April, 2012

Dementia and Your Dental Health

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Could your dental health have anything to do with the chances that  you might develop dementia?

A  study from Japan completed recently suggests that there could be a connection. The study of more than 4000 elderly adults in Japan showed that those who didn’t visit the dentist regularly or had lost several teeth and did not use dentures had a  higher risk for dementia than those who had better dental health.

With an aging population like many countries, Japan is concerned about the increasing number of patients with dementia. Lead researcher Dr. Yukio Hirata said “The number of dementia patients is increasing, but there are no effective treatment and prevention methods. Therefore, finding risk factors contributes to solving the problem from the viewpoint of prevention.”

Dr. Hirata also reported that some earlier studies had also suggested that gum disease and its complications, including tooth loss,  might be a risk factor for dementia. Tooth loss has a serious effect on diet and nutrition as well as overall quality of life for the elderly.

You can avoid potential tooth loss by brushing and flossing every day and visiting your dentist every six months (or more often if you have gum disease or risk factors for gum disease).

Sometimes tooth loss may be unavoidable. It is very important to replace the tooth and options include dental bridges and dental implants. Dental bridges are a fine restoration but must be replaced over time. Dental implants are a wonderful choice for most people. They act like a natural tooth and, unlike dental bridges, do not require special care for cleaning and flossing. A restored dental implant will look and feel just like your own tooth.

To find out if a dental implant is right for you please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA at 706-886-9439 today.

Brushing Up On Bacteria

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

What common item in your bathroom has 100 million bacteria living on it? Researchers in one recent study found 100 million bacteria on one uncovered toothbrush. I know it sounds icky. With all those bacteria lurking on your brush should you be worried?

Relax, we’ve got loads of bacteria living in our mouths every day. The reason we brush and floss is to keep the numbers under control. Some  bacteria are good guys and some are bad and cause tooth decay and gum disease – we’re still trying to figure out how to kill the bad ones but keep the good ones around.  Right now all of the toothpastes and mouth rinses attack all the bacteria.

Let’s got back to that dirty toothbrush. Remember that plaque is made up of bacteria so every time you brush to remove plaque you are loading your toothbrush with bacteria. Short of using a disposable toothbrush what can you do to keep your toothbrush clean?

A Few Tips For A Cleaner Toothbrush

Bathrooms are small and yes, toilet water sprays when you flush. Keep the toothbrush away from the toilet area of the bathroom.

Rinse your toothbrush in running water after you have brushed.

Let your toothbrush air dry – don’t use a toothbrush cover that allows moisture to stay on the brush.

Store the brush upright in an open container – laying down allows the bristles to pick up more bacteria.

No sharing your toothbrush. Not with anyone. Period.

Toothbrush sanitizers are an option but most people don’t really need them. The majority of the bacteria on our toothbrushes won’t make us sick. If you have a compromised immune system you may want to consider these.

Change toothbrushes every three months. Change more often if you have been sick or if the bristles on the brush look frayed.

Our bodies are filled with bacteria, in fact we couldn’t live without them, so don’t panic about your toothbrush. Keep oral bacteria in check by brushing, flossing and visiting your dental hygienist regularly.

Contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at  706-886-9439 to schedule your next dental hygiene visit.

Confusion About Heart Health and Oral Health Links

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

In the past week there have been a couple of research studies published which add to the confusion surrounding the link between oral health and heart health. A study last week in the American Heart Association publication Circulation stated that there was no “causative link” between gum disease and heart disease and that treating gum disease did not improve heart health.

Then there was the study of 22,000 Taiwanese adults older than age 50 which found that those who had a professional tooth “scaling” in the past year were less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke over the next seven years. The researchers also weighed other risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease. It turned out that a deep cleaning of the teeth was linked to a 31% reduction in the risk of future heart attack and 15% reduction in risk of stroke.

The takeaway from these conflicting studies seems to be that we still really don’t know how the connection works. We do know that oral bacteria has been found in diseased heart valves. We do know that the inflammation caused by gum disease can have a negative effect on other parts of the body but we don’t know for sure what the cause and effect really is.

We do know that people who take care of their oral health also tend to take better care of themselves overall. This reduces their risk of chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure which can contribute to heart disease.

To protect your heart health you need to do many of the same things that will protect your oral health. Stick to a healthy eating plan, exercise regularly and get your teeth cleaned on a regular basis.

To schedule your next dental hygiene visit please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA at 706-886-2581 today.



What Is The #1 Disease Affecting Children?

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Parents can protect their children from the most common childhood disease – dental decay. You might not think that cavities are a disease but dental decay is caused by bacteria and children are not born with this bacteria. They catch it – usually from their parents!

Here’s how you can protect your children from tooth decay:

Watch their diet and remember that milk and juice should only be given at mealtimes and specific snack times. Children shouldn’t have a bottle or sippy cup filled with milk or juice at any other time. Water is the best thirst quencher if your child wants something to drink. Nutritious snacks like fresh fruit, veggies, cheese and yogurt are healthy options for young teeth.

Don’t pass your cavity causing bacteria to your child. Avoid using the same utensils and keep your own mouth healthy by practicing good home care and visiting your dental hygienist regularly.

Brush and floss your child’s teeth. Even before baby teeth have erupted parents should wipe out the child’s mouth after every feeding.

Fluoride prevents cavities. Find out if your city water is fluoridated. If it is not or if you only drink bottled water ask your pediatrician or dentist about fluoride supplements.

Dental sealants can help protect the chewing surfaces of the teeth from cavities. Sealants are effective for children and adults.

The rate of dental decay among young children had dropped drastically until lately. The rate is increasing at an alarming rate but dentists and parents together can work to prevent childhood tooth decay and the need for dental fillings.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule a dental visit for your child (and for yourself). We look forward to seeing you and helping to keep your child cavity-free.

Mouthguards Save Smiles

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Save your smile no matter what sport you play. Mouthguards aren’t just for football and hockey players — any sport that involves the risk of injury should indicate the need for a mouthguard.

All it takes is one fall or a collision with another player to damage your teeth or gums. Even if you, or your children, are not playing a competitive sport such as basketball or volleyball you can benefit from the safety of a mouthguard. Rollerblading, skateboarding and biking account for a large number of injuries to the face and mouth each year.

Mouthguards usually cover the upper teeth and serve as a cushion when there is a blow to the face. This reduces the risk of broken teeth and injuries to the gum, tongue and cheeks.

Common complaints about mouthguards are that they are too bulky and they don’t stay in place. This makes it harder to breath when an athlete is exerting themselves on the playing field — which means most kids (and adults) don’t want to wear them. There is a simple solution to this problem.

A custom fit mouthguard from your dentist is more comfortable and much better fitting than the old boil and bite guards sold over the counter. A mouthguard that has been properly fit should stay in place while the user talks and breathes heavily.

The most common injuries result in cracked or broken teeth or teeth that are knocked out completely which may require an implant. If this happens to you please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA immediately at 706-886-9439 and let us know about this emergency.


Smokeless Tobacco Cancer Causing Agent Found

Monday, April 16th, 2012

We’ve known for a long time that smoking cigarettes causes cancer and other health problems. We have also known for a long time that smokeless tobacco is no safer — using chewing tobacco or snuff also causes cancer. What is news is that scientists have isolated a chemical from smokeless tobacco that caused oral and esophageal tumors in every animal exposed to it in a laboratory study.

This study provides the first conclusive link between a specific carcinogenic chemical in smokeless tobacco and oral cancers.

Since April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month it is the perfect time to quit using all forms of tobacco and make an appointment for your oral cancer screening. When oral cancers are diagnosed early they are treatable and survival rates are high. Unfortunately, most cases are not diagnosed until they are more advanced.

Risk factors for oral cancer include smoking, alcohol use and HPV infection. Oral cancer patients used to be older men with a history of smoking but today we are seeing a spike in younger people with these cancers due to HPV infection.

If you experience any mouth sore that doesn’t heal within a couple of weeks or a persistent sore throat please contact us immediately. Contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA  today at 706-886-9439 today to schedule your appointment.

Drowsy Driving Dangerous For Truckers

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Have you ever gotten so drowsy while driving that you have almost fallen asleep? As frightening as that may be while driving the family sedan, imagine the same thing if you are a trucker driving an 18-wheeler.  A Texas woman recently won a $3.25 million lawsuit against a trucking company because one of their drivers fell asleep at the wheel and rear-ended her stopped car. The truck was going 65 mph – the woman’s husband died in the accident. The driver had been terminated from a prior job because he refused to get tested for sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea in the trucking industry is not a secret but what is shocking is just how prevalent the problem is. A study from Australia showed that 41% of the truck drivers in Australia have obstructive sleep apnea. Less than 5% of the drivers said they had previously been diagnosed with sleep apnea however. This study only looked at Australian truck drivers but the findings would probably match well with the American population of truck drivers. National Public Radio had previously reported that up to 33% of truck drivers in the US had sleep apnea.

Sleepy transportation workers are a danger and the problem is not limited to the people who drive the big rigs. Train operators, pilots and others all have reported experiencing a “near miss” because of fatigue. Poor job performance for these types of jobs can result in lives being lost.

Does fatigue affected your work performance? If the answer is yes and you experience frequent daytime sleepiness or snore loudly you may suffer from a obstructive sleep apnea. Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 today to schedule your consultation.

Are Dental X-Rays Risky?

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

A study published by the American Cancer Society this week linked frequent dental x-rays with a non-cancerous brain tumor called a meningioma. This type of tumor occurs in about 8 of every 100,000 people which makes it a rare disease although it is the most commonly diagnosed type of brain tumor. The study, completed at Yale University, looked at more than 1400 people who were diagnosed with a meningioma. The average age of the patients was 57.

The study seems to show that patients with the tumors were twice as likely to have had frequent dental x-rays since childhood. The study did not look at patient’s actual dental records to record the actual number of x-rays but instead relied upon the individuals in the study to remember how many x-rays they have had. Could you remember this?

NBC Nightly News reported on this subject as well noting that memories may not be completely accurate. NBC experts and others are reminding patients that due to the age of the study subjects much of the x-ray exposure occurred years ago when dental x-rays exposed patients to much higher doses of radiation. Digital radiography is now used by most progressive dental offices and offers very low radiation exposure.

Unfortunately, we cannot completely do without dental x-rays. A physical and visual examination by a dentist is not sufficient for us to detect all oral diseases – tumors, abscesses, cracked teeth, decay and more need x-rays for diagnosis. We do try to limit their use however.  At Wilbanks Smile Center we order dental x-rays only when needed for diagnosis and treatment. Protective aprons and thyroid collars are used for the safety of our patients and we never use mercury based dental fillings. Your overall health is our highest priority.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your next appointment.



Toothpaste Wars - Who Wins?

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Who wins the toothpaste battle for a spot in your shopping cart? There are so many brands on the market with so many competing claims – how do you know which one you should choose? Choose the one that you are going to use. No toothpaste, no matter how fancy the ingredients, will help maintain a healthy smile if you don’t like the taste enough to use it.

The ingredient that has been proven to be most effective in protecting your teeth against cavities is fluoride. Toothpastes that have been approved by the American Dental Association are considered clinically effective. In order to achieve this the toothpaste must contain a certain amount of fluoride. Some patients may require even stronger fluoride toothpastes which are available by prescription.

Tartar control toothpastes are frequently advertised. These toothpastes contain tetrasodium pyrophosphate which protects your teeth from hardened plaque (aka tartar) by soaking up some of the minerals in your saliva that play a part in the tartar formation process. These toothpastes can’t remove existing tartar, only your dental hygienist can do that.

If you have sensitive teeth there are many products on the market that claim they will help. Whether or not they do depends upon the reason why your teeth are sensitive. These pastes usually use potassium nitrate as the active ingredient.

Whitening toothpastes remove surface staining only, not much more than your regular toothpaste. If you want white teeth your best bet is a professional whitening from your dentist. You can get a white, beautiful smile and avoid possible damage or sensitivity issues.

Triclosan is an ingredient that is currently used in one toothpaste called Colgate Total. It is supposed to continue killing bacteria long after you have finished brushing. Since this is a new idea it will be interesting to see if this reduces gum disease over time.

Baking soda toothpastes add a zing to your brushing but are really no more effective than regular fluoride toothpaste. Some people like the tingly feeling they get with these.

Stripes, colors and fancy packaging – Whatever works to get your family to use the product! If fancy stripes on a toothbrush make your child more willing to complete the job, why not take advantage? Otherwise you really don’t need to spend a lot to buy an effective toothpaste and remember that store brands are usually much cheaper than the larger, advertised brands.

Whatever you choose – just brush for 2 minutes each time and remember to contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA  at 706-886-9439 to schedule your next dental hygiene visit.

Warning Signs You May Have Gum Disease

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Do you have gum disease? How would you know? Many people don’t know the warning signs of gum disease and they are not aware that even if you brush and floss every day you could still be at risk.

Certain health conditions and medications can make you more susceptible to gum disease. Patients with diabetes or Sjogren’s Syndrome fall into this category. If you are taking any type of medication that causes “dry mouth” your risk is also increased because of reduced saliva flow. Even oral contraceptives can increase your risk.

What can you do to protect your smile? Continue with good home care, brushing and flossing really helps. Remember to visit your dental hygienist regularly for professional cleanings.

Most importantly keep an eye out for these signs of gum disease:

  • Bleeding gums when you brush or floss
  • Gums that are sore, swollen or tender to the touch
  • Gums that seem to be receding from the teeth
  • Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
  • Changes in the alignment of your teeth or teeth that feel “loose”

Gum disease can be treated and you can maintain a healthy smile for life. Please contact  the Toccoa, GA full service dental practice of Dr. Joseph Wilbanks at 706-886-9439 to schedule your next dental hygiene visit.

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