September, 2013

Can Cavities Protect Against Cancer?

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

Can cavities protect against head and neck cancer? Researchers at SUNY-Buffalo found that patients who had cavities in their teeth had a lower incidence of head and neck cancer. “To our knowledge, the present study suggests, for the first time, an independent association between dental caries and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma,” study authors said.

Tooth decay is caused by bacteria and the primary one that causes tooth decay is linked to an immune response, which may be protective against cancer. The researchers also noted that the findings between tooth decay and head and neck squamous cell cancers are a stark contrast to previous studies that looked at gum disease and cancer. Those studies found that having gum disease was associated with an increased risk of cancer.

The bacteria responsible for tooth decay are different from the bacteria that cause gum disease. The study authors explained,”Caries is a dental plaque-related disease. Lactic acid bacteria cause demineralization (caries) only when they are in dental plaque in immediate contact with the tooth surface. The presence of these otherwise beneficial bacteria in saliva or on mucosal surfaces may protect the host against chronic inflammatory diseases and HNSCC. We could think of dental caries as a form of ‘collateral damage’ and develop strategies to reduce its risk while preserving the beneficial effects of the lactic acid bacteria.”

As fascinating as this research is, you can’t let tooth decay go untreated. A small cavity is much easier (and less expensive) to treat than a tooth that has such deep decay that the root has become infected. Dental fillings today are sophisticated, tooth colored composites that are long lasting and, because they match your teeth, invisible. No more ugly mercury amalgam fillings to ruin your smile.

Find out more about mercury free treatment options by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439.

The Best Type of Dental Floss

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

What is the best type of dental floss? Whatever kind you will use every day!

There are lots of different choices of dental floss on the market and it can be a bit confusing but it all can be used to prevent gum disease.

Nylon floss has been around for many years and if you buy the generic brand of floss it will usually be nylon. Nylon floss is the most common and least expensive type of floss.Nylon and silk floss are considered multifilament floss, meaning they are made up of many threads of the fabric. Nylon floss comes in various thicknesses and flavors and may be waxed or unwaxed.

Waxed or Plain?

The choice between waxed floss or plain is completely up to the patient. The best floss is the one you are going to use! Many people find that the waxed floss glides more smoothly between teeth. Most floss comes plain or flavored with mint. If you want to get exotic you can look online and find everything from bacon flavor to bubblegum.

A newer type of floss on the market is monofilament, usually made of some type of plastic or rubber. This floss is very strong and won’t rip or tear like the nylon or silk floss and it seems to glide very easily between teeth.

Both types of floss come in different thicknesses. Which thickness is right for you depends upon the spacing of your teeth. Try a few and figure out which seems most comfortable and effective for you. Remember if you have to “snap” the floss between your teeth you should tell your dentist. Some flosses are impregnated with fluoride and others are woven or textured and claim to remove more plaque and bacteria than regular floss.

There are also specialty floss products like floss threaders that are used to floss around braces and under dental bridges. Lots of people like the little floss picks that consist of a small handle with a short piece of floss attached. Keep a back of these in the car and you can floss when stuck in traffic!

Keeping your smile healthy is a team effort – you do the brushing and flossing – and schedule regular visits with your dental hygienist for professional cleanings. Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your next visit.


Updated Recommendations For Treating Sleep Apnea

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

The American College of Physicians released new recommendations for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. The recommendations were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the ACP’s professional journal.

The number one recommendation is for patients to lose weight. “Obesity is a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea and the evidence indicates that intensive weight loss interventions help improve sleep study results and symptoms of OSA,” said Dr. Molly Cooke who is President of the ACP. Patients should also attempt continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) as initial treatment.

More than 18 million American adults have obstructive sleep apnea but most have not been diagnosed. Sleep apnea is a condition in which the airway collapses during sleep causing the stoppages in breathing. Untreated sleep apnea increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and other medical disorders. Patients with sleep apnea suffer from extreme daytime sleepiness which increases the risk of automobile and other accidents.

These new guidelines take into account the fact that about half of patients who attempt sleeping with CPAP find they cannot use the device. The ACP recommends a mandibular advancement device, an oral appliance, for these patients. Dr. Cooke said “Doctors should weight patients preferences and the likelihood of therapy adherence against costs before initiating CPAP treatment.” In other words, when a patient now tells their doctor that they don’t even want to try CPAP, the physician should prescribe an oral appliance. Surgery was not recommended as a treatment for sleep apnea.

Oral appliances effectively treat sleep apnea without the masks, hoses and machines and most patients find them comfortable and they are easy to use. Find out more about oral appliance therapy to treat sleep apnea by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439.


What Is Gingivitis?

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Gingivitis is a term that gets thrown around a lot, especially in toothpaste commercials on TV! But what is gingivitis and should you be concerned about it?

Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease and yes, it is something that you should take seriously. This common condition causes gums to be puffy, red and irritated but sometimes the symptoms are mild and the patient is not aware they have a problem. If gingivitis is not treated promptly it can lead to more serious forms of periodontal disease and eventual tooth loss.

Why Does Gingivitis Occur?

Gingivitis occurs when dental plaque, an invisible, sticky substance made of bacteria, forms on the teeth. Plaque is formed when the bacteria in your mouth interact with starches and sugars from food. Brushing and flossing remove plaque but it will reform within 24 hours so good oral hygiene is key.

Plaque that is not removed in time will harden into calculus (tartar) which cannot be removed by brushing along. This buildup shields the bacteria and allows them to flourish. Tartar needs to be removed by a professional dental cleaning- it will not go away with regular brushing and flossing.

The longer the plaque and tartar remain on your teeth the more the gums become irritated. This leads to puffy, sensitive gums that bleed easily – gingivitis.

Gingivitis and future gum disease can be avoided. Brush and floss every day and visit your dental hygienist every six months (more often if you are diabetic or have a history of gum disease). Contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 today to schedule your next visit.


More Harm Than Good? Gummy Vitamins May Negatively Impact Dental Health

Friday, September 20th, 2013

The growing popularity of gummy vitamins is understandable — kids are less likely to complain about having to take a daily vitamin when it looks and tastes exactly like candy. But what seems like a convenient way to make dietary supplements more appealing to children may actually harm their oral health.

Like candy, gummy vitamins can contain artificial flavors, coloring, high fructose corn syrup and/or preservatives. Always read the nutritional label to check how much sugar is in each daily serving, and opt for vitamins that are sugar-free. The chewy texture of gummies also makes them more likely to stick to teeth, which can lead to decay as they adhere to the tooth surface and lodge between teeth.

Along with steering clear of sugar-packed gummy vitamins, here are six tips for preventing your kids from developing cavities:

  1. Make sure that they get the majority of their nutrients from a healthy, balanced diet of vegetables, fruits and dairy products, rather than relying on just vitamins.
  2. For children six and older, ask their dentist about the benefits of a dental sealant,  a plastic coating applied to the chewing surfaces of back teeth to protect them from decay.
  3. Monitor your child’s brushing regimen to ensure that they are brushing their teeth thoroughly and for the recommended amount of time — which is two minutes, twice a day, according to the American Dental Association.
  4. Show your child how to floss correctly and check that they are flossing daily. It’s a healthy habit that’s good to instill early on in order to keep their pearly whites healthy.
  5. Make sure they brush their teeth soon after eating sticky, sugary foods that tend to remain on the tooth surface, including gummies, chewy candies, jam, cookies with a gooey filling and dried fruit.
  6. Stay on top of your child’s regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings schedule.

Dentist in Toccoa

If you want to learn more about how you can improve your at-home dental care approach and flossing techniques, contact us today to schedule an appointment. Wilbanks Smile Center is located in Toccoa, GA, and we can be reached at 706-886-9439.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Periodontal Disease Opens Path For Arthritis

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Studies have shown that people with gum disease are much more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis and that people who have RA are two times more likely to have periodontal disease. Researchers now believe that the bacterium responsible for gum disease may open a pathway for development of rheumatoid arthritis.

An international team of researchers from the European Union’s Gums and Joints project, along with Dr. Jan Potempa from the University of Louisville, have uncovered how the same bacterium that causes gum disease, P. gingivalis, worsens the onset and progression of RA. It turns out that the bacterium produces an enzyme that leads to changes in certain proteins in the body. The subsequent result is the body launching an immune attack on these proteins which leads to chronic inflammation that is responsible for bone and cartilage destruction.

The researchers are hopeful that the discoveries will lead to new options for the prevention and treatment of RA.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

Periodontal disease has been linked to so many other problems throughout the body, including RA, heart disease, pregnancy problems and even certain cancers. Periodontal disease is preventable simply by following good home care (brushing and flossing) and visiting your dental hygienist on a regular basis. If you are diagnosed with periodontal disease it can be treated!

Find out more about protecting yourself from periodontal disease by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439.

Halloween Tricks for your Treats

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

If you’ve got trick-or-treat aged children at your house you know that Halloween can be a little scary when it comes to preventing cavities.

No, you don’t need to throw away all the candy and replace it with kale! Here are some suggestions for enjoying holiday treats without causing too much damage to those young smiles.

  • Sort the candy and try to get rid of the really sticky stuff. Sticky candies are especially bad for teeth because they adhere to the tooth surface, especially between teeth, and hold that sugar against the tooth surface for a long period of time.
  • Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is actually OK for your teeth. Chocolate candy bars filled with gooey filling are not.
  • Don’t allow free access to the treats. Constantly bathing the teeth in sugar by snacking on candies all day long is likely to cause cavities.
  • Make the candy part of a meal. Allow Halloween treats after your child eats a meal. They will want less candy because they are already full and eating something sugary with a meal means saliva is already flowing freely. Saliva washes away the sugar and helps remineralize the teeth, protecting them from cavities.
  • AVOID THE SUGAR/ACID COMBO. Sour candies like War Heads contain sugar and acid. This combination is terrible for teeth and should be avoided.

Brushing and flossing and regular visits for dental cleanings are part of preventing cavities in your kids. Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your next visit and don’t forget to ask about dental sealants to protect the chewing surfaces of teeth from decay.

Top Excuses for Not Flossing

Friday, September 13th, 2013

While most of us brush our teeth daily we often skip another important part of an at-home dental care regimen: flossing! Though often forgotten, flossing is a crucial step in preventing future gum disease like gingivitis, and is essential to good, long-term dental health.

Let’s take a closer look at the top excuses for not flossing, and some tips that can help us become “excuse-free.”

  1. “I don’t know how to floss properly.” For those unsure of the correct way to floss, here are some tips to help you learn.  Start with several inches of floss, wrap it around your middle fingers, hold the floss firmly, and gently guide floss between your teeth. Repeat the motion until you reach between each of your teeth, even those far-back in the mouth. If necessary, ask your dentist to demonstrate proper flossing techniques.
  2. “I don’t have any time to floss.” While many think flossing is time-consuming, that is simply not true. However, you should set aside at least five minutes a day for effective flossing. Setting time aside for this habit will help you to improve your dental hygiene in the long-run.
  3. “I don’t like the way floss feels.” Some floss may have an uncomfortable texture, but there are many different kinds on the market today. If you are unhappy with your current floss,  consider switching over to a brand that feels right for you. Your dentist will often give you samples of floss when you leave the office, which can help you pick one that’s right for you.
  4. “I don’t have food stuck between my teeth.” Flossing is not just for removing food between your teeth. Flossing is an essential step in removing dental plaque, which is the bacteria that forms in between the teeth. Plaque contributes to tooth decay and loss, and flossing is essential in preventing this from happening.
  5. “It hurts when I floss.” If flossing feels painful, you may already have gum disease. However, with regular flossing and brushing, the signs of gum disease should decrease in a few weeks. If not, it may be necessary to consult your dentist.

Dentist in Toccoa

If you want to learn more about how you can improve your at-home dental care approach and flossing techniques,  contact us today to schedule an appointment. Wilbanks Smile Center is located in Toccoa, GA, and we can be reached at 706-886-9439.  We look forward to hearing from you.


Sedation Dentistry - Is It For You?

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Have you ever found yourself living with dental pain rather than calling to make an appointment? Does the thought of a dental hygiene visit fill you with anxiety? Sedation dentistry is the perfect answer for people who experience dental fear or anxiety.

Sedation dentistry can help people who don’t really have dental fear but may have other issues that make getting dental care problematic. Sedation dentistry can help people who:

  • Have a low pain threshold
  • Have a bad gag reflex
  • Have problems sitting still in the dental chair
  • Need to have a large amount of dental work completed

Avoiding dental treatment, even preventative treatment like dental cleanings, is never the answer. Oral health problems like gum disease and tooth decay simply cannot “go away” on their own. The good news is that we can correct years of neglect in just a few visits using sedation dentistry.

How Does Sedation Dentistry Work?

There are several different levels of sedation dentistry. Most people are familiar with the most common type, nitrous oxide or laughing gas. Nitrous oxide offers a minimal amount of sedation that allows you to relax and wears off quickly. Oral sedation uses a pill that will produce mild to moderate sedation depending upon the dose. Patients will need someone to drive them home following treatment.

Wilbanks Smile Center is one of the few practices in this area to offer a full range of sedation options including IV conscious sedation. We have many patients who come to our beautiful area for a “dental vacation” and receive their needed care in a comfortable, anxiety free setting and then can relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

Find out more about sedation dentistry and how it can help you by contacting your  Toccoa, GA office for sedation dentistry, Wilbanks Smile Center, at 706-886-9439 today.

Braces At Any Age

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Remember when braces were only worn by teens? Now braces are popping up on people of all ages – from elementary age kids to AARP members.

The days of waiting until high school for braces are over for most kids. Starting orthodontic treatment early means that dentists can help manage the jaw as it grows. This means that children in braces no longer have to experience the loss of healthy teeth in order to make the rest of the teeth fit into the existing space in the jaw!

Adults come back to orthodontic treatment for a number of reasons. Younger adults may not have had braces as a kid and now find that their crooked smile holds them back in social or professional settings. Others may have neglected to wear their retainers all those years ago and their teeth started to shift back.

It is common when we reach middle age that our teeth begin to shift and become more crowded – even if you have always had a straight smile. This crowding and shifting can affect your bite and can cause damage and wear to your teeth.

Crooked teeth are more than just a cosmetic problem. Crooked teeth usually mean a bite that is “off” which can lead to unconscious grinding and clenching and ultimately TMJ pain. Teeth that are crowded or crossed over one another are also hard to keep clean and are more prone to tooth decay.

Dental braces have come a long way. The old “tinsel teeth” grin really doesn’t exist anymore. Today we have tooth colored brackets and wires that can be used for conventional braces. A popular choice for adults is Invisalign. Invisalign uses a series of custom made aligners which are virtually invisible when worn. Each aligner is worn for about two weeks and this progresses until your perfect, straight smile is achieved.

Find out more about all types of orthodontic treatment offered in Toccoa, GA at Wilbanks Smile Center. Contact us today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your consultation.

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