February, 2013

Habits Hurting Your Teeth

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

We all have habits – some good, some bad and some that could be hurting our teeth. Here’s a few habits to keep an eye on:Wilbanks Smile Center offers tips to break the habits that are hurting your teeth.

  • Using teeth instead of tools. You know you do it, biting open the bag of chips, using your teeth to hold everything from paperclips to nails and some even use their teeth instead of pliers. How can this hurt your teeth? They can chip, crack or break and a cracked tooth is no fun – if the nerve in the cracked tooth becomes damaged or infected you may need a root canal and a badly cracked or broken tooth may have to be removed. This would require replacing the tooth with an implant or a bridge – wouldn’t it have been easier to use a tool for the job?
  • Chewing on ice. Chewing ice is really common and is such a habit for some people that they don’t even realize they are doing it. The combination of hard tooth enamel with the cold, hard ice is a really bad pairing. The ice crystals can break or chip teeth and this is more likely to happen because of the cold temperature. Changes between hot and cold in the mouth also makes old mercury amalgam fillings swell and contract which leads to cracks in the filling. This allows bacteria to start the decay process under the old filling. New tooth colored restorations are not as susceptible to this.
  • Sucking on sugar. Some people use hard candies and mints throughout the day which keeps the teeth bathed in sugar. Many others have a habit of drinking soda all day long. Sodas and sweetened drinks contain acids which weaken tooth enamel. The sugar serves as food for cavity causing bacteria which attack the softened teeth.

You can prevent most oral health problems! Schedule your next dental hygiene visit today by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA at 706-886-9439.

Modern Diet Bad for Teeth

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

A study of the evolution of our teeth over the past 7,500 years has shown that our modern diet is bad for our teeth. Humans today have fewer types of oral bacteria than our ancestors did and scientists believe that this contributes to the high number of cases of dental decay and gum disease.Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA can help you fight the effects of oral bacteria which cause tooth decay.

The study, published in Nature Genetics, analyzed the DNA of calcified bacteria found on the teeth of humans throughout ancient times to present. The researchers from the University of Adelaide and the University of Aberdeen said the research “has shed light on the health consequences of the evolving diet and behavior from the Stone Age to modern day.” The researchers explained that oral bacteria changed as human diets altered when early humans moved from being hunter-gatherers to farmers. Even more changes were discovered when humans started manufacturing food during the Industrial Revolution. “This is the first record of how our evolution over the last 7500 years has impacted the bacteria we carry with us, and the important health consequences,” said study author Dr. Alan Cooper. He continued “The composition of oral bacteria changed markedly with the introduction of farming, and again around 150 years ago. With the introduction of processed sugar and flour in the Industrial Revolution, we can see a dramatically decreased diversity in our oral bacteria, allowing domination by caries-causing strains. The modern mouth basically exists in a permanent disease state.”

Most people think that fewer types of bacteria in your mouth would be a good thing but there are good bacteria and bad bacteria that live in our bodies. Unfortunately, the modern diet has wiped out some of the good-guy oral bacteria and left the cavity causing  types to thrive

Good oral health care can reduce the risk of dental decay. Proper brushing and flossing, every day, plus regular visits to the dental hygienist for professional cleanings can help keep oral bacteria populations in check. Dental sealants can also be used to help prevent cavities on the biting surfaces of teeth.

Find out more about preventing cavities by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439.

Sedation Dentistry Provides Calm Environment

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Sedation dentistry is designed to take the anxiety and discomfort out of your dental treatment by providing a calm, nurturing environment.Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa offers sedation dentistry.

More than 30 million Americans report some degree of dental phobia – ranging from mild to severe. Depending upon the severity of their anxiety, patients may avoid dental treatment for years until a painful situation drives them to treatment.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Sedation dentistry allows you to get the treatment you need, even preventive treatment such as routine cleanings, without fear. Wilbanks Smile Center offers a range of sedation options for patients who suffer from dental anxiety or phobia. Sedation dentistry is safe with little risk for side effects and patients are monitored throughout the procedure for their safety and comfort. Sedation options range from nitrous oxide (laughing gas) which is highly effective for minor anxiety, to oral medications and even IV sedation for patients with a severe fear of treatment.

Many patients find that their fear diminishes after one or two appointments and they become comfortable and familiar with the nurturing environment offered in this Toccoa, GA office. Once fear is no longer a factor in dental treatment most people find that picking up the phone to make that preventative care appointment is not so hard.

Anxious patients are not only able to get needed restorative and preventive care using sedation dentistry, they can also improve the beauty of their smile through cosmetic dentistry. Often years of neglect and problems can be resolved in just a couple of visits while the patient remains totally relaxed.

Find out more about your sedation dentistry options by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439.

February is Children's Dental Health Month

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Each February is designated as Children’s Dental Health Month and the American Dental Association and other groups work to spread the word about the importance of good oral health for children.Toccoa general dentist Wilbanks Smile Center offers tips for National Children's Dental Health Month.

Do you know what the most commonly occurring disease that afflicts children in America? The answer surprises most people – dental caries (tooth decay). Tooth decay is caused by a complex chain of events involving oral bacteria and sugars from food. Children are not born with the bacteria that cause tooth decay, they actually “catch” these bacteria, usually from their parents at an early age. While there isn’t much we can do about avoiding these oral bacteria completely, we can protect our children from the damage they cause.

Many people believe that because young children “only” have baby teeth they really don’t need to see a dentist. These first teeth are much more susceptible to tooth decay than adult teeth making brushing and flossing even more important. Regular dentist visits and good home care can protect your child from dental decay and the pain that comes from a badly decayed tooth. The health of our patients is very important to us – Wilbanks Smile Center is a mercury free office and mercury based amalgam fillings will not be used to fill cavities – tooth colored fillings are used.

Children should have their first dental visit around their 1st birthday – I know this seems early but once teeth begin erupting we can look for signs that the child may be prone to tooth decay. We can also offer parents tips on keeping those new teeth healthy. For instance, never put baby to bed with a bottle and always clean the teeth after feedings. Simply wiping the teeth with a soft, damp cloth works for babies and then you can graduate to a special baby toothbrush.

As your child gets older avoid sippy cups filled with juice – unless at mealtimes. Many children are given unrestricted access to juice cups all day long which leads to tooth decay and weight gain. Limiting the sugary juices is good for your child’s health. Offer water if your child is thirsty.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your next appointment. We look forward to helping your entire family maintain healthy, beautiful smiles!

Arthritis and Oral Health Care at Home

Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis need to be especially careful about oral health care, but limited mobility can make home care difficult.Gum disease fact and fiction discussed by Dr. Joseph Wilbanks.

My last post talked about the link between the inflammation caused by gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Because RA patients have 8 times the risk of developing gum disease and studies have shown that eliminating gum disease can reduce RA symptoms it is vitally important that brushing and flossing are completed every day. Some patients  have a hard time maintaining good oral hygiene because swollen, painful joints in their hands make brushing and flossing difficult.

  • Try an electric toothbrush – these are great for people with limited mobility.
  • Reinvent your toothbrush grip – add a tennis ball or bicycle handle grip to your regular toothbrush handle.
  • Try floss picks or floss threaders. Wrapping floss around swollen fingers can be difficult – adding a handle can help.
  • Use protective mouth rinses after brushing and flossing. Ask your dentist for a recommended brand.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking greatly increases your risk of gum disease and can interfere with healing.
  • Make sure you tell your dentist about your rheumatoid arthritis – we can try to make you more comfortable in the dental chair.

Gum disease and the inflammation it causes has been linked to conditions like stroke, heart disease, diabetes as well as rheumatoid arthritis. Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 today to schedule your visit. Working together we can help you maintain a healthy smile for a healthier you!

Arthritis and Gum Disease

Friday, February 8th, 2013

If you have rheumatoid arthritis it is especially important you see your dentist regularly to help prevent gum disease. I bet you didn’t know that!Wilbanks Smile Center wants to help arthritis patients keep their gums healthy to prevent inflammation.

Research is showing a strong connection between gum disease and arthritis. A German study in the Journal of Periodontology showed that people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has more gum disease than people without RA. The scientists found that RA patients were eight times more likely to develop gum disease!

The link between these two conditions seems to be inflammation. Inflammation is what happens when our immune system responds to viruses and bacteria. Gum disease is caused by bacteria and triggers this inflammatory process. RA is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly triggers inflammation even though there are no viruses or bacteria to fight. Dr. Scott Zashin suggests that it may be possible that the immune system is stimulated by the mouth infection and inflammation “setting off a cascade of events where inflammation develops at the site of joints or arthritis.”

The Journal of Periodontology published another study that showed that when people with severe RA cleared up their gum disease, their pain and other symptoms improved.  This research from Case Western Reserve University showed that patients who received both standard RA treatment AND treatment for their gum disease reported significant improvements in their symptoms compared to the control group who had only received the RA treatment.

Next – some tips for RA patients to make their home dental care a little easier.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your next visit so we can help keep your gums and your smile healthy!

Does Saliva Destroy Nutrients in Berries?

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

We have all heard about the health benefits of eating berries but does our saliva destroy the nutrients in these superfoods? Scientists have found that the chemical compounds that give berries their beautiful colors promote good health and may even help fight cancer. But no one had ever looked at what happens when we eat the berries and they are exposed to our saliva. Until now that is!Does saliva effect nutrients in berries - find out from Wilbanks Smile Center.

Researchers from Ohio State University discovered that two types of pigments in berries, called anthocyanins, degrade in the mouth. The other types of pigments did not seem to be affected as badly. The scientists also showed that bacteria living in the mouth were responsible for most of the breakdown that occurs when berries encounter saliva. They are still investigating whether it’s the berry pigments or the by-products after the breakdown that are responsible for promoting health benefits.

“Increased intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of some chronic diseases,” said Dr. Mark Failla. He continued “An understanding of the metabolism of these compounds, and the relative activities of the compounds in the consumed fruit and their metabolic products, is needed to make scientifically sound dietary recommendations and to develop effective delivery vehicles for the mouth.”

Scientists are hoping to figure out ways to give us the most health protective benefits. Until they figure this out – go ahead and eat lots of berries. They are great for your smile and your whole body!

Berries can stain your teeth so remember to schedule your dental hygiene appointment with Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA by contacting us at 706-886-9439 today.

Why Do You Avoid the Dentist?

Friday, February 1st, 2013

People have lots of reasons for avoiding the dentist. Some have had bad experiences in the past, some don’t think it is very important and others are just plain terrified.checkup

Whatever the reason, regular dental visits are too important to skip. Think about the use and abuse your teeth get every single day! Is it any wonder we want to check them every six months to make sure everything is OK?

Here are several excuses that people use to avoid visiting the dentist:

  • I don’t have dental insurance. Well, dental insurance typically doesn’t cover very much anyway and if you stick to regular dental hygiene visits and practice good oral health care at home you will be surprised at how little your preventive care will cost. Taking care of your mouth while it is healthy helps prevent expensive situations from popping up in the future and if we do discover a problem it usually costs a lot less to deal with it early. A good example is tooth decay – a small cavity can be filled very easily but if it is ignored it will become a very large cavity, which can turn into a much bigger problem including root canal and a crown.
  • I don’t really care how my teeth look. That’s OK but good oral health is about a lot more than a pretty smile (although most people like a nice smile). Oral bacteria can travel throughout the body and has been found everywhere from the heart to inside tumors. Keeping your mouth healthy is key to keeping good overall health.
  • I am just plain terrified. We understand patients who have dental anxiety and fear. Using sedation dentistry we can treat years of neglect and dental damage while you are completely relaxed. Different people require different levels of sedation so we offer a full range of options, from nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to IV sedation. You can have a beautiful healthy smile despite your anxiety!

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

Snoring Can Have Health Consequences

Friday, February 1st, 2013

If you think that simple snoring is nothing to worry about you would be wrong. Turns out that snoring can have serious health consequences even if it does not accompany a full-blown case of sleep apnea.snoring spouse

Researchers from the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI reported that people who are regular snorers have a much higher risk of having thicker or abnormal carotid arteries. The carotid arteries are the blood vessels that take oxygen rich blood to our brains – something we definitely need to keep in top shape for healthy aging.

Study author Dr. Robert Deeb said “Snoring is more than a bedtime annoyance and it shouldn’t be ignored. Patients need to seek treatment in the same way they would if they had sleep apnea, high blood pressure or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”

The investigators suggested that instead of sending the snoring bed partner off to sleep in another room that pushing them to seek medical treatment would be a better option.

Anyone who snores regularly should be checked for obstructive sleep apnea which is a serious condition that causes stoppages of breathing during sleep. Once you have discovered you don’t have sleep apnea you can search for a solution to your snoring.  Snoring is a matter of sleeping position for lots of people so there are special pillows that can be purchased and some people swear by sewing tennis balls into the back of their pajamas so they can’t sleep on their backs.

A highly effective treatment for snoring is an oral appliance. Your dentist can create a small device that is worn in your mouth while you sleep that positions the jaw in a manner that keeps you from snoring. Don’t be fooled by the “internet” versions of snoring appliances. Any device that is placed in your mouth and has not been custom fit by your dentist will cause tooth movement and jaw pain over time.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your appointment to see if you are a candidate for an oral appliance to stop your snoring.

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