is important to visit your dental hygienist prior to your whitening appointment.

Toddler Tooth Decay Still a Big Problem

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Dentists and pediatricians are working together to fight one of early childhood’s biggest health problems – tooth decay. The University of Washington is holding a symposium on ways that doctors and dentists can work together to keep kids teeth healthy.

This may not seem like a big problem but while most of America is getting fewer cavities, Dr. Joel Berg says “For preschoolers it’s actually gotten worse in the last couple of decades. There are more cavities, there are more kids coming into emergency rooms with swollen faces, because they have an infection that’s gone beyond the tooth.”

Regular visits for children are important starting when they reach their first birthday. Unfortunately many children don’t see a dentist until they are 6 or older which is why dentists have been training pediatricians to look for tooth decay. These toddlers typically see their pediatrician regularly for shots and minor illness during their early years.

Why are children getting so many cavities? Blame the sugar! Toddlers are constantly exposed to fruit juice, fruit leathers, crackers, even milk in a sippy cup can cause problems if children have access to it all day long. Give the little ones water to drink if they insist on carrying a sippy cup everywhere they go and make sure they eat healthy snacks. Plan on visiting the dentist early with your child, this will make them comfortable with the process and when problems are found early they can be treated easily.

As your child gets older you may discover your child needs orthodontic treatment. Braces do more than give your child straight, beautiful teeth — they also ensure that your child’s teeth are spaced correctly so that they can keep them clean and cavity free. Braces also make sure that your child’s bite is healthy and correct which can help them avoid painful TMJ problems later in life.

If you have questions about the dental health of your children please contact our Toccoa office today at 706-886-9439.

Do's and Don'ts for TMJ Pain

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Jaw pain, headaches, neck pain, jaw stiffness or “locking” and even ear discomfort are symptoms of a problem with the jaw joint. Many people refer to this as “TMJ” (for temporomandibular joint) or “TMD” which stands for temporomandibular joint dysfunction. There are many causes but here are a few tips to help manage your condition.

  • DO practice Lips Together, Teeth Apart to place your jaw in a good resting position
  • DO chew on both sides of your mouth when eating
  • DO drink from a straw, drinking from a glass protrudes your lower jaw
  • DO use ice packs for pain and inflammation, remember only 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off
  • DO check your posture when sitting at a desk or watching TV

Now for the things to avoid:

  • DON’T chew ice – it is one of the worst things you can do
  • DON’T rest your head in your hand when sitting at a desk or watching TV
  • DON’T chew gum, ever.
  • DON’T chew tough foods such as steak, raw vegetables (no salads), nuts, chewy candy. When your jaw is inflamed you should avoid any food harder than cooked pasta.
  • DON’T test your jaw opening by opening wide or sliding from side to side. You will further damage and irritate the jaw joint, let it rest.

It is extremely important for TMD patients to get proper rest and nutrition. While salads and raw vegetables are off the menu you should eat plenty of cooked veggies and easy to eat proteins. For many people these lifestyle changes may be temporary as their condition improves, for others these may be life-long changes.

Treatment for TMD also involves wearing a custom orthotic device that is created by your dentist. This device will help keep your jaw in its optimal position allowing the muscles to relax. Because many patients with TMD also grind their teeth at night this device will protect your teeth from damage.

If you suffer from  headaches, facial  or jaw pain please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa today to schedule your evaluation. We can be reached at 706-886-9439 and we can help alleviate your pain.

Menopause Affects Your Oral Health

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Almost 30% of post-menopausal women will suffer from tooth loss according to researchers. That  risk increases to nearly 90% if other risk factors such as smoking or diabetes are present. The research published in Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology looked at  over 1000 women during a five year period and found that almost 300 of them suffered from tooth loss during the study. The researchers  speculate that changes during menopause may be the reason why more women suffer from tooth loss despite the fact that they typically have better oral health than men.

It is also clear from the research that risk factors such as smoking, diabetes and previous poor oral health combine to create a very high risk of tooth loss for these women. Losing teeth can impact self-esteem and quality of life. The British Dental Health Foundation commented “It is clearly a period of life when special attention needs to be given to maintaining good oral health.”

Menopause is a time of life when paying special attention to your oral health can pay big dividends. While women are typically better than men about visiting the dentist regularly it is even more important during this period of time. If you have any of the risk factors mentioned above make sure your dentist is aware of them. Proper oral hygiene and home care is imperative. Most people are good about brushing their teeth but flossing is extremely important to clean the surfaces your brush can’t reach. Regular dental hygiene visits are a must — and may be scheduled more often than you have been used to. Because periodontal disease has been linked to cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes good oral health care can help prevent serious health issues later in life.

Please contact our Toccoa, Georgia office at 706-886-9439 today to schedule your appointment.

Diet Soda Causes Weight Gain

Friday, July 15th, 2011

This one can be filed under “Unintended Consequences”. We have known for a long time that excess sugar consumption causes weight gain. Sugar is simply empty calories with no nutritional value and in the United States we take in a lot of our sugar in the form of drinks.

Dentists are the first to warn about drinking sugary soft drinks because of the damage the sugar and acids do to your teeth while also damaging your waistline. It turns out the your waistline is also under attack when you switch to diet soft drinks. At a recent American Diabetes Association meeting in San Diego two studies were presented that showed that diet drinks lead to larger mid-sections.

One study looked at 400 diet soda drinkers for a 10 year period. The soda drinkers waist sizes increased 70 percent more than the people who didn’t drink sodas (remember these were diet). The people who drank two or more diet drinks per day increased their waist sizes five times more than those who didn’t partake.

The other study showed that artificial sweeteners, when fed to mice, caused their blood sugar levels to rise. These mice had higher blood sugar levels than the mice eating normal food.

The researchers feel that the artificial sweeteners trigger our appetites but, since they don’t contain nutrients or calories, don’t provide satisfaction. People will then eat more of other things to satisfy their appetite.

What is the smartest thing to drink? According to the experts we should avoid soda, energy drinks and sports drinks because these all will contribute to weight gain. Stick to water or tea, preferably green tea, to satisfy your thirst and keep your waistline slim. As an added bonus, drinking green tea is terrific for your oral health (as long as you don’t add sugar).

To learn more about your options for achieving a healthy smile and a healthy body please contact our Toccoa, Georgia office today at 706-886-9439. We look forward to speaking with you!

Women With Gum Disease Take Longer to Become Pregnant

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Lots of things go into planning your family. Visiting the dentist needs to go toward the top of the list.  A study from Australia has linked difficulty conceiving to active gum disease. The study discovered that it took women with periodontal disease longer to get pregnant than women who had healthy gums.

The study showed that the effect of gum disease on conception is about equal to the mother being obese. Previous studies have shown that oral bacteria has been linked to low birth weight babies and premature birth. According to Roger Hart, a professor at the University of Western Australia this is the “first report to suggest that gum disease might be one of several factors that could be modified to improve the chances of pregnancy.”

Our mouths are full of bacteria and to keep them in check we must brush and floss regularly. Many things can lead to gum disease such as hormonal changes, poor oral care, certain medications or other health problems. Professional dental cleanings can help clean up infected gums but red, puffy gums should never be ignored. Left alone, gum disease can quickly advance causing tooth loss and affecting your overall health as the bacteria travel throughout the body. This is important for all of us but especially urgent for pregnant women and diabetics.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center at 706-886-9439  today to schedule your dental hygiene appointment.If you have been avoiding the dentist because of anxiety or fear remember to ask about sedation dentistry and how it can help you receive the care you need.

How Stress Affects Dental Health

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Stress can cause lots of physical symptoms ranging from headaches to hives and it can also cause problems with your oral health. Stress can show up in your mouth in the form of canker sores, cold sores, teeth grinding and even gum disease. Here’s how to recognize and deal with some of these stress related problems.

Canker sores are small ulcers that appear inside the mouth – sometimes singly other times in groups. They may appear to have a white or gray colored base that is bordered in red. Stress and fatigue can increase the risk of canker sores but they are not contagious. They will go away in about a week to 10 days. If they are very sore you can use over-the-counter topical anesthetics. It is best to avoid salty or spicy foods and highly acidic foods so you don’t irritate the canker sore.

Cold sores are also called fever blisters. They are actually caused by the herpes simplex virus and are contagious. Emotional upset, stress or even sunburn can trigger an outbreak. They will heal on their own in about a week. Prescription treatments are available.

Stressful situations can make you clench your teeth or grind them together. Many people grind their teeth at night while sleeping and don’t realize they are doing it. Bruxism is the technical term for teeth grinding and it can lead to cracking and breaking of teeth, wearing down of the teeth and can lead to problems with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ or jaw joint). See your dentist about your bruxism as soon as possible. Sleeping with a specially made orthotic device can protect your teeth and your temporomandibular joint from damage.

Stress can also cause an increase in dental plaque which can lead to serious gum disease. Regular brushing, flossing and dental hygiene visits are necessary during stressful times.

We all experience stress at one time or another. Finding a healthy way to cope with this stress such as exercise, journal writing, meditation or any other positive mechanism can help keep your stress levels from causing physical symptoms and long term damage to your health. Please contact our Toccoa, Georgia office at 706-886-9439 today to schedule your appointment.

Did You Neglect Dental Care During the Recession?

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

During 2008 more than 1/3 of Americans skipped visiting the dentist. This was the second most popular way people tried to cut their health care costs during the recession. The most popular — trying home remedies or over-the-counter drugs instead of going to the doctor. While skipping those dental hygiene appointments may seem like a money saver in the short term, in the long run it can cost you.

Dental care is mostly about prevention. “I think we’re the only profession that tries to put ourselves out of business,” says Dr. Cesar Sabetes, president of the Florida Dental Association. When you go in for a dental cleaning you are getting more than plaque removal, you are also getting an oral health checkup. Skipping those checkups mean that minor problems will become much larger over time.

What started out as a small cavity can become a painful infection that requires a root canal and then a crown. Treating the problem early can save thousands of dollars down the road. Catching and treating gum disease early is especially important. Most people who suffer from gum disease don’t realize it because it doesn’t hurt and therefore gets ignored. Bleeding, puffy gums are a sign that you have a problem that needs to be treated. Untreated gum disease has been linked to heart disease, stroke and pre-term birth. If you are diabetic and suffer from gum disease it is more difficult to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Treating the problem early can lead to significant healthcare savings in the future.

Your dental health is important. If you have been putting off treatment please contact our Toccoa, Georgia office today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your appointment.

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