September, 2011

Mouth Guards Linked to Better Sports Performance

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Lots of surveys show that teen athletes avoid wearing mouth guards — in typical teen fashion they just don’t think they will ever get hurt. But what if they knew that wearing a mouth guard could improve their performance? I bet every kid would be clamoring for a mouth guard.

The Journal of the American Dental Association published a study done at Citadel University which compared a group of student athletes wearing mouth guards with a group wearing no mouth guards and breathing through their mouths, and with a third group wearing no mouth guards but breathing through their noses.

The athletes wearing the mouth guards took in more oxygen and exhaled more carbon dioxide than the athletes in the no-mouthguard groups. This could lead to better performance. The participants in this study were using standard custom fit mouth guards, not performance mouth pieces such as UnderArmour Performance Mouthwear.

Mouth guards can range from over the counter boil and bite models to those that are custom-made to fit each individual athlete. The custom-fit models available from your dentist tend to fit better which means your student athlete will be more comfortable wearing the appliance.

For more information about mouth guards or Under Armour Performance Mouthwear contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA at 706-886-9439 today. We want your student athlete to play hard, but play safe!

Best Time For Braces?

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Years ago teenagers were the ones who wore braces. Today the age for wearing braces has changed dramatically.

It is recommended that children be evaluated for orthodontics at age 7 even if there are no obvious problems. Why so early? At this age the jaw is still developing and early intervention can make treatment easier. Most children go into braces between ages 9 and 14. The amount of time spent in braces will vary depending upon the needs of the child.

We are also seeing more adults seeking orthodontic treatment. Some are parents that have witnessed the transformation in their own children and want a beautiful smile for themselves as well. Others are people who have just gotten tired of being uncomfortable smiling or laughing in public. Adult patients may be people in their 20′s who never had braces as kids and want a nicer smile to help further their careers or folks in their 50′s who are getting braces for career enhancement or just to feel better about themselves. Whatever the reason new advances in orthodontics have made the process much easier than it used to be.

Traditional orthodontics has improved and we can now avoid the dreaded “metal mouth” look of years past. A choice for many adult patients is Invisalign. Patients using the Invisalign system straighten their teeth using a series of custom clear trays. The trays are almost invisible when worn and are easily removed for eating and brushing your teeth. Not every case is appropriate for Invisalign, please ask us if you are a candidate!

Contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your orthodontic consultation. The straight, beautiful smile you have always dreamed of is possible with orthodontic treatment.

Avoid These 5 Ways You Can Damage Your Smile

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

It turns out that some of the things we do every day are causing damage to our teeth. Here are a few that you might not be aware of:

  1. Using sports drinks to re-charge after a workout. Sports drinks have become extremely popular but they aren’t great for your teeth. The drinks are typically full of sugars which act as food for oral bacteria. On top of that, the pH levels in many of these drinks can cause your tooth enamel to wear away. The combination leaves you with teeth that are open to decay and a well-fed army of bacteria ready to go to work on them!
  2. Drinking wine. Even though we have been told that a glass a day is good for your heart, it isn’t so good for your pearly whites. This goes beyond the issues of stains from red wine. It seems that the acidity in wine, both white and red, can also erode your tooth enamel. To avoid this don’t swish the wine around in your mouth — take small sips and rinse your mouth with water after drinking.
  3. Going on a diet. Losing a few pounds is good for your health, going on a very restrictive diet might deprive you of  vitamins and minerals you need for your healthy smile. Poor nutrition can also affect your immune system leaving you susceptible to infections such as periodontal disease. Proper nutrition and exercise are the keys to losing weight, crash diets are never the answer.
  4. Drinking bottled water. Bottled water typically does not contain fluoride like many municipal water systems do. Fluoride is controversial for some but it has been safely added to water supplies for many years and has drastically cut the rate of cavities in children and adults in this country. This substance helps remineralize the teeth making them stronger and resistant to decay.
  5. Adding lemon or lime to your water. Many trendy diet books suggest adding a squeeze of lemon juice to your water to promote weight loss. It really just makes the water taste a little better so you’ll drink more of it. While drinking lots of water is fine, the added acids from the citrus juice are bathing your teeth and weakening your dental enamel all day long. Keep drinking water, just make it plain tap water.

So what can you do to protect your teeth if you don’t want to give up your glass of wine or sports drinks? Most people think they should brush their teeth immediately – DON”T! Your enamel has been softened by the acids and scrubbing at it with a brush will only make matters worse. Rinse your mouth with plain water or better yet, chew a piece of sugar-free gum. The xylitol found in sugar-free gum actually inhibits oral bacteria and increases your saliva flow which will begin to remineralize your teeth. Follow up with a good brushing and flossing about an hour later.

If your habits have left you with a smile that is not as healthy and bright as it once was you have many options for restoring your smile. Cosmetic dentistry can reshape, rebuild and restore your naturally beautiful smile. Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center, your Toccoa GA full-service dental office at 706-886-9439 to schedule your consultation.

Eating Yogurt is Good For Your Gums

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Eating yogurt and similar foods with lactic acid may be good for your gums. Researchers in Japan discovered that eating yogurt and drinks that contain lactic acid were associated with healthier gums. Regular dairy products such as milk and cheese didn’t seem to give the same protection. The researchers had compared people who reported eating no yogurt with those who reported eating 55 grams or more per day of the stuff. The yogurt eaters had much less gum disease even  when other factors such as age, smoking and gender were taken into account.

The researchers theorize that the probiotic effect of high lactic acid foods such as yogurt may be the reason for the benefits. The probiotics in yogurt have been shown to be beneficial to our overall health in other studies. Of course more research will be done in this area but in the meantime – enjoy a serving of yogurt each day. Just avoid the sugar-filled, artificially flavored ones — the benefits may be reduced by the added sugar.

Time to schedule your dental hygiene appointment? Don’t delay as appointments are filling fast as we come closer to the end of the year. Please ccontact Wilbanks Smile Center today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your visit.

Nutritional Supplements For Your Healthy Smile

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Maintaining gum health requires a combination of good home care (brushing and flossing) and regular dental visits. Other risk factors include some that are outside our control including hormonal changes, certain diseases and some medications. The things we can control – whether or not we smoke or use other types of tobacco and our diet. Poor nutrition increases your risk of developing periodontal disease but some nutritional supplements may help.

  • Coenzyme Q10 is a nutrients that is needed by every cell in your body to make energy. It is beneficial for a variety of diseases, including gum disease because of its role as an antioxidant. Researchers have known for the past 30 years that CoQ10 can help reduce deterioration of the gums and allow healing to occur (Wilkinson EG et al 1976).
  • Calcium. Three out of four Americans don’t get adequate calcium each day and studies have shown that people who had low calcium intake were almost twice as likely to have gum disease.
  • Folic Acid. Folic Acid not only protects against birth defects and heart disease, it has also been shown to reduce the risk of gum disease (Stein GM et al 1973). Scientists are studying whether folic acid mouth rinses would be effective.
  • Green Tea. Green tea is wonderful stuff and full of good-for-you antioxidants. Green tea possesses two specific types of polyphenols that have been shown to fight oral plaque and bacteria. Green tea extract has been shown to inhibit the type of bacteria that causes cavities.
  • Vitamin C does more than protect against scurvy. Studies have shown that people with periodontal disease who consumed additional vitamin C improved the health of their gum tissue in only 6 weeks.

The best way to get the nutrients you need is by eating a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables with lots of low-fat dairy for calcium. If you don’t feel that you are getting the nutrients you need from your diet remember to talk to your doctor before starting supplements.

If you would like to learn more about nutrition and your healthy smile please feel free to ask at your next visit. Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your dental hygiene visit.

The Parts of a Tooth

Friday, September 16th, 2011

What do you think of when you hear the word tooth? Maybe you think of a healthy white tooth, perhaps tooth decay or maybe even tooth loss. Most people don’t think very much about the different parts that makeup a tooth – until something goes wrong.

The part of the tooth that we see above the gumline is called the crown. The part that we can’t see below the gumline is the root which extends down and anchors the tooth to the jawbone. Each individual tooth is made up of four types of tissue:

  • Enamel is the hard substance that covers the visible part of your tooth. This translucent substance is  hardest substance in the human body and protects your teeth from decay.
  • Dentin is the layer found below the enamel. This substance is calcified and looks like bone. The dentin is not as hard as enamel and is likely to become decayed if the enamel is missing from the tooth.
  • Cementum is light yellow in color and covers the tooth root and helps anchor the root to the bone. This substance is softer than dentin or enamel but is usually covered by the gums. If the gums are worn away or shrink because of disease or damage then the cementum can become the target of harmful bacteria.
  • Pulp is the substance that forms the center of your tooth. This part of the tooth contains blood vessels, nerves and other tissues that deliver nutrients to your tooth.

Keeping your teeth healthy starts with good home care. This means brushing and flossing daily to remove harmful bacteria that can break down the enamel of your tooth. Using fluoride toothpaste helps rebuild damaged enamel.

Once decay has occurred your tooth cannot heal itself. The good news is that cavities can now be filled with tooth-colored composite restorations which allow you to maintain a beautiful, white smile. No more ugly, black, mercury amalgam fillings. These restorations are more than just cosmetically pleasing, they are also strong, durable and less reactive to heat and cold than old-fashioned fillings.

To schedule your appointment for restoration of a dental cavity please contact Wilbanks Smile Center at 828-627-9282. Located in beautiful Toccoa, GA we are your one-stop-shop for all your dental health needs.

Red or White? Which Wine Keeps Your Smile Bright?

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Billy Joel sang a song about “a bottle of red… bottle of white…” but he didn’t sing about the stains that drinking wine can leave on your teeth. Red wine offers added health benefits but many people stick with white because they think it won’t stain their teeth. Are they making the right choice? Maybe not.

According to Dr. Mark Wolff at the NYU College of Dentistry “Red wine is an amazing staining material, but white wine makes the teeth more susceptible to staining. When you drink an acidic beverage, you wind up in a scenario where you etch the outer surface of the tooth slightly, making it more susceptible to chemicals that have pigment in them.”

The choice may not be if your choice of beverage will stain your teeth but when the staining will occur. Enjoy a glass of Cabernet and you may notice stains right away. Drink white wine and end the evening with a cup of coffee and you’ll end up with dark stains as well. Dr. Wolff noted “White wine and anything that’s deeply pigmented will cause stains.” He continued “We’ve looked at blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, sodas, teas and sports drinks.” He suggests drink in moderation and when you’ve finished, rinse your mouth with water. “Don’t run to the bathroom and brush right after.”The enamel on your teeth has been softened by the beverage so you need to give your saliva some time to remineralize your teeth. After about 30 minutes you can brush your teeth without worrying about damage.

If too much red wine, white wine or any other substance has left your smile looking dull and dingy  you can get your smile bright once more with a simple whitening procedure. The popular ZOOM whitening system can transform your stained smile faster than you thought possible.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your whitening consultation. A brighter, more vibrant looking smile is only a phone call away.

Osteoporosis Drug Complications Lead to New Labeling

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Osteoporosis drugs such as Fosamax, Boniva and Reclast will be required to clarify how long patients should use them to avoid potential complications. The drugs called bisphosphonates are prescribed for patients with osteoporosis and low-bone mass that is considered a precursor to  osteoporosis. The drugs stop and reverse the thinning of the bones that comes with the disease.

Keeping bone mass intact and bones strong is important in preventing hip and spine fractures that cause pain, hospitalization, nursing home stays and even early death for many older Americans. A few patients have suffered from complications after taking these osteoporosis drugs including unusual fractures of the thigh bones, cancer of the esophagus and deterioration of the jawbone. These complications generally have occurred after several years of taking the drugs.

The staff of the Food and Drug Administration reviewed studies and reported that the data seemed to show “no further increase in fracture benefit after three to four years of therapy.” They also noted that destruction of the jaw is more prevalent with four or more years of use. Exact wording for the new labels and product inserts will be decided in the future and the recommendations may vary for each drug.

Remember to talk to your doctor about any drugs that you may be taking for an extended period of time. Here at Wilbanks Smile Center we do need to keep abreast of all of the drugs you have been prescribed, especially those for osteoporosis, so we can keep an eye on the health of your jaw. Let us know if there have been any changes to your prescriptions each time you visit. Please contact us at 706-886-9439 today to schedule your next appointment. We look forward to seeing you!

Choosing the Right Toothbrush

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Toothbrushes come in all shapes and sizes. Walk down the toothbrush aisle of your local drug store and the choices available are astounding. How do you know which one to choose?

First thing to look for in a toothbrush is the bristles. Don’t ever purchase a brush with bristles that are marked “Hard”. Hard bristle brushes are likely to damage your gums and teeth while brushing and, while a stiff bristle brush is great for cleaning your floor, you want something gentler for your mouth.

Another choice in toothbrushes today is the material the bristles are made of. While natural bristles may be best for a hairbrush they aren’t the best choice for your toothbrush. These brushes tend to wear out faster and cost more than nylon bristle brushes. There hasn’t been much research done on their effectiveness so until more data is in you are better off with nylon bristles.

Toothbrush heads used to be pretty much one standard size. Not anymore – heads are made in almost every conceivable shape and size. The decision here should depend on your mouth – if you have a very small mouth that large headed toothbrush won’t be very comfortable for you to use. Choose a size that you think will be a good “fit” and you are more likely to spend the correct amount of time brushing.

Toothbrush handles have also gotten fancier. While the colors and styling may draw your eye, you should really be looking for a brush that will fit comfortably in your hand. Many brushes now have non-slip surfaces which are helpful if you suffer from arthritis or another condition that affects your grip.

You should replace your toothbrush every three months or when the bristles begin to show wear. The most important choice you make about your new toothbrush is using it! Remember to brush three times each day and don’t forget the floss. Proper home care can help you avoid gum disease!

Please contact our Toccoa, GA full service dental office at 706-886-9439 today to schedule your dental hygiene appointment. Working as a team we can help you (and your new toothbrush) keep your smile healthy and beautiful.

Athletics and Dental Injuries

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

The kids are all back in school which means physical education classes and team sports — it also means an increase in sports related dental injuries. How can you protect your child and what should you do if there is an injury to the mouth?

If your child is playing a contact sport such as football mouth protection is usually required. However, many injuries occur in sports that do not require mouthguards. It is estimated that more than 3 million teeth will be knocked out in youth sporting events in the US this year.

Mouth protection ranges from over-the-counter boil and bite mouthguards that usually only last a short time. Your dentist can provide a more custom fit mouth protector for your student athlete. If your student is a high achieving athlete he or she may benefit from one of the new performance enhancing mouthwear available from the UnderArmour brand available at Wilbanks Smile Center. These custom created appliances have been scientifically proven to enhance certain aspects of athletic performance.

If a child does suffer a cracked or broken tooth they should visit the dentist within 24 hours. If a tooth is knocked out it should be placed back in the mouth if possible or preserved in milk until you can get to the dentist or emergency room. Do not attempt to clean the tooth with water or store in water as this will damage the tissue. A tooth that has been knocked out needs to be back in the mouth within 30 minutes for the best chance of survival.

Please contact our Toccoa office today at 706-886-9439  to schedule your appointment for custom mouth protection for your child. A little prevention can avoid a lifetime of problems from a damaged tooth.

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