October, 2015

Healthy Teeth After Halloween!

Friday, October 30th, 2015

Your kids are living the Halloween dream – lots of candy! But can you help protect their teeth from all that sugar and prevent future cavities? The answer is yes, your children can still enjoy their Halloween fun (in moderation) and a few tricks can help protect their teeth from those treats.

Don’t try to deny your kids their Halloween treats – this makes the candy seem even more enticing and they will probably end up eating more of the stuff when they are out of your control. They key to a healthy Halloween is moderation.

After your children have brought home their trick-or-treat bags sit down and go through them together. Let your children decide what their favorites are and choose some candy to “keep”, the rest of the candy can be packed up, put out of sight and donated. While this sorting is going on it is a great time to remind the kids that candy is made of sugar and sugar is bad for our teeth, and our bodies overall.

Pick a time each day that your child can eat Halloween candy. This stops the constant snacking on sugar that will really fuel the oral bacteria that damage tooth enamel. The best time to choose – following a meal! Your child is full from the meal and won’t want as much candy and following a meal our saliva is flowing more freely which will more quickly wash away candy debris from the teeth.

Make sure your child is brushing and flossing. You can keep tooth brushing fun by investing in a fun new toothbrush every three months. Children should also get to choose their toothpaste so they can get a flavor they like (watch them to make sure the toothpaste isn’t swallowed). Just look for a toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association.

Disclosing tablets or solutions are a great way to show your kids that they are missing some spots when they brush. These tablets and solutions temporarily stain the plaque that builds up on teeth and most kids find them fun to use.

Happy Halloween to everyone! Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today for more information on protecting your smile and to schedule your next visit.

Using Your Dental Dollars

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

The end of the year is rapidly approaching and that means a lot of people with dental insurance will be leaving dental dollars on the table!

Dental insurance typically offers a fixed amount of coverage during each calendar year. The amounts vary from $1500, $2000 or more depending upon the policy that you, or your employer, has purchased. While our office is a fee-for-service practice we want to help you maximize your insurance benefits whenever possible. One great way to do this is to be mindful of dates when scheduling your dental care.

For example, if you have some really old fillings that need to be replaced but you have been putting it off — now is a great time to schedule your visit. Perhaps you have a tooth that needs a crown that you have been procrastinating about getting… You can use the 2015 benefit amounts and if more care is needed, 2016 is right around the corner!

Remember that dental insurance typically will not cover cosmetic dentistry and that treatment for obstructive sleep apnea using an oral device is covered by medical insurance — not dental.

Appointments at Wilbanks Smile Center are filling up quickly so please contact our Toccoa, GA office at 706-391-8777 to schedule your visit.

What Happens During Sleep?

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

Sleep is a crucial part of our lives and sleep that is interrupted by untreated obstructive sleep apnea can have devastating health consequences. But what really happens during sleep?

Sleep is actually pretty complicated – a lot is going on while we are passed out in our beds. Scientists divide sleep into stages that they track using brain waves. These stages get repeated as many as 5 times each night. The amount of time spent in each stage can vary but most of the deep sleep takes place earlier in the night and more REM sleep (or dreaming sleep) during the second part of the night.

Stage 1 – a light sleep where you may experience sudden muscle contractions (that jerking awake feeling) and you can easily be woken.

Stage 2 – a deeper stage of sleep. Your muscles relax, heart rate slows, breathing becomes slower and your body temperature lowers.

Stage 3 – a deep stage of sleep, also called “delta-wave” sleep. It is very hard to wake up and if you do you may feel confused for a few minutes. Some people may walk or talk in their sleep. The heart rate and blood pressure have dropped and there is no eye movement or muscle activity.

Stage 4 – REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) is where dreams happen. Your muscles are paralyzed so you won’t act on your dreams. Breathing is shallow and the eyes jerk rapidly. Brain waves increase in activity to levels similar to those when you are awake.

For patients with obstructive sleep apnea all of these stages of sleep are disrupted. Each time the sleeper stops breathing they briefly waken with a gasp to begin breathing again. The sleeper doesn’t remember this but they do know they feel lousy in the morning.

Treating obstructive sleep apnea using an oral appliance is a comfortable and highly effective way of keeping the airway open throughout the night and getting a complete night of restful sleep.

Find out more about treating obstructive sleep apnea using oral appliances by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.

Is Snoring Dangerous?

Saturday, October 10th, 2015

When you talk about snoring people usually start laughing — snoring has been the butt of jokes since before the days of the Three Stooges. Snoring really isn’t a laughing matter — not for the person who snores and definitely not for their long suffering bed partner.

Snoring happens when the soft tissues of the mouth and throat relax during sleep and partially block the airway. Breathing in and out makes these tissues flutter and gives us the awful snoring sound. People who sleep with people who snore know the drill – lots of elbows to get the snorer to roll over or else grabbing a pillow and heading to the couch.

While annoying, this hardly sounds dangerous — but heavy snoring has been shown to heavy significantly increase the risk of carotid atherosclerosis by causing irritation to the carotid artery. Heavy snoring is also a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, a serious sleep breathing disorder that causes people to stop breathing during sleep. These pauses in breath place great stress on the body and, left untreated, can lead to heart attack, stroke, obesity, high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction and even early death.

Overnight sleep studies are used to diagnose these sleep disorders. These are conducted in a sleep lab, although home tests are becoming more common. During the sleep test the patient is hooked to sensors that track breathing, sleep levels, movement, heart rate and more. All of the data is then reviewed by a sleep physician who can give a diagnosis.

Why is a dentist writing about snoring and sleep apnea? Because dentists who have received training in dental sleep medicine are the perfect choice to solve the problem of snoring and stoppages of breath during sleep.

Using an oral appliance, called a mandibular advancement device, your sleep apnea dentist can place your jaw in a position that stops the snoring! This same device keeps patients with sleep apnea breathing throughout the night without using a CPAP.

Find out more about getting a quiet, restful night of sleep (without the couch) by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.

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