August, 2013

Sleep Apnea and Your Health

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

Sleep apnea is a condition marked by breathing problems during sleep, usually due to some kind of obstruction in the airway. Breathing typically stops and starts, and this can be a potentially harmful health concern. Common symptoms include snoring and extreme daytime sleepiness.

Sleep apnea has been linked with other health concerns over time, and may even increase the risk of developing these issues. Keep reading to find out more on the health conditions linked to sleep apnea.

Top Health Concerns Associated with Sleep Apnea

  1. Heart Attack. Sleep apnea affects the heart in a number of ways, and may even increase your risk for heart attacks as these breathing issues can increase your heart rate to dangerous levels.  A 2007 study showed that people with sleep apnea were 30% more likely to have a heart attack or die of any cause over a four to five year period.
  2. Depression. This sleeping condition may also increase the risk for developing depression. reported that men were more than twice as likely, and women more than five times as likely to show signs of clinical depression if they were living with sleep apnea. Thankfully, the treatment used for depression is also used for sleep apnea, so both conditions can be treated simultaneously.
  3. Diabetes. Many recent studies are showing signs that sleep apnea may be linked to the development of diabetes and other metabolic diseases. A study once even found that the sleeping condition more than doubled the risk for developing diabetes.
  4. Cancer. Sleep apnea can increase the risk for developing cancer, as well as dying from it. Many studies have been and are being performed to find further links. One study found that people with sleep apnea may have a 65% higher chance of developing some kind of cancer than people without it.
  5. Stroke. Although more research must be done on the link between sleep apnea and risk of stroke, many professionals believe the sleeping disorder elevates the risk. A recent small study even found that 91% of its stroke victims suffered from sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Treatment in Toccoa

If you want to learn more about sleep apnea or how it is treated, contact us today to schedule an appointment. Our offices are located in Toccoa, GA, and we can be reached at 706-886-9439.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Tooth Fairy Costs Up Again

Friday, August 30th, 2013

The price of a tooth for the Tooth Fairy has gone up again. Every year the Visa credit card company performs a survey to discover what the average rate for all those lost teeth is across America. 

This year the Tooth Fairy is leaving an average of $3.70 per lost tooth – a 23% increase over last year’s average of $3 per tooth. The Tooth Fairy must be feeling especially generous because the amount has grown from an average of $2.60 per tooth in 2011. Parents remember that when they were children they usually found a quarter under their pillow.

The Tooth Fairy seems to be more generous for the first tooth lost. Some kids receive as much as $20 for the first tooth lost and then receive $1 to $5 for each tooth after that.

Confused about what the “right” amount is for your area? Visa can help with that too. They have a downloadable “Tooth Fairy Calculator” app that figures in parental ages, income bracket and educational level. It seems that the amount the Tooth Fairy leaves also varies by region. Children in the Northeast are getting the most, at $4.10 on average, per tooth. In the West the average is $3.70 and in the South $3.60. Midwestern kids are getting the least at an average of $3.30 per tooth.

Children’s primary teeth are designed to fall out as their permanent teeth erupt. Just because those teeth are temporary doesn’t mean they don’t need to be cared for. These early teeth are softer and more susceptible to tooth decay than adult teeth. Brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist regularly are important. Tooth decay is rampant among young children today and untreated cavities can cause severe toothache pain. Healthy habits for those early teeth will transfer to those permanent teeth when they arrive and the gift of a lifetime of good oral health is a wonderful thing to give your child.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule visits for your entire family – we look forward to seeing you.



High Anxiety Levels? The Problem Could Be Linked to Sleep Apnea

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Lots of people experience high levels of anxiety but if your anxiety levels seem to be rising for no apparent reason you might want to look at your sleep. Anxiety and sleep apnea have been linked in a number of studies. For example, in 2012 a European study found that more than half of sleep apnea patients also “had some degree of depression and anxiety.”

It is important to note that it has not been proven that sleep problems cause anxiety or that anxiety causes sleep problems. A University of California – Berkeley researcher said “It’s been hard to tease out whether sleep loss is simply a byproduct of anxiety, or whether sleep disruption causes anxiety.” It may end up that the link goes both ways!

The connection between anxiety and sleep disorders intrigued Berkeley researchers who hope to discover that treating one condition will influence the other. Their goal was to find the connection between lack of sleep and the increase in brain activity that contributes to excessive worrying and anxiety. The study concluded that experiencing sleep deprivation increased “anticipatory anxiety”.

Dr. Matthew Walker said “These finding help us realize that those people who are anxious by nature are the same people who will suffer the greatest harm from sleep deprivation.” He continued, “By restoring good quality sleep in people suffering from anxiety, we may be able to help ameliorate their excessive worry.”

Patients who have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and given a CPAP machine for treatment may find that the machine increases their anxiety levels. About half of patients find they cannot tolerate sleeping with the machine all night or even use it at all.  An oral appliance can successfully treat mild to serious sleep apnea without the hoses or masks. Our patients find sleeping with an oral appliance comfortable and highly effective.

Please find out more about oral appliances to treat sleep apnea by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439.


Top Causes of Missing Teeth

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Everyone has lost teeth at some point in their lives. When you’re young, your baby teeth fall out and you grow something a little more permanent in your mouth. These new teeth are supposed to be the ones that stay with you throughout the rest of your life. Unfortunately, some people have to deal with the loss of one or more permanent teeth as they age.

Other than the obvious cosmetic reasons, missing teeth can hurt your health in a number of ways. It may make chewing difficult, cause pain in the jaw and face, alter speech, allow other teeth to shift incorrectly, and may cause more dental health problems as food and bacteria can get trapped in the gap.

So why do some people lose their teeth in the first place? Keep reading to find out more.

Top 3 Causes of Missing Teeth

  1. Periodontal disease. Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Brushing, flossing, and scheduling dentist visits every six months are the most important steps to preventing this oral health issue. If left untreated, gum disease can cause the loss of one or even all of your teeth.
  2. Tooth decay. When a cavity develops, it is important that you seek treatment from your dentist. Cavities that are left alone could very well destroy a tooth. Fixing a cavity is a simple procedure that will allow you to keep the affected tooth, but ignoring a dental health problem will almost certainly lead to further complications.
  3. Physical trauma. Incisors are most at risk when it comes to tooth loss through physical trauma. Athletes involved in contact sports or anyone participating in any type of physical activity should exercise caution. Mouth guards and general observation while participating are just a couple of methods that may help prevent a tooth loss injury.


If you lose a tooth, Wilbanks Smile Center can help. We offer dental implants and other restoration options to improve the look and health of your mouth. With dental implants, crowns, bridges, or dentures, you can regain confidence in your smile once more.

Dentist in Toccoa

If you have any questions about tooth loss or how we can help treat it, contact us today to schedule an appointment. Our offices are located in Toccoa, GA, and we can be reached at 706-886-9439. We look forward to serving you!

Top 5 Hormonal Changes That Affect Women's Oral Health

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Women have special challenges when it comes to oral health. Changing hormone levels throughout life may make women more susceptible to oral health problems. Hormones affect the blood supply to the gums and they affect they way the body reacts to problems like plaque buildup. Here are the top 5.


Top 5 Hormonal Changes Affecting Oral Health:

  1. Puberty bring lots of changes, and with it the possibility of sensitive or swollen gum tissue. Brushing and flossing are extremely important even though it may be a little uncomfortable. Visit the dentist if bleeding during brushing or flossing continues.
  2. Hormones change rapidly during the monthly menstrual cycle and some women experience canker sores, bleeding gums and bright red or swollen gums. This typically happens a day or two before the start of the period and clears up a few days later.
  3. Birth control pills contain progesterone which may lead to inflamed gum tissues and may increase the body’s response to the toxins produced by dental plaque.
  4. Progesterone also increases during pregnancy which can lead to pregnancy gingivitis. This usually happens during the 2nd to 8th month of pregnancy. Dental care is completely safe during pregnancy and your dentist may want you to have more frequent cleanings during this time. Remember that good oral health leads to better outcomes for your baby.
  5. Menopause can lead to changes in taste and greater sensitivity to hot and cold. Reduced saliva flow is common and some women experience burning sensations in the mouth. Medications taken to combat symptoms can increase oral health problems. The reduction in estrogen that happens during menopause puts women at greater risk for loss of bone density which can affect the health of the jaw and lead to tooth loss.

It is important that you keep your dentist aware of changes in your health and medications and schedule regular visits for dental hygiene appointments. Professional care, combined with good home care (yes, you have to floss every day!) will help keep your mouth and your body healthy throughout all of life’s changes.

Please contact Toccoa, GA preventative dentist Dr. Joseph Wilbanks at Wilbanks Smile Center today. We can be reached at 706-886-9439 and we look forward to meeting you.



Can A Perfect Smile Make You Happier?

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Everyone loves a smile but a new study from the University of Manchester in England showed that people with a “perfect” smile were happier and had less stress than those with missing teeth.

The researchers found that adults with full or partial dentures had less confidence and experienced more stress than people with a full set of natural teeth or people with dental implants. We have known for a long time that an attractive smile can change how other people feel about an individual but this study shows that feeling confident in your smile has a big affect on how we feel about ourselves as well.

Many people who wear full or partial dentures experience problems with proper fit. This leads to slipping or movement of the denture and can add a low level of worry and stress. “Will my denture slip while I’m eating a meal with my friends?”

This study group was made up of men and women between the ages of 24 and 82 who were in good health and had good oral hygiene but all were missing some teeth and some had lost all their teeth. The study participants were asked to score themselves on quality of life and happiness.

The study participants then underwent treatment with dental implants for one or more missing teeth. They were again asked to score themselves following the treatment. Not surprisingly, the scores were much higher following the dental implants.

Don’t suffer with dentures that don’t fit – find out if you are a candidate for dental implants. Dental implants can be used to replace one tooth or many. Four dental implants can even be used to anchor a full set of dentures – no more slipping!

Find out more about dental implants and how they can change your life for the better by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439.

Top 5 Risk Factors for Oral Cancer

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

There are many risk factors for oral cancer. Oral cancer typically manifests as a sore or growth in the mouth that does not go away. However this cancer can also affect the lips, tongue, hard and soft palette, cheeks, pharynx (throat), sinuses, or floor of the mouth. Oral cancers cannot be ignored and early detection and treatment greatly increases survival rates. Sadly, most cases are not diagnosed until they are in a more advanced stage.

The American Cancer Societyconcluded that men face twice the risk of developing oral cancer than women, and that men over the age of 50 face the greatest risk of anyone. A number of other factors may contribute to the development of this cancer as well. Let’s look at the most common causes below.

Top 5 Risk Factors for Oral Cancer

  1. Smoking. People who smoke cigars, cigarettes, pipes, or any other tobacco product are six times more likely to develop some kind of oral cancer than nonsmokers.
  2. Smokeless tobacco. Chewing tobacco, snuff, or dip users are 50 times as likely to develop cancer in the gums, cheeks, and linings of the lips as those who don’t use smokeless tobacco.
  3. Alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption is a major contributor, as drinkers are six times as likely to get oral cancer as nondrinkers.
  4. Family history. As with other cancers, a history of relatives with oral cancer increases the likelihood that you will develop it yourself.
  5. The sun. Excessive sun exposure, especially at a young age, can have a profound effect on your risk of developing oral cancer.

A rapidly increasing number of oral cancer cases, especially in younger patients, are caused by HPV infection. If you know that you have been exposed to the virus you should be even more aware of the signs of oral cancer and seek regular screenings.

    It is important that everyone visit a dentist for routine check-ups and part of the checkup is an examination for oral cancer. Contact your dental professional if you begin showing any signs or symptoms of this condition, like persistent sores or growths. This disease typically becomes life-threatening when it goes undiagnosed for an extended period of time. At Wilbanks Smile Center, we screen for and biopsy oral cancer, and provide safe and effective treatment options like tumor removal.

    Oral Cancer Screening and Biopsies in Toccoa

    If you have any questions or concerns regarding oral cancer, contact us today to schedule an appointment. Our offices are located in Toccoa, GA, and you can reach us at (706) 886-9439. We look forward to serving you.

    Can Mouth Bacteria Trigger Colon Cancer?

    Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

    Two studies were published last week that suggested that a certain type of bacteria found in the mouth may trigger colorectal cancer by switching on cancer genes and changing our immune response.

    Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer among Americans and researchers have found Fusobacteria, a bacteria from the mouth, in the tissues from colorectal cancer patients. This new research shows us how the microbes trigger the cancer and how they do it.

    The first study found the bacterium in non-cancerous tumors that can change and become cancerous over time. This suggested to the researchers that the bacterium somehow contributes to the early stages of tumor creation. They also discovered that the bacteria would speed up the formation of tumors by affecting a type of immune cell.

    The second study found a molecule that lives on the surface of the bacteria that allows it to stick to and invade cancer cells. This molecule switches on genes that cause cancers to grow and trigger inflammation in the cancer cells.

    How Can You Protect Yourself?

    Our bodies contain multitudes of bacteria, some good, some bad. The trick seems to be keeping the good bacteria and bad bacteria in balance. The bad bacteria in our mouths are the ones that cause gum disease and tooth decay and, as research shows, diseases throughout the body as well.

    How can you keep bad bacteria in check? Brush, floss (every day) and visit your dentist on a regular basis. Only professional dental cleanings can remove pockets of bacteria from below the gum line so they don’t have a chance to cause disease.

    If it has been a while since you have had your teeth cleaned please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439. We’ll schedule a visit and get you back on track to a healthy smile!

    Top Causes of Sensitive Teeth

    Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

    Sometimes our teeth may become hypersensitive, leaving us to experience a great deal of pain or discomfort. The slightest touch, cold or hot foods and drinks, cool air, flossing, brushing, or even sweets can cause toothaches or soreness. So what exactly is behind this sensitivity?

    Tooth sensitivity is caused by the exposure of the dentin in your tooth. This is the layer closest to the nerve. The dentin contains small tubes that lead directly to this nerve at the center of your tooth, and these tubes can be stimulated by outside factors (like temperature) when exposed. Let’s take a look at the various causes for dentin exposure below.

    Top 5 Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

    1. Gum recession. Your gums may begin to recede as you age or because you do not practice proper oral care (i.e. brushing properly). Gum recession can expose the dentin to the elements that may cause sensitivity.
    2. Enamel erosion. The enamel of your tooth surrounds the dentin, so if the enamel is worn down, the dentin becomes exposed. Acidic beverages may cause the enamel to wear down, but so may improper brushing. If you brush too often or with abrasive toothpaste, you may be causing your own tooth sensitivity.
    3. Tooth grinding. Grinding your teeth will wear them down and likely cause sensitivity as the dentin becomes exposed. Tooth grinding may even cause most or all of your teeth to grow sensitive.
    4. Gum disease. Gum disease may also expose the dentin in one or more teeth, leaving them overly tender. It can cause gum recession, which also leads to the possibility of tooth sensitivity.
    5. Chipped teeth. If a tooth is chipped or cracked, the dentin may become exposed and lead to hypersensitivity. If the fracture is serious, it is possible that the nerve itself might even get exposed, which can lead to serious sensitivity.

    Your dentist can help you determine the cause of your tooth sensitivity and can recommend the proper treatment plan for you. Some over the counter methods may help, but dental professionals can also provide procedures and treatments to help teeth become less sensitive, including prescribing a high fluoride toothpaste for everyday use. Dentists may also place a fluoride varnish on the sensitive areas to strengthen the tooth, and can even use a dental restoration to build up areas where enamel has deteriorated.

    Dentist in Toccoa

    To learn more about tooth sensitivity and how it can be treated, contact us today to schedule an appointment. Our offices are located in Toccoa, GA, and we can be reached at 706-886-9439.  We look forward to hearing from you.

    International Trials Praise Dental Implants

    Saturday, August 10th, 2013

    Two separate international clinical studies have just been published and demonstrate excellent clinical performance of dental implants. Together these studies looked at more than one thousand implants in Europe, the US and Australia. The studies reported implant survival rates of 98% and practically no bone loss around the implants.

    Dental implants have been around for many years now and are one of the best ways we have to replace missing teeth. Dental implants can be used to replace just one tooth, replace several teeth or can be used to anchor complete sets of dentures.

    The beauty of using a dental implant to replace a tooth, instead of a traditional bridge, is that a dental implant acts and feels more like a natural tooth. When placing a dental bridge the teeth that are used to “anchor” the bridge must be prepared – this may mean altering a perfectly healthy tooth just to anchor the bridge leaving it open to future decay or damage. A dental implant is placed into the bone of the jaw and serves as an artificial tooth root so no other teeth are touched during the restoration. A special implant crown completes the procedure – most patients can’t tell which tooth has the implant!

    For patients who have lost all of their teeth we can use dental implants to create a whole new smile. If the patient has experienced bone loss that does not allow multiple implants we can anchor a full set of replacement teeth using only 4 implants. No slipping dentures and you never need to be afraid to smile, laugh or eat whatever you want.

    Find out how dental implants can change your smile by contacting Toccoa, GA implant dentist Wilbanks Smile Center today at 706-886-9439.

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