February, 2014

Inhaled Asthma Meds Linked to Sleep Apnea

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Many people are prescribed inhaled corticosteroid medications to control their asthma symptoms but a new study suggests a link between these medications and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Obstructive sleep apnea causes people to stop breathing while sleeping. A new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggests that in come people, the inhaled corticosteroid medications may make the throat and tongue more floppy and more likely to block the airway during sleep, leading to OSA.

Corticosteroid pills and injectables have long been recognized as agents that can lead to muscle weakness and fat accumulation. This pilot study suggests that the inhaled form of these medications, taken by 75% of people with asthma, may affect the airway in the same way. “In the lungs, corticosteroids reduce airway inflammation, but no once has studied how they affect the pharyngeal upper airway,” said Dr. Mihaela Teodorescu.

This small pilot study found that older male subjects who had poor control over their asthma showed upper airway issues and that all subject had changes in tongue function consistent with sleep apnea.

These medication are very important to the 18 million Americans with asthma but this study shows that doctors may need to test for obstructive sleep apnea in asthmatic patients who utilize inhaled corticosteroids.

Obstructive sleep apnea can be effectively managed by using an oral appliance created by a dentist who has received training in the care of sleep apnea patients. OSA is a dangerous disorder and left untreated can lead to heart attack, stroke, diabetes and depression. Loud snoring and extreme daytime fatigue are hallmarks of OSA.

Find out more about OSA and whether you might be a candidate for oral appliance therapy by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439.

Don’t Neglect Your Smile!

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

A well-maintained, beautiful smile is a major asset both aesthetically and for your overall health. However, many Americans chronically neglect their smiles, by skipping their biannual tooth cleanings or not taking proper care of their teeth.

According to recent studies, nearly 60 percent of people say that one’s smile is the first facial feature that they notice when meeting someone new. Although society puts a high value on overall appearance, a person’s smile is especially noticeable.

Firstly, your smile is front and center – your smile is what you use to greet the world, and it reflects your overall health as well. For example, it can show if you are a smoker, and even reveals whether your hygiene habits.

If you aren’t flossing regularly, don’t brush thoroughly and skip dental cleanings, your teeth will reflect that, and other will notice. Despite that fact, many people don’t pay enough attention to maintaining their own smile.

Recent statistics show that Americans spend $100 billion on hair care products annually, however, they only spend $2 billion on dental care products. This reflects what consumers view as important – even though hair is rated much lower than teeth on the list of which features people first notice when meeting someone.

With so many people choosing to spend more money on their hair than on dental care products such as floss and mouthwash, it should come as no surprise that 80 percent of people are not happy with their smile.

The things that people want to change about their smiles varies, but some of the most common requests are to whiten or straighten their smile. Crooked teeth can be improved through braces, clear aligners such as Invisalign, or veneers. Porcelain veneers can address and correct many aesthetic flaws in one’s smile.

Along with cosmetic dentistry, following suggested annual dental treatments will drastically improve your smile’s health and appearance. Getting a dental cleaning twice a year, receiving an annual exam and following a thorough at-home cleaning routine will go a long way toward attaining and maintaining a beautiful smile.


Dental Health in Toccoa

If you would like to learn more about oral health, annual dental check ups 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 contacted at 706-886-9439. We look forward to hearing from you.



Commercial Drivers and Problems with CPAP

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Commercial drivers and other commercial transportation workers are at high risk for developing obstructive sleep apnea. Evidence of the dangers involved can be found in news reports of fatal crashes involving trucks, trains, and buses. 

By definition, these workers have jobs that keep them away from home for extended periods of time. This makes keeping the appointment with the sleep doctor difficult and, once diagnosed, treatment even harder.

The first line of treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is usually a CPAP machine. CPAP is the gold standard for treating this dangerous disorder, but about half of patients cannot tolerate sleeping with the machine. The masks may make them claustrophobic, the hoses difficult to adjust to, the side effects ranging from dry mouth to eye irritation may be hard to overcome.

For commercial drivers who can utilize CPAP, there is another hurdle. Idling laws in many places may make it difficult to use a humidifier attachment and cleaning and sterilizing the tubing may be almost impossible in a truck stop restroom.

There is an alternative treatment for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea that is perfectly suited to traveling. An oral appliance is a small device that is worn in the mouth while sleeping. The appliance, when properly adjusted, moves the jaw into a forward position that keeps the airway open during sleep. Oral appliance therapy has been proven effective and most patients find using the appliance comfortable and easy. There is no electricity needed and the appliance can be cleaned easily with a toothbrush and some denture cleanser.

Find out if you are a candidate for oral appliance therapy by contacting Toccoa, GA sleep apnea dentist Dr. Joseph Wilbanks today. Wilbanks Smile Center can be reached at 706-886-9439 and we’ll be happy to schedule a consultation.


Poor Sleep Predicts Widespread Pain

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

Poor sleep is a predictor of widespread pain in older adults according to research from England. The study, published in the journal, Arthritis and Rheumatology, found that nonrestorative sleep was a riskier factor than anxiety or poor physical health when it came to patients over age 50 developing pain.

Pain in muscles, bones and nerves become more common as people age. Almost 80% of people age 65 or older experience daily pain. The pain disorder fibromyalgia affects 15% of women and 10% of men over age 50. There is a lot of chronic pain out there.

The study, led by Dr. John McBeth, looked for factors that increased the risk of developing widespread pain in people over 50. The team collected data on pain, physical health, psychological well-being, lifestyle and demographics from over 4,000 adults who were free of widespread pain at the start of the study. These participants were followed 3 years later and asked about the development of widespread pain.

Results showed that 20% reported new widespread pain symptoms. Analysis of lifestyle and health information led the researchers to find that sleep problems were a strong predictor of who would develop pain. Anxiety, physical health problems and cognition issues will also increase the risk of developing widespread pain.

Poor sleep can be caused by many factors, but a common reason for non-restorative sleep is a condition called obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea causes the airway to collapse during sleep, causing the sleeper to stop breathing for extended periods. When oxygen levels in the body drop, the sleeper briefly wakens to begin breathing again. The sleep apnea patient will waken in the morning feeling exhausted but not remembering these episodes. Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to heart attack, stroke and premature death.

If you snore, have experienced weight gain or if you have a large neck size, you may have sleep apnea. Treatment using an oral appliance is easy and comfortable – CPAP is not required for most cases. Find out more from your Toccoa,GA sleep apnea dentist, Dr. Joseph Wilbanks. Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center today at 706-886-9439.

Smiles Are Important In New Relationships

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Smiles lead the way for new relationships, both business and personal. Over 70% of women and about 60% of men agree that a smile is the first thing they notice in a potential romantic partner! Studies have shown that people with nice smiles are perceived as more intelligent and more accomplished than those with unattractive teeth.

Do you love your smile? If not, let’s talk about the ways that you can achieve the smile of your dreams.

  • Orthodontics for a crooked smile. Maybe you never had braces as a child or maybe your teeth have shifted with age (very common). The majority of people who have straightened their teeth as adults say they would gladly do it again. The good news today is – many cases of crooked teeth can be made straight using invisible braces called Invisilign. Instead of brackets and wires, invisalign uses a series of clear aligners to gently move teeth. No one will even know you are wearing braces!
  • Dental veneers can be used to correct problems ranging from crooked or malformed teeth to repairing permanent discoloration that cannot be bleached away. Dental veneers can make short teeth look longer and more youthful.
  • Dental bleaching may be all you need. As we age our teeth become stained and yellow. Dental cleanings can remove some of these surface stains but to really brighten your smile requires a dental bleaching. Dental bleaching options include take home trays, which offer more control, or in-office whitening.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today to find out more about your options for a perfect smile. We can be reached at 706-886-9439.


Skip Nighttime Smartphone Use For Better Sleep

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Smartphones have enabled us to handle work emails and calls at any time and anywhere. Using your smartphone at night can actually disrupt your sleep, leaving you less productive the following day.

New research in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes reports that using smartphones to work late at night has a serious effect on workers. “What we have is the doubl-whammy effect,” said study co-author Russell Johnson. “On the one hand, when people are using their phones to conduct work late into the night then they’re less able to detach and disassociate from their job, which makes sleeping more difficult and can lead to mental fatigue.

And at the same time, the kind of blue light given off by these devices seems to interfere with the sleep hormone, melatonin. So there is both a psychological and physiological impact on sleep that can make it more difficult to engage the next day at work,” added Johnson.

Previous research has confirmed that devices that give off blue light, such as smartphones, tablets, computers and TV’s, affect the melatonin production in the body. This study looked at the differences between smartphone use for work or personal use. The results showed that using smartphones for business while in bed was associated with sleeping less.

Give yourself plenty of time to practice good “sleep hygiene” in order to get a good night’s rest. This means giving yourself time, before bed, that is free of anything work related and avoiding the use of electronic devices right before sleep.

If you experience extreme daytime sleepiness and snore during sleep you may have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA patients actually stop breathing during sleep! This leaves them feeling exhausted and can lead to heart attack, stroke and weight gain. Oral appliance therapy is highly effective at keeping the airway open during sleep and our patients find wearing an oral appliance comfortable and easy.

Find out more by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your consultation.

Smile! February Is Heart Month

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Did you know that heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women in the United States? Cardiovascular disease is a major public health issue, and dental care plays an important role in improving your heart health.

Approximately 800,000 Americans die from cardiovascular disease each year, and hundreds of thousands of the deaths caused by heart disease and stroke could have been prevented through treatment or lifestyle changes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There are many links between poor heart health and dental issues, including plaque build up, periodontal disease and inflammation. Here are four lifestyle changes you can make today that will benefit the health of both your heart and teeth:


  1. Improve Your Daily Brushing Routine. A study found that only 7 percent of manual toothbrush users met the two-minute brushing time recommendation. Even more troubling, one in five Americans do not brush their teeth twice a day and less than half of adults floss on a daily basis. Click here to learn tips for how you can improve your daily oral hygiene routine.
  2. Cut Down on Sugar. A recent study by the World Health Organization found that reducing sugar intake substantially decreases people’s risk of cavities and gum disease. People who eat six teaspoons of sugar as part of their daily diet have significantly better dental health than those who eat more sugar. So slash your sugar intake and save your smile!
  3. Quit Smoking. Along with the obvious negative consequences to their smile such as yellowed teeth and bad breath, smoking also affects your teeth, gums and mouth. Smoking cigarettes is the primary cause of severe gum disease, which leads to tooth loss. Smoking also increases one’s risk of developing periodontal disease, plaque build up and infection.
  4. Get Regular Dental Cleanings. Make sure that you stick to the recommended schedule of getting a cleaning twice a year. These regular biannual cleanings, along with a yearly dental check up, will ensure that your mouth stays healthy. Keeping your teeth and gums healthy can help to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.


Oral Health in Toccoa

If you would like to learn more about oral health, annual dental check ups 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 contacted at 706-886-9439. We look forward to hearing from you.


Avoiding Chapped Lips

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Avoiding chapped lips during the winter may sound impossible but there are a few things that can help. Dry, chapped lips are also no fun when you need to have dental work!

Lips get chapped because they are constantly exposed to the elements. We can bundle up against the chilly air, but lips are exposed to sun, wind and dry air. Because our lips have only thin layers of skin they are much more likely to dry out than the rest of the face. According to Dr. Jessica Wu, a dermatologist, we lose up to 10 times more moisture through our lips than we do elsewhere on our bodies!

The first trick to keeping lips from chapping is to stop licking them! When our lips feel dry, we tend to lick them which only makes them more dehydrated. Saliva also contains acids which irritate the dried skin even more.

Another common response to dry, flaky lips is to peel or pick at the flakes. This only irritates the lips and makes the healing process slower. Leave those little flaky bits alone and let your body heal.

Even though your lips are chapped you still need to keep up with your oral care routine. Brushing and flossing every day will help keep your smile healthy.

Avoiding Chapped Lips

Avoiding chapped lips means protecting your lips with a shield of lip balm. Lip balms protect the delicate skin of your lips from the elements and dry indoor air. There are various types of lip balms: the waxy stick kind or the ointment/emollient type. The ointment type of lip balm will give your lips extra hydration while sealing in moisture. Petrolatum is a common ingredient in these lip balms. Castor seed oil, shea butter and other oils can also nourish cracked lips. Think twice about a “flavored” lip balm because you may unconsciously lick away the protection.

Some people tend to get cracks in the skin at the edge of the mouth. Technically this is called angular cheilitis and may be caused by several things, including a poor diet, dehydration, or mouth breathing during sleep. If you experience this condition frequently you should increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. Using lip balm before you go to sleep at night can help if you tend to breath through your mouth.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your next visit. We’ll make sure you have a healthy smile to go along with those un-chapped lips!

Save Your Smile: Quit Smoking

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Along with sticking to a thorough daily dental hygiene routine and getting annual check-ups and biannual tooth cleanings, there is one very important thing you can do to keep your smile healthy: quit smoking!

Cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco affect your smile in worse ways than you’d expect. Many smokers are aware of the obvious negative consequences to their smile, such as yellowed teeth and bad breath, but may not be aware of the many other ways that smoking affects their teeth, gums and mouth.

For example, did you know that smoking cigarettes is the primary cause of severe gum disease in the Unites States? Gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss, and there is a clear connection between smoking and tooth loss.

A decades-long study by the Journal of the American Dental Association found that cigarette and cigar smokers experience a substantial increase in the rate of tooth loss and bone loss within the jaws. This is because smoking causes blood vessels to constrict and narrow, which results in decreased and poor blood circulation all throughout the body, including the mouth. Decreased circulation impairs blood flow to the gums, increasing smokers’ chances of getting an infection or experiencing complications during the treatment of existing infections.

Poor circulation also affects the rate of wound healing in the mouth, as well as its ability to fight off and clear out bacteria. It delays the healing process after periodontal treatment, tooth extraction and other oral surgeries. It also lowers the success rate of dental implant procedures, causing them to be rejected by the body.

Smoking also increases inflammation of the mouth’s salivary gland openings, and decreases saliva production within the mouth. Along with a feeling of discomfort and dry mouth, this contributes to an increase of plaque build up and tartar on teeth.

Another common side effect of smoking is leukoplakia, which causes white or gray patches inside of the mouth. Although not dangerous in itself, the condition can be a precursor to or early sign of oral cancer.

If you are a smoker, schedule an appointment with your dentist to evaluate your oral health and review how quitting can benefit your teeth.

Oral Health in Toccoa

If you would like to learn more about oral health, annual dental check ups 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.

February is National Children's Dental Health Month

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month so it seems appropriate to post some dental health reminders for parents. Giving children a healthy smile for life begins when they are babies and is one of the best gifts that parents can provide. Did you know that babies aren’t born with the bacteria that causes tooth decay? They get it from their parents!

Here are some tips to ensure that your child avoids tooth decay during childhood.

  • Don’t forget oral health care for babies. After feeding use a soft finger cot to wipe down the gums.
  • Use a baby toothbrush when that first tooth comes in! There are special toothpastes for infants.
  • NEVER put your baby to bed with a bottle. Bathing baby teeth in milk, formula or juice throughout the night will lead to massive decay and probably loss of teeth.
  • Don’t allow your toddler constant access to juice or milk in a sippy cup. Same idea as the bottle overnight, teeth can’t survive being constantly bathed in sugars and acids. Put plain water in the sippy cup if needed.
  • Take your child to visit the dentist by age one or after the first tooth has appeared. This allows the dentist to make sure there are no developmental problems with the baby teeth that are coming in and gets your child used to dental visits at an early age.
  • Schedule cleanings for your child. Many people believe that since baby teeth are going to fall out they don’t need dental care. Baby teeth can get cavities and cause pain just like adult teeth. You can help your child avoid toothache pain.
  • As children get older and begin to play sports, make sure they use a mouthguard to protect their teeth.
  • Have your child evaluated for orthodontic treatment early. Many years ago braces weren’t put on teeth until kids were in high school. Orthodontic treatment has changed and early intervention using braces can correct problems while the child is still growing.
  • If you live in an area that does not have fluoridated water, ask your dentist or pediatrician about fluoride supplements.
  • AVOID giving your child soda or sports drinks on a regular basis. These beverages contain high amounts of acids and sugars and will destroy tooth enamel.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to ask any questions about your child’s oral health or to schedule a visit. We look forward to hearing from you.


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