September, 2015

Dreading Dental Visits?

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

Does the thought of a dental visit fill you with dread? You aren’t alone – many people are dental phobic to one degree or another. At one end of the spectrum are those that seek regular care — but never really relax in the chair. At the other end of the spectrum are people who are so fearful that they put off needed care for years, often living in pain, just to avoid the dentist.

No matter where you fall on this scale, the modern dental office has a way to help.

First, think about what you really fear at the dental visit. Are you worried about the anesthesia injection being painful? Today many dentist first numb the area with a topical anesthetic and then utilize computerized machine that gives a virtually painless shot. Some people are uncomfortable with the feeling of not being in control during their treatment — guess what — you can simply raise your hand and ask us to stop for a moment and we will gladly accommodate you.  Using nitrous oxide during your appointment makes the time fly by and eliminates anxious feelings, and once the gas stops, you are able to resume your regular activities. See, the dental visit is sounding better already!

Dentists can also provide fearful patients with medication to help them relax prior to an appointment. Patients who experience serious dental phobia or patients who need extensive dental care may find that sedation dentistry is the perfect solution. Years of dental neglect can be corrected in just one visit. There are different levels of sedation available, simply discuss your needs with your dentist. It is possible for you to get the care that you need without worry and panic.

Find out more about sedation dentistry by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 today.

Why Do My Teeth Hurt?

Friday, September 25th, 2015

When people complain that their teeth hurt, they usually aren’t talking about one tooth aching, they are talking about tooth sensitivity.

How do you know if you have sensitive teeth? Trust me, you would know. Sensitive teeth react to heat or cold. and even sweets. Hot coffee, ice water and sometimes even breathing in on a cold day cause immediate pain. This pain happens because the dentin, a soft layer that makes up the inner part of the tooth and roots is exposed. The dentin has thousands of tiny tubes that lead to the nerve center of the tooth (the pulp). These channels allow the trigger — for example, the hot, cold, or sweet food — to reach the nerve in your tooth, which results in the pain you feel.

What causes teeth to become sensitive? Usually because the enamel has become damaged or the root of the tooth has been exposed. These things occur because of:

  • Brushing too hard or using a hard bristle brush. This wears away tooth enamel.
  • Gum disease causes the gums to pull away from the teeth exposing tooth roots.
  • Tooth whitening product overuse – more is not always better.
  • Drinking too much soda, energy drinks or sports drinks. All have high levels of sugar and acids — a bad combination for tooth enamel.
  • Tooth grinding.
  • Dental work can make teeth sensitive but the good news is that this type of sensitivity will clear up over time.

What can you do to feel better with sensitive teeth?

  • Brush and floss regularly with a soft bristle brush. Brush gently, don’t scrub!
  • Use a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth.
  • Watch what you eat and drink – avoid food and drink that is very acidic.
  • Use fluoride products to products such as mouth rinses.
  • Don’t grind your teeth – if you do ask your dentist about a bite guard to protect your teeth and jaw.
  • Talk to your dentist about your sensitivity.

Sensitive teeth can be a real “pain” but the discomfort can be managed. Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your visit.

3 Reasons People Won't Get Tested For Sleep Apnea

Friday, September 18th, 2015

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious medical problem and, amazingly, the majority of people who suffer from it have not been diagnosed. Most of these people have no clue that they have a sleep disorder, they just know they feel lousy, have gained weight and would really like to have a nap!

There is a group of people who are pretty sure that they have sleep apnea but refuse to be tested. This is similar to the ostrich sticking his head in the sand — what I don’t know can’t hurt me! Just like the ostrich, patients with untreated sleep apnea are subject to the dangers of the disease, whether or not they acknowledge it. So why wouldn’t people get tested for sleep apnea? Here are 3 common reasons:

  1. I don’t like sleeping in strange places so I’ll never be able to fall asleep during the sleep study and it all will have been a waste of time and money. Even people who think they will never get to sleep because of the sensors, or sleeping in a strange bed, do eventually fall asleep. Home sleep testing is another option for those who can’t face the thought of spending the night in a sleep lab.
  2. Sleep apnea isn’t really that serious, after all it is only loud snoring. Loud snoring is a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. Patients with sleep apnea actually stop breathing during sleep because the airway becomes blocked. No air getting into the lungs means no oxygen going into the body which places incredible stress on the heart and circulatory system. When oxygen levels drop far enough the brain will briefly waken the sleeper to begin breathing again. Sleep is fragmented and non-restorative and the patient feels miserable in the morning. The stress to the body leads to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Sleep apnea can be deadly serious.
  3. I’m not wearing that mask while I sleep! When most people think of treating obstructive sleep apnea they think of a giant CPAP mask linked by tubing to a machine. Treating sleep apnea doesn’t have to be like that! While CPAP is the gold standard for treating sleep breathing disorders, treatment using an oral appliance (also called a mandibular advancement device) is comfortable and simple. No machines, no hoses, just a small mouthpiece that looks similar to an orthodontic retainer.

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

Smokers Risk Losing Teeth

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Dentists have known for a long time that smoking is bad for your oral health, as well as your overall health.

New research confirms that regular smokers have a significantly higher risk of losing teeth than non smokers. How much higher? Try over three times higher for men and 2 1/2 times higher for women. The study, published in the Journal of Dental Research, was completed by researchers at the University of Birmingham (UK) and the German Institute of Human Nutrition. Worldwide about 30% of people aged 65-74 have lost all of their natural teeth.

Lead researcher, Dr. Thomas Dietrich explained, “Most teeth are lost as a result of either caries (tooth decay) or chronic periodontitis (gum disease). We know that smoking is a strong risk factor for periodontitis, so that may go a long way towards explaining the higher rate of tooth loss in smokers.” Smoking can actually hide the effects of gum disease like bleeding gums — people think their gums are healthier than they actually are. “The goog news is that quitting smoking can reduce the risk fairly quickly. Eventually, an ex-smoker would have the same risk for tooth loss as someone who had never smoked, although this can take more than ten years.”

Because gum disease and tooth loss might be the first noticeable effect on the health of someone who smokes, hopefully people will use this as a wakeup call and quit smoking before life threatening conditions such as COPD or lung cancer occur. Smokeless forms of tobacco have also been linked to gum disease and tooth loss, but with the added increase in oral cancer rates.

If you use tobacco products talk to your doctor about quitting. If you haven’t quit yet, remember to schedule more frequent dental hygiene visits at 3 month intervals to monitor and maintain gum health.

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

Supervised Tooth Brushing and Sealants Save Kids Teeth

Saturday, September 12th, 2015

Kids get cavities – but they don’t have to! A study conducted in Great Britain is the first to look at the economics of preveting cavities in children. In the UK about 26,000 children are admitted to the hospital for dental treatment each year and this is expensive. Small children typically can’t sit through a large number of dental procedures and must be sedated in order to have their care completed. This happens in the US as well but our health system can’t quantify the exact number of hospitalizations for dental care.

Professor Elizabeth Kay from Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, has carried out the first economic evaluation of public health measures to reduce tooth decay in children at high risk.  Tooth decay can be prevented by proper tooth brushing and the use of dental sealants on young children. Dr. Kay said “I think it is a national outrage that so many children in the UK are admitted to hospital for surgical procedures for conditions which are by and large preventable. If there was a health issue that resulted in this number of children having another body part removed under general or local anaesthetic there would be a justifiable national outcry, yet for many reasons tooth extraction appears to have become accepted in some circles. This study demonstrates that it is also economically viable and sensible to prevent tooth decay.”

Small children need supervision, and sometimes help, to ensure proper dental hygiene. Today there are Apps for making sure that kids brush for the recommended 2 minutes — this can make brushing more fun. Remember that after the children brush they should spit but not rinse — this keeps the fluoride from the toothpaste on the teeth, not rinsed away.

Dental sealants are applied to the biting surfaces of teeth to help prevent cavity formation. These are highly effective, safe and affordable.

Find out more about protecting your child’s smile from decay by visiting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.

Can Blueberries Save Your Teeth?

Monday, September 7th, 2015

When teeth and blueberries are in the same sentence we usually think about removing the stains they have left behind. Good news out of Canada, researchers are developing a treatment for gum disease based on extracts from wild blueberries.

Gum disease is very common. Most people experience some degree of gingivitis or gum inflammation as a result of bacteria filled dental plaque. When the plaque isn’t cleaned away on a regular basis the resulting tartar and inflammation eventually leads to gum disease. Dental plaque is a biofilm containing bacteria and is a soft, sticky substance that can be brushed away. If not removed in a timely manner, the plaque hardens into dental tartar, a substance that cannot be removed by brushing and flossing but requires a professional cleaning. Nearly 50% of adults over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease.

Researchers at the Canadian Universite’ Laval had been looking at natural antibacterial substances to fight gum disease. Recently they focused on blueberry polyphenols from the wild lowbush blueberry. Laboratory testing showed that the polyphenol compounds stopped bacteria from growing and forming biofilms. Tests on the immune system cells linked to inflammation were also positive – the extract blocked a molecular pathway required for the inflammation response.

The research team is now working on a device that can slowly release the natural extract after a deep dental cleaning to help treat gum disease instead of using antibiotics.

Healthy gums are important for more than just a pretty smile. Research has shown that poor gum health is linked to heart disease, pre-term birth and even raises the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

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

Why Use Cone Beam CT Scan?

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

Have you ever had a “cat” scan? Cone-beam computed tomography systems (CBCT) are a variation of traditional computed tomography (CAT scan)systems that we are familiar with.

These amazing machines provide dentists with a fast, non-invasive way of diagnosing dental problems. Regular dental x-rays show a 2 dimensional representation of the teeth and surrounding tissues – this is great for some purposes. A Cone Beam CT scan shows us a three-dimensional  image of the patient’s teeth, mouth, jaw, neck and throat. Not only can we see  cavities and abscesses, like a regular x-ray, but we can see soft tissues and nerves as well. All this with one scan!

Cone Beam CT scans are a wonderful way of assessing problems with the teeth and mouth and for planning treatments like:

  • surgical planning for impacted wisdom teeth.
  • diagnosing temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ).
  • accurate placement of dental implants.
  • evaluation of the jaw, sinuses, nerve canals and nasal cavity.
  • detecting, measuring and treating jaw tumors.
  • determining bone structure and tooth orientation.
  • locating the origin of pain.

For patients, receiving a Cone Beam CT scan is quick and easy. The device simply rotates around your head and the data is rendered into a full color 3-D representation. The dentist is able to manipulate the image to see it from many different angles making diagnosis and treatment easier. Because the beam is very focused and only one scan can give so much information the amount of radiation exposure is minimal.

Find out more about cutting edge dental technology by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.



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