August, 2015

What's Causing Your Bad Breath?

Monday, August 31st, 2015

Bad breath affects all of us at one time or another. Whether your bad breath is a temporary problem or chronic it can cause embarrassment and anxiety. The amount of money we spend each year trying to “fix” bad breath is estimated in the billions of dollars. Unfortunately, many of these products can actually make the problem worse.

The first step to solving your bad breath problem is discovering the cause. Some people worry too much about mouth odor when there really isn’t a problem, and on the other end of the spectrum are those that are completely oblivious. Here are a few causes of bad breath:

  • Food — Onions, garlic, alcohol and even coffee can give us bad breath but it is usually temporary.
  • Tobacco products — Smoking or using oral tobacco products always cause bad breath, and they leave you more susceptible to gum disease.
  • Poor oral hygiene habits — Brushing and flossing are vital to fresh, clean breath.
  • Dry mouth — People with dry mouth often experience more bad breath than others because of the lack of saliva cleansing the mouth.
  • Oral infections — An abscessed tooth, gum disease or mouth sores can cause terrible mouth odors.
  • Medical conditions — Some medical conditions like GERD and diabetes can cause bad breath. Infections of the sinuses, throat, postnasal drip or tonsil stones cause odors.

The first step in overcoming bad breath is to check your dental hygiene. Do you brush twice each day and floss at least once per day? How long has it been since you visited the dentist for a professional dental cleaning. If you aren’t brushing and flossing well, it is time to schedule a visit to your dental hygienist. Start your new dental hygiene schedule with squeaky clean teeth and gums! As a bonus, the dental examination will uncover any possible infections that could be causing your bad breath. Treating any underlying infections should sweeten your breath.

If your dental hygiene is good and your gums and teeth are healthy then it might be time to schedule a visit to your physician to rule out any underlying medical cause, although this is rare.

You can help avoid bad breath by brushing and flossing, remember to brush your tongue. If you can’t brush after a meal try chewing a sugar-free gum to help clean your teeth. Avoid mouth rinses and mints that contain sugar which will only feed the oral bacteria and make the problem worse!

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




Sleep Disorders - Get Diagnosed and Get Treated For Better Health

Monday, August 24th, 2015

More and more, we are learning the effects that poor sleep or lack of sleep have on our health and well being. More than 50 million Americans have some form of sleep disorder and most have not been diagnosed. Why is this important? A report on Morning Edition discusses the problems and offers solutions.

Not getting proper restorative sleep has been linked to heard disease, diabetes, increased risk of accident and perhaps Alzheimer’s disease. Not only does poor sleep make you feel exhausted and foggy during the day, it can set you up for serious, long term health problems.

Usually people seek help for sleep problems because someone complains about their snoring, or because they feel extremely tired and sleepy throughout the day. The first step is to seek a diagnosis by having a sleep study. Sleep studies can be done in a sleep lab or, a more common choice for many, using a home sleep test. Once the sleep test has been completed, the results are read by a sleep physician and a diagnosis is made.

One common sleep disorder is called obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea causes the sleeper to stop breathing during sleep.  Breathing stops because the airway becomes blocked by the tongue or other soft tissues of the mouth and neck. A partial blockage is what causes snoring. A complete blockage means that no oxygen is getting into the body — the brain will sense that oxygen levels are falling and briefly waken the sleeper, who gasps and begins breathing again — until the airway becomes blocked again. This can happen a few times each hour for milder cases or hundreds of times per night for more serious cases.

Treatment for obstructive sleep apnea used to mean one thing – a CPAP machine. While CPAP is a wonderful way of managing obstructive sleep apnea, about half of patients cannot tolerate the masks, tubing and noise from the machine. Many people simply abandon treatment and ignore their apnea symptoms.

Today we have another highly effective treatment option – an oral appliance! Oral appliances are small devices that look similar to an orthodontic retainer. These devices gently place the jaw in a forward position that naturally keeps the airway open during sleep. Snoring and sleep apnea can be successfully managed without masks, tubes and electricity!

Find out more about obstructive sleep apnea and whether you are a candidate for treatment using an oral appliance by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.


Silk and Salivary Glands

Friday, August 14th, 2015

Millions of Americans suffer from dry mouth caused by poor saliva flow. This uncomfortable condition can lead to serious health problems but there is currently no cure. So how are silk and salivary glands connected?

A new study has found that it may be possible to generate new salivary glands out of stem cells using silk fibers as a framework. Salivary glands have very little capacity to renew themselves, which leaves a need for cell based therapies to restore gland function. A team from the University of Texas at San Antonio described how they used silk fibers to provide salivary gland stem cells with a 3 dimensional scaffolding on which to grow. Dr. Chih-Ko Yeh stated that the achievement was significant because “salivary gland stem cells are some of the most difficult cells to grow in culture and retain their function.” The cells grown had many of the same characteristics as our natural salivary glands.

Of course it will be years before this research yields a treatment – if it ever does. The good news is that research into finding a solution for xerostomia (dry mouth) continues.

Why do people develop dry mouth? There are a number of causes including medication, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, radiation treatment for head and neck cancers and just getting older. Dry mouth is a problem for patients for the following reasons:

  • It is uncomfortable
  • Dry mouth leads to an increased risk for gum disease
  • Patients are more likely to develop tooth decay
  • Mouth infections such as thrush are common
  • Makes it more difficult to wear dentures if needed

If you experience dry mouth it is important to visit your dentist regularly. You can make yourself more comfortable by sucking on sugar free candy, using artificial saliva substitutes and drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. You can protect your teeth by using a fluoride toothpaste and rinse. Try to breath through your nose, not your mouth and use a humidifier in the bedroom at night.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, Georgia today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your visit to talk about dry mouth and your options for maintaining a healthy smile.

Night Owls Get More Cavities

Saturday, August 8th, 2015

Researchers at a Swedish university have discovered that young people who were night owls had greater cavity risk than those who went to bed early.

To evaluate the differences in tooth decay risk between teens that were night owls versus early risers, the investigators looked at the oral health and habits of almost 200 Swedish 15 and 16 year olds. The study participants were classified as being either low risk or high risk for tooth decay and data on their sleep habits, diet and oral care were collected.

The researchers distinguished three different circadian rhythm types:

  • Evening types are alert in the evening and tired in the morning
  • Morning types are alert in the morning and tired in the evening
  • Neutral types who followed neither and were the most common type

The most common sleep cycle, with half of the participants, were the neutral types. Following, with 37 percent, were the evening group and only 13 percent were morning  early birds. Morning and neutral types reported eating breakfast every morning and brushing their teeth twice each day. In contrast, the evening types brushed less often and ate breakfast less regularly. More evening types than morning types were rated at high risk for tooth decay.

The results showed that evening types, the stereotypical night owls, had an almost 4 times higher risk of developing cavities. The researchers suggested that dentists incorporate knowledge of their patients circadian rhythms into their patient education aimed at preventing tooth decay.

You can prevent tooth decay by brushing, flossing and visiting your dental hygienist regularly. Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your next visit.

Back To School - Don't Forget That Healthy Smile

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

The start of school is just a few weeks away and that means lunchtime away from home for your students. Keep their healthy smiles in mind when you pack that school lunch and you’ll help your child with better overall health as well!

All ages are at risk of developing cavities, especially if they don’t practice healthy dental habits but dental caries (tooth decay) is the most common childhood disease. Here are a few tips that can help you promote healthy dental habits in your family:

  1. Eat healthy at home. A healthy diet that avoids added sugars and simple carbohydrates will do more than help your children avoid tooth decay. A balanced diet with healthy whole grains, lean protein and lots of fruits and vegetables will also promote your child’s growth and physical health. Your children will imitate household eating habits when away from home – even though they may say they won’t!
  2. Make sure the lunchbox contains fruit and dairy. Naturally sweet fruits make a healthy snack that satisfies cravings and add needed nutrients. Low fat cheese is another good option that adds calcium to your child’s diet. That added calcium makes for strong bones and teeth. Cheese or other dairy products are a great way to end a meal — they actually help protect tooth enamel from decay.
  3. Say NO to sticky or sugary foods. Frequent sugar consumption is one of the worst things for your teeth and is a direct cause of tooth decay. Avoid packing lunchtime treats with added sugars, especially sticky stuff, like candy, cookies and sodas. These snacks may be convenient but they are better food sources for the bacteria that cause tooth decay than for your kids. Remember to check the sugar content on packaged items, there can be lots of sugar bombs hiding in healthy sounding items like apple sauce!
  4. Participate in oral hygiene care. Be a part of the morning and nightly ritual of brushing and flossing. Teaching your kids good oral health habits when they are young will result in a lifetime of better oral health. Let your children watch you brush and floss so they can imitate you. Morning tooth brushing should be after breakfast so they go to school with clean teeth and fresh breath.

Healthy habits, like eating well and good hygiene habits, begin at home so make these times fun. Sing a song while brushing teeth – this helps time the brushing so they don’t cut it short.

Now is a great time to arrange dental appointments for the entire family. Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your next visit.

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