January, 2014

Think Before You Drink: Kick Your Cola Habit

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Drinking soda doesn’t just negatively impact your waistline – it permanently affects your teeth. All carbonated soft drinks, whether they are diet or touted as low in sugar, wear away your teeth’s enamel.

Tooth enamel is a hard, thin, translucent layer of calcification that protects your teeth from daily wear and tear. Although it’s the hardest substance in your body, enamel cannot be replaced once it’s gone. That’s why it’s important to protect and properly care for your enamel while you still have it.

Acidic and sugary foods and drinks erode enamel, and dentists are noticing that more and more – as well as younger and younger – people are suffering from worn off enamel. Most popular sodas contain phosphoric and citric acid, which contribute to flavor, but these chemicals make drinks more acidic than lemon juice or vinegar.

Many studies have shown how soda contributes to tooth erosion, cavities and dental decay. But unfortunately, the amount of soda that Americans drink remains steadily on the rise. In fact, the average American drinks about 44 gallons of soda every year, according to the National Soft Drink Association.

If you’re used to having a soda at lunchtime or drink several sodas a week, it’s time to put your dental health first and kick your cola habit. Cut down on your soft drinks or try going cold turkey altogether, and know that you’re doing what’s best for your teeth.

If you have a soda every now and then, don’t sip it throughout the day, which will expose your teeth the acidic chemicals for a longer amount of time. Only drink it while also eating other food, which will help to clear it off of your teeth.

To further remove phosphoric and citric acid from your teeth, brush them immediately after drinking soda. If you aren’t able to brush, thoroughly rinse with a mouthwash or water. Chewing sugar-free gum also helps get harmful chemicals and bacteria away from your teeth and gums.

Those who don a mouthguard during sports or who wear Invisalign aligners should be extra careful about avoiding sodas – these devices can force acidic chemicals to stay against your teeth even longer, which leads to enamel loss as well as tooth decay and staining.

Dental Care in Toccoa

If you would like to learn more about protecting your enamel, taking care of your smile, or any of the dental treatments that the Wilbanks Smile Center offers, 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.

Sore Gums? Here Are Reasons Why

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Do you have sore gums? Are your gums also a little red, puffy and prone to bleeding when you brush? The reason is probably gingivitis.

The term gingivitis gets used often, especially on toothpaste ads, but what does it really mean? Simply put, gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease. Most people develop gingivitis at some point in their lives and the red, puffy gums are symptoms that may be ignored. Painful gums usually get some attention!

Gingivitis is caused when we forget to brush and floss every day. If the sticky film of bacteria and food particles around our teeth (dental plaque) is not removed it hardens into tartar. Tartar can’t be brushed away and must be removed by a professional dental cleaning. Tartar deposits form along the gum line and eventually these plaque and tartar deposits irritate and inflame the gums, causing gingivitis.

What to do -

You can turn the tide on gingivitis and get your gums healthy again. The American Dental Association recommends the following:

  1. Brush your teeth in the morning and at night with a soft bristled toothbrush. If your bristles tend to splay out – you are brushing too hard. Use a fluoride toothpaste and remember to replace your toothbrush every 3 months.
  2. Floss! Every single day! Daily flossing removes plaque buildup below the gums and between teeth. Can’t floss or just won’t floss? Try interdental brushes, which are little brushes made to fit between teeth. These are sold in various sizes in the oral care aisle of your store.
  3. Antimicrobial rinses (not minty mouthwash) may help. Look for the ADA seal which means it has been proven effective.
  4. Get a cleaning every six months. If it has been a while since your last cleaning and your gums are tender it is time to make the call.
  5. Don’t smoke. Smoking may be the cause of 75% of periodontal disease.
  6. Watch your diet and your drinks. Soda and sweet sticky foods feed the bacteria in your mouth, causing them to release acids that attack teeth.

Stick with these good habits and your sore gums will be a distant memory. Please contact Toccoa, GA full service dental office, Wilbanks Smile Center at 706-886-9439 today to schedule your next visit.

Yet Another Reason to Quit Smoking... Better Sleep

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

Do you need another reason to quit smoking? We all know that smoking leads to cancer and heart disease. People who smoke have a high risk of oral cancers and smokers usually develop gum disease along the way. A new study shows that smoking also disrupts your sleep which can lead to depression, anxiety and cognitive dysfunction. Evidently smoking disrupts our bodies circadian clock function in the brain and in the lungs.

Smoking and obstructive sleep apnea have also been linked and it is one of the risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea that can be controlled. Other risk factors for sleep apnea that are under our control include:

  • Being overweight – excess flesh in the neck area is a huge indicator for possible sleep apnea.
  • Drinking alcohol before bed – while a nightcap might make you fall asleep easier, alcohol actually disrupts the sleep process and can cause muscles to relax leading to a blockage of the airway during sleep.
  • Sleeping on your back – back sleepers may have fewer facial wrinkles over time but they are much more likely to snore and to stop breathing during sleep. Roll over onto your side and get a better night’s sleep.
  • Using medications to help you sleep – a sleeping pill might help you get to sleep but, once more, these medications can cause the muscles to relax enough to cause airway blockage.

Some of these things are easy to control, like avoiding that glass of wine too close to bedtime. Some are more difficult to achieve, like stopping a smoking habit.  Treating obstructive sleep apnea shouldn’t be difficult or uncomfortable.

Effective and comfortable treatment for obstructive sleep apnea in Toccoa, GA

Many patients who have been prescribed continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices to treat their sleep apnea try them once or twice and then put them in the closet. Sleep apnea is a serious problem that has real health consequences if not treated. If you find that you are not able to tolerate your CPAP, you may be a candidate for oral appliance therapy.

Oral appliances used to treat sleep apnea are custom created by a specially trained dentist. Your sleep apnea dentist will work closely with your doctor and adjust your appliance over time to comfortably control your sleep apnea and keep you breathing throughout the night.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to discover whether you are a candidate for oral appliance therapy.

Surprising Foods That Stain Your Smile

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Everyone knows that soda and coffee stain your teeth, but some of the foods that can yellow a smile may come as a surprise to you. We’ve rounded up five of the top offenders when it comes to staining teeth below.

Remember that when it comes to keeping yours smile white and bright, you should cut back on these foods — but when you do eat them, brush your teeth immediately afterwards.

  1. Sports Drinks. Those bright blue, green or orange energy drinks definitely leave their mark on your teeth. When you hit the midday slump and need an energy boost, reach for a tall, invigorating glass of ice water with a sprig of mint, rather than a neon-hued sports drink.
  2. Berries. They may be good for your health nutrition-wise, but dark berries such as blueberries, blackberries, cherries and pomegranates stain your teeth. Watch out for acidic fruits as well, such as oranges, grapefruit and pineapples. They don’t seem like they’re dark enough to cause tooth staining, but they contain enamel-eating acids that can harm your teeth and gradually contribute to staining.
  3. Wine & Alcohol. Red wine’s coloring rubs off on your teeth’s enamel, causing them to look darker. You may logically assume that switching to a white wine will avoid that problem, but the truth is that alcohol itself has a negative impact on teeth. Alcohol irritates the soft tissue in your mouth and can cause inflammation, which can lead to gum disease.
  4. Tomato Sauce. While it may seem healthy, tomato cause is chock full of high acidic content and bright red coloring. The food coloring that’s added to many products can significantly affect your smile, and even worse, tomato sauce has a high sugar count, which also wrecks havoc on teeth and gums.
  5. Bread & Carbohydrates. White bread doesn’t seem something that would stain your smile, but it directly affects your teeth’s whiteness. When the starches in bread and other carbohydrates mix with the enzymes in your saliva, they create an acid that erodes teeth enamel. As enamel erodes, more of the tooth’s dentin is exposed, making teeth look more yellow.

Tooth Whitening in Toccoa

If you would like to learn more about whitening your smile, or any other dental treatments that the Wilbanks Smile Center offers, 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.


What Does Malocclusion Mean?

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Healthcare professionals, including dentists, often throw around words that most people don’t really know the meaning of. Let’s talk about malocclusion, a term that is often used but many don’t realize that it simply means “poor bite”.

There are many different types of malocclusion but they all mean that the teeth don’t fit together correctly. A normal bite means that the upper teeth are slightly forward of the lower teeth when the teeth are closed together. The type of malocclusion is classified by exactly how the upper and lower teeth are aligned.

  • Open bite. This means that the molars fit together but the upper and lower front teeth don’t overlap.
  • Overbite. When a person has an overbite, the upper front teeth are too far over the lower front teeth. In severe cases the lower teeth can even bite into the roof of the mouth.
  • Underbite. The lower front teeth are forward of the upper front teeth.
  • Crossbite. A crossbite occurs when some, or all, of the upper teeth fit into the wrong side of the lower teeth.
  • Upper protusion. This is often called “buck” teeth. The upper front teeth are pushed outward.

Problems that occur because of malocclusion

    These are only a few of the different types of malocclusion that may occur. Patients with malocclusion problems, especially children, should be treated as soon as possible. A poor bite can lead to higher rates of tooth decay and gum disease because crooked or crowded teeth are more difficult to clean.

    Problems with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) are frequently seen in patients with a poor bite. Symptoms of TMJ dysfunction include headache, jaw pain, facial pain, clicking in the jaw and neck pain. Correcting the bite so that the jaw is in the proper position will relieve this pain and prevent further damage to the jaw joint.

    Please contact Dr. Joseph Wilbanks in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your consultation. A straight, healthy smile is only a phone call away.

    Improve Your Golf Game - Treat Your Sleep Apnea

    Friday, January 17th, 2014

    Think a new set of clubs will improve your golf game? Maybe a sleep study would be a better investment in your game. Getting treatment for sleep apnea has been shown to improve golf scores!

    Obstructive sleep apnea is fairly common but most patients have not been diagnosed, leaving them vulnerable to serious health risks. Obstructive sleep apnea causes people to stop breathing during sleep and has been linked to heart attack, stroke and premature death. A very small study has also shown that it affects your golf game.

    The researchers looked at 12 golfers who had moderate to severe sleep apnea and compared them with 12 people who did not have the disorder. The golfers with sleep apnea were treated for an average of six months with a CPAP machine (a small air compressor and face mask that is worn during sleep). The group that didn’t have sleep apnea had an average handicap of 12.2 and by the end of the study, and 20 rounds of golf, their average was 12.6. The group that was treated for sleep apnea moved from an average handicap of 12.4 at the beginning to an 11.0. The best players treated for sleep apnea started with an average of 9.2 and got down to a 6.3 at the end, a 31% improvement.

    Treatment you can tolerate -

    The researchers looked at golf scores because it requires the type of skills that treating sleep apnea can improve. “We know that the cognitive parameters – vigilance, attention span, memory – people with sleep apnea do poorly on these tests and improve with treatment,” said the lead author of the study. Sleep apnea is more common in men over 40 and women over 50 years of age. It is estimated that 18 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. The study authors point out that while adherence to CPAP therapy is usually low (40-70%), for this study the participants used the machine more than 91% of the nights.

    If you want a treatment for sleep apnea that has a higher compliance rate and that is highly effective, without fighting with masks and hoses, try an oral appliance. Oral appliance therapy effectively treats sleep apnea by using a small, comfortable mouthpiece.

    Find out if you are a candidate for oral appliance therapy by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439.

    Invisalign vs. Conventional Braces

    Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

    When Invisalign aligners were first introduced more than a decade ago, the teeth-straightening treatment mainly appealed to adults who wanted to improve their smile without the embarrassment of bulky metal braces and bands. Since then, Invisalign has become increasingly popular among teens and even preteens who have lost all of their primary teeth.

    Let’s take a look at five factors that make Invisalign aligners so convenient, and how it stacks up against conventional braces:

    1. It’s Faster. The length of each patient’s Invisalign treatment varies depending on the severity of the changes needed to correct their smile, but the complete Invisalign procedure typically takes only a year. My comparison, braces take approximately 22 months. However, braces may take longer for adults than for children, with some adults having to wear braces for three years or more.
    2. No Food Limitations. With Invisalign, the patient wears their aligners for the recommended 20 to 22 hours per day, which allows them the flexibility to remove them when it’s time to eat meals and snacks. Those with braces are prohibited from eating “problem foods” such as popcorn, apples, caramel, hard candy and gum.
    3. Normal Flossing and Brushing. Because Invisalign aligners are easily removable, they can be taken out when it’s time to brush or floss, allowing patients to maintain good oral hygiene. While it’s often difficult to thoroughly brush around braces, and special “floss picks” must be used in place of flossing, those with Invisalign do not have to deal with these cumbersome restrictions.
    4. More Comfortable. The metal brackets and wires that make up traditional braces tend to cut into and irritate cheeks and gums, especially as the wire ends poking out near the back molars extend and need to be trimmed short. Invisalign’s aligners, which are made of a smooth plastic that is specially molded to fit snugly over the teeth, are more comfortable for many patients. Braces pose a hazard for those who play sports such as football or ice hockey, where a blow to the jaw can painfully push braces into the cheek’s soft tissue. With Invisalign, that isn’t a problem, since the aligners can be removed while playing sports.
    5. More Attractive, Less Noticeable. Best of all, Invisalign’s molded design, see-through plastic material and smooth texture make them nearly invisible when worn. Unlike braces, Invisalign’s clear aligners are virtually undetectable, so most people don’t even notice when someone is wearing them.

    Invisalign in Toccoa

    If you would like to learn more about Invisalign aligners, or any other orthodontics or dental treatments that the Wilbanks Smile Center offers, 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.

    Does Winter Cold Make Your Teeth Hurt?

    Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

    I know it might sound strange but for some folks, winter cold can cause serious pain to their teeth. This sensitivity to cold isn’t limited to the winter months, many people are sensitive to cold and hot foods and beverages. 

    Tooth sensitivity is one of the most common complaints from dental patients. The sensitivity occurs because the tooth enamel has worn away and the dentin (the layer of tissue found below the hard enamel) has been exposed. The dentin is filled with tiny tubes that, when exposed, cause nerve irritation and pain.

    Preventing Sensitivity

    Most of us don’t think about protecting our tooth enamel on a daily basis. Drinking acidic beverages on a regular basis, sodas and sports drinks, can damage tooth enamel. Grinding your teeth (bruxism) can wear away tooth enamel and active gum disease causes the gums to recede which exposes sensitive tooth surfaces. Medical conditions such as bulimia and GERD can also cause stomach acids to damage tooth enamel. Teeth may be sensitive following tooth whitening procedures. Some people who are very diligent about their oral health are surprised to discover that excessive brushing or brushing too hard has caused damage to their enamel.

    The key to preventing tooth sensitivity is to treat gum disease or bruxism as soon as it is discovered. Avoid sodas, energy drinks and sports drinks which contain high levels of acids.

    Treating Sensitive Teeth

    If your teeth feel sensitive for more than 3 days you should contact your dentist. There are toothpastes for sensitive teeth available over the counter and or your dentist may prescribe a special toothpaste for you. Applications of fluoride or sealants may be an option for some patients. Listen closely to your dentists instructions regarding brushing your teeth and avoiding certain foods and beverages. Use a soft bristled toothbrush and brush gently. You know you are brushing too hard if the bristles of your toothbrush begin to splay outward after use.

    If winter cold is keeping you from smiling outdoors then contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439. We’re happy to help the most sensitive of smiles!

    Oral Cancer and Gum Disease Possibly Linked

    Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

    The links between oral health and systemic health have been proven for conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and problems with pregnancy. New research is showing a possible link between gum disease and oral cancer.

    The study, published in Head & Face Medicine suggests that treatment and monitoring of chronic gum disease may help reduce a potential cause of oral squamous cell carcinoma.

    “Our findings underline the necessity of implementing a periodontal regime in the dental office,” said study author Dr. Maximillian Moergel of the University Medical Centre Mainz in Germany.

    The study looked at patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma and a control group that did not have the disease. Researchers found a correlation between chronic periodontitis and the oral cancers. They also found that treating the gum disease could perhaps reduce the incidence of of oral squamous cell carcinoma.

    Oral cancers used to primarily be found in older men who were also smokers and/or alcohol users. The rate of oral cancers among younger patients has been increasing in the past several years.

    When oral cancers are detected early, survival rates are high. Unfortunately, most oral cancers are detected when they have become more advanced. Oral cancer screenings are an important part of any dental examination.

    Everyone should visit the dentist regularly for professional cleanings to protect against gum disease and to receive an oral examination. Preventing gum disease can protect against many diseases and early detection of oral cancers can save a life.

    Contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-2581 to schedule your next visit.

    Sleep Apnea Treatment Improves Your Sleep Quality - and Your Health

    Monday, January 6th, 2014

    Those living with sleep apnea may not realize just how much it may be affecting their health. A common disorder, sleep apnea affects more than 18 million Americans and is the most common form of sleep disordered breathing.

    Sleep apnea is characterized by chronic pauses in breathing or infrequent breathing during sleep. Very shallow breathing during sleep is also a form of sleep apnea. Many people are unaware of their breathing patterns as they sleep, unless their partners alert them of their sleep issues, such as loud snoring and exhibiting gaps between breathing, before abruptly breathing again or gasping for breath.

    Often, people realize that they are suffering from sleep apnea based on symptoms that they exhibit during the day. These include difficulty staying asleep, daytime fatigue, sleepiness, waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat, experiencing morning headaches, depression, irritability, attention problems, difficulty concentrating and learning or memory difficulties.

    If you suspect that you or your spouse may be suffering from sleep apnea, it’s vital that you seek treatment. Ignoring the symptoms or postponing getting help for them can influence areas of your health that seem unrelated to sleep quality. Sleep centers and medical schools have conducted hundreds of studies on sleep apnea, and research findings show that the disorder, if left untreated, leads to various other disorders and diseases.

    Previous studies have shown that sleep apnea causes or is directly linked to high blood pressure, diabetes and major depressive disorder. Children with sleep apnea have been found to have a higher risk for behavioral, adaptive, and learning problems, while seniors with sleep apnea were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s or dementia. Sleep apnea has also been tied to an increased risk of cancer, risk of stroke and even an increased risk of death.

    The latest study found that sleep apnea treated with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device helped patients with hard-to-control high blood pressure to drop to normal nocturnal blood pressure patterns. The CPAP system consists of a mouthpiece mask connected to a tube and motor that gradually pushes air into the patient’s mouth and nose. By keeping the airway from closing, the CPAP allows the wearer to experience continuous, peaceful sleep.

    Sleep Apnea Treatment in Toccoa

    If you would like to learn more about the continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) device, or any other of the sleep apnea treatment options that the Wilbanks Smile Center offers, 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.

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