June, 2012

Smokeless Tobacco Causes Cancer Too!

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

We’ve known for a long time that smoking cigarettes causes cancer and other health problems. The use of  smokeless tobacco is no better — it also causes cancer. Now scientists have isolated a chemical from smokeless tobacco that caused oral and esophageal tumors in every animal exposed to it in a laboratory.

This study give us the first conclusive link between a specific cancer causing chemical in smokeless tobacco and oral cancers. 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. New research is also showing that oral cancers are among the most expensive cancers to treat.

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 and alcohol use, but today we are seeing a drastic increase in the number of younger people with cancers of the mouth and throat 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 Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA immediately at 706-886-9439 to schedule your appointment for oral cancer screening.




What's Worse Than Sugar For Your Teeth?

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Candy and sugary drinks are not the worst thing you can consume when it comes to your smile – sour flavored candy and drinks are even worse because these foods are typically flavored with citric acid.

These acidic foods erode tooth enamel and soften teeth. “Citric acid is the worst acid for your teeth” said Dr. Martha Keels, Chief of Pediatric Dentistry and Duke’s Children’s Hospital. Especially bad are the sour, sticky, sugary candies aimed at kids like Warheads and Toxic Waste. These candies have such a low pH that it is close to battery acid

Kids tooth enamel doesn’t mature until about 10 years after the tooth has erupted which makes eating this stuff even worse. The combination of soft enamel and highly acidic, sticky candy can lead to rampant, serious tooth decay.

Just because adults don’t eat this type of candy doesn’t mean they are safe from acidic foods. Energy drinks are highly acidic and are being used more and more often. Soft drinks, including those that are sugar-free are acidic and damaging as well. Adults should also watch out for the acid/sugar combo hidden in products like sour mango Altoids and other types of breath mints.

If you are going to consume foods that are highly acidic you should include them with a meal which will minimize the effects. Chewing gum containing xylitol immediately afterward can also help protect your teeth. Although brushing immediately sounds like a good idea you need to wait. Brushing enamel that has been softened by acids can cause additional damage and make matters worse. Rinsing with water is a better bet.

If you are experiencing sensitive teeth you may have some dental erosion. Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your appointment and find out more about protecting and repairing your smile.

Born That Way - Missing Teeth At Any Age

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Can you be born with missing teeth?  Certainly it is not something we see every day but not having all 32 adult teeth is not uncommon. In fact missing one or more teeth is probably our most common congenital defect affecting almost 20% of us.

The most common missing teeth are wisdom teeth. This is not a bad thing because most of us end up having our four wisdom teeth removed at some point in our lives. Wisdom teeth often grow in crooked (impacted) and need to be removed. Even when wisdom teeth erupt correctly they are difficult to keep clean and often develop serious decay which requires their removal. Of course, a few unlucky folks actually have more than four wisdom teeth!

More than five percent of us lack one or more second premolars or lateral incisors. Proper orthodontic care can make sure that children who are born without these teeth have a proper healthy bite. More common than missing lateral incisors are cases where these teeth are “small” or peg shaped. These patients often ask for a more “normal” looking smile.  Cosmetic dentistry allows us to give these patients the beautiful smile they have always dreamed of.

Scientists are still unsure why some people are born with missing or extra teeth. Genetics does play a role in many cases but probably not all. The good news is that modern dentistry including orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry can ensure that your smile is healthy, functional and beautiful. It doesn’t matter if you were “born this way” smile-wise, what matters is what YOU want your smile to say about you.

For more information about cosmetic dentistry and orthodontic treatments for changing your smile please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your consultation.

Getting Braces As An Adult

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

As we age our jaws get smaller and our teeth tend to move. Even if you were one of the lucky few born with a beautiful straight smile you may have noticed some changes as time has gone on. Besides cosmetic reasons there may be health benefits to having dental braces as an adult. Dental braces or orthodontics can treat: crooked teeth, overcrowded teeth, bite problems such as overbite or underbite, and problems with jaw position.

Having overcrowded, crooked teeth or bite problems can put you at higher risk for gum disease and tooth decay because it is much more difficult to thoroughly clean your teeth. Crooked teeth and a poor bite can also affect the temporomandibular joint (jaw joint) causing headache, facial pain and neck pain.

Each case is different and will require a different form of treatment but most adults choosing to straighten their teeth will have options. Of course there are conventional braces with metal brackets and wires attached to your teeth. This is a tried and true method of correcting a crooked smile but are very noticeable so many adults avoid this option.

Invisalign uses a series of clear acrylic aligners to move your teeth into alignment. The advantages of Invisalign are that they are almost invisible when worn and are easily removed for eating and toothbrushing. Your dentist can tell you if you are a candidate for Invisalign.

For more information about your choices in adult dental braces and to schedule a consultation please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439.

Do You Have Sleep Apnea? Your Dentist Can Help

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Obstructive sleep apnea affects millions of American’s but an estimated 90% of sufferers have not been diagnosed. How do you know if you have sleep apnea and why do dentists care about sleep?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that causes people to stop breathing during sleep. This happens because the soft tissues of the mouth and throat relax and fall back, blocking the airway. A partially blocked airway results in snoring but a completely blocked airway results in no air getting to the lungs. When the brain realizes that it is not getting oxygen it will briefly rouse the sleeper to begin breathing again. The sleeper has no memory of these brief wakings or the snoring and gasping that go along with them. Their bed partner, however, can detail every moment!

Symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, weight gain, mood changes, morning headaches and the need to use the bathroom frequently during the night. Sleep apnea patients also report gastric reflux and depression. Many patients seek a diagnosis because their bed partner has witnessed them stop breathing during sleep.

Untreated obstructive sleep apnea can lead to heart attack, stroke, poor blood sugar control, weight gain and possibly an increased risk of death from cancer.

The first line of treatment for sleep apnea is called continuous positive airway pressure, aka CPAP. CPAP is a wonderful way to treat apnea but it is very difficult for many people to use. About half of all patients who have been given a CPAP fail to use it over the long term – in fact patients are considered “compliant” with their CPAP if they use it for only 4 hours each night!

Here’s where your dentist can help. Specially designed oral appliances worn during sleep keep the airway open by gently moving the lower jaw forward. This keeps the tongue and other tissues from collapsing into the airway and blocking it. The vast majority of patients report that these appliances are comfortable and easy to use. They also love waking up without headaches and having more energy throughout the day!

Find out if you may be a candidate for oral appliance therapy to treat your snoring or sleep apnea. Contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your consultation.

Hate To Floss?

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Do you hate to floss? Relax, you aren’t alone. Floss has been around for a long time but about 2/3 of dental patients avoid the stuff in spite of the best efforts of dentists and hygienists. We floss our teeth to remove the bacteria, debris and plaque between teeth that our toothbrushes can’t reach.

Using regular old string floss is the most inexpensive way of keeping your smile healthy. Rolls of floss cost under $1 and are found in grocery stores, drug stores and discount stores. The choice of waxed or unwaxed, mint flavored or plain or wide versus thin are pretty much up to you. Waxed floss may be easier to slide between teeth for many people.

Flossing does require some manual dexterity – if you are not physically able to wrap the floss around your fingers and maneuver it between your teeth or you simply refuse to use regular floss you do have some options.

Floss picks are small plastic handles with a piece of floss attached. Floss picks are available wherever toothpaste and floss is usually sold. Try keeping a package in your car and you can floss at stoplights!

A wonderful alternative to string floss is the “water flosser”. You may remember  Water Pik’s from when your kids were in braces – they were a great way for kids to clean between their teeth without disturbing the brackets and wires. If your water flosser is still under the bathroom sink it may be time to dig it out. Research has shown that these devices are highly effective in removing bacteria and debris from between teeth. In fact  a paper presented in 2010 at an international research conference showed that using a water flosser along with manual brushing was two times more effective at reducing gingival bleeding than floss.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your next dental hygiene appointment – and don’t forget to floss!


Instruction Manual For Your Child's Smile

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Children don’t come with instruction manuals so new parents must rely on advice from friends, family, experts and hopefully their own common sense. One area where advice from family members and experts may disagree is dental care for your child. Our understanding of the importance of oral health and prevention of oral disease like tooth decay has changed over the years.

Common questions from new parents include: When should we start brushing the child’s teeth?  When should they come for their first dentist visit?  The answer to the second question is usually around their first birthday. The answer to the first question is even more important however.  What is done for your child’s teeth prior to the first dental visit can be a key factor in a lifetime of good dental health.

Begin good oral hygiene habits early in your child’s life.  Begin when they are infants by wiping their gum tissue with a gauze pad after feedings. Did you know that children are not born with the bacteria that cause tooth decay? They usually “catch” this bacteria from their parents.

You can help prevent cavities  by never putting your baby to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice.  You can use use a soft, silicone finger brush when teeth first erupt to get the baby used to “brushing”.  When the child is  ready for their first tooth brush choose a very soft brush that is sized for small children.

Getting your child to start flossing is just as important as brushing.  Flossing cleans areas around the teeth where no brush can go.  It loosens the bacteria which allows it to be removed by the toothbrush.  Start flossing for your child at an early age – it allows them to get used to the process.

As your child grows teach them that “prevention is the best form of treatment”.  By preventing periodontal disease and cavities your child can have a lifetime of great oral health – not to mention the savings  by avoiding fillings and treatment for gum disease.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule a dental visit for every member of your family – even the little ones.

Do You Think You Have Gingivitis?

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

The American Academy of Periodontology says that three out of every four Americans have gingivitis – but only 13% of us think we do.

Gingivitis is the result of dental plaque building up between your teeth and under the gums. The bacteria cause irritation and infection of the gum tissue which become red, puffy and may bleed easily. This is the earliest stage of gum disease and is one that is easily reversed.

The first step in reversing gingivitis is a visit to your dental hygienist. A thorough professional dental cleaning is needed to get rid of the plaque and bacteria. Once your smile is really clean it is up to you to keep it that way. This means brushing correctly and flossing every day.

Good home care can keep your smile healthy but your dental hygienist may want to see you a little more frequently if you have gingivitis or more serious gum disease. Your dental cleanings should also be scheduled more frequently if you are diabetic, a smoker, or are taking certain medications or have other health issues that increase your risk for gum disease.

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

Poor Oral Hygiene Linked To Early Cancer Death In Swedish Study

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

Poor oral hygiene has been linked to many diseases throughout the body and now a study from Sweden suggests certain cancers may be added to that list.

The study looked at dental plaque as an indicator of good or bad oral hygiene habits. After taking into account other risk factors the researchers found that dental plaque was associated with a significant increase for premature death from cancer. The researchers note that lots of dental plaque indicated poor oral hygiene and a higher risk for dental disease and infections. These infections can then trigger reactions in the body that could lead to malignancy. “The high bacterial load on tooth surfaces and in gingival pockets over a prolonged period of time may indeed play a role in carcinogenesis” researchers speculated.

The research team was careful to emphasize that their findings did not prove that dental plaque causes or definitely contributes to cancer. The same team of researchers had previously found a link between periodontal disease and breast cancer odds and another of their studies looked at the association between gum disease and the increased risk of premature death from disease.

Until researchers truly understand the links between oral health and other diseases our best protection is prevention. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and visit your dentist for regular cleanings. Brushing and flossing daily are necessary to keep oral bacteria under control and keep your smile healthy (and your breath fresh).

Even if you suffer from dental anxiety or dental phobia you can keep your gums healthy! Sedation dentistry allows you to get the care you need, including regular cleanings, without feeling anxious or fearful. Ask about your options when you call.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your next dental hygiene visit and remember to let us know if you experience dental anxiety.


Are You Brushing The Right Way?

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Most people think they are brushing their teeth the right way – but there is a good chance they are not.

A study completed in Sweden showed that only 1 in 10 people were brushing in the correct way to prevent cavities! The majority of people in the study did brush their teeth regularly and they did use fluoride toothpaste. The problem turned out to be that only a few knew how the toothpaste should be used, how to brush correctly and how fluoride prevented tooth decay.

Most of the people in the study learned to brush their teeth as children as taught by their parents. Even if they had been taught more effective brushing techniques as adults they still continued to brush as they had when they were children. The biggest mistake most people made was rinsing with water after brushing.

Why is rinsing your mouth after brushing a mistake? It seems to make sense to rinse away any remaining debris with water right? Actually, when you have brushed with a fluoride toothpaste you shouldn’t rinse. Swishing water around your mouth removes the protective fluoride left behind by the toothpaste and cancels out the cavity protection it can provide.

I can already hear plenty of people saying “Ick, you have to rinse”. If you feel strongly about rinsing I suggest brushing, rinsing and then placing a new dab of fluoride toothpaste on your brush and giving your teeth a quick once-over – no rinsing! This allows the fluoride to remain on the teeth where it can work to strengthen the enamel.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your next visit. Don’t forget to ask about the most effective brushing and flossing techniques to protect your pearly whites.

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