March, 2015

Orthodontics Gives You More Than A Pretty Smile

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Lots of people think that orthodontic treatment is just for cosmetic purposes — to get a pretty smile. The truth about straightening teeth is much different and leads to a healthier smile.

Crooked teeth aren’t pretty, but those crooked teeth are also more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease because crooked teeth are harder to clean and give bacteria more places to hide. A misaligned bite can lead to cracked or broken teeth and cause painful problems with the jaw joint.

Orthodontic treatment in children can be used to prevent some of these future problems by helping to guide the development and positioning of the adult teeth. Children should visit the dentist regularly after age 1 and should be evaluated for dental braces by age 7. Early intervention can help stop damaging habits, like thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, that could cause tooth alignment issues as the child gets older.

If you didn’t have braces as a child, it isn’t too late. Orthodontic treatment for adults is very popular. Patients today want to keep a healthy smile for life and they also know the value of a nice smile. Many adults find that Invisalign orthodontic treatment is perfect for their lifestyle. Invisalign uses a series of custom made clear aligners to gently straighten your smile without the brackets and rubber bands. Invisalign is comfortable to wear and the trays are easily removed for eating, brushing and flossing! They are almost invisible when worn so no one will know you are straightening your teeth!

Find out more about orthodontic treatment and how you can achieve a healthier smile along with your straight teeth. Contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your consultation.

Second Hand Smoke and Gum Disease

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

The link between smoking and gum disease has been known for many years, but new research appears to show that even second hand smoke can greatly increase the risk for periodontitis.

Almost half of US adults have some form of gum disease. Untreated gum disease has been linked to health issues throughout the body including heart disease, poor blood sugar control, premature birth and even some types of cancers.

The risk factors for gum disease include smoking, diabetes, using certain medications, hormonal changes in women and having a genetic predisposition to the disease. Most cases of gum disease can be prevented by proper oral hygiene (brushing and flossing), and regular dental hygiene visits. Our patients with diabetes and those who smoke are warned of their higher risk and advised on preventative measures – now it appears that we will need to add the family members of smokers to this group.

Using tobacco in any form, either smoked or orally, has serious effects upon oral health. Oral problems linked to tobacco use include:

  • Bad breath
  • Yellow teeth
  • Increase risk of Gum Disease
  • Risk of developing white patches or leukoplakia in the mouth
  • Delayed healing following dental surgery
  • Increased risk of oral cancer
  • Increased risk of dental implant failure
  • Increased loss of bone in the jaw

Quitting is hard. Talk to your doctor about your support options when you make the decision to quit using tobacco products. Sweeter smelling breath and a healthy white smile (along with reduced risks of heart disease and cancer) are at the end of the journey.

Find out more about keeping your smile healthy by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your next visit.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea - How Your Dentist Can Help

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious medical condition which causes people to stop breathing during sleep. Why would your dentist talk to you about obstructive sleep apnea? We have several really good reasons!

When we are sleeping our muscles relax, this includes the tissues in the mouth and throat – including the tongue. In obstructive sleep apnea patients the tissue relaxes and drops back into the throat, blocking the airway. When the airway is partially blocked we hear snoring but when the airway becomes totally blocked no air can pass. The patient stops breathing and then, when the brain realizes it needs oxygen, the sleeper briefly wakes with a gasp and begins breathing again. This can happen a few times each hour or many, many times. 

A dentist cannot diagnose obstructive sleep apnea but we can screen for the signs and offer an effective treatment for management of the condition. Signs that your dentist will look for include:

  • Large neck size
  • Scalloped edges of the tongue
  • Large uvula
  • Small airway
  • Reported snoring or gasping during sleep
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • High blood pressue

Some patients wonder why we would talk to them about a medical condition that doesn’t include the teeth. Your dentist and your dental hygienist are the healthcare professionals that spend the most time looking at your open mouth. We look at the size of the airway, the size of the uvula and at the condition of the tongue. If we see something that leads us to think that obstructive sleep apnea might be a possibility you will be directed to do a sleep study in order to receive a diagnosis. Many people say they don’t want to do a sleep study because they are afraid of being told they must wear a CPAP mask during sleep. While CPAP is a wonderful treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, there are other alternatives, including an oral appliance.

Oral appliances to treat sleep apnea are medical devices that are covered through your medical insurance policy in many cases. These devices can only be created by a licensed dentist and are designed to gently hold your lower jaw in a position that keeps the airway open during sleep. Our patients find them very comfortable to use and highly effective. Because they don’t require electricity like a CPAP they are perfect for frequent travelers or campers.

Find out more about oral appliance therapy to treat your obstructive sleep apnea by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.

Canker Sores Are A Real Pain!

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Canker sores aren’t fun – they are painful and annoying and usually crop up at the worst possible time. These small ulcers appear in the mouth and can make eating and talking uncomfortable.

Canker sores are not the same thing as fever blisters which are caused by a virus. The exact cause of canker sores hasn’t been discovered but stress is thought to be one trigger. Other canker sore causes may include injury to the tissue inside the mouth or irritation by acidic fruits and vegetables (lemons, pineapples, tomatoes). A chipped tooth or poor fitting dentures can also contribute to canker sores.

In some cases, complex canker sores may be caused by an underlying health problem such as a weakened immune system, nutritional deficiencies or even Celiac or Crohn’s disease.

Symptoms of a simple canker sore include: a tingling, or burning sensation before the sore appears; a small, painful sore inside the mouth or on the tongue; the sore may be white or gray in color with a red border. The pain from a canker sore usually goes away within a few days and most sores heal on their own within a week or 10 days. If sores persist, or if they are extremely large and painful, your dentist can prescribe ointments or rinses to help deal with the discomfort until the sore heals.

There is no magic cure for a canker sore. The good news is that most strike people between 10 and 20 years of age so we get fewer canker sores as we get older.

It is important to maintain good oral hygiene during a canker sore outbreak. Brushing with a soft bristle brush and flossing daily will help keep your mouth free of bacteria that might aggravate the canker sores. Call your dentist if you experience the following:

  • Very large sores
  • Multiple sores or sores that are spreading
  • Sores that last 3 weeks or longer
  • Difficulty drinking enough water or other fluids
  • Intolerable pain

Wilbanks Smile Center can be reached at 706-391-8777. Please feel free to contact us with any questions regarding your oral health.

 

Sugar, Sugar, Sugar

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

People love sugar. Americans love sugar so much that they consume an average of one hundred fifty-six pounds of added sugars each year! All this extra sugar affects our health, our weight and our teeth. 

The U.S. Food and drug administration is currently considering changing the nutrition facts panel on packaged food to include more information about added sugar and the World Health Organization recently announced that everyone needs to reduce their intake of sugars to about 6 teaspoons per day (less than the amount in a single can of cola).

Reducing the amount of added sugars in our diet will decrease the amount of tooth decay seen in dental offices. The rates of tooth decay among children are alarming – 42% of children under 11 have cavities in their baby teeth and 21% of children 6 to 11 have cavities in their permanent teeth! Most of this tooth decay can be prevented through good nutrition and good oral hygiene habits.

  • Make sure everyone in the family, kids and adults, brush at least twice per day and floss every day.
  • Avoid drinking soda, sports drinks and energy drinks. The combination of sugars and acids in these drinks damage tooth enamel and feed bacteria that cause tooth decay.
  • Don’t put a baby to bed with a bottle or sippy cup containing anything but water.
  • Make sugary snacks a “treat”, meaning they are consumed rarely – not every day.

Avoiding added sugars in our lives is not easy. There are colas and candy bars next to the check out lines, office gatherings always seem to include donuts or cake and sports drinks are handed out during the kids soccer games.  It takes some effort but replacing the sticky sweet treats with naturally sweet fruits is a good way to start. Yes, fruit has sugars but the nutritional benefits of vitamins and fiber make all those apples and oranges a wise choice.

If you think you might have a cavity or if it has been a while since you’ve had a complete dental check-up please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.

Sugarless Gum Can Help Oral Health

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Chewing sugarless gum that is sweetened with xylitol can actually help your oral health. It sounds too good to be true. A sweetener that is lower in calories than sugar and helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease, but this is exactly what xylitol can do! When this sweetener is combined with the scrubbing action caused by chewing gum, it is a win-win for your smile.

Tooth decay and gum disease begin with sugar. The bacteria that live in your mouth consume the sugar, multiply and make acids that eat away the enamel of the teeth. These bacteria also colonize our gums and cause gum disease. Xylitol is a naturally occurring sweetener that the oral bacteria cannot digest and it helps maintain a neutral pH level in the mouth. Acid levels fall and without sugar to feed on, the number of bacteria are reduced – in some studies by as much as 90%.

Using xylitol sweetened products over time can actually change the quality of the oral bacteria in your saliva — with fewer of the bad bacteria that cause disease and an increase in the good bacteria that help maintain good oral health.  Saliva is important in oral health because it helps wash away debris and components in saliva help to harden tooth enamel that has been weakened by acids.

Chewing sugarless gum will never replace brushing and flossing for good oral health. However, we all have those times when we just can’t brush. Chewing sugarless gum following a meal or especially after eating or drinking something sugary or acidic (like soft drinks) can make a measurable difference in the health of your smile. If you have extensive dental work you can look for brands that are designed to avoid sticking to your dental restorations.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today to find out more about protecting your oral health and maintaining a beautiful smile for life. We can be reached at 706-391-8777.

 

 

Can Sedation Dentistry Help You?

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Are you nervous about visiting the dentist? Do you have a sensitive gag reflex? Maybe you just have a hard time sitting still for extended periods. Sedation dentistry can help you make your dental visits comfortable and anxiety free!

There are many reasons that patients choose sedation dentistry. For many it is a way to get the dental care that they need without fear and anxiety, for others it is just more comfortable. Sedation dentistry is perfect for patients who need a large amount of dental treatment – using sedation your dentist can complete many procedures in just one visit.

Because different patients have different needs, there are varying levels of sedation. Many patients are familiar with nitrous oxide, sometimes called laughing gas, which is highly effective for mild and moderate dental anxiety. Other sedation options available include:

  • Conscious Sedation – Most dentists use conscious sedation, a state that lets patients feel relaxed but also remain awake and able to respond to commands. You will not remember most of the procedure with this sedation.
  • Deep Sedation – Patients with higher anxiety levels may feel more comfortable with deep sedation, which provides a state somewhere between consciousness and unconsciousness. In this state, patients cannot respond to commands and may need breathing assistance.
  • Unconsciousness – An unconscious state is also occasionally obtained but requires general anesthesia and brings about added risks. This is usually only used for oral surgery.

To find out if you are a candidate for sedation dentistry please contact Wilbanks Smile Center, conveniently located in beautiful Toccoa, GA at 706-391-8777. We will be happy to discuss your case and discover the most effective type of sedation dentistry for you.

 

 

 

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