December, 2013

New Year, New Smile

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

At the beginning of each new year we often vow to make changes to improve our lives. This new year, how about a new and improved smile?

If you are unhappy with the appearance of your teeth it can affect many parts of your life. I have known people who hated their smiles so they avoided smiling or laughing. If they did laugh, it was only after they covered their mouth with their hand. Job prospects and personal relationships can be affected by an unattractive smile.

A lot of people think that cosmetic dentistry is only for celebrities or the very wealthy. That might have been true at one time, but today cosmetic dentists have a wide range of treatment options that are appealing to a wide range of patients.

Dental veneers are used by cosmetic dentists to fix a variety of smile problems:

  • Teeth that have been discolored due to antibiotic staining can’t be bleached, but they are made beautiful with veneers.
  • Teeth that are chipped or broken can be repaired using veneers.
  • Teeth that are uneven or misaligned can be made to look even and straight using veneers.
  • Veneers can be used to close gaps between teeth.

Dental veneers are long lasting, durable and look completely natural. Dental veneers do not require special care once they are placed – you can care for your teeth just as you normally do.

Find out if you are a candidate for dental veneers to make your dream of a new smile a reality. Contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 today to schedule your cosmetic dental consultation.


Slash Your Sugar Intake for a Better Smile

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

A new study by the World Health Organization found that reducing sugar intake substantially decreased people’s risk of cavities and gum disease. For example, those who ate six teaspoons of sugar as part of their daily diet had significantly better dental health than those who ate more teaspoons of sugar a day, according to the report.

However, its’ sometimes difficult to gauge exactly how many teaspoons of sugar you’re eating – especially when much of your daily sugar intake may come from “hidden” sources. From drinks to sauces, sugar is lurking in many processed, prepackaged products, and unless you read the nutritional label carefully, you may not realize just how much sugar your favorite snack contains.

Here are a few common foods and their surprisingly high sugar levels:

  • One can of soda contains the equivalent of about 10 teaspoons of sugar.
  • While it’s a healthier option that soda, fruit juice still contains 4 teaspoons of added sugar in each cup.
  • Just 1/4 cup of dried cranberries contains 7 teaspoons of sugar – the same amount of sugar as a 1/4 cup of chocolate-covered raisins.
  • The average energy bar contains about 6 teaspoons of sugar.

Extra sugar even lurks in foods you wouldn’t expect to contain much sugar at all:

  • A cup of coleslaw contains 3.6 teaspoons of sugar.
  • A cup of tomato sauce packs a whopping 8 teaspoons of sugar.
  • Some brands of salad dressings, especially those that are fat free, contain as much as a teaspoon of sugar per every 2 tablespoons of dressing.

So if drinking a can of soda is part of your daily routine, you may want to replace it with the healthier option of seltzer water with lemon juice added in for flavor. If you snack on chocolate-covered peanuts, just eat plain peanuts instead, and replace your sugary morning cereal with oatmeal or fruit and plain yogurt.

You may miss the extra sugar at first, but your smile will thank you in the long run. Taking steps to preserve your dental health – including sticking to a thorough teeth cleaning routine and avoiding foods that erode enamel – will protect your smile for years to come.

Dentistry in Toccoa

A thorough examination and evaluation by Dr. Joseph Wilbanks will determine what you need to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible. To learn more about dental care, 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.

Which Crown Is Right for You?

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Whether you need a dental crown because of tooth decay or damage, selecting the right crown for you is vital. The procedure is referred to as a crown because it consists of a “cap” being placed over the top of the tooth.

This tooth cap is used to restore a cracked, discolored, weakened or broken tooth to its original shape. While metallic crowns and crowns made of porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns have been traditionally used, there are many crown options that are more up-to-date, comfortable and aesthetically discreet.

Below are four of the best dental crowns currently available. All of these crowns, as well as various others, are offered at the Wilbanks Smile Center:

  1. Lava Crowns. This type of crown is made using translucent zirconia, which can be custom colored to match the rest of your teeth. An all-ceramic crown, it is also strong enough for long-span bridges. Lava crowns are one of the most esthetic dental restorations available, and are natural-looking as well as durable.
  2. E.max Crowns. E.max crowns, which are made of disilicate ceramic, which can also be thinned enough to be used with veneers. As a relatively new form of the ceramic crown, E.max crowns are preferred because of their long lasting durability and natural appearance, which closely replicates the look of natural tooth enamel.
  3. Procera Crowns. Another type of all-porcelain crown, Procera offers strength, precision fit, and color-matching to perfectly blend in with surrounding teeth. Procera AllCeram crowns are very aesthetically pleasing, but are not made of the strongest material available, which makes them susceptible to breakage over time.
  4. Bruxzir Crowns. These crowns, which contain a virtually unbreakable solid dental zirconia, are resistant to chipping. Bruxzir crowns do not contain a porcelain overlay, instead their material is nearly chip-proof and is glazed to a smooth surface that offers protection against plaque.

A consultation with a Dr. Joe Wilbanks will help to determine which type of dental crown meets your tooth restoration needs. Selecting a crown that is both durable and natural-looking will ensure that you are happy with your smile for years to come.

Dental Crowns in Toccoa

To learn more about the right type of crown for you, contact us today to 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.

Gag Reflex A Problem During Dental Visits?

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

A new study from Italy shows that accupuncture can help dental patients who gag during dental visits. If your gag reflex is a problem, you aren’t alone. 

Patients who have a sensitive gag reflex often avoid the dentist, depriving themselves of needed care. The researchers from the University of Palermo completed a small study that compared taking impressions on patients who normally gag, with and without accupuncture treatment.

The study participants self-reported their “gag reflex” scores on a 0-10 scale. During the impressions taken normally, the participants averaged a score of 7. Accupuncture needles were applied just before taking the second round of impressions and the average gag reflex score dropped to a 1! Accupuncture  is not currently a common therapy used in US dental offices but this study may offer future insights into the problem of gagging for patients.

Sedation dentistry is often used for patients with dental anxiety or a strong gag reflex. Sedation can also help those who simply have a hard time sitting still for dental treatment or those who require extensive treatment. Options range from the very mild, including nitrous oxide, to deeper sedation using medications. Sedation dentistry allows patients to receive needed dental care, even extensive procedures, while remaining completely relaxed.

Find out more about sedation dentistry and if it is right for you by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA at 706-886-9439.



Enjoy A Safe and Happy Holiday Season!

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

The holiday season is full of eating, drinking and not getting enough sleep. Wilbanks Smile Center hopes everyone in your family has a safe and happy holiday season.

Driving drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. Driver fatigue causes about 100,000 accidents each year and almost 1500 deaths. During such a busy season, especially as people are driving long distances to visit friends and family, the risk for drowsy driving is even higher.

  • Drowsy driving doesn’t only happen at night. Most fatigue related accidents happen between 4 and 6 am but then there is another peak between 2 and 4 pm.
  • Caffeine may help – but only a little. A short nap is the best bet.
  • Snacks that are high in simple carbohydrates can make you sleepy – ditch the regular road food and replace it with complex carbs and protein.
  • Watch out for medications that make you sleepy, these include many used to combat car sickness.

If you experience drowsy driving on a regular basis you may have a sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea. Signs of sleep apnea include loud snoring, large neck size and excessive daytime sleepiness. Treatment using a simple oral appliance can improve your quality of life and help avoid serious health consequences associated with sleep apnea.

From everyone at Wilbanks Smile Center, Have a safe and Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Gum Chewing Teens and Migraine Headache

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

Does your teen get migraine headaches? If your teen chews a lot of gum then stopping the gum chewing may help stop the headache pain.

Research was carried out at Tel Aviv University that looked at the connection between chronic headaches and teen gum chewing habits. 30 teens were grouped according to how much time, on average, they spent chewing gum each day. All of the groups were asked to stop chewing gum for one month. Researchers checked back with them after the month was up.

All of the groups reported changes in their headache symptoms when they stopped chewing gum. 26 of the individual teens reported improvement in their symptoms and 19 stopped experiencing headaches altogether.

When they started chewing gum again, 20 teens started experiencing the headaches once more. Researchers blame the headaches on stress to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) caused by the frequent gum chewing. Dr. Nathan Watemberg said “Every doctor knows that overuse of the TMJ will cause headaches. I believe this is what’s happening when children and teenagers chew gum excessively.”

Of course, the link between overuse of the jaw joint and painful symptoms is not limited to teenagers. Adults often experience the same thing.

Self Help For TMJ Pain

TMJ problems can cause headache (even migraine-like), facial pain, neck pain, jaw pain and even changes in hearing. If you are experiencing these symptoms a visit to a dentist who has training and experience in treating these issues is needed. Until you can see the dentist here are a few tips to help ease the discomfort:

  • Alternate hot and cold compresses to the jaw area.
  • Switch to a soft diet – avoid eating anything harder than cooked pasta. This especially means avoiding salad greens and raw vegetables of any kind.
  • Stifle your yawns, avoid opening your mouth wide.
  • Check your posture. Avoid holding a phone between shoulder and ear and women should stop carrying heavy shoulder bags.
  • Don’t rest your chin on your hand.
  • Over-the-counter medications like Motrin or Tylenol may help.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA for more information and to schedule a TMJ consultation appointment. We can be reached at 706-886-9439.

The Effect of Poor Dental Care on the Mind

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

A new study found that adults with poor dental health also had relatively poorer cognitive function.

The study’s findings, which were published in the December issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association, found that the fewer natural teeth that a person had intact, the more poorly they performed on cognitive function tests, compared to those with more teeth. Cognitive function represents how well a person does with memory and managing words and numbers, and gauges word recall, word fluency and skill with numbers.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, looked at 6,000 men and women between the ages of 45 and 64. The researchers analyzed the subjects’ collected data, including tests of memory and thinking skills, as well as tooth and gum examinations.

The researchers found that people who had none of their teeth had poorer cognitive function than people who had teeth, and those with fewer teeth had poorer cognition than those with more teeth. Along with missing teeth, people with serious gum bleeding also scored worse on the cognitive function tests, compared to those with better gum health.

The researchers couldn’t determine whether it was poor dental health that caused cognitive function to decline, or vice versa. They noted that one possibility is that poor dental health reflects a poor diet, and that the lack of antioxidant-rich “brain food” may in turn contribute to cognitive decline.

Another possibility posed by the researchers is that dental disease – especially gum disease – increases inflammation not only in the mouth and gums, but throughout the circulatory system, which affects the brain and can ultimately lead to decreased cognitive skills.

This study highlights the importance of taking control of your dental health, since it doesn’t only affect your teeth. Multiple previous studies have linked tooth decay, plaque and gum inflammation to various other physical ailments, including heart disease, artery calcification, gingivitis, stroke and diabetes.

To keep your mouth and teeth healthy, get routine dental exams and cleanings twice a year and follow a dental health regimen; including brushing twice daily, flossing frequently and using mouthwash.

Dentistry in Toccoa

A thorough examination and evaluation by Dr. Joseph Wilbanks will determine what you need to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible. To learn more about dental care, 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.

Fixes For Chipped Teeth

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Chipped teeth are more common than you might think. The chips usually happen when people are munching on ice (please don’t do it!) or biting into something hard like a popcorn kernel.

Don’t panic about your chipped or broken tooth, but you should call your dentist right away. If the chip has a jagged edge you can cover it with a small piece of orthodontic wax or sugarless chewing gum so you don’t cut your tongue. If the tooth is painful an over-the-counter pain reliever may help.

Types of Treatment for Chipped Teeth

The type of treatment used to repair the chip or break will depend on the severity of the damage. A tiny chip on the biting edge of a tooth can often be smoothed in just a few moments. Small chips to the enamel are often repaired using a tooth colored bonding material and the treatment can be completed in just one visit.

Larger chips or broken teeth that have extensive decay may need a crown. The dentist will prepare your tooth by removing the broken area and shaping the remainder to receive the crown. Dental crowns can be made in a dental laboratory or in-office using CEREC, an amazing machine that uses CAD/CAM technology to create a crown immediately. A second visit will be required to place a crown created in a dental lab but CEREC crowns are completed in just one visit.

Chips that occur in front teeth are often repaired using dental veneers. A dental veneer is a thin porcelain restoration that is bonded to the damaged tooth. Because it covers the entire front surface of the tooth the repair is impossible to see. Dental veneers are often used for cosmetic purposes and are very lifelike in appearance.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today to repair your chipped tooth. Ignoring a damaged tooth can cause further damage to the weakened structure or infection which could lead to loss of the tooth. Call us today at 706-886-9439.

Water Fluoridation Good For Adults and Kids

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Fluoride has been added to water systems for many years. Originally it was thought that the fluoride would benefit children and that it would take many years to see the benefits of reduced tooth decay. New research has shown that water fluoridation is good for adults and kids.

A team from the University of North Carolina and the University of Adelaide in Australia studied the effects of water fluoridation in Australian adults. Australia only started fluoridating their water in recent years. The study concluded that the cavity prevention effects of water fluoridation were as great in adults born before widespread fluoridation as for those after. So even if you didn’t grow up in an area with fluoride in your water, if you move somewhere where the water is fluoridated as an adult you will still see benefits.

The study showed that adults who spent more than 75% of their lifetime living in a community with water fluoridation had significantly less decay than those who had lived in one for less than 25% of their lifetime. Preventing tooth decay for both adults and children is something dentists work toward every day — especially when we remind you to brush and floss!

Both adults and kids still get cavities — just fewer than we used to see. The good news is that modern filling materials are better for your teeth, last longer and are basically invisible because they are tooth colored. The old fashioned mercury amalgam fillings would expand and contract in response to heat and cold which could lead to cracked teeth and leaky fillings. Modern composites actually make the structure of the tooth stronger when they are placed.

Wilbanks Smile Center has installed special filtration systems to protect our staff and our environment from the toxic waste when old mercury fillings are removed. We are committed to providing the highest standard of care for our patients and our beautiful home in the North Georgia mountains.

Contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today to schedule your next visit. We can be reached at 706-886-9439 and are waiting to take your call.

Candy That Protects Against Cavities?

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Can there really be a candy that protects against cavities? It seems researchers have created a candy that can lower the bad bacteria in your mouth without harming the good bacteria.

We have lots of bacteria in our mouths and some are good for us and others cause tooth decay and gum disease. Researchers created a candy that contained dead bacteria, L.paracasei, that bind to live bacteria and prevent cavities. The study showed that the participants who ate the candy had 75% less of a certain bacteria in their mouths than the control group.

This study doesn’t mean they will market a candy like this, but it does give researchers better ideas about how to protect the good bugs in our mouths while controlling the bad ones.

Tooth decay happens when the bacteria in our mouths release acids which damage the surface of the tooth. Current toothpastes and mouthrinses that are designed to kill bacteria can’t differentiate between the good bugs and the bad ones. Finding a way to control or kill only the bacteria that negatively affect our health would be a huge step forward.

Protect Yourself Against Tooth Decay

You can protect yourself against tooth decay, without eating candy laced with dead bacteria! Brush every day with fluoride toothpaste, use a soft bristle toothbrush and brush for 2 minutes each time. FLOSS! If you aren’t flossing it is like not brushing 40% of your teeth. Even if you can’t motivate yourself to floss for cavity prevention and gum health — just think about all that stuff in between your teeth that the toothbrush can’t reach. Your breath will be much fresher if your teeth are completely clean!

Do you ever run your tongue over your teeth and they feel kind of fuzzy? You aren’t imaging things, this is a biofilm that is made up of bacteria, food debris and saliva. Removing this biofilm is important because if not removed every day it can harden into a substance that can only be removed by a professional dental cleaning. If this tartar is left on teeth then gum disease will result because of the safe haven for bacteria that has formed at and below the gum line.

Schedule your next visit by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439.

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