February, 2012

More Sleep Reduces Alzheimer's Risk

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Poor sleep can cause more problems than just leaving you grouchy the next morning. Having disrupted sleep over the long term seems to be associated with the type of amyloid plaque buildup in the brain that we see in Alzheimer’s patients according to researchers at the University School of Medicine, St. Louis.

It seems that people sleep soundly all night long were five times less likely to have the amyloid plaque buildup than people who woke up frequently. People who had a hard time falling asleep also have a greater chance of having these “markers” of Alzheimer’s. The researchers are unsure about the cause and effect of the relationship and more studies will be needed to determine whether the poor quality sleep is causing the plaque buildup or if the amyloid plaque is causing the sleep disruption.

Until those facts are known we should all try to get the best quality sleep we can. If your sleep is disrupted by a bed partner who snores loudly throughout the night you already know you aren’t getting the rest you need. Snoring can be a sign of a serious sleep breathing disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). If your significant other sometimes gasps for air during sleep and feels sleepy during the day he or she may suffer from OSA. Untreated OSA has been linked to heart disease, stroke, weight gain and increased risk of accidents. CPAP is the usual treatment but many patients find sleeping with the masks and hoses impossible. Oral appliance therapy puts an end to the snoring and allows the airway to remain open all night, keeping the OSA patient breathing.

Treating OSA using an oral appliance is convenient and effective. To find out more about sleep breathing disorders and about oral appliance therapy for snoring and OSA please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-2581.


Dental Anxiety - Try A Little Laughter

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Dental anxiety is more common than you might think and about 5% of the population suffers from severe fear of the dentist. Swedish researchers have found that optimism on the part of the patient and humorous interactions with the dentist and dental office staff are an important part of managing stress during a dental appointment. I could have told them that!

The University of Gothenberg identified  common methods used by patients to combat their dental anxiety:

  • Internal strength – keep telling yourself that you are strong enough to do this despite your fear
  • Distraction – Play mental games, sing to yourself, keep the mind busy
  • Prayer – Enough said
  • Optimism – thinking ahead to what you are going to do when the appointment is over
  • Distancing – mentally remove yourself from the situation

Humor is a great stress reducer and can break down many barriers. Dental jokes are usually pretty bad so most of the laughter is aimed at the lameness of the joke, not its clever punch line.

Probably the best tool we have for handling dental anxiety is sedation dentistry. At Wilbanks Smile Center we offer various types of sedation to allow our patients to get the treatment they desperately need without feeling fearful. The type of sedation that is best for you will depend upon your level of anxiety and your health. It is possible to wipe away years of dental neglect in just a couple of visits using sedation dentistry.

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

Toothache Treatment and Prevention

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Toothache pain is tough to deal with, both from the point of view of the patient and the dentist who is diagnosing the cause. The top reasons for toothaches are cavities, sometimes gum disease, but there are many other causes for oral pain. An full examination, including x-rays, is needed to diagnose the cause of the pain and decide the best course of treatment to relieve the discomfort.

In most cases the examination will show obvious  decay or an abscess that is the cause of the pain. Sometimes the cause may not be obvious and the detective work begins. At times the tooth that the patient is complaining about is healthy and it is an adjacent tooth causing the pain!

We also look at recent dental restorations.  Perhaps the reason for the pain is a crown or a filling that is not in proper alignment with the other teeth -  chewing on an improper bite can irritate the nerves and cause a toothache type pain. In some cases the pain is due to an improper bite or grinding of the teeth which causes pain and damage to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

In extremely rare cases toothache pain may not be caused by a problem with the teeth, gums or jaw but instead could be a symptom of heart disease (angina or heart attack), ear infection or even a sinus problem. If we are unable to discover a dental cause for the discomfort you may be referred to your physician to make sure no underlying medical condition could be causing the pain. Your overall well being is of the utmost importance to us.

The good news – most toothaches are caused by cavities and can easily be remedied by removing the decay and placing an appropriate restoration such as a tooth colored filling or crown. To avoid experiencing a toothache remember to schedule regular visits with your dentist and have all needed dental care completed as soon as possible — waiting until later to have that crown or filling replaced can lead to needing more expensive treatment such as root canal therapy or tooth loss. If you have put off treatment because of anxiety or fear of the dentist remember that sedation dentistry can allow you the treatment you need while you are completely relaxed.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your appointment. Toothaches never seem to happen during regular office hours so please don’t hesitate to call if you have an emergency.

Spinbrush Warning Issued

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

The Spinbrush may break during use and cause injury warned the FDA. The battery operated Arm & Hammer Spinbrush has been on the market for many years and is popular with kids and adults. Kids like it because it makes brushing fun and adults like an electric toothbrush that can be bought for such a reasonable price.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that the brushes may break during use causing injury to teeth and eyes. The company that manufactures the brushes have taken steps to try to improve the product including: bristles that turn color to remind users to replace the brush, releasing statements on TV and in advertisements about product safety, and making label changes that remind consumers to replace the head or the brush every three months or if something is loose or broken.

The FDA advises parents to always supervise children when they are using the Spinbrush and to inspect the brush before using it. Children should not be allowed to bite down on the head of the brush while it is spinning and parents should follow the instructions carefully. If the brush appears damaged report the problem to Church & Dwight, the manufacturing company, at 1-800-352-3384.

Here at Wilbanks Smile Center we want kids to enjoy good oral hygiene habits like brushing and flossing. A fun toothbrush can help. Remember to check your child’s toothbrush regularly for wear and damage even if it is the old fashioned, non-spinning kind. Toothbrushes should be changed every three month or sooner if they are showing wear.

Not sure about the correct brushing technique or what kind of brush is right for you? Ask your dental hygienist at your next appointment. Contact our Toccoa, GA office today at 706-886-9439 to get on the schedule!


Shrinking Snickers

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

The Mars candy company has said it will start shrinking the sizes on some popular candy including Snickers and Twix. I’m sure the price will remain the same but the company is trying to make all of its chocolate products contain 250 calories or less. This means the king-sized Snickers bar with over 500 calories will no longer be sold.

People will probably complain but  according to the company they are doing this to “enhance the nutritional content of the company’s brands and sell them in a more responsible way”.  It could also have something to do with the looming chocolate shortage that has been reported. The company has already removed 97% of the transfats from its products so it seems to be trying to be a good corporate citizen.Dark chocolate may protect oral health.

The problem with Snickers and most other candy bars from a dental point of view is not their calorie count but the fact that they are both sugary and sticky. Sticky sugar is simply a bad combination for your teeth. The sugar feeds the bacteria that live in your mouth and because of the caramel and other gooey stuff in the candy the sugar is stuck to the teeth and is not easily washed away. The bacteria create dental plaque, softening of tooth enamel and the end result can be tooth decay and gum disease.

Of course not all chocolate is bad for us. Dark chocolate has been shown to have many health benefits. Dark chocolate also seems to protect our teeth from dental plaque by inhibiting the growth of bacteria. Hurray!

The advice from Wilbanks Smile Center is to enjoy your chocolate, just try to indulge in plain dark chocolate when possible. No matter how small they shrink those Snickers bars they still won’t be health food for your smile. Brush and floss after your treats and please contact our Toccoa, GA office today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your next dental hygiene appointment.



Pregnancy Changes Your Oral Health

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Pregnancy changes lots of things, including your oral health. Good oral health is essential for both mother and baby and you should start by visiting your dentist as soon as you start planning your family. Starting a pregnancy with healthy gums protects you and your baby.Pregnancy causes oral health changes.

The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy may mean changing your usual dental routine. Even women who have healthy teeth and gums can experience pregnancy gingivitis. This temporary condition causes the gums to become red, inflamed and bleed easily. It is very common and usually disappears three to six months after delivery as long as good oral hygiene care is followed.

Visiting the dentist during pregnancy used to be avoided but now we know that receiving dental care during pregnancy is not dangerous to the mother or baby. Avoiding your dentist at this time is a more dangerous choice because several studies have linked the bacteria in gum disease to a higher risk of pre-term birth.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA at 706-886-9439 to schedule your appointment. Working together we can ensure a healthy smile for you during your pregnancy.

Fresh Breath For Your Valentine

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Keeping your breath fresh is not just for Valentines Day. Bad breath is consistently listed as the top turn-off in surveys about dating. So what should you do to keep your breath fresh? Most Americans reach for the mouthwash bottle when they realize their breath is kind of stinky. This is what has given rise to the $2 billion dollar a year industry built around bad breath and it is completely the wrong thing to do!

Minty freshness is only temporary. The majority of mouthwashes actually make your bad breath worse. This is because they contain large amounts of alcohol which dry up your saliva flow and since saliva helps wash away the bacteria that cause bad breath. The mouthwashes may mask the bad breath temporarily but the rebound breath may actually be worse than what you had before.

What does work to stop bad breath?

  • Keeping your teeth and gums clean. Brush, floss and get a professional cleaning at least every six months, more often if you have gum disease. Remember to always clean your tongue as well. Invest in an inexpensive tongue scraper and use it when you brush.
  • Keep hydrated. Drink lots of water and avoid sugary soft drinks and sports drinks. The sugars serve as a food source for oral bacteria.
  • Check your medications to see if dry mouth  is a side effect. Perhaps your doctor could switch you to an equally effective medicine that does not have this side effect.
  • Chew sugarless gum. Xylitol is a sugar substitute found in many sugarless gums and has been proven to improve saliva flow and keep bacteria at bay.
  • If you have onions or garlic with your meal remember to eat the parsley that is garnishing the plate. The chlorophyll in the leaves helps neutralize the odors from the food.

If you are still having problems with your breath after following these tips then it is time to work with your dentist and physician to rule out any medical causes or oral infections. Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA at 706-886-9439 to schedule your next appointment.

West Side Story In Your Mouth

Friday, February 10th, 2012

The gangs in West Side Story entertain with beautiful music but the gangs of oral bacteria in our mouths are bent on destruction. It seems that some of our oral bacteria gang up with other types to cause gum disease and tooth loss. A new study published in the journal Microbiology discovered a way to stop potential gang members from joining forces.

The oral bacteria join together to form dental plaque, a nasty mixture of bacteria, saliva and food debris, which is the main cause of gum disease and inflammation. Left untreated this leads to progressively worsening periodontal disease and eventual tooth loss.

Researchers from the University of Bristol found a molecule on the surface of a certain type of bacteria that allows it to latch onto other types of bacteria. Blocking this mechanism could lead to new therapies for stopping dental plaque from destroying gum tissue. “If a drug could be developed to target this factor, it could be used in people who are at higher risk from developing gum disease” said lead researcher Dr. Howard Jenkinson.

Hopefully the scientists will be able to bring a treatment like this to our patients. Until then, if you want to continue singing “I Feel Pretty” from the West Side Story soundtrack you will need to brush, floss and visit your dental hygienist for professional cleanings on a regular basis.

Don’t let oral bacteria gang up on you. To schedule your next dental hygiene visit please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA at 706-886-9439 today.


National Children's Dental Health Month

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and a reminder that children need regular dental visits just like Mom and Dad. Baby teeth need regular care just like permanent teeth! 

Kids who start visiting the dentist early in life have lots of advantages. Because they have received preventative care their entire lives they typically have fewer cavities than other kids. These children are also very comfortable during dental appointments and don’t exhibit fear or anxiety about treatment.

Children who rarely have dental appointments or who start regular dental visits later may show anxiety or fear. This is perfectly normal for a child going into an unfamiliar situation and the caring team at Wilbanks Smile Center will help put your child at ease. Here are a few steps you can take as a parent to help the visit go smoothly.

  • Talk to your child about the appointment but don’t give a lot of details. The dentist will describe the procedure in a way your child can understand.
  • Don’t talk about needles or tell your child that something will hurt.
  • Do stress how important it is to keep teeth and gums healthy.
  • Please don’t share any unpleasant experiences you may have had as a child.

It is important that your child have positive experiences at the dentist while young so that they don’t run the risk of developing a dental phobia later in life.

We understand that family life is busy and that is why Wilbanks Smile Center is a full service office. We are able to offer you and your child a dental home, no more running from office to office seeking specialized care – we do it all.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your child’s next dental visit and be sure to ask about  preventative dentistry that can protect that beautiful little smile from tooth decay.

Why Kids Get Cavities

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

There are lots of  old wives tales floating around about why kids get cavities. Lets talk about what science has taught us about tooth decay instead.

1.  My family just has soft teeth.

Tooth decay is caused by bacteria not by soft teeth. Babies aren’t born with this bacteria it is usually passed by the parents during the first year of life. Women who have lots of cavities or fillings are at greatest risk of spreading this bacteria to their babies.

2.  Baby teeth are just going to fall out anyway so kids don’t need to visit the dentist.

We only get two sets of teeth and while the first set is only temporary it is still vitally important. Healthy teeth enable your child to take in nourishing food and are an important part of learning speech. If you have ever experienced a toothache you know that you wouldn’t want your child to experience that pain if it could be avoided. Children should begin visiting the dentist after they have gotten their first tooth or by their first birthday. This does two things, the child becomes used to visiting the dentist and we can make sure that tooth development is on the correct track.

3.  Cavities just happen and there is nothing we can do to stop them.

Prevention has been the focus of dentistry for many years. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste, flossing and regular dental cleanings help teeth and gums stay healthy. Sealants can be placed on teeth to protect against tooth decay on the biting surfaces. With regular dental visits for children we can spot small problems and repair them before they become big, expensive cavities. If your drinking water is not fluoridated then talk to your pediatrician or dentist about adding fluoride drops to strengthen developing teeth.

Help your child achieve a lifetime of good oral health. Don’t put baby to bed with a bottle containing anything but water. Wipe baby teeth clean after feedings. Help little ones floss and brush correctly. Don’t allow free-range snacking. Save sweet treats for dessert, if eaten directly following a meal they are less damaging.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA at 706-886-9439 today to schedule a dental visit for your child. We are a full service dental office providing general dentistry, orthodontics and preventative care for your entire family.



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