August, 2011

Oral Appliance Found Effective for Treating Sleep Apnea

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

A report issued by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has confirmed that CPAP and custom oral appliances are the most successful treatments for obstructive sleep apnea. The effectiveness review was done by researchers at Tufts Medical Center.

At least 12 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which patients stop breathing during sleep. Breathing ceases because the soft tissues of the mouth and throat relax during sleep and collapse, blocking the airway. Untreated sleep apnea has been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and a higher rate of accidents due to daytime sleepiness.

Treatment for sleep apnea can include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) which uses a machine to push air through a mask to keep the patients airway and throat open. Many patients find sleeping with the apparatus difficult or impossible even though it is a highly effective treatment.

For patients who are CPAP intolerant or who just don’t like the idea of CPAP an oral appliance is a wonderful option. An oral appliance is similar in size to an orthodontic retainer or mouthguard. Custom created in a lab these appliances are designed to gently move the lower jaw in a forward position which keeps the airway open during sleep putting a stop of snoring and episodes of sleep apnea.

For more information about oral appliance therapy for obstructive sleep apnea please contact our Toccoa office today at 706-886-9439. Regain the energy you used to have by effectively treating your snoring and sleep apnea.

Foods to Keep Your Teeth Healthy

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Can the foods you eat help keep a healthy, beautiful smile? We all know that good nutrition helps our bodies maintain good health and what we eat affects our pearly whites as well. By eating right you can promote healthy teeth and gums and avoid tooth decay and periodontal disease.

The best choices for your choppers are lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Here are a few additions to your healthy diet that will make a difference in your smile:

  • Calcium – Mom was right when she said drinking milk gives you strong bones and teeth. This nutrient is especially vital in childhood and during the teen years. A diet with enough calcium may even help protect against tooth decay according to a study published in the Journal of Periodontology. Low calcium can also affect the jawbone, causing it to weaken which then may cause teeth to loosen. Calcium is found in dairy foods but also in sardines, salmon and some vegetables like kale and broccoli.
  • Vitamin C – This vitamin helps your body repair connective tissue and fight off infections. Studies have shown that patients with low levels of vitamin C are more likely to have gum disease than patients who consume the suggested amount of vitamin C each day.
  • Tea – Studies at the University of Illinois College of Dentistry showed that  black tea can destroy cavity causing bacteria. Yes, tea may cause some staining but that can be reduced with good home care.
  • Water – Drinking lots of water helps flush food particles from between teeth as well as keeping your body well hydrated.

Remember to avoid sugary, acidic soft drinks and all of the gooey stuff that will stick to your teeth. By following these suggestions you can ensure that your teeth will be healthy and the rest of your body will benefit as well.

To schedule your appointment at Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa please contact us 15 706-886-9439 today. We’ll be happy to answer all your questions about maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

Economy Takes Its Toll on the Tooth Fairy

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Pity the poor tooth fairy. The poor economy has even affected how much those baby teeth are worth when placed under a pillow. We know this because Visa does a survey on the subject every year.

Visa surveyed about 1,000 parents and found that the national average for those little lost teeth is around $2.60. This is down 40 cents from 2010 when kids were getting an average of $3.00 from the tooth fairy. About 9o% of children receive visits from the winged dental diva.

There are some things you can do to make the visits from the tooth fairy even more fun than finding coins under the pillow. We might even include a little education about oral healthcare. Here are a few suggestions – feel free to leave comments with your own ideas!

  • If the money is in the form of paper bills you could tie it up in dental floss.
  • Include a new toothbrush or fun flavored toothpaste.
  • Try a note from the tooth fairy praising such nice clean teeth, maybe a bonus for no cavities.
  • Sprinkle a little fairy dust (glitter) on the pillow and next to the toothbrush in the bathroom. “Look, the tooth fairy checked to make sure you brushed”.

All children should have their first dental visit by their first birthday. Regular dental visits allow the child to become comfortable in the dental office and ensures that we can catch any small problems before they become big ones. Regular visits as the child grows also give us plenty of opportunities to teach good home care habits – truly a gift for a lifetime of better dental health!

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa at 706-886-9439 with any questions about your child’s dental health or to schedule a consultation.

The End of Drilling for Fillings

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

One of the things patients complain about during their dental visits is the sound of the drill. Researchers in England have discovered a new way to treat cavities that may do away with the high pitched whine of the dental drill in the future.

Tooth decay is caused by bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria produce acid which dissolve the minerals in your teeth creating microscopic holes to form. These microscopic holes can then grow and form cavities. The researchers at the University of Leeds discovered that a peptide based fluid can be brushed onto teeth at the first signs of tooth decay. The technology is based on how teeth are formed and stimulates the tooth to regenerate. The fluid seeps into the microscopic holes and forms a gel, this gel then provides a framework that attracts calcium and rebuilds the missing minerals from within the tooth. Natural and pain free cavity correction.

“This may sound to good to be true, but we are essentially helping acid-damaged teeth to regenerate themselves” said Jennifer Kirkham. The fluid was recently tested on a small number of patients who had early signs of tooth decay. The results showed that the peptide technology could reverse the damage.

“The main reason that people don’t go to the dentist regularly is fear. If we can offer a treatment that is completely non-invasive, that doesn’t involve a mechanical drill, then we can change that perceived link between dental treatment and pain.” said Dr. Paul Brunton who oversaw the patient testing. He continued “… this is a novel approach that enables the patients to keep their natural teeth.”

Until this technology is in our hands we need to rely on the current methods of dealing with tooth decay. First, prevention is key so brush and floss daily and don’t forget to visit your dental hygienist regularly for professional cleanings. Secondly, if fear is causing you to avoid dental treatment seek a dentist that offers sedation dentistry. Using sedation dentistry you can have the treatment you need without anxiety or fear. For more information about sedation dentistry and how we can help you get the care you need please contact Wilbanks Smile Center at 706-886-9439 today.

Mouthwash Helps Moms

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Many studies have shown that expectant mothers with gum disease are much more likely to deliver their babies prematurely. A study done at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine has apparently proven that using an alcohol free mouth rinse reduced this risk.

The study involved a group of pregnant women with gum disease. Part of the group rinsed with the alcohol free mouth rinse, the other group just rinsed with water. When researchers compared the two groups the moms who used the mouth rinse had a much lower rate of early delivery. The difference between the two groups was “just incredible” said Dr. Marjorie Jeffcoat who was the lead author. She pointed out, however, that the women knew which treatment they were getting –water or mouth rinse — which might have influenced the results. Researchers believe that the inflammation caused by gum disease releases a  hormone-like substance that is the same chemical the body releases during labor.

The researchers did emphasize the need for pregnant women to take good care of their oral health. “The need to use a soft toothbrush and floss the right way” said Jeffcoat. “The first goal with almost all dental disease is prevention, prevention, prevention.”

If you are expecting or plan to be you should schedule your appointment as soon as possible. Please contact us at 706-886-9439 today.

Can Caring For Babies Teeth Prevent Childhood Cavities?

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

We now have another reason to pay attention to the oral health of babies. A recent study A recent study has confirmed that the same bacteria that causes tooth decay in children is also present in the saliva of infants. Tooth decay is the most prevalent infectious disease in American children according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kelly Swanson, lead researcher on this study said “By the time a child reaches kindergarten 40% have dental cavities.” This study focused on babies before the teeth erupted. It was originally thought that children became infected with this bacteria between 19 and 33 months of age. This study has shown that infection really occurs much earlier. “Minimizing snacks and drinks with fermentable sugars and wiping the gums of babies without teeth, as suggested by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, are important practices for new parents to follow to help prevent future tooth decay.”

Caring for the oral health of babies before they even have baby teeth could help prevent tooth decay later in their lives. If you would like to find out more about cavity prevention or if your child is already experiencing tooth decay please contact our Toccoa office today at 706-886-9439.

3 Dental Habits You Need to Break

Monday, August 15th, 2011

There are lots of ways to damage your teeth or existing dental work but here are three bad habits that many people have that cause serious damage.

  1. Crunching on ice. Mom was right when she told you to stop chewing the leftover ice in your glass. The reason why may not be what you think. Yes, crunching something hard like an ice cube can cause breakage but the cold temperature actually makes it worse. The combination can actually cause teeth to fracture or can cause microscopic cracks in the enamel. Those small cracks can lead to big problems over time. Try crunching something healthy like carrot sticks instead.
  2. They are teeth, not tools. We’ve seen people who have used their teeth to open bags of snacks and we’ve seen people who attempted to unstick the top of their nailpolish bottle with their teeth. Need to change the time on your watch but can’t grab that little stem with your fingers? We’ve seen people use their teeth! It is no wonder that so many people chip and break perfectly healthy teeth in this fashion. Of course if you have a dental restoration in the teeth you are using instead of your pliers you know it has to end badly. The good news is that cosmetic dentistry is able to restore your fractured tooth back to its natural looking beauty.
  3. Brushing too hard. Some people feel that their teeth are getting cleaner if they use a hard bristle toothbrush. No, they are not! You are damaging your teeth and gums when using those brushes or when you press too hard when you brush. The teeth may become sensitive and gum tissue can be damaged.  Use a soft bristle toothbrush and brush gently, but thoroughly. Combined with a good flossing every day, your soft bristle toothbrush is your smile’s best friend.

For more information about proper tooth brushing techniques and to schedule your appointment please contact our Toccoa area office at 706-886-9439 today.

Don't Ignore Gum Disease

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

You’ve gotten the bad news – you have gum disease. Surprisingly, some  patients who are diagnosed with gum disease don’t seem to take it very seriously. Since oral bacteria from gum disease has been linked to health problems including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and pre-mature birth this is not a diagnosis to ignore. Fortunately for patients the treatment for gum disease has improved greatly over the years.

Symptoms of gum disease include bad breath or your gums may be discolored and puffy.  They probably bleed when you brush or floss. These common symptoms are not experienced by everyone however,  that is why routine checks are so important. You have probably heard the dentist or hygienist call out numbers while checking your gums — those numbers measure pocket depths around each tooth. Healthy teeth are between 1-3 millimeters. When you start hearing numbers greater than 3 it means there is a problem.

The treatment needed will depend upon the severity of the disease. For early cases a deep cleaning called a scaling and root planing can remove the colonies of bacteria and allow the area to heal. Topical antibiotics are a fairly recent addition to the treatment of gum disease and are highly effective. For long-term, severe cases it may be necessary to have gum surgery to clean up the infection. Lasers are now being used for this treatment causing little or no discomfort.

Keeping your gums healthy by brushing and flossing every day is the most important thing to remember about preventing gum disease. Once you have been diagnosed with gum disease you will probably have more frequent appointments for cleanings — usually every three months — in order to keep oral bacteria under control. To schedule your dental hygiene appointment please contact our Toccoa office at 706-886-9439 today.

Mouthguards That Boost Performance

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Back to school means back to practice for our student athletes. Mouthguards are required for contact sports like football but should also be considered for non-contact sports to better protect your child’s teeth. Over the past few years a new type of mouthpiece has become available from Under Armour — one that will enhance athletic performance!

The ancient Greeks would bite down on leather straps during competition and the Romans used leather bits to give them an edge on the battlefield. They didn’t understand why this worked, they only understood that it gave them an advantage. Fast forward to today — scientists have discovered that clenching our jaws is a natural part of our body mechanics. This clenching causes the release of cortisol which causes fatigue and stress, not something you want during a big game.

Under Armour technology has created performance mouthpieces that allow the athlete to breath better, increase strength and endurance and reduce the production of cortisol due to athletic stress. By pivoting the jaw forward the athlete cannot clench their teeth allowing them to utilize their full physical potential. These custom mouthpieces created by Under Armour and your dentist have been proven to aide athletic performance. There are also mouthguards available for athletes in contact sports which offer the same benefits.

For more information about Under Armour performance mouthpieces and mouthguards please contact our Toccoa office today at 706-886-9439. Remember, these make great back-to-school gifts for your athletic super-star!

Snoring Can Be Serious

Friday, August 5th, 2011

Most people think that snoring is not a big deal. They feel it may be annoying for those within earshot or the opportunity for a funny video, and that is about it. The truth is that snoring can be a sign of a serious sleep breathing disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Snoring occurs when the soft tissues of the mouth and throat relax during sleep and partially block the airway — this causes the sound we all know as snoring. Snoring has been linked to changes in the arteries in the neck which can lead to stroke. Snoring also affects whoever is sharing the bed with the snorer. The noise causes disturbed sleep for both partners. Studies have shown that not getting adequate amounts of sleep or having sleep repeatedly disturbed leads to memory problems, weight gain and irritability.

When a patient has obstructive sleep apnea the same thing occurs — only when the airway becomes blocked it is completely shut off from the flow of air for 10 seconds or more at a time. The sleeper stops breathing and then wakens with a gasping or choking noise. This event occurs many times during the night — the number of times and the duration of the stoppages determines whether the condition is mild, moderate or severe. The reduction in oxygen levels caused by obstructive sleep apnea causes problems in many systems throughout the body. Obstructive sleep apnea patients should not ignore their disease. Complications from untreated OSA include high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. OSA is also linked to diabetes, headaches, asthma and increased risk of accidents due to daytime sleepiness. The risk for depression also increases with the severity of the obstructive sleep apnea.

Why is a dentist talking about sleep disorders? While the gold standard of treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is CPAP many patients cannot tolerate sleeping with a mask or the noise from the machine keeps them awake. The field of Dental Sleep Medicine offers another option – oral appliance therapy allows you to sleep (and breathe) through the night without being tethered to a machine. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine states that oral appliance therapy is effective for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.

For more information about oral appliance therapy to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea please contact us at 706-886-9439 today.

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