December, 2015

3 Resolutions For A Healthier Smile

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

It is the time of year we all make resolutions to improve our lives in the New Year – unfortunately most of those resolutions, like exercise more and eat less, usually don’t last long. Here are 3 resolutions you should make, and keep, in order to have a healthier smile and avoid the need for filling cavities in the next year and throughout your life.

  1. Stop sipping soft drinks. Do you keep a can of soda, an energy drink, or a frothy coffee concoction on your desk and sip away over the course of a couple of hours? Your teeth would be happier if you didn’t drink this stuff at all, but if you must indulge it is better to drink up and get it over with. As you swallow carbohydrate (sugar) loaded drinks, your oral bacteria goes to town creating acids. When you sip all day, you are basically bathing your teeth in acid all day – not a good idea. It takes about 20 minutes for sugar to clear from the mouth. During that 20 minutes the bacteria on your teeth are busy converting the sugar to acids. After about 20 minutes the acid on your teeth is somewhat neutralized by saliva but then you take another sip and the whole process starts again. The acids soften the tooth enamel leading to tooth decay and possible tooth loss.
  2. Don’t rinse after brushing. You should spit out the toothpaste so you don’t ingest too much fluoride but you shouldn’t rinse your mouth. The longer the fluoride in the toothpaste can stay in contact with your teeth, the more effective it can be at preventing cavities. This is the same idea as not eating or drinking for 30 minutes after a “professional” fluoride treatment at the dentist. Some patients with a high risk of tooth decay can benefit from prescription high-fluoride toothpastes or rinses. PS – Turn off the water tap while brushing to help preserve this precious resource!
  3. Keep the saliva flowing! Yes, brushing and flossing every day is vitally important to oral health but our saliva is there 24/7 protecting our teeth. Saliva is nature’s cavity fighter. Saliva rinses away food debris and keeps plaque forming bacteria under control by washing them away and neutralizing them. Saliva also helps remineralize or harden tooth enamel that has been softened by being in contact with acids. Drink plenty of water and chew sugarless gum to help stimulate saliva flow.

For a healthy smile in the New Year please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your next visit.


Is Bad Breath Making You Avoid Socializing?

Thursday, December 24th, 2015

You don’t need to avoid socializing with friends and family because of bad breath. Halitosis has many causes and discovering why your breath doesn’t smell fresh is the first step to solving the problem.

All of us experience bad breath from time to time, especially after ingesting certain foods or drinks. If you suspect that your bad breath occurs on a regular basis it is time to investigate. Here are the usual suspects in cases of bad breath:

  1. Oral bacteria. Lots of bacteria live in our bodies and when the ones that live in the mouth aren’t cleaned out on a regular basis they begin to give off odors. The solutions is simple – keep your oral bacteria count low by brushing the teeth and tongue for at least two minutes twice each day. FLOSS! Flossing is necessary to remove the bacteria and food debris stuck between teeth. Visit your dentist for regular professional cleanings to ensure that bacterial colonies below the gum line are removed.
  2. Tonsil Stones. The tonsils are full of nooks and crannies that collect bacteria and mucus. This goop eventually hardens into a “stone” which is really stinky and can cause a nasty taste in the mouth. Gargling with warm salt water or using a water flosser can help remove debris before stones form and you can gently remove stones with a cotton swab or toothbrush. If you form stones often and experience frequent throat infections you may want to discuss removing the tonsils with your doctor.
  3. GERD. People who experience gastric reflux may also experience bad breath. Talk to your physician about keeping your GERD under control with medication and lifestyle changes.
  4. Food. We think of smelly foods like onions and garlic causing bad breath but your morning coffee can pack a malodorous punch! Some of these foods cause a stink in the mouth and again, when they have been digested. The chemicals in the food travel through the bloodstream to the lungs where you breath them out. The cure – in the short term you can brush and floss but until that garlic has worked its way through your system you will possess garlic breath. Avoid these foods unless they are cooked.
  5. Dry Mouth. Dry mouth is common as we age and is a side effect of many medications. Our saliva cleans debris from the mouth and without it, bacteria can breed and cause odors and oral disease. Drink lots of water, try chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production and check out the saliva substitutes now available.
  6. Oral Disease. If you have active gum disease, tooth decay or infection in your mouth it will smell bad. Visit the dentist to see what is going on and get your mouth healthy again!
  7. Smoking. Smokers breath is always bad. The only cure is quitting the habit. Chewing tobacco or other forms of tobacco also leave a bad smell and taste in the mouth. Smokers are also more likely to develop gum disease which is another cause of bad breath.

If you suspect bad breath but can’t pinpoint the cause, contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777  to schedule a visit. We can get to the bottom of your bad breath and make you more comfortable going out and socializing!

Is Gum Contouring Right For You?

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Are you unhappy with your smile because of your gums? If the answer is yes, then gum contouring may be right for you.

Some people have gums that appear uneven or sit too high or too low on their teeth. Gums that cover a large portion of your teeth can make them appear small. This can be caused by genetics or certain health problems.

Gums that are too high make the teeth appear longer. Many times this is caused by gum recession, this is when the gum tissue pulls away from the tooth. Not only does gum recession give you a “horsey” smile, it can also lead to tooth decay. Gum recession occurs as we age but it can also be a sign of gum disease.

Gum contouring is a cosmetic procedure that can dramatically change the appearance of your smile. Many times it is combined with dental veneers for a complete smile makeover that enables you to achieve the smile you’ve always dreamed of. Some gum contouring procedures that are not done for cosmetic reasons include removal of overgrown gum tissue that has covered part of the tooth crown and adding gum tissue to receding gums to protect the tooth roots.

If you are unhappy with your smile but feel that your teeth look fine, it could be your gum line that is bothering you. Talk to your dentist about gum contouring and find out if it is right for you. Choose a dentist for gum contouring based on their experience and training in the area of cosmetic dentistry.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to discuss gum contouring surgery and find out how you can reshape your smile.

Why Do I Get Cold Sores?

Saturday, December 19th, 2015

Cold sores, or fever blisters as they are sometimes called, happen to most of us. The reason why we get cold sores is because of a virus, herpes simplex (HSV-1) which most of us are exposed to in childhood. Most of the time the virus is dormant but when it flares up it leads to blisters on or around the lips.

Why does the virus flare up from time to time? The reasons vary but include: Fatigue, stress, anxiety, cold weather, excessive sunlight, hormonal changes, certain foods, lip and mouth injuries and a weakened immune system are the most common triggers.

Stress and being over-tired can deplete your immune system. Cold weather or sunburn can dry out and damage the lips causing cracking and possibly blistering.  For women, hormonal changes may cause outbreaks.  Certain foods, highly acidic foods and some nuts, can cause outbreaks in some people.  Even something as simple as bumping your lip with a toothbrush or a routine dental visit or orthodontic braces may stimulate an outbreak.

Cold sores go away on their own in about a week. Most people know they have a cold sore forming because they feel a “tingling” sensation on their lip. An over-the-counter cream called Abreva may help but if you get frequent outbreaks you may want to talk to your doctor or dentist about a prescription cream. Some dentists have had luck treating the “tingling” area with a laser to prevent the formation of a cold sore – this is usually effective only before the blister has formed.

Protect yourself from cold sores by maintaining a healthy diet to protect your immune system and try to get plenty of exercise to help maintain stress levels. Lip balm with SPF sun protection will also help.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today to schedule your appointment.

Protect Your Teeth From Holiday Treats

Friday, December 18th, 2015

‘Tis the season for cookies and candies and lots of holiday treats and you need to protect your teeth. In addition to being bad for your waistline all of these high sugar goodies translate to a higher risk for tooth decay.

Many people think that tooth decay happens mostly to children — everyone is susceptible to tooth decay. Some adults, especially seniors and people who take certain medications that result in “dry mouth”, are at higher risk for tooth decay.

We all have good and bad bacteria that live in our bodies. Over 700 different strains have been detected in the human mouth! The trick to maintaining a healthy body and mouth is to keep the balance of good and bad bacteria in the right proportions.

Eating and drinking foods high in carbohydrates (sugars) provide a feast for the bad bacteria in our mouths. The bacteria eat the sugars and excrete acids which soften the tooth enamel. Once enamel has been damaged, the tooth is open for tooth decay. You can protect your teeth during the holidays, and throughout the year, by following these simple steps:

  • Limit your intake of goodies to specific times. Grazing all day long means that the teeth are constantly covered in sugars and food debris.
  • Have your treats after eating a meal. Saliva is already flowing and will help to wash away debris and protect the teeth.
  • If you have something sugary and high in acid, like a soft drink, wait about 30 minutes to brush. The acids will have softened the tooth enamel and immediate brushing can cause more harm than good.
  • Enjoy the holiday parties but station yourself near the veggie tray, not the cookies. Chewing crunchy vegetables actually helps clean teeth.

These guidelines can help both children and adults protect their pearly whites during the sugar rush that accompanies the holidays. So go ahead and enjoy Grandma’s special fudge. Just remember to brush, floss and schedule your next dental hygiene appointment!

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


Dental Phobia Helped By Therapy

Saturday, December 12th, 2015

Lots of people suffer from dental phobia or fear of the dentist. Researchers at Kings College in London found that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) offered a long-term solution to the problem.

This study looked at 130 patients and “fear of injections and drilling was the reason for the phobia in the majority of the patients.” These patients were then treated to a series of sessions that slowly incorporated the usual things that happen during a dental visit. After several weeks of exposure to various aspects of dentistry, patients reported a reduction in their fear of dental treatment.

Many patients avoid dental treatment altogether and live with pain and disfiguring dental problems because of anxiety.

Patients can get the treatment they need without long-term therapy simply by talking to a dentist that provides sedation dentistry. There are different levels of sedation available depending upon each patient’s needs and levels of anxiety.

Depending on a patient’s anxiety levels, different degrees of dental sedation may be required. These varying degrees 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.

Sedation dentistry allows patients that have avoided dentistry for years to have several procedures during one visit, without feeling anxiety or discomfort.

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

Diabetic Patients Lose Twice The Teeth

Friday, December 11th, 2015

Patients with diabetes lose twice the number of teeth than people without the disease reports a study from Duke University.

Tooth loss in the United States has dropped dramatically over the past 40 years due to better dental care, better patient education regarding home care and the use of fluoride to protect teeth. People who suffer from diabetes however, have not seen the same drop in the rate of tooth loss

The American Dental Association said that the study highlights “both the connection between oral health and overall health”. Spokesperson Dr. Edmond Hewlett also stated that “It’s critically important to understand that managing your dental health is part of managing your diabetes.”

The American Diabetes Association recommends that physician’s refer diabetic patients to a dentist for regular care. Unfortunately, the Duke study also found that the majority of physician’s are not following this guideline. The lead researcher on the study, Dr. Bei Wu, said that “Foot care and eye care are on the top of their agenda, but dental care is not. Diabetics need to have regular dental care.”

How can you protect your smile if you have diabetes? First, brushing and flossing every day are vitally important – removing oral bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease will help protect teeth. Secondly, keep a regular schedule of appointments with your dental hygienist for professional cleanings. No matter how good oral care is at home, professional cleanings are needed to remove plaque and tartar that harbors bacteria.

Diabetic patients usually need to receive cleanings more often than patients with good overall health. Visits may be scheduled at three month intervals rather than every six months.

Of course, the diabetes/oral health connection goes both ways. Previous studies have shown that patients with active gum disease and poor oral health have a more difficult time controlling their blood sugar levels. In this case, a healthy mouth can help maintain a healthier body!

If you have diabetes and it has been a while since your last dental visit please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your next visit.

5 Myths About Tooth Decay

Saturday, December 5th, 2015

There are lots of myths out there about dental care and oral health. Let’s bust a few of the myths about tooth decay!

  1. Sugar causes tooth decay. Sugar isn’t actually the culprit – actually acid produced by the bacteria in your mouth is the problem. When you eat sugar (or potatoes, or bread, or any carbohydrate) it serves as food for the bacteria in your mouth. After their feast they excrete acid.
  2. Acid makes cavities. Actually, acid weakens the hard enamel shell that protects your tooth. This damage is what allows the bacteria responsible for tooth decay to do their work. Avoid damaging your enamel by avoiding high acid food and drink like soda and brushing after eating carbohydrate rich foods.
  3. Kids are more susceptible to tooth decay. All ages get cavities. Childhood rates of tooth decay have declined because of fluoride treatments but, rates of decay for older American’s are rising. Reduced saliva flow (dry mouth) caused by many medications leave older adults more susceptible to decay.
  4. Aspirin will help a toothache caused by decay. Never, ever place an aspirin in your mouth unless you are planning to swallow it immediately. Aspirin might help the pain from a toothache when swallowed but, if placed near the gums it will cause painful damage. Aspirin is very acidic and will burn the delicate gum tissue possibly leading to an abscess.
  5. Once a filling is placed I don’t need to worry about future decay. Treating a decayed tooth means removing the decay and preparing the tooth properly for placement of the restoration (filling material). Dental fillings last for many, many years and how you care for your oral health can make a difference in the lifespan of your filling. Brush twice each day with a soft bristle brush and floss every day. Visit your dental hygienist regularly for professional cleanings. These small steps will ensure that the oral bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease are reduced and your teeth and gums will remain healthy.

Find out more about preventing and treating tooth decay by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your next visit.

High Blood Pressure Lowers With Sleep Apnea Treatment

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Patients with obstructive sleep apnea are at higher risk for high blood pressure and other health issues. Treating sleep apnea helps lower blood pressure and the treatment can be CPAP or an oral appliance.

Most studies of sleep apnea use only one form of treatment in their studies and most of the time it is CPAP. While CPAP has been the gold standard for treating obstructive sleep apnea, about half of patients given the machine simply cannot tolerate it. Some have problems wearing the face mask, others can’t abide the tubing or the noise from the compressor.

Swiss researchers performed a meta-analysis of previously published data to come to their conclusions. “CPAP and MADS (oral appliances) not only reduce symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea such as sleepiness, but also lower blood pressure,” said lead researcher Dr. Malcolm Kohler at University Hospital of Zurich.

Oral appliances work by placing the lower jaw in a forward position during sleep which keeps the tongue from collapsing back into the airway and stopping breathing. Most patients find using an oral appliance to be much more comfortable and studies have shown much higher rates of compliance with oral devices.

Do you have obstructive sleep apnea? If you have been diagnosed but are not treating your disease because of intolerance to CPAP please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your consultation and find out how an oral appliance can effectively treat your sleep apnea.

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