March, 2014

Most Americans Need to Brush Longer – and More Often

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

American life seeming is hectic amd it seems as though we’re all forced to take time away from some tasks to make more time for others. One area that should never be neglected, however, is dental care. We all need to brush longer — and brush more often than we are!

Unfortunately, studies are showing that Americans are cutting more and more time from their dental routines – and their teeth are showing the effects of this. Shaving off a minute from your nightly tooth-brushing may not seem like a significantly harmful thing to do, but this rushed routine can severely damage your teeth in the long run. . A recent study found that Americans only brush for about 31 to 60 seconds – much less than the recommended minimum of two minutes for each brushing session.

It seems that Americans are aware that their brushing habits are sub par, or that they could at least dedicate more time to taking care of their smiles. Only one-third of Americans say they do an “excellent” job of taking care of their mouth, teeth and gums, according to the American Dental Association.

Adults aren’t the only ones who are neglecting their dental health. A recent report from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research focused on how well American children are brushing, and whether their parents are addressing the issue when their kids don’t brush enough. About a third of the survey respondents, or 35 percent, reported that they know their child brushes his or her teeth less than twice a day.

When you don’t adequately brush your teeth for at least two minutes, twice a day as recommended by the American Dental Association, you leave behind harmful bacteria that multiplies and spreads throughout your mouth. Improperly cleaning your teeth can result in cavities, tooth decay, gum inflammation, gingivitis and other periodontal disease.

Not brushing and flossing thoroughly and often enough can also result in halitosis, or bad breath. By devoting a full two minutes each time you brush and making sure to floss daily, you’re investing in your future oral health and preventing a handful of dangerous and unpleasant dental conditions.

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.


The Impact of Eating Disorders on Teeth

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Eating disorders such as bulimia take a serious toll on teeth, changing their appearance and health. Studies have shown that the average onset age of an eating disorder is 16, and that the length of time that the person typically experiences the disorder is approximately four years.

The disorder is most predominant among young women, with nearly 10 million women affected by it in the United States alone. However, men also suffer from the disorder, with 1 million men affected by it annually, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).

Along with annual physicals, dental exams play an important role in catching and identifying the disorder. Because so many of the patients suffering from eating disorders are teen girls, dentists are often the first notice that there is a problem. This is because disorders such as bulimia result in side effects that include distinct signs of dental decay and erosion.

Common signs of eating disorders include the erosion of tooth enamel and tooth sensitivity caused by the thinning of enamel. In eating disorders such as bulimia or binging and purging, when the patient forces him or herself to throw up, the mouth is subjected to the stomach’s erosive acids and fluids.

This exposure to stomach acids negatively affects sensitive gum tissue and corrodes tooth enamel. The worst of this damage often occurs along the back side of the upper front teeth. Damage from purging also causes dental decay, which increases the patient’s risk of having cavities, fillings or missing teeth.

Patients with eating disorders may also suffer from gingival bleeding, gum inflammation, sores in the soft tissue and erosive lesions on the surface of the teeth. Other tell-tale signs can include a tender mouth, throat and salivary glands, dry mouth, teeth than look worn and have areas that are nearly translucent in coloring, and bad breath.

If parents are concerned about whether their teen has an eating disorder, they can ask their dentist to analyze and look for these signs during a dental exam, cleaning or checkup. Examining and addressing early dental signs of an eating disorder can help to stop dental issues from becoming worse and prevent further tooth decay.


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.

Crooked Teeth Affect Dental Health

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Most people think that crooked teeth are just a cosmetic problem, but crooked teeth can affect your dental health.

Teeth grow in crooked for a number of reasons. Sometimes a mouth is too small for the teeth which causes crowding and shifting. Crooked teeth can also occur when a person’s upper and lower jaws aren’t the same size or are malformed resulting in an overbite or under bite. Our teeth can also shift as we age, often leading to crowding of the front lower teeth. Most often, crooked teeth are part of the genetic traits you inherited from your parents.

Dental health problems can result from crooked teeth. These problems include:

  • Problems chewing food
  • Placing strain on the jaw joints and muscles
  • Increased risk of breaking a tooth
  • Making brushing and flossing properly more difficult which increases the risk of gum disease and tooth decay
  • Causing low self-esteem because of an unattractive smile

OK, that last one wasn’t really a dental health issue but it is unfortunate that some people won’t smile or laugh without feeling self-conscious. Many hesitate, then place a hand in front of their face in order to laugh.

The dental ramifications of leaving those crooked teeth alone can turn into a large expense over time. If you didn’t have braces as a child or your teeth have shifted as an adult then adult orthodontics could be the answer.

Choices For Adult Orthodontics

The old silver brackets and bulky wires are long gone. Today choices for adult orthodontics include braces that use clear brackets that are nearly invisible. Don’t want anyone to know you are getting your teeth straightened? You may be a candidate for “invisible” braces such as Invisalign. Invisalign uses a series of clear custom trays to move your teeth into their proper positions. They are nearly impossible to see while being worn and you can remove them for eating and cleaning your teeth.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today to find out more about adult orthodontics and how a straighter smile can help keep your teeth healthy for a lifetime. We can be reached at 706-886-9439.

A Healthy Smile As We Age

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Yes, it is possible to keep a healthy smile as we age! Getting older puts us at risk for a number of oral health problems but working together, we can avoid some of them.

  • As we get older our teeth tend to get darker. This is usually a combination of a lifetime of consuming teeth-staining foods and beverages but, there is another reason. The dentin in the tooth, the layer beneath the enamel, changes as we age.
  • Dry mouth is a common side effect of certain medications. Some cancer treatments also cause reduced saliva flow. There are saliva substitutes than can make your mouth more comfortable and help protect your teeth.
  • Root decay. When gums recede due to over-brushing or gum disease, the tooth roots may become exposed and decay.
  • Gum disease is more common in seniors. A combination of poorly fitting dentures or bridges, poor diets, systemic diseases and poor brushing and flossing lead to inflammation and gum disease. If brushing and flossing are difficult because of physical limitations it may be time to swap out the manual toothbrush for an electric model. Water flossers are highly effective in place of regular dental floss. Regular dental hygiene appointments will help keep gums healthy.
  • Tooth loss is usually caused by gum disease.
  • Jaw bone changes. When the jaw bone no longer serves as an anchor point for the teeth, it will begin to resorb and shrink.

Maintaining good oral health as we age helps our overall health and appearance. A healthy smile means better nutrition because it is easier to eat healthy foods. Maintaining a full set of healthy teeth means the jaw bone will remain intact and facial features will avoid the “shrunken” or aged appearance.

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

Don't Fear the Dentist: The Benefits of Sedation Dentistry

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Does the thought of going to the dentist or needing to have dental work done make you feel anxious, distressed or scared?

Dental procedures shouldn’t be something to be and feared and avoided – regular check ups, cleanings, routine and restorative procedures are a vital part of taking care of your health and preserving your smile. Don’t neglect your dental health because of fear of getting into the dentist’s chair!

To ease your worries and discomfort regarding visiting the dentist, let’s look into sedation dentistry and how it can improve your experience. Although sedation dentistry is sometimes referred to as sleep dentistry, most patients are usually remain awake throughout the procedure.

Sedation dentistry implements the use of medication to provide a relaxing and anxiety-free experience for people who are undergoing dental treatment. It can be used on patients of all ages – including young children over a certain age, so consult with your child’s pediatrician and dentist regarding whether sedation dentistry is right for them.

Other benefits of sedation dentistry include:

  1. It accommodates a low pain threshold or sensitive teeth
    For those with the often painful and bothersome condition of having sensitive teeth, undergoing dental work can be especially unpleasant. Sedation dentistry makes the process significantly more comfortable for these patients.
  2. It’s great for those who can’t sit still in the dentist’s chair
    For younger patients of those who usually get antsy or impatient while undergoing a prolonged dental procedure, sedation therapy allows them to feel settled and calm during complex and lengthy procedures.
  3. It helps those who have a bad gag reflex feel more comfortable
    For many people, having any type of dental work done in their mouths makes them feel uncomfortable and triggers their gag reflex. Knowing that sedation dentistry helps to repress this makes it easier for some patients to undergo elective procedures that they may have otherwise been apprehensive about.
  4. It’s perfect for patients who need substantial dental work done
    As a result of the soothing and sleepy experience that sedation dentistry provides, patients feel as though time flies by during their treatment, so their lengthy procedures seem to last for only a few minutes.

Sedation Dentistry in Toccoa

If you would like to learn more about sedation dentistry 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.

Caring for Dentures

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Proper care of your dentures is important for your oral health and can extend the life of your dentures.

Dentures are breakable if dropped so take care when handling them. Just like natural teeth, dentures need to be properly cleaned. Brushing will remove food and plaque. Denture material can stain so brushing away food debris and surface stains will help prevent permanent staining. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, never a hard brush, and gently brush all surfaces.

Denture cleaners help clean and kill bacteria that clings to the dentures. Never use household cleansers or whitening toothpastes to clean your dentures – these are very abrasive and will scratch the denture. Don’t use bleach to clean the denture because it may bleach out the pink portion of the appliance. Ultrasonic cleaners (like jewelry cleaners) can be very helpful for maintaining your dentures. Never use hot water to clean a denture as it may cause the denture to warp. When dentures are not in your mouth they should not be allowed to dry out.

Your dentist can adjust and repair your denture when needed. New dentures may need follow-up appointments for adjustments until they feel comfortable. Please don’t attempt a do-it-yourself repair on your dentures, bending the metal clasps or attempting to use a household glue can permanently weaken these structures.

A set of dentures is not permanent. The jawbone will shrink over time since it is no longer serving to anchor teeth. The dentures may need to be relined or remade due to normal wear and tear and age related changes in gums and bone.

Find out more about denture care and learn about how dentures can be anchored using dental implants by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439.

World Sleep Day March 14

Friday, March 14th, 2014

March 14 is World Sleep Day and the theme for this year includes breathing during sleep and the need for restful sleep, which can only be achieved by having a healthy body.

There are many reasons why a good night’s sleep is important. Researchers have discovered that poor quality or lack of sleep can lead to memory problems as we age and even affect the genes that allow our bodies to heal themselves. One of the most common reasons for poor sleep is the sleep breathing disorder called obstructive sleep apnea. This is where the “breathing” portion of the World Sleep Day comes into play.

Obstructive sleep apnea causes stoppages in breathing during sleep. For some people, this can occur hundreds of times each night, but they will awake with no memory of these wakings. Obstructive sleep apnea patients stop breathing because the soft tissues of the throat and mouth relax during sleep. These tissues fall back and block the airway. If the airway is partially blocked the sleeper will snore. If the airway is completely blocked the sleeper will stop breathing until the brain realizes that oxygen levels are dropping and briefly waken the sleeper to begin breathing again.

Who Is At Risk For Sleep Apnea?

Your risk for obstructive sleep apnea rises if:

  • You are overweight
  • You have a large neck size
  • You are male
  • Over age 50

If you have been told that you snore loudly or make gasping sounds during sleep you should be evaluated by your physician for sleep apnea.

Treating sleep apnea can be as simple as visiting a dentist who has been trained in treating obstructive sleep apnea. Why see a dentist about a sleep disorder? Simple, one of the most effective and comfortable methods of managing obstructive sleep apnea is using an oral appliance. Not all dentists have the training required to correctly fit and adjust these appliances so you should seek a dentist who has specialized training in this area.

Please contact Toccoa, GA sleep apnea dentist Dr. Joseph Wilbanks today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your consultation.



Taking Care of Your Teeth for Diabetic Health

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

March 25 is American Diabetes Day, and although dental health should be an important part of everyone’s life, it’s especially important for those with diabetes. Studies have shown that patients with diabetes are especially susceptible to various types of oral infections and gum disease, which is also known as periodontal disease. In a catch-22 situation, diabetic patients with active gum disease also have a more difficult time controlling their blood sugar levels.

Here are several tips for how diabetics can better maintain their oral and dental health:

  • Get regular check-ups. Along with an annual, routine dental exam, it’s important to get a cleaning every six months. Besides keeping your mouth feeling and looking clean, regular visits to the dentist will help to preemptively catch and treat any potential dental and oral problems.
  • Watch out for the signs. Since people with diabetes are more prone to infections and certain dental conditions, it’s important to know what signs and symptoms to look out for. For example, uncontrolled diabetes often leads to a decrease in saliva flow, which then causes dry mouth. Other diabetes-linked health issues and conditions to keep an eye out for include bleeding gums, gum inflammation or tenderness, and gingivitis.
  • Don’t ignore healing issues. Those with diabetes – especially if they are having a hard time controlling their blood sugar – may notice that cuts or sores take longer than usual to heal. If there is a sore, ulcer or sensitive area in the oral tissue that is taking a substantial time to heal, it’s vital for the patient to visit their dentist to address this issue right away. Poor healing may also be a sign that the area’s blood flow may be damaged or hindered, so seeking treatment as soon as possible is vital for dental health.
  • Control your blood sugar. Oral health issues are more likely to develop when blood sugar levels are not being properly monitored and controlled. Always strictly follow your doctor’s instructions about watching, checking and controlling your blood sugar levels. Whether that is by following a special diet, taking medication or giving yourself insulin injections, staying on top of your sugar levels will benefit your dental and overall health.

Click here to learn more about diabetes and dental health.


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.


Gum Disease Bacteria Spurs Oral Cancer Growth

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

By products from two bacteria that cause gum disease have been shown to spur the growth of a type of oral cancer.

Karposi’s sarcoma-related lesions and tumors are typically found in patients with compromised immune systems; people on medications that prevent the rejection of transplants, chemotherapy patients and the elderly. If the lesions are not removed they may develop into malignant tumors.

The researchers from Case Western Reserve University wanted to discover why most people never develop this form of cancer and what protects them from it. The researchers looked at two groups of people, one group with severe chronic gum disease and a second group with healthy gums. Saliva samples were taken and the saliva was separated into its components. After the initial tests the scientists suspected that the by-products from the bacteria were involved with growing the Karposi’s sarcoma lesions. Tests in petri dishes showed that the fatty acid by-products did indeed allow the Karposi’s to multiply but also changed molecules in the immune system so that it did not stop the grown of the Karposi’s.

This research shows one more link between the bad bacteria that are involved in gum disease and our overall health and well-being. Chronic, untreated gum disease has been linked to a wide range of conditions from heart problems to pre-term birth.

Preventing gum disease is a matter of good home care – brushing and flossing every day, and regular visits for professional cleanings. Eating a healthy diet that includes lots of vegetables and fruits will help as well. Gums that are red, puffy or bleed easily are in the early stages of gum disease but a visit to your dentist can get your gums healthy in no time.

Over time, untreated gum disease can lead to deterioration of the jaw bone and tooth loss. The infection can spread throughout the body and cause serious illness that may require hospitalization.

If it has been a while since your last visit, don’t delay any longer. Many patients feel embarrassed that they haven’t visited the dentist in quite some time – don’t worry, we will work with you to get your smile healthy and beautiful!

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

Ancient Bacteria Still Causing Oral Health Problems

Friday, March 7th, 2014

The same bacteria that gave our ancient ancestors oral health problems are still wreaking havoc on modern smiles.

An international team, led by Dr. Christina Warinner from the department of anthropology at the University of Oklahoma, is attempting to built a detailed picture of people from the German Medieval population. In the quest to find more information about the health and diets of this population they took samples of dental calculus from 1,000 year old teeth. Although the samples were small, dental calculus harbors a lot of DNA. “What makes dental calculus so unique is that it acts both as a long-term reservoir of the oral microbiome and as a trap for dietary and environmental debris,” said Dr. Warriner.

The DNA and protein analysis found that the same inflammatory disease-causing bacteria found in Medieval Germans is about the same as the bacteria that cause periodontal disease today!

Preventing Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is completely preventable thanks to modern dentistry. There were no dental hygieniests 1,000 years ago. Now we know that good home care – brushing and flossing every day – along with regular dental hygiene visits can keep most smiles healthy.

Dental calculus is a very hard substance that cannot be removed with regular brushing and flossing. Because dental calculus serves as “reservoir” for bacteria and traps food particles it is important that it be removed regularly by a dental hygienist in order to maintain healthy gums.

Find out more about preventing periodontal disease by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your next visit.

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