May, 2013

How to Fix a Gummy Smile

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Do you have a “gummy” smile? Some people show very little of their gums when they smile but some show a lot of gum surface and this makes them uncomfortable with their smile. Well there is a way to fix that “gummy” smile and let you smile a little more each day.

A smile that shows a lot of gum tissue can usually be improved by using a cosmetic dentistry technique called gum contouring or gum reshaping. This same procedure can help those who have an uneven or crooked gum line – think of it as cosmetic surgery for your gums. The procedure is simple, by removing excess gum tissue we can sculpt a beautiful gum line that will enhance the beauty of your smile.

Of course, some patients may need more than a gum contouring to attain the smile they have always dreamed of – this is where dental veneers, dental bonding and other cosmetic dental procedures can be helpful. Perhaps there is just a little too much space between the teeth – without resorting to orthodontics we can use dental veneers to close the gap. Dental veneers can also be used to correct misshapen teeth or teeth that are permanently discolored. If you have many teeth that are permanently discolored from antibiotic use or other medications then dental veneers can give you the perfect white smile you’ve always wanted.

People judge us by our smiles – it is simply human nature. Study after study has shown that the mouth is one of the first things that people focus on when meeting someone new. A nice smile is more than vanity – it allows you to share more of your personality with the world through an easy grin or a belly laugh (all without feeling self-conscious).

Find out more about your cosmetic dentistry options by contacting Toccoa, GA cosmetic dentist Dr. Joseph Wilbanks at Wilbanks Smile Center 706-886-9439.

Diet Soda Harms Teeth Like Meth or Crack

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Drinking large quantities of diet soda can harm teeth and be just as damaging as abusing the illegal drugs, meth or crack cocaine according to a new study. The case study was published in the journal General Dentistry and found that the use of illegal drugs and the intake or large amounts of soda cause very similar types of damage to the mouth because of tooth erosion.Tooth erosion can be caused by too much soda according to Wilbanks Smile Center.

Tooth erosion is the wearing away of tooth enamel which leads to tooth sensitivity, decay and eventual tooth loss.

This case study compared the damage that had been done to the teeth of three people. One was an admitted user of methamphetamine, one was a long-time user of cocaine and the third drank excessive amounts of diet soda. The soda drinker averaged 2 liters of diet soda per day for three years! All of the three had poor oral hygiene and had not visited the dentist on a regular basis. Researchers found the same type of severe damage from tooth erosion in each persons mouth.

“Each person experienced severe tooth erosion caused by the high acid levels in their ‘drug’ of choice — meth, crack or soda,” explained Dr. Mohamed Bassiouny. He continued, “The citric acid present in both regular and diet soda is known to have a high potential for causing tooth erosion.”

If you drink lots of soda (diet or regular), fruit juices, energy drinks or sports drinks you could be destroying your enamel. All of these beverages contain high levels of acid which are harmful to dental enamel. The first sign is usually sensitivity to hot or cold.

Enjoy these beverages only occasionally and rinse your mouth with water after drinking them. Wait about 30 minutes to brush your teeth – because the dental enamel has been softened by the acids, brushing immediately may cause more harm.

Find out about your options for treating sensitive teeth and get checked for tooth decay by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your visit.


Alligators a Model for Missing Teeth

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Human beings only get two sets of teeth so we need to take care of them. Alligators keep replacing teeth throughout their lives and researchers are hoping they can serve as models for tooth replacement in human adults.Can the American alligator teach us how to regrow human teeth asks Wilbanks Smile Center.

Researchers from the University of Southern California studied the repeated tooth formation in American alligators. Did you know that alligators can repeat tooth formation up to 50 times throughout their lives? Alligators were chosen because they live a long time, and have well organized teeth with many physical traits that are similar to mammals. The researchers discovered that at an early stage in the development of the alligator tooth, a small bulge is created that holds stem cells. The study authors hope that the finding can someday aid efforts to trigger tooth renewal in human beings.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to regrow a tooth that had been lost to accident, decay or gum disease?  Until that day arrives we do have wonderful options for tooth replacement. Years ago, the only tooth replacement available was a dental bridge. Dental bridges are still done and are fine restorations but they require adjacent teeth to be  prepared in order to serve as anchors for the bridge.

Today we have a better way to replace a missing tooth – a dental implant. Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that are inserted into the jaw and the jaw bone actually joins with the implant. This serves two purposes – it provides a strong, permanent base to anchor the replacement tooth (a dental crown or bridge) and it helps preserve the health of the jaw bone itself. Our bones have a “use it or lose it” rule and when a tooth is no longer anchored in the jaw bone the body feels like it doesn’t need to keep replenishing the bone that isn’t being used. Dental implants help avoid the shrunken, aged look that so many people get after they have lost teeth.

Find out more about your tooth replacement options by contacting the Toccoa, GA office of Wilbanks Smile Center today at 706-886-9439. We’ll be happy to schedule your visit and if you feel nervous about visiting the dentist just let us know – sedation dentistry is a wonderful option.


Treating Sleep Apnea Helps Glucose Control

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Glucose control is difficult for diabetic and pre-diabetic patients but a new study has found that treating patients who have sleep apnea significantly improved their glucose levels.Wilbanks Smile Center treats obstructive sleep apnea which can help diabetics with glucose control.

This is not the first time that sleep apnea and diabetes have been linked. It is important to know that about 2/3 of patients with type 2 diabetes also have sleep apnea. Most of the sleep apnea cases are not diagnosed however. Many of the same factors that lead to type 2 diabetes are also risk factors for sleep apnea. These include obesity and insulin resistance.

The small study of pre-diabetic patients with obstructive sleep apnea from McGill University showed that treatment with CPAP led to “significant improvements in glucose levels” said the researchers. Dr. Sushmita Pamidi continued “Our study adds to the current literature  by demonstrating that CPAP treatment of sleep apnea in patients at risk for developing diabetes may lower this risk and and assessment for sleep apnea may be appropriate as part of the clinical evaluation of patients with prediabetes.”

CPAP is the most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea and it is highly effective. However, the study also notes that many patients often have “suboptimal results” with CPAP because of intolerance or insufficient use. About half of all patients find they simply cannot tolerate using CPAP. In fact, a patient is considered “compliant” with CPAP if they only use it for 4 hours per night – that leaves several house of sleep with untreated sleep apnea!

Oral appliances are a wonderful alternative to CPAP. Most patients find sleeping with an oral appliance to be comfortable and they are easy to care for. When properly fit and titrated by a dentist with special training in the care of sleep apnea patients they are highly effective at treating mild to moderate sleep apnea and can be used for more serious cases when the patient is CPAP intolerant.

Find out more about obstructive sleep apnea and your treatment options by contacting Toccoa, GA sleep apnea dentist Dr. Joseph Wilbanks at Wilbanks Smile Center today. We can be reached at 706-886-9439.

Dental Care Without Fear

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Many people experience fear or anxiety about dental visits. It is estimated that between 9% and 20% of Americans avoid needed dental care because of anxiety or fear. Some patients even experience dental phobia, a more serious condition than dental anxiety.Wilbanks Smile Center offers sedation dentistry for patients with dental fears.

Fortunately there are options for patients who suffer from these fears to get the dental care they need. Sedation dentistry lets dentists provide care for fearful patients while the patient rests quietly.

The reasons people develop dental fears include:

  • Hearing dental “horror stories” told by others, especially as a child. Studies have shown that fathers may be factors in passing along dental fear.
  • Fear of injections or pain. Many people are afraid of needles – this is quite common. The good news is that injections today are usually close to painless.
  • Feeling helpless and the loss of control. Since you can’t see what is going on inside your mouth this can cause anxiety for some people.
  • A previous bad experience with a dentist can cause dental anxiety over future visits.

Coping with dental anxiety involves a group approach. Your dentist and the entire office staff should be experienced working with patients who experience dental fear – a calm, peaceful office environment and supportive, patient staff can help you remain calm.

Sedation dentistry offers many options for treating patients with dental fear. Patients with extreme dental phobia may feel more comfortable being treated with deep sedation which allows needed treatment while the patient is in a semi-unconscious state. Patients with lower levels of anxiety may find relief with lighter forms of sedation.

Most patients with dental fears wait until they are in severe pain before seeking dental care. This does not have to be! Please contact Toccoa, GA sedation dentist Wilbanks Smile Center today to discuss your sedation dentistry needs and to schedule your appointment. Contact us at 706-886-9439.

Are You Wrecking Your Teeth?

Friday, May 10th, 2013

You could be wrecking your teeth without even knowing it. Teeth are pretty tough – after all dental enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. So just what do we do to wreck our teeth?Wilbanks Smile Center wants you to stop wrecking your teeth.

  • Brushing incorrectly. Using a hard bristle brush or brushing too hard or too often can damage the enamel on your teeth. Brushing too soon after eating or drinking something acidic can also cause damage because tooth enamel softens when exposed to acids). Rinse your mouth with water immediately after eating and brush 30 to 60 minutes later. On the flip side, not brushing enough leaves bacteria in your mouth that cause cause tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Skipping the floss. Floss is just as important as brushing because it cleans between the teeth and under the gum line where your toothbrush can’t reach.
  • Using teeth as tools. Ripping open the bag of chips, chomping ice and even popping bottle caps – people do lots of things with their teeth that they shouldn’t do. Use your teeth for chewing food and you’ll avoid lots of problems.
  • Drinking sports or energy drinks, soda or fruit juice regularly can damage teeth. All of them have too much sugar and most have very high acid levels as well. Water is the healthiest choice but if you do drink the others I suggest finishing the drink quickly and then rinsing with water.
  • Oral piercings – There is nothing positive for your teeth about having a piece of metal banging away at them all day. Chipping, breaking and wearing away of enamel are all common.
  • Smoking is bad for your oral health as well as your overall health. Smoking is a big factor in tooth loss because it is a factor in the development of gum disease.

Stop wrecking your teeth and get healthy by visiting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA . Contact us today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your next cleaning and checkup!

3 Reasons to Straighten Those Crooked Teeth

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

Many people think that straightening crooked teeth is only about appearance. Not true!Wilbanks Smile Center offers reasons why orthodontic therapy can improve your oral health.

While a straight, beautiful smile has been listed in surveys as making others perceive you as being more youthful, healthier and even more successful, there are sound medical reasons for straightening those crooked choppers. Here are the top 3 reasons you should use orthodontic therapy to straighten your crooked teeth:

  1. When teeth overlap it makes cleaning much more difficult. Tooth decay and gum disease often go hand in hand with a crooked smile.
  2. Chipped teeth or broken teeth can easily occur when a smile is out of alignment. The cost of repairing these chips and breaks over a lifetime will probably far exceed the cost of orthodontics to straighten the teeth.
  3. Potential jaw pain because of a misaligned bite. TMJ pain is often caused by a poor bite due to misaligned teeth. Orthodontics can straighten the teeth and help protect your jaw joint from damage.

I’ll add another reason that orthodontics should be performed on children with misaligned teeth – the growth of their jaw. Normal, healthy jaw development depends on good dentition. If the teeth are severely out of place then a child’s jaw development can be affected.

Find out more about orthodontics and how you can achieve a straighter, healthier smile by contacting Toccoa, GA full service dental care at Wilbanks Smile Center today. Please call 706-886-9439 to schedule your consultation.

Dental Implant Options

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

When you are missing a tooth you have several options but the best option is usually dental implants. Don’t feel bad about losing a tooth – about 69% of adults between the ages of 35 to 44 have lost at lease one tooth. The reasons range from accidents to gum disease to decay. By age 74 twenty-six percent of adults will have lost all of their permanent teeth.Wilbanks Smile Center can help you decide if implants are the right option for you.

Dental implants replace missing teeth by acting as an artificial “tooth root” for a single dental crown or several implants can be used to anchor a full set of dentures. Dental implants are a great choice whether replacing one tooth or several.

What makes dental implants better than the other options like dentures or dental bridges? Implants act and feel like regular teeth, there is no slipping or movement. A dental implant is a small metal device that is placed in the jaw bone. The implant fuses with the bone which ensures it won’t move. Because the implant is fused with the jawbone it also helps preserve bone health.

Dental implants have been used for over 20 years and most implants will last a lifetime. Dental implants should be cared for just like you would care for your teeth – no skipping on brushing and flossing.

Find out if you are a candidate for dental implants to replace your missing teeth – you can smile with confidence once more! Contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your consultation.


Chocolate Good for Enamel?

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

A new study just came out that can make all of us smile – a compound in chocolate hardens tooth enamel better than fluoride! Does this mean we can add chocolate to the water supply?

The study was completed by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center. They discovered that theobromine, an organic compound in chocolate, worked to remineralize and harden tooth enamel better than fluoride. The researchers measured the hardness of the enamel surface of teeth after treatments with fluoride and theobromine and found that the theobromine increased the size of the crystals that form tooth enamel. Larger crystals strengthen the enamel  which makes the teeth less vulnerable to erosion by acids.

Tooth enamel that has been damaged by acids leads to sensitivity, tooth decay and a discolored smile. There is a toothpaste on the market that contains this ingredient – I did not see the original journal article discussing the research so it may be possible that the maker of Theodent toothpaste helped fund the research.

Dentists have known for many years that chocolate is the best choice for your teeth if you are going to eat candy. Unlike the sticky or sour candies it does not stick to teeth and does not contain high acid levels that will damage enamel. Dark chocolate is the best choice – and it is even good for your overall health – in moderation!

If your teeth are sensitive you don’t need to suffer in silence – there is help available. Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule an appointment.

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