January, 2016

What Causes A Toothache?

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

Toothache pain always seems to start at the worst time — and it can feel unbearable. What causes toothache pain?

Toothache pain can be caused by several things. Here are the most common causes for toothache pain:

  • Tooth decay – A deep cavity can easily cause toothache pain. Schedule an appointment for a filling right away because tooth decay will not heal on its own.
  • Abscessed tooth – Teeth become abscessed as a result of another oral health condition, such as tooth decay, that has gone untreated and the ensuing infection can be very painful. Swelling and fever may accompany an abscessed tooth. This is a serious medical condition and cannot be ignored. Seek treatment from a dentist as soon as possible before the infection spreads.
  • Cracked tooth – Teeth can become cracked because of a poor bite, trauma to the mouth or biting down on something hard. Treatment for a cracked tooth will depend upon the size and location of the crack. Root canal therapy may be suggested to save the tooth but severe cracks may result in tooth loss.
  • Gum disease – When gums become inflamed and swollen they may cause oral pain that feels similar to toothache. Regular brushing and flossing can prevent this from happening.
  • Wisdom teeth – These teeth cause all sorts of problems when they come in usually in the late teenage years. Many times the wisdom teeth are crooked in the jaw (impacted), and most people’s mouths simply don’t have room for these extra teeth. Add to these problems the fact that they are almost impossible to keep clean due to their location at the back of the mouth and you can understand why wisdom teeth are typically removed.
  • TMJ or jaw problems – The jaw joint is very complex and a host of issues can cause jaw joint dysfunction. Pain from the jaw can feel exactly like a toothache.
  • Sinus and allergy issues – That toothache may not be coming from your mouth after all. If you have an infection the Maxillary sinuses that are located inside your cheek bones can get clogged. This traps bacteria and can cause a toothache usually in the upper molars.

Oral pain like toothache should never be ignored. Small problems can quickly get worse leaving you needing more complex and expensive treatment. As always, prevention is the best way to protect yourself from toothache pain.

If you have a painful tooth please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777. Make sure you let us know that you are experiencing pain so that we can get you scheduled quickly.


When Snoring Endangers Your Health

Friday, January 29th, 2016

If you snore you aren’t alone – about 90 million Americans snore while they sleep. Many of these people are “primary snorers” meaning they are really obnoxious to share a bedroom with. For a large number of other snorers all the noise means that they have a serious sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) which means they stop breathing during sleep. The two problems are usually lumped together which is a mistake — frequent loud snoring does not always indicate OSA, but having obstructive sleep apnea almost always means frequent loud snoring.

How can you tell if your snoring is dangerous? The only sure way to test for obstructive sleep apnea is to undergo an overnight sleep study. Sleep studies are typically done overnight in a sleep lab, but home sleep tests are becoming more widely available. During a sleep study you will be monitored for breathing, oxygen levels, movement, snoring and stoppages of breathing. A physician who is trained in sleep medicine will interpret the results of the study and provide a diagnosis. Obstructive sleep apnea is diagnosed based upon how many times each hour the patient stops breathing during sleep for at least 10 seconds. Most of these pauses last between 10-30 seconds but some can last  a minute or more.

Obstructive sleep apnea causes people to stop breathing because the airway becomes obstructed, or blocked. The blockage is commonly caused by the tongue and soft tissues of the mouth and throat relaxing during sleep and falling back into the airway. A partial blockage of the airway causes snoring and when the airway is completely blocked breathing stops — until the brain realizes the body is low on oxygen and briefly wakens the sleeper with a gasp to begin breathing again. Meanwhile, while breathing is stopped the body is frantically trying to move oxygen throughout the body leading to increased blood pressure and heart rate.

The most common treatment offered for obstructive sleep apnea is CPAP. A CPAP machine is a small machine that provides a steady stream of pressurized air into the throat via a mask worn while sleeping. This is a highly effective treatment but unfortunately, over half of patients prescribed CPAP simply can’t tolerate using the machine or sleeping with the masks and hoses.

A terrific option for patients who don’t want CPAP or can’t tolerate it is an oral appliance. Oral appliances to treat obstructive sleep apnea are highly effective and have been studied and approved by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. An oral appliance to treat sleep apnea is usually covered by medical insurance and must be made by a licensed dentist. There are appliances designed to treat simple snoring that are available over the internet but for a patient with obstructive sleep apnea these will not alleviate the stoppages of breathing and the health dangers associated with the disorder. Your sleep dentist will work with you to choose the appropriate oral appliance and ensure that proper adjustments are made over time to provide the optimal treatment.

Find out more about your options for treating OSA by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule a consultation.


What Are These White Spots On My Teeth?

Sunday, January 24th, 2016

Have you noticed white spots on your teeth? These white spot lesions can be appear for a number of reasons — your dentist will work to determine the cause of your white spots and if they are a cause for concern.

Sometimes white spots on teeth are caused by nutrition, genetic predisposition or an excessive intake of fluoride. A common cause for white spots is orthodontic treatment and the white spots will be noticed when brackets are removed.

Most of the time white spots are actually areas of decalcified tooth enamel which is an early sign of cavity formation. Fluoride treatments may help to remineralize the tooth and hold off tooth decay.

While fluoride is terrific at helping to prevent tooth decay, too much of it can also cause white spots. If you live in an area where there are naturally high fluoride levels you may encounter this problem which is called fluorosis.

Braces are associated with white spot formation because patients with orthodontic braces often have a difficult time cleaning their teeth. This results in a build-up of plaque on the tooth surface. Acids produced by plaque can severely damage the tooth enamel which may eventually become tooth decay. White spots following the removal of braces can cause severe upset — the teeth are now straight but their color is no longer uniform.

The best treatment for these types of white spot lesions is prevention, of course. Follow your dentist’s instructions regarding oral hygiene care when wearing braces and maintain your schedule of professional dental cleanings.

Treatment options for white spot lesions can include fluoride treatments, dental bonding and dental veneers depending upon how severe the case.

If you suddenly notice a white spot on your tooth that hasn’t been there before — schedule a visit with your dentist. If it is the beginning of tooth decay we can work to prevent a cavity from forming or from becoming larger. Treating problems when they are small is easier and less expensive — don’t wait because teeth can’t heal themselves.

Find out more about tooth decay and your treatment options by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777. We’ll be happy to schedule your next visit!

Straight Teeth Are Healthier Teeth

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Quick – what is the first reason that people get orthodontic treatment to straighten their teeth? Yes, many people get braces to improve the appearance of their smile, but straighter teeth also lead to a healthier smile!

Everyone knows the routine for brushing and flossing to maintain a healthy smile. Sticking to this routine protects our teeth from plaque buildup, gum disease and tooth decay. Unfortunately for people with misaligned or crooked teeth brushing and flossing is severely inhibited. Crooked teeth are almost impossible to floss effectively, meaning that food debris and plaque is trapped in those hard-to-reach areas. Crooked teeth also mean that the toothbrush cannot reach the entire surface of the tooth, again leaving the tooth open to decay.

Crowded or misaligned teeth can also cause excess force on certain parts of the jaw. This can lead to painful jaw joint (TMJ) dysfunction and can even weaken the jaw bone surrounding the teeth. Frequent headaches, facial pain, neck pain and clicking or popping noises in the jaw joint are signs that damage has occurred.

Crooked teeth can also lead to cracked teeth. Orthodontic treatment does much more than make a smile look pretty, the treatment is also designed to ensure that teeth are placed to ensure a proper bite. Teeth that press against one another because they are out of place cause damage that is avoided in people with straight teeth. Teeth are meant to close against one another in a certain way, when this does not happen the constant tooth on tooth banging will cause chips and breaks. The uneven bite also causes uneven wear and tear on the tooth enamel which again leaves teeth open for decay.

Find out more about orthodontic treatment, your options for braces and how a straight beautiful smile can be a healthier smile in the long term.

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

Tooth Decay Is Preventable

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

Modern dentistry is all about prevention. Most dental diseases including too decay are preventable.

When we are born we don’t have the bacteria that causes tooth decay in our bodies – babies receive this bacteria from their parents when they share food or eating utensils. There really isn’t any way to avoid spreading this bacteria, but we can make sure that teeth are protected by receiving proper dental care from an early age and continuing this care through life.

Many people think that baby teeth aren’t important.  Not true – baby teeth allow for proper nutrition and speech while children are growing. Baby teeth also serve as “place holders” for the adult teeth that follow. Plus, tooth decay can lead to painful toothache.

There are lots of things that parents can do to protect their children’s teeth (these same tips will help protect adult teeth as well):

  • Never put a baby to bed with a bottle. The sugars from milk or juice can create a condition called bottle mouth. Allowing a toddler to carry a sippy cup around all day has a similar effect. The teeth become pitted, discolored and decayed. In severe cases the teeth need to be pulled.
  • Clean the teeth regularly. Just as adults need to brush twice each day, so do children. Babies teeth should be wiped clean with gauze or a soft cloth. Baby and toddler toothbrushes with very soft bristles are available. Children need help brushing until they are about 6 years old, after this they can brush with adult supervision — a good time to let the child start brushing is when they can tie their shoes!
  • Flossing is important for kids too. As soon as there are two teeth side by side it is time to start flossing. Parents will need to help with flossing for a couple of more years after they are brushing on their own.
  • Professional dental visits are important from the beginning. It is recommended that children have their first dental visit no later than six months after their first tooth erupts.

Dentists can further protect children’s teeth by applying sealants to the chewing surfaces of teeth to protect against cavities. Talk to your dentist about fluoride toothpaste and other treatments for strengthening your child’s tooth enamel to protect from decay.

Find out more about preventing tooth decay in children and adults by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.

What's The Best Repair For Your Broken Tooth?

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

The best way to repair your broken tooth will depend upon a lot of things. Which tooth is broken, is the tooth chipped or is it a severe break, does the tooth currently have a filling and is the tooth causing discomfort?

Teeth chip and break for lots of reasons – most are avoidable. First, don’t use your teeth as tools – opening tight bottle caps or bags of chips with your teeth is never a good idea. Secondly, watch what you are eating – popcorn kernels and other hard substances often hide in our snacks and can easily crack teeth.

Very small chips in the edge of a tooth can often be polished to a smooth edge with no further treatment needed. A larger chip usually requires dental bonding or a dental veneer to return the tooth to its normal appearance. Dental bonding is a less expensive option but may not be as long lasting as a dental veneer and is subject to staining — something to think about if you are a heavy coffee drinker.

Teeth that have experienced a large break (a piece of the top of the tooth has broken for example) may be structurally compromised. If the top of the tooth has broken the remaining tooth structure can be saved and a dental crown can restore the tooth. Dental crowns are very durable and their appearance will match your natural teeth.

Every now and then we see a tooth that has cracked so badly that it must be removed. There may be discomfort with this type of break.  If the crack reaches the root area of the tooth it may not be able to be saved. In this case the tooth will be extracted. Patients today have choices when it comes to replacing a missing tooth – dental bridges have been used for many, many years and are a very serviceable restoration technique. Dental bridges do require preparing the adjacent teeth to support the structure of the bridge and they will require special care when brushing and flossing.

A wonderful choice for replacing that missing tooth is a dental implant. Dental implants actually mimic a real tooth because the implant is placed in the jaw and bonds with the bone. Dental implants look and feel like natural teeth and there are no limitations on diet or special care required.

Find out more about correcting the chips and breaks that your smile has experienced by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.


New Year - New Smile

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Have you thought of starting the new year looking a little better? Improving the appearance of your smile using cosmetic dentistry can make a major change in your appearance.

Cosmetic dental procedures run the gamut from a simple tooth whitening to full mouth makeovers so don’t be afraid to ask your dentist about your options. Changing your smile may be more affordable than you realize.

Tooth whitening is the most popular cosmetic dental procedure for good reason. Professional tooth whitening can dramatically brighten your smile, bleaching away years of staining and making your smile instantly younger. Over-the-counter whitening may help when teeth are only slightly dingy. However, only a dentist can tell you whether the staining on your teeth can be bleached away and provide the professional strength bleaching to make your smile bright again. Teeth that are going to undergo bleaching should have been professionally cleaned shortly before your bleaching appointment to ensure the best results.

Some staining cannot be bleached away. This often includes the grayish colored stains caused by antibiotic use. In these cases dental veneers are the perfect choice.

Dental veneers are very thin porcelain shells created in a dental lab and are specially designed for your smile. Dental veneers can do more than make your teeth white, they can also be used to provide “instant orthodontics” for teeth that are somewhat crooked. Dental veneers can also correct a misshapen tooth and close that too-wide gap between the front teeth. Dental veneers are one of the most amazing innovations in the field of cosmetic dentistry. With very little preparation to the existing tooth they can completely recreate a smile in just a couple of visits.

Which cosmetic procedure is right for you?

There are lots of options for cosmetic dental procedures. The first step is to talk to your cosmetic dentist about your concerns about your current smile and your dreams of what your perfect smile would look like. Cosmetic dentists have received specialized training that enables them to work with your facial features to design the perfect smile for you! Make sure to ask to see before and after photos of existing patients to ensure that your chosen dentist has the skills to help you achieve your goals.

Find out more by scheduling a consultation with Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777. Your new smile is simply a phone call away!


Why Is CPAP The Only Sleep Apnea Treatment Option My Doctor Mentioned?

Friday, January 8th, 2016

This is a really good question. Too often patients who have received a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea are only offered CPAP as a treatment.

While CPAP is a wonderfully effective treatment for managing obstructive sleep apnea, more than half of those given the machines fail to stick with the treatment according to a new study. This isn’t surprising, we have known for years that it is difficult for patients to tolerate sleeping with a mask and machine.

What is disturbing is that the majority of these patients aren’t told about additional options for treatment or referred to a specialist when they can’t tolerate CPAP.

“The most striking thing about our study is that this is the first study to look at how many patients are using CPAP after a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea,” said Dr. Alan Kominsky of the Cleveland Clinic. “The surprising finding was just how few patients were referred to other providers once CPAP failed.

Obstructive sleep apnea causes people to stop breathing during sleep. The standard treatment, CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure, uses pressurized air pushed through a mask to help keep the airway open during sleep. This study, published in the journal Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery included a review of the medical records of about 600 people. All of them had a diagnosis of sleep apnea and had been given CPAP as treatment. Only 42% began using the CPAP as directed, and surprisingly, only about one third of the patients who couldn’t use the device were referred to another specialist for a different treatment.

Untreated obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and can lead to memory problems and excessive daytime sleepiness. Options for treatment include surgery and a dental device known as an oral appliance or mandibular advancement device.

Oral appliances are a non-invasive approach and have been proven to effectively treat obstructive sleep apnea and the majority of patients with oral appliances find them comfortable and easy to use. There are no machines, tubes or masks, just a small oral device that is worn during sleep. Dentists who provide oral appliance therapy to patients with obstructive sleep apnea have received special training in treating this sleep breathing disorder.

Find out if oral appliance therapy is the right treatment for your obstructive sleep apnea by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.

Want To Feel Relaxed At Your Dental Visit - Sedation Dentistry Can Help

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

If you have a hard time feeling relaxed at your dental visit, don’t feel like you are alone. Many people experience dental fear or anxiety over dental visits but fortunately, sedation dentistry can help.

Sedation dentistry can be used for a range of treatments from a simple cleaning to a full-mouth restoration. How it is used and the type of sedation utilized depends upon the severity of the fear and the patient’s needs.

What Is Sedation Dentistry?

Dentists who are trained in sedation dentistry use medication to help patients feel relaxed and calm during dental procedures. Sometimes this is called “sleep dentistry” but patients aren’t actually asleep unless general anesthesia is used. Levels of sedation include:

  • Minimal Sedation – Patients are awake but medication makes them feel calm and relaxed.
  • Conscious Sedation – This is a more moderate form of sedation and although patients can follow instructions they may not remember the procedure occurring.
  • Deep Sedation – This places the patient on the edge of consciousness and is used for patients with high levels of anxiety.
  • General Anesthesia produces an unconscious state which brings added risks. This is usually reserved for oral surgery.

Are You A Candidate For Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation is appropriate for people with fears or feelings of anxiety that are preventing them from receiving the dental care that they need. Sedation dentistry can also help in cases of:

  • A bad gag reflex.
  • Patients with a low pain threshold.
  • People who can’t sit still in a dental chair.
  • Patients who need a large amount of dental work.

Most dentists can administer minimal sedation such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or pills to make patients relax.

Conscious sedation permit requirements vary slightly from state to state, but typically a mini-residency with a minimum of 60 hours of didactic/classroom education and direct participation in administering IV sedation to 20 to 30 clinical dental cases will cover most state requirements. Wilbanks Smile Center and Dr. Wilbanks are certified by the state of Georgia to provide IV conscious sedation. The differences in oral conscious sedation and IV conscious sedation are:  the training requirement of 100 hours of continuing education credits; safety and the ability to regulate the amount of sedation and medication to keep the patient comfortable, which is not possible in oral sedation; and the patient is monitored throughout the procedure with a vital sign monitor.

Find out more about sedation dentistry and how it can help you achieve a healthy, beautiful smile without fear by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.

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