November, 2013

Smoking and Oral Health

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Smoking has a direct impact on oral health. Smokers all learn to live with the yellow teeth and bad breath – but those are just signs that more serious damage is being done.

Smoking interferes with the normal function of gum tissue cells leaving smokers more susceptible to infections, like periodontal disease. Cigarettes are not the only smoking product that causes oral health problems. Pipes and cigars also increase the risk for gum disease and tooth loss. Users are also are more likely to experience bone loss in the jaw.

Oral cancer rates are on the rise. Smokers are still more likely than non-smokers to develop oral cancers – even if they don’t inhale! About 90% of people with cancer of the mouth, lips, tongue and throat use tobacco. Smokers are six times more likely to develop these cancers.

Smoking interferes with the healing process which means that smokers that lose teeth are going to take much longer to heal. Dental implant procedures done on smokers have a lower success rate than for non-smokers.

Are the new e-cigarettes any safer for your oral health? These devices supply nicotine to the body in vapor form and claim to be healthier than smoking. Because they are so new there really isn’t any good research on their effects on oral health. The vapor from these devices has been shown to contain lots of different chemical compounds, some carcinogenic. Common sense says that anytime you are bathing your oral cavity in chemicals it can’t be good for your gums and teeth.

The best maintain good oral health if you smoke? Quit. Talk to your doctor about quitting and ask about your options. There are nicotine patches and gums, and medications that can help quell the cravings. Some people find help through support groups or classes.

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


Periodontal Disease Impacts More Than Your Smile

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

Taking good care of your teeth and gums can reduce your risk of heart disease, a new study shows. The study’s results are just the latest to support numerous findings that have previously established a link between oral health and heart health.

Scientists have long noticed that the condition of a person’s teeth influences other parts of their body, including the lungs and circulatory system, as well as their overall health. Previous studies have even found a link between gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, and obesity.

According to the new study, which was conducted by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, as gum health improves, so does heart health. Researchers believe that this is because healthy gums help to slow the progression of a condition called atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of the arteries.

For the study, researchers looked at bacteria samples taken from participants’ teeth and gums, checking for signs of inflammation. Researchers also measured plaque formation on the subjects’ arteries and monitored their gum and heart health over the course of three years.

The findings showed that, over time, those who did not take better care of their teeth saw their gum health decline. This decrease in oral health correlated with an increase in inflammation and the progression of artery calcification, which is a known risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

Gum health can be substantially improved by receiving treatment for existing gum disease, such as gingivitis (also known as periodontal disease), getting routine dental exams as well as cleanings twice a year and following a dental health regimen, including brushing twice daily, flossing frequently and using mouthwash.

The Wilbanks Smile Center offers various treatments for gum disease issues. A thorough examination and evaluation by Dr. Joseph Wilbanks will determine what you need to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible.

Dentistry in Toccoa

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

Can't Brush? Chew On This Idea

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Are you the kind of person that keeps a toothbrush in their desk drawer? You remember to floss every single day and keep your dental appointment like clockwork? Sometimes even those of us with a really good track record of oral health care get stuck in a place or a situation where we can’t brush. So chew instead!

Yes, chewing gum may be the answer to all those times when your teeth aren’t feeling clean, but you just can’t brush. Of course not just any chewing gum will do.

Research has shown that sugarless gum that contains xylitol helps control oral bacteria. A specific oral  bacteria, Streptococcus mutans, is responsible for tooth decay and xylitol affects the growth of these bad bugs.

Chewing sugarless gum with xylitol actually will help your smile in another way. Simply chewing the sugarless gum stimulates the flow of saliva. Saliva does a great job of washing away food debris and helps normalize the pH in the mouth. The act of chewing helps loosen and remove debris and bacteria as well.

Brushing your teeth is great – but there is such a thing as over-brushing. Brushing too often or brushing immediately after eating or drinking something that is highly acidic can actually damage your tooth enamel. This can lead to sensitive teeth and higher susceptibility to tooth decay.

Contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your next visit and to learn more about preventative steps to protect your smile.

Why Do You Need Dental X-Rays?

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Do you hate dental x-rays? Have you ever wondered why the dentist is so insistent on updating your dental x-rays every couple of years? 

Dental x-rays are digital pictures of the teeth, bones, and surrounding soft tissues and dentists use them to find cavities, bone loss, and hidden dental problems and structures (like wisdom teeth). Dentists need this information in order to diagnose and treat problems that we can’t see with our naked eye.

Remember shoving that hard, square piece of film in your mouth and then waiting and waiting for the x-rays to develop? Times have changed and so have dental x-rays. Digital x-ray sensors are much more comfortable and we don’t have to wait for films to develop – the image is instant! This technology is very convenient for both doctor and patient when performing treatments such as root canal therapy.

  • Periapical x-rays show the entire tooth and the bone below that supports the tooth. These x-rays help us find problems below the gum line or in the jaw such as impacted teeth, tumors or bone changes. This series of x-rays is usually taken at the patients first visit.
  • Bitewing x-rays are taken periodically and help us check for decay between teeth and help show if the bite is in proper alignment. They can also show bone loss from gum disease or if an infection is present.
  • Panoramic x-rays are a terrific tool for dentists. These x-rays show us a full panoramic view of the jaws, teeth, sinus and nasal area and the temporomandibular joint (jaw joint or TMJ).
  • Cone Beam CT is a highly advanced form of imaging. Cone beam technology provides a three-dimensional, digital image of structures beneath the surface of the teeth and gums. This view includes teeth roots, internal canals, and bone structure. CBCT (Cone-Beam Computed Tomography) scans are similar in detail to traditional medical CTs, but taken in a fraction of the time and are highly targeted meaning very low radiation exposure.

Radiation exposure from digital x-rays is very low. Flying across country in an airplane exposes us to more radiation than a complete set of digital x-rays. Without x-rays it is impossible for dentists to diagnose and treat many oral health problems such as broken teeth, tooth decay, bone loss or bone changes due to disease, cysts, tumors and infections.

Schedule your next appointment by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center at 706-886-9439 today. Wilbanks Smile Center is your full-service dental office located in beautiful Toccoa, GA and serving all surrounding areas.

Don't Ignore Your Wisdom Teeth

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Many people choose to ignore their wisdom teeth until they are in severe pain or require surgery. But ignoring wisdom teeth issues isn’t wise and they should be dealt with as soon as they appear – and most often, only your dentist can spot the first signs of potential wisdom tooth complications.

Wisdom teeth, or the third molars situated at the very back of the mouth, get their moniker from the fact that they usually begin to sprout in the late teen years or early 20s for most people, usually between the ages of 17 and 25.

By keeping up with annual dental exams and getting regular cleanings twice a year, patients allow their dentist to monitor any dental changes. That way, whether a wisdom tooth is beginning to erupt or a fully-formed wisdom tooth is starting to move in a way that could cause problems in an adult’s jaw, the dentist will be able to assess the situation and determine the best course of action.

Possible complications caused by wisdom teeth include when the tooth is impacted, or when it does not grow in the right direction. Impacted wisdom teeth are especially common in the lower jaw, and because they are unable to break through the gum line, they put pressure onto neighboring teeth, causing pain and even damage.

In some cases, wisdom teeth are able to partially break through your gums, but do not erupt all the way through. This creates a small opening in the gums where food particles can get stuck, which attracts bacteria and can lead to infection. Infected gums are red, swollen and painful, and a partially erupted wisdom tooth can cause the area to become continuously re-infected and inflamed.

A wisdom tooth can also grow into the jawbone, which can cause damage to adjacent teeth’s roots and nerves. This condition can also damage the jawbone’s structure and even affect a person’s bite and jaw alignment. Dental x-rays will determine a wisdom tooth’s placement and development, so if you’re experiencing pain or discomfort in your back molars, see a dentist right away.

Wisdom Tooth Extraction in Toccoa

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

Dental Office Sounds May Trigger Anxiety

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Do you suffer from dental anxiety? If visiting the dentist makes you nervous it turns out part of the reason could be the sounds of the dental office. A recent study found that the sounds of the drill and the suction can really set some people on edge. Just like fingernails on a chalkboard, I guess.

There are some things you can try if the sounds of the dental office bother you or make you nervous. Many dentists will provide headphones and music if you ask for them – or you could bring your own and be completely in control of your own playlist! Try to make your appointment at a slow time in your day. If you don’t feel rushed, it will be easier to relax.

The easiest way to relax during a dental appointment is to take advantage of sedation dentistry. No, you don’t have to be completely asleep (unless you want to be). There are various levels of sedation available to our patients.

  • Nitrous Oxide or laughing gas is a very popular choice. Nitrous oxide is wonderful because it is very short acting and you can drive home following your appointment but it allows you to relax and not remember the procedure.
  • Oral medication sedation using a small pill. Taken before the appointment, this medication will make you drowsy but you will still be aware. This is a deeper level of relaxation than nitrous oxide.
  • Intravenous sedation offers the deepest form of sedation.

Sedation dentistry can help patients who do not have dental anxiety but may have other problems that make dental visits difficult. If you have a sensitive gag reflex, difficulty getting numb, have difficulty sitting still in a dental chair or require a large amount of dental work then sedation dentistry might help you.

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


Protect Your Smile with Mouth Guards

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

With football season in full swing, it’s the perfect time to make sure that you’re properly protected against any sports-related dental Injuries. Mouth guards go a long way toward protecting your teeth, lips, cheeks and tongue from getting hurt while you’re playing on the field or court.

While mouth guards are most often associated with football, they’re also recommended to be worn during many other sports. The American Dental Association and the International Academy of Sports Dentistry recommend that mouth guards be worn by those who play soccer, basketball, hockey, racquetball, rugby, volleyball, lacrosse, baseball and field hockey.

Track and field, water polo, horseback riding, skiing, snowboarding, surfing, martial arts, roller derby, boxing, weight lifting, inline skating, gymnastics and wrestling are other physical activities during which a mouth guard is recommended to be worn.

Mouth guards are especially necessary for those with braces, since dental injuries involving braces or retainers are often more damaging to the mouth’s soft tissue due to the wires and brackets stabbing or cutting into the skin. Getting a custom-fitted mouth guard will ensure that all of the dangerous areas of the braces are fully covered.

There are many different types and styles of mouth guards out there, with some varieties specially-designed specifically for your sport. There are over-the-counter mouth guard models that you have to soften up by boiling and then bite into to make them fit your teeth, but these can be bulky, messy and uncomfortable.

A more popular option is a custom-made mouth guard that is made to fit each individual athlete. These custom-fit models available from your dentist offer a better fit, which makes the athlete feel more comfortable and protected while wearing the appliance. Consult with your dentist to determine which type of mouth guard is best for you or your children.

Custom Mouth Guards in Toccoa

For more information about mouth guards, 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.


Salt Intake and Sleep Apnea?

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Brazilian researchers are looking at a possible link between excess salt intake and obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes people to stop breathing during sleep.

The researchers theory is that excess salt intake during the day leads to fluid buildup in the body. They feel that this excess fluid shifts to the sleeper’s neck when they are lying down and narrows the upper airway, causing the snoring and sleep apnea.

To test this theory they are having patients take diuretic pills, eat a low salt diet or have no treatment. The sleep of the study participants will be monitored for apnea events. “The idea is that these treatments will reduce the swelling around the throat and thus reduce the snoring and sleep apnea. The diuretic will, however cause more visits to the toilet during the night and thus create another for of sleep disturbance,” said Jim Horn of Loughborough University. Research on heart failure patients at the University of Toronto had previously found that reducing dietary salt had a positive effect on sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea affects about 5 to 10 percent of Americans and the number is growing, partly because of the obesity epidemic. Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to heart attack, stroke or even sudden death.

Treatment with a CPAP machine is the normal protocol for these patients but about half of sufferers cannot sleep with the machines. For these patients an oral appliance, created and adjusted properly by a sleep apnea dentist can stop the snoring and keep them breathing throughout the night. Most patients find oral appliances comfortable and easy to use and the compliance rates are much higher than for CPAP.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today to schedule your sleep apnea consultation. We can be reached at 706-886-9439.


Your Healthy Smile and Heart Disease

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

More research about your healthy smile and heart disease has been completed. Researchers at Columbia University have shown, for the first time, that as gums get healthy, the progression of heart disease atherosclerosis, narrowing of the arteries because of plaque buildup, slows down. 

This study is important because the atherosclerosis progressed at the same rate with the gum disease and the bacterial profiles in the gums. “This is the most direct evidence yet that modifying the periodontal bacterial profile could play a role in preventing or slowing both diseases,” said Dr. Moise Desvarieux, the lead author of the study.

Researchers discovered that even small changes to the health of the gums had a similar response in the health of the carotid arteries. “Our results show a clear relationship between what is happening in the mouth and thickening of the carotid artery, even before the onset of full-fledged periodontal disease,” said co-author Dr. Panos N. Papapanou. “This suggests that incipient periodontal disease should not be ignored.”

Researchers are still unclear as to why bacteria in the mouth involved in gum disease can affect heart health. Animal studies suggest that the bacteria are linked to inflammation and may trigger an immune response that causes the damage.

The bottom line – keep brushing and flossing! Good oral health is good for your overall health. Active gum disease is linked to other diseases including diabetes.

If it has been a while since your last dental cleaning please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439. Working together we can keep your smile, and you, healthy for years to come!

Time Change - Fall Back Into Better Sleep

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

The time change is here again! While we all enjoy that extra hour of shut eye every fall, we now know that sleep is not something you can “catch up” on. Once sleep time is lost, it is gone forever and no amount of sleeping in on the weekend can get it back.

Researchers  have also learned much in the past several years about why we sleep and just how important sleep is to our overall health and well being. A good night of sleep does more than rest your body, while we are asleep different body mechanisms are busy working. Brand new research has shown that your brain “takes out the trash” while you are sleeping, clearing out waste products including those linked to Alzheimer’s disease. During sleep your brain files away memories created during the day so they can be recalled later, essentially cataloging what you have learned.

Poor quality sleep or lack of sleep has now been linked to everything from obesity to certain cancers. Obstructive sleep apnea patients never get a full night of good quality sleep and are at higher risk of stroke, heart attack and diabetes, along with a host of other maladies.

Get the sleep you need

Sleep doctors and researchers are also learning more about treating sleep disorders.  Treatment options for sleep apnea are more common. Not to long ago, if you were diagnosed with sleep apnea, your only choice for treatment was a CPAP machine or surgery. We have discovered that about half of  patients can’t tolerate a CPAP and surgery doesn’t work in the long term. Oral appliances can effectively treat most sleep apnea patients without the discomfort and hassle that comes with CPAP.

Find out more about oral appliance therapy to treat obstructive sleep apnea by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439.


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