April, 2014

Save Healthcare Dollars - Keep Gums Healthy!

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

Healthcare is expensive. If you could do something that would save healthcare dollars and didn’t include joining a gym would you be interested? It is easy to save healthcare dollars, just keep your gums healthy!

A recent study has given us new evidence proving the importance of preventing and treating periodontal disease in patients with chronic systemic diseases and in pregnant women.

This research included almost 340,000 people and established that  treating gum disease reduced hospital stays and cut medical costs up to $5600 in patients with conditions like diabetes and cerebrovascular disease. This large group of study participants all were diagnosed with periodontal disease and had one or more of the following: diabetes, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis and pregnancy. The researchers then looked at the insurance data of the patients who had received treatment for their gum disease and those who had not.

Annual medical went down. Average annual medical costs were decreased by 40% in diabetic patients, almost 41% in cerebrovascular disease patients and heart patients saw an almost 11% savings. Pregnant women saw their medical expenses reduced by a whopping 73.7%! Plus we know that moms with healthy gums are less likely to have babies with low birth weight or to deliver early.

This is not the first study to show the savings in medical expenses associated with keeping gums healthy. Since about 47% of US adults over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease and men have higher rates that women, it is time we all got serious about preventing and treating gum disease.

Signs of periodontal disease include bleeding, puffy gums. Gum tissue that looks red and inflamed and chronic bad breath are also symptoms. Your gums should never bleed when brushing or flossing!

If it has been a while since your last cleaning or you think you may have gum disease please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your next visit.


Mom's Vitamin D Gives Baby Strong Teeth

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Moms with low levels of vitamin D during pregnancy have been linked to a higher risk of tooth decay in the teeth of their babies. Higher levels of vitamin D may give baby stronger teeth.

Researchers in Canada found that children born to mothers with low levels of vitamin D when pregnant were at increased risk of poor quality dental enamel and early childhood caries (tooth decay). Previous studies had shown that vitamin D deficiency among mothers also lead to defects in the enamel of their toddlers’ teeth.

This recent study looked at the vitamin D levels of women and then checked their children for dental decay during the first year of life. Researchers discovered that one-third of the women had low levels of vitamin D and that the mothers of children with tooth decay had significantly lower levels of the vitamin than did the moms of kids without tooth decay.

Prenatal vitamin D improves the development of tooth enamel in the developing fetus, the researchers concluded. Vitamin D also helps prevent abnormalities of the spinal cord and brain, and enhances brain development. For women, vitamin D helps promote bone density during and after pregnancy. Researchers also believe that vitamin D may help prevent high blood pressure during pregnancy.

Vitamin D means strong teeth for adults too! Known as the sunshine vitamin, the human body makes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Very few foods offer vitamin D so supplements may be in order if you don’t spend much time in the sun.

Find out more about oral health during pregnancy by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439.


What is Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is a small joint, located in front of where the skull and the lower jaw connect. This joint enables one to move talk, yawn, and chew food comfortably.

Although many do not realize it, the TMJ is among the most commonly used joints in the entire body!

TMJ can manifest itself in several ways, and is often linked to other conditions. Internal Derangement of the Joint often results in TMJ disorders. This condition occurs when the jaw is dislocated or injured, or the TMJ disc is moved out of place.  Degenerative Joint disease is also linked to TMJ disorders. Degenerative Joint Disease is usually linked to health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis. Finally, Myofascial Pain Disorder, which is when pain or discomfort occurs in the jaw joint or the neck and shoulders, can result in TMJ disorders.

Symptoms associated with TMJ include difficulty chewing food, swelling on one or both sides of the face, chronic facial, neck, or jaw pains, a sudden inability to open up your mouth wide, and an audible “clicking” noise whenever you open your mouth.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to the development of TMJ disorders. Arthritis, misalignment of the upper or lower jaw, traumatic injury to the head or neck, missing teeth and poor oral habits , such as repeatedly grinding or clenching the teeth, have been linked to the development of this joint disorder.

TMJ disorders can range from being mild, or seriously debilitating. It is always important for the patient to undergo an comprehensive examination with a qualified dentist in order to determine if they have the condition. During the initial examination, the dentist will also evaluate your medical history.

The method of treatment used for TMJ will depend on the patient’s specific needs. Some patients may benefit from nonsurgical treatment methods, such as pain medication, stress reduction counseling, or wearing a bite plate. Once nonsurgical treatment methods are no longer enough, surgery may be necessary, especially if it has been determined that there is joint damage. Surgery methods will range from less-invasive surgical treatments such as arthocentesis or arthroscopy, to the more serious procedure, open joint surgery.


Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) in Toccoa

If you would like to learn more about TMJ and its treatment, contact us today. Our offices are located in Toccoa, GA, and we can be reached at 706-886-9439. We look forward to hearing from you!

Stomach Acid Wrecks Teeth

Saturday, April 19th, 2014

Stomach acid is strong stuff and it can really wreck your teeth. Fortunately, stomach acid usually remains right where it belongs – in your stomach! When stomach acid comes into contact with the mouth on a regular basis it causes  severe damage to dental enamel and can even cause mouth sores.

GERD, also known as gastric reflux, bulimia and nausea from pregnancy are the most common causes of stomach acid entering the mouth. For pregnant women, the condition is temporary, usually ending after the 1st trimester of pregnancy is complete. For patients who suffer from GERD and bulimia the problem lingers until these conditions can be resolved.

When stomach acid comes into contact with dental enamel the usually rock-hard dental enamel is softened. Over time the enamel can wear away causing the teeth to yellow and change shape. Once tooth enamel has been eroded there is no way to replace it but there are ways to protect the enamel before this happens. After the enamel has been damaged teeth will be more susceptible to decay and will probably experience sensitivity to heat and cold.

Here are a few suggestions for protecting your teeth:

  • Seek treatment for your medical condition. The stomach acid not only attacks tooth enamel but causes damage to the lining of the esophagus.
  • DO NOT brush your teeth immediately after vomiting. Most of us reach for the toothbrush to clean our mouth but the tooth enamel is in a fragile state and brushing immediately will only cause further damage.
  • Instead of brushing, RINSE your mouth with a mixture of baking soda and water to neutralize the acids.
  • Talk to your dentist about fluoride treatments and prescription fluoride pastes or rinses that can help strengthen tooth enamel.

Find out more about protecting your tooth enamel by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439. Let’s work together to save your smile!

Do I Need a Root Canal?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Each year, millions of dental patients find themselves needing root canals, one of the most commonly-performed dental procedures. A root canal is an endodontic dental treatment, which focus on the treatment of issues inside the mouth.

Let’s learn a little bit more about the root canal procedure, and what it entails.

  1. What causes the need for a root canal? Inside of the tooth, located under the white enamel, is a soft tissue known as “the pulp,” which contains connective tissues which enable the root of a tooth to grow during its development. As a tooth grows, the pulp provides nourishment that provides proper development to the tooth. If a cavity is left untreated, bacteria can eat through enamel, damaging the pulp. A pulp can also be damaged by trauma to the tooth. A root canal will remove the damaged or infected pulp. Fully-developed teeth can function well without the pulp.
  2. What are the symptoms of a damaged pulp? Patients with a damaged or infected pulp may experience a severe toothache, discoloration of the teeth, swelling, tenderness, and sensitivity whenever you eat or drink a hot or cold beverage.
  3. What will a root canal procedure involve? Patients may need to undergo a series of office visits for a root canal. First, the dentist will remove the pulp through a small opening, then clean and seal up the tooth to prevent any further damages. A temporary filling will be placed in the opening to protect the tooth. Local anesthetic will be used to numb the area, and your dentist may prescribe medication to control any infection and allow the area to heal properly. The temporary filling will be removed at your next office visit.
  4. Is a root canal painful? Despite the fact that many people associate a root canal with severe pain, the procedure is normally not very painful. Local anesthesia helps the patient relax.
  5. Are the results of a root canal permanent? In most cases, the results of the procedure are considered permanent, though patients must continue to care for their teeth effectively in order to avoid similar future issues.

Dental Health in Toccoa

If you would like to learn more about root canal therapy, or any other procedure, contact us today. Our offices are located in Toccoa, GA, and we can be reached at 706-886-9439. We look forward to hearing from you!



Stress Can Affect Oral Health

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

Did you know that stress can affect your smile? Too much stress can affect your whole body and it impacts your oral health by causing mouth sores, teeth grinding, and even gum disease.

Canker Sores and Cold Sores

Mouth sores like canker sores and cold sores commonly pop up during stressful times. Canker sores are not contagious and researchers still haven’t entirely figured out what causes them. They are annoying and painful but they normally heal on their own in a week or 10 days. If you have a canker sore that is very painful or large call your dentist to find out about over-the-counter products that can numb the area.

Cold sores are actually caused by a virus and are contagious. Medications are available, both over-the-counter and prescription antiviral drugs, that can reduce healing time and perhaps prevent future breakouts.

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Stress isn’t the only reason that people grind their teeth — in fact most people that grind their teeth don’t even know they are doing it. Bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching) can cause damage to the teeth, wearing them down or causing cracks and breaks. Grinding also leads to painful problems with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). TMJ pain can manifest in many ways including headaches, facial pain, jaw pain, neck and back pain and muscle spasms.

Your dentist can’t make you stop grinding but further damage to the teeth and the jaw joint can be prevented by wearing a specially made orthotic device. This small bite splint will place your bite in a position that removes stress from the joint and muscles, allowing them to heal.

Stress can also lead to poor dietary choices and an increase in dental plaque. The best way to protect yourself from gum disease is remember to eat a balanced diet and brush and floss everyday.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to discover how we can help you protect your beautiful smile during stressful times.



April Is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

April is oral cancer awareness month for a good reason – this year almost 42,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or throat cancer.

The American Dental Association, the Oral Cancer Foundation and other groups have joined together to sponsor Oral Cancer Awareness month for the past 14 years in an effort to remind everyone of the importance of screening for oral cancer. As far as cancer screenings go — this one is easy! No big, cold imaging machines or surgical suites required – you just need to visit your dentist!

Oral cancer screenings are a part of your regular routine dental exam. Early detection of oral cancers is especially important. the 5-year survival rate of these cancers is only about 64%. Unfortunately this grim statistic reflects the fact that most cases of oral and throat cancers are not discovered until they are at an advanced stage. Early detection means a much easier course of treatment and a much higher success rate.

In between your dental visits here are some things to watch out for. If any of these symptoms persist longer than two weeks call your dentist immediately.

  • A mouth sore or irritation that doesn’t heal
  • White or red patches in the mouth
  • Pain, tenderness or swelling
  • Thick or crusty patches, a rough spot or a lump
  • Sore throat
  • Problems chewing or swallowing
  • An unexplained change in your bite

Oral cancers used to be seen in older men who smoked or drank. While being over 50, combined with alcohol and tobacco use are still risk factors for the disease, we are seeing more and more young people develop oral cancers. The reason for the rise in oral cancers appears to be the HPV virus. If you know you have been infected with HPV then you need to be especially vigilant about screening for oral cancers.

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

What's Your Reason For Whitening?

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Teeth whitening is the most popular cosmetic dental procedure for a good reason – it is a simple and highly effective way of making your smile more vibrant and youthful looking. Want more reasons for whitening your smile? Summer is just around the corner and maybe there is a special wedding, high school or family reunion, or you might just want to look better in those vacation photos!

Whitening your teeth changes the color of your tooth enamel and removes most surface stains and those slightly below the surface. Teeth respond better to bleaching when they are clean so plan your bleaching just after your dental cleaning. During that general dentistry visit, talk to your dentist about bleaching and find out the best option for your teeth.

There are basically two options for highly effective tooth whitening – an in-office one-hour whitening procedure which combines a bleaching material with a special light to speed the process or, custom take home trays with professional strength bleaching gel. The one-hour whitening using Zoom! or a similar system is perfect for people seeking instant gratification. When your appointment is over your teeth will be whiter and brighter.

Take home kits allow patients to be totally in control of their bleaching. You can bleach, following the dentists directions, until you have reached the perfect shade for you. This method is also good for patients who fear sensitivity due to bleaching. By going slowly, this can be avoided.

Remember that not all discolored teeth will react to bleaching. People with yellowish staining typically do very well with teeth whitening. Staining that is gray in color and that may have been caused by medicines does not usually respond to bleaching. If you have bonding, crowns or veneers on one or more of your front teeth you need to realize that those will not bleach. In these cases you may want to seek a consultation about cosmetic dentistry options including dental veneers.

Find out more about getting a whiter, brighter smile by whitening your teeth by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439.


Crooked Teeth More Than A Cosmetic Problem

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Crooked teeth and misaligned bites are usually thought of as a purely cosmetic problem — after all don’t people get braces so their smile looks nicer?

Actually those crooked teeth and misaligned bites can cause a lot of damage over time. They can interfere with proper chewing and cause strain to the jaws and muscles. There is an increased risk of breaking a tooth that is out of place and keeping crossed teeth clean is almost impossible. This increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Teeth are crooked for a number of reasons. Some people have mouths that are too small for their teeth which causes them to crowd and shift. Sometimes the upper and lower jaws aren’t the same size which results in an overbite or and under bite. Many times crooked teeth are inherited from mom and dad, just like your blue eyes!

Most people can see if their teeth are crooked but your dentist will look for problems to determine whether the crookedness requires treatment. The dentist looks at the abnormal alignment of the teeth, the appearance of the face, speech difficulties and difficulty chewing correctly.

Orthodontic therapy, aka braces, has come a long way over the past several years. Many cases can now be resolved using invisible tray type braces that can be removed for eating and brushing. The old silver brackets and wires are long gone and new braces sport clear or tooth colored brackets so they can hardly be seen.

Getting braces as a child is a wonderful way to avoid problems later in life, but if you never had braces, or forgot to wear your retainers, it isn’t too late. More and more adults are wearing braces and as a result, have more beautiful and healthier smiles.

Find out if orthodontic treatment is right for you by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA at 706-886-9439.

Keep Your Smile Strong: Benefits of Routine Dental Exams

Friday, April 4th, 2014

A beautiful smile should also be a healthy smile. To keep your smile strong, it is essential to undergo routine dental exams, once every six months or so.

Unfortunately, many people skip their routine  visits to the dentist! Let’s take a closer look at some reasons you should have routine dental exams on a regular basis.

Top 3 Benefits of Routine Dental Exams:

  1. Detection of dental issues. Perhaps the biggest benefit of routine dental exams is that they help identify the early signs of gum disease and tooth decay. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults, so dentists will take special care to educate their patients on how to properly care for their teeth. Gum disease and tooth decay will be identified through a comprehensive examination, which will include X-rays. Once these dental issues have been identified, treatment can begin  before the problem becomes too extensive!
  2. Helps you maintain a brighter smile. During a routine dental exam, your dentist will likely ask you about your diet. Though many people do not realize it, maintaining a healthy diet can greatly increase your dental health! daily habits like drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, or eating foods that contain a great deal of sugar, increases your risk for tooth decay and can discolor your teeth. Additionally, taking certain medications can also discolor the teeth, so it is important that your dentist is aware of any medication you are currently taking. Routine dental exams will include teeth cleanings, restoring brightness to your teeth by eliminating stains.
  3. Regular dental visits may improve your at-home care practices. While in the dentist’s office, you will likely be asked about your at-home care habits, such as brushing and flossing. Your dentist can demonstrate the proper flossing techniques, so that you will be better equipped to care for your teeth at home. Your dentist will work with you to fix any concerning dental issues, so that you have the most radiant, healthy smile possible.

Dental Health in Toccoa

If you would like to learn more about routine dental exams, or any other procedure, contact us today. 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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