April, 2015

Fix Receding Gums Without Invasive Surgery

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Many things recede as we age. This list includes our hairlines, our memories and, our gums. Receding gums lead to that “long in the tooth” look and are caused by many reasons. Here at Wilbanks Smile Center we have a way to repair receding gums without resorting to invasive surgery using the Pinhole Surgical Technique.

Loss of gum tissue around the tooth can be caused by the following:

  • Gum disease
  • Genetics
  • Aggressive toothbrushing
  • Hormonal changes due to menopause or pregnancy
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Grinding or clenching teeth (bruxism)

When gum tissue around the base of the tooth is lost it is easier for bacteria to build up and cause even more damage. Over time, the underlying tissue and bone structure can be damaged which will result in loss of teeth.

The Pinhole Surgical Technique (PST™) is an innovative  treatment option for restoring the gum line for a more attractive, healthier smile. To begin the procedure, Dr. Wilbanks will create a small opening in the gum tissue near the area of recession. He then introduces specialized instruments that are designed to gently move the gum tissue as needed to cover exposed root surfaces. Collagen is applied to hold the tissues in place while healing occurs. The results are instant and healing and recovery time is minimal. This is in contrast to older style gum surgery to repair receding gums.

Find out more about the Pinhole Surgical Technique at Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today by contacting us at 706-391-8777 to schedule your next visit.

Dentists Often Spot Serious Health Issues First

Monday, April 27th, 2015

Most people who are healthy tend to visit their dentist more often than they see their physician. After all, you usually see the dentist every six months or so but many people put off that annual checkup with their primary care physician. Our mouths are windows into our overall health and oral changes can be a red flag. Because of this, dentists often spot signs of potentially serious health issues before the doctor does!

Here are a few oral health conditions that might be linked to bigger problems:

  • Bad breath might not be caused by bad oral hygiene. If you know you brush, floss and get your teeth cleaned regularly, bad breath might be caused by a stomach problem. If you have diabetes and bad breath it could be signs of a liver issue. See your physician immediately.
  • Canker sores might be a sign of a mineral deficiency or gluten intolerance if you get them frequently.
  • Cracked teeth can be a sign of GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) which causes stomach acids to come up through the esophagus, sometimes into the mouth. The stomach acid damages the tooth enamel and weakens the tooth structure leading to breakage.
  • Receding gums or loss of teeth can sometimes be linked to osteoporosis – this is especially important for post-menopausal women.
  • Mouth sores might not be a simple canker sore. If it doesn’t go away in a week or so contact your dentist so you can have an oral cancer screening.
  • Gum disease is usually attributed to insufficient flossing and brushing but if you have a great oral hygiene routine and still experience gum disease you might also want to be checked for diabetes and even some forms of cardiovascular disease.

We are here to help you protect your dental health and your overall health. Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your next visit.

Gum Disease Treatment May Reduce Heart Risk for Kidney Patients

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Patients with chronic kidney disease often have poor health outcomes due to their increased risk for heart disease. As the kidney disease worsens kidney function, the blood pressure rises and can cause heart disease. Add the inflammation from gum disease to this mix can make the problem worse.

About 85% of people with chronic kidney disease have inflammatory gum disease. Previous research has shown that the bacteria in the mouth can enter the bloodstream causing inflammatory response throughout the body. A new study that is underway will look at proving that managing gum disease reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease for these patients. According to researcher Dr. Irundika Dias “In conjunction with our study I will be talking to dental schools about alternative ways of helping periodontitis patients. It is vitally important to keep your gums healthy and have regular dental check-ups to avoid the onset of a disease that is very common, poorly appreciated by the public and causes tooth loss resulting in reduced quality of life.”

Study after study has proven that poor oral health and active gum disease takes a toll on overall health and leads to more expensive medical treatment. Brushing, flossing and visiting the dental hygienist regularly can help you avoid gum disease. Patients who have certain chronic health conditions or who have  gum disease will need to see their hygienist more often, usually every three months.

Find out more about how your oral health can affect your overall health by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.

Dental Anxiety Passed On By Parents

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

Fear of the dentist is not just confined to the United States. All over the world lots of people experience anxiety about dental visits. A recent survey found that much of this fear may be learned from parents!

The survey asked a group of parents about dental anxiety and about 48% said it was a problem for them. Surprisingly, when the children were asked the same question the percentage was almost identical. ”It’s easy for kids to pick up on their parents’ anxieties when it comes to the dentist,” said Dr. Bill Kohn, Vice President of Dental Science and Policy at the Delta Dental Plans Association, which commissioned the survey. “If children have a bad experience, it could jeopardize their willingness to visit the dentist throughout childhood and into adulthood.”

Children should visit the dentist about the time they get their first tooth. Early dental visits allow the child to be comfortable in the dentists office and also will allow the dentist to spot any problems early. For example, disharmonies between the growth of the upper and lower jaw can happen as your child is growing. An inconsistency between the length or width of the jaw can result in an imbalance of the facial bones, muscles and teeth. Early orthodontic treatment can reposition the jaw so that as the child continues to grow, the bones and teeth align correctly. If these inconsistencies are not addressed during childhood, they can result in major jaw issues that require orthognathic surgery on the jaw.

What about adults who already have dental anxiety? Patients who are fearful or anxious can receive all the care they need while feeling relaxed using sedation dentistry. Varying levels and types of sedation are available for patients depending upon their needs.

Find out more about solutions to dental anxiety by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.

Headache Pain? Visit Your Dentist

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Do you experience headaches on a regular basis? Many people who have frequent, painful headaches spend years visiting doctors trying to find the reason for their pain. The true cause of your headache pain might not be in your head — it could be in your jaw.

The temporomandibular joint (jaw joint) is one of the most complex joints in the body. Not only does it move up and down, but from side to side and front to back. If you think about the workout that our jaw joints get on a daily basis from eating, talking, yawning, etc. it is amazing we don’t have more problems with this joint.

When the jaw joint is damaged or inflamed the pain can be experienced in several ways. Headaches are common symptoms. Some patients experience jaw pain, neck pain, ear pain or stuffiness as well as clicking sounds in the joint. Damage to the joint may come from an accident, from an improper bite or from grinding the teeth. Fortunately, most TMJ (temporomandibular joint dysfunction) symptoms can be resolved by a dentist with training in dealing with these problems.

Teeth grinding can cause TMJ pain and it can also lead to wearing down of the teeth or breaking teeth. Fortunately, a custom bite splint can protect your jaw and teeth from further damage and can relieve the pain that accompanies this condition.

IF jaw problems are caused by a poor bite then old dental restorations may need to be replaced or adjusted to place the bite in proper position. Once the optimal bite has been achieved the muscles surrounding the jaw joint will be able to relax and painful symptoms will ease.

Find out more about TMJ symptoms and treatments by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.


Snoring Can Be Serious

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Snoring is always a big joke in movies – think of the Three Stooges. Snoring isn’t really a laughing matter, it can be a sign of a serious health risk called obstructive sleep apnea!

Snoring is only one sign that you might have a sleep breathing disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea. Here are a the warning signs:

  • Loud snoring
  • Large neck size
  • Being overweight
  • Being over 50
  • Having a tongue with scalloped edges
  • Experiencing extreme daytime sleepiness
  • Waking feeling un-refreshed after a full night of sleep

Obstructive sleep apnea causes patients to stop breathing during sleep. The soft tissues of the mouth and throat relax and fall back, blocking the airway and stopping breath. When the sleepers brain realizes that it isn’t receiving oxygen it briefly rouses the sleeper who wakes with a gasp and begins breathing again. The number of times per hour that breathing is interrupted is a sign of the severity of the disorder. Serious obstructive sleep apnea causes patients to stop breathing more than 30 times per hour.

Most people who have sleep apnea have not been diagnosed. This is frightening because untreated sleep apnea is linked to premature death, diabetes, heart attack, high blood pressure, mood disorders and stroke. Diagnosis of this sleep breathing disorder is made using a sleep study. A sleep study can be performed in a hospital or special sleep center, but a new option, the home sleep study is becoming very popular.

There are options for treating obstructive sleep apnea. Many people don’t want to take a sleep test because they are afraid they will be told to wear a CPAP. While CPAP is a wonderful treatment for obstructive sleep apnea it is not the only one. A custom oral appliance (sometimes called a mandibular advancement device) is a highly effective and comfortable treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. These small devices look similar to a mouth guard or an orthodontic retainer and work by gently placing the lower jaw in a forward position which keeps the airway open during sleep. No more snoring and you keep breathing!

If you found yourself nodding in agreement with the list of  warning signs then you should be tested. Treating obstructive sleep apnea will improve your health in the long run but will also increase your energy levels and sense of well-being.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your consultation.

5 Bad Habits That Wreck Your Teeth

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Our teeth are designed to last a lifetime – if you take care of them. You probably have habits that are wrecking your teeth that you never thought much about. Here are 5 bad habits that you need to change to preserve your smile.

  1. Chewing ice. Some people like to chew the little round cubes, some people like the crushed stuff… but chewing any type of ice is terrible for your teeth. Ice is a very hard substance and the hard, cold, crystalline structure can cause teeth to chip or fracture in mid-chew.
  2. Using teeth instead of tools. Almost everyone has used their teeth to rip open that stubborn bag of chips. Some people use their teeth to open stuck bottle tops and worse! Your teeth are not a good substitute for a pair of pliers or a bottle opener. Save your teeth for eating and smiling!
  3. Drinking sports drinks. So you thought swapping soda for sports drinks was a smart trade — sports drinks contain the same damaging ingredients as soda. High amounts of sugar and acids combine to soften and damage tooth enamel leading to decay. Stick with water or (unsweetened) iced tea to maintain a healthy smile.
  4. Constant snacking. When you eat a full meal your saliva glands kick into gear and wash away food debris. When you snack, your mouth creates much less saliva which allows food to remain stuck on teeth for an extended period of time. This serves as a feast for oral bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay. Stick with healthy snacks like carrot sticks or chew some sugar free gum after snacking to clean teeth.
  5. Grinding. Grinding your teeth is usually not something you are conscious of doing. Many people grind in their sleep and don’t realize it until teeth start breaking or wearing down. Grinding your teeth can lead to tooth breakage and painful problems with the jaw joint (TMJ). If you think you might grind your teeth talk to your dentist about a protective device that can be worn during sleep to protect your teeth and jaw.

Keeping a healthy, beautiful smile for life is possible – if you take care of your teeth. If it has been a while since you have visited the dentist please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA at 706-391-8777 to schedule your visit.


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