February, 2016

Oral Bacteria Linked To Stroke

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

Oral bacteria has been linked to stroke and heart disease, and other health conditions. New research from Japan has increased scientists understanding of the link between certain types of strokes and oral bacteria.

Researchers at the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center in Osaka, Japan looked at stroke patients and the oral bacteria in their saliva. The researchers specifically looked at patients with hemorrhagic stroke, in which blood vessels in the brain rupture. Of the patients who experienced this type of stroke, 26% were found to have a specific bacteria in their saliva — cnm positive Streptococcus mutans. In patients experiencing other types of strokes, researchers found only 6% tested positive for the bacteria which causes tooth decay.

The research team also reviewed MRI’s of the stroke patients looking for small brain bleeds (cerebral microbleeds or CMB) which may cause dementia. The data showed that the number of these bleeds was higher in patients with the cnm-positive S. mutans than in those without the bacteria.

What does this all mean? The researcher think that it is possible that the bacteria may attach to blood vessels that have already been weakened by hypertension or age, leading to brain bleeds.

Dr. Robert Friedland, co-author of the study said, “This study shows that oral health is important for brain health. People need to take care of their teeth because it is good for their brain their heart as well as their teeth. The study and related work in our labs have shown that oral bacteria are involved in several kinds of stroke, including brain hemorrhages and strokes that lead to dementia.”

Many scientific studies have shown a link between gum disease and heart disease. The oral bacteria responsible for gum disease have even been proven to make rheumatoid arthritis worse.

Maintaining a health mouth is simple. Brush two times per day with a soft bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste. Floss your teeth every day and visit your dentist for professional cleanings every six months — more often if you have active gum disease.

To schedule your next cleaning please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.


No More Slipping Dentures

Friday, February 19th, 2016

Most people who wear dentures simply aren’t happy with them. They don’t feel secure, they slip, they can make speech difficult and can make the enjoyment of certain foods almost impossible. Dentures don’t have to be like that — imagine a denture so secure it feels like having your own teeth.

A special dental implant procedure called All-on-4 is used to anchor a denture that will be unlike anything you have worn before. All-on-4 uses 4 dental implants in the lower jaw and 4 in the upper to support a full denture that will restore your smile and give you back your quality of life.

When teeth are lost, a side effect is bone loss in the jaw because the bone is no longer supporting teeth. Dental implants have been shown to help reduce this bone loss. Implant dentures also help stabilize the bone in the jaw and may help slow or prevent future bone loss.All-on-4 dental implants can be used in patients who have already experienced some bone loss, without the use of bone grafts.

After the implants are placed in the mouth a temporary denture will be placed immediately. After a period of time that allows the implants to integrate into the bone, the final denture is set it place. Patients do not have to spend any time being “without teeth”.

Find out more about immediate placement dentures using dental implants by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center, your Toccoa, GA implant dentist, at 706-391-8777. We’ll be happy to schedule your consultation visit!


Happy National Gum Disease Month!

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

February is National Gum Disease Awareness Month. Of course it is also National Canned Food Month and National Snack Food Month, but those don’t really affect a dental office.

Gum disease awareness sounds like a joke, but it is serious business. Gum disease is completely preventable in the majority of cases and it can have serious health consequences ranging from the obvious – tooth loss, to the not-so-obvious like heart disease, poor blood sugar control and even pre-term birth. The bacteria that cause gum disease can travel throughout the body. Prevention is as simple as brushing (twice each day with fluoride toothpaste), flossing every day, and visiting the dental hygienist regularly for professional cleanings.

It is estimated that about 50 million Americans have moderate to severe gum disease and 40 million of those don’t even know it! The warning signs of gum disease include:

  • Puffy, red gums
  • Bleeding while brushing or flossing
  • Bad breath
  • Painful or sensitive teeth
  • Receding gums or teeth that appear longer

Some people avoid the dentist because they are afraid of gum disease treatment. Treatment for gum disease today is much simpler and less uncomfortable than it was years ago. Treatment will, of course, depend upon the severity of of the gum disease.

For those patients who are afraid of dental treatments and suffer from dental anxiety or dental phobia, there is a solution. You can receive treatment for your gum disease while remaining relaxed and anxiety-free using sedation dentistry. Sedation dentistry offers various levels of relaxation and sedation for those who feel anxious. Not only can gum disease be treated, but often years of dental neglect can be corrected in just a few visits.

Find out more about dental sedation options and gum disease treatment by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.


Your Brain and Sleep Apnea

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

Sleep apnea extracts a heavy toll on many body systems including the brain. Patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea report poor memory, difficulty making decisions, depression, stress and poor concentration.

New research from the UCLA School of Nursing showed that people with sleep apnea show changes in the levels of two brain chemicals which may hold the key to these symptoms. The researchers looked at the levels of glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in an area of the brain called the insula. This area regulates emotion, thinking and physical functions such as blood pressure and sweating.

Patients with sleep apnea showed decreased levels of GABA and high levels of glutamate. GABA affects mood and helps make endorphins, feel good chemicals, which help keep people calm. Glutamate acts in an opposite manner. High glutamate levels mean the brain is in a state of stress and doesn’t function as effectively. High levels can be toxic to nerves and neurons.

Researchers were surprised to see the drop in GABA but say the study results are encouraging. “In contrast with damage, if something is working differently, we can potentially fix it,” said Paul Macey, lead researcher. Future studies are planned to see if treating sleep apnea can return these brain chemicals to their normal levels.

An estimated 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea and about 80% of patients with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea remain undiagnosed. If you experience loud snoring, weight gain, excessive daytime sleepiness, or have a large neck size or have been told you gasp or stop breathing while sleeping you may have obstructive sleep apnea.

Treatment is as simple as wearing a custom oral device that gently places the jaw in forward position which keeps the airway open at night. No masks, no tubes and no machine are necessary. Find out more about treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.

Bruxism - Causes and Treatments

Friday, February 12th, 2016

Bruxism is the term dentists use to describe the act of grinding your teeth. The exact cause of bruxism is unknown but it is believed to be linked to abnormal alignment of the jaw, a bad bite, stress, anxiety and possibly obstructive sleep apnea.

Symptoms of bruxism include:

  • Teeth that are sensitive to hot and cold
  • Tense or sore facial and jaw muscles
  • Wearing down of the crowns of the teeth
  • Gum inflammation
  • Frequent headaches
  • Jaw pain, neck pain, or shoulder pain
  • Grinding sounds while sleeping
  • Popping or cracking of the jaw

Your dentist will ask questions about your symptoms and perform a complete examination of your teeth and jaw. Patients who grind their teeth typically show damage to the teeth including enamel wear, cracks or broken teeth.

Treatment options for bruxism will depend upon the needs of the individual patient. If the bruxism is due to a poor bite or tooth alignment then orthodontics will provide relief when the proper bite is achieved.

Most cases of bruxism are treated with a combination of an oral device that is designed to protect the teeth and jaw joint, along with behavioral and lifestyle changes.

Patients who are experiencing symptoms of bruxism should try the following self-help suggestions:

  • Avoid opening the mouth too wide – stifle yawns
  • Don’t chew gum
  • Stick to a soft food diet for a few days – nothing chewy or hard
  • Over-the-counter medications such as Motrin or other NSAIDS may help reduce inflammation
  • Call your dentist and schedule an appointment

Ignoring bruxism will not make the problem go away. Long term bruxism can lead to severe tooth damage, tooth loss and damage to the jaw joint itself (TMJ or temporomandibular joint dysfunction). Early intervention can help avoid further damage and a great deal of pain and discomfort.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your bruxism consultation. Together we can ensure that your healthy smile will last a lifetime.



Sleeping With Your Mouth Open?

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

Do you sleep with your mouth open? If you do, you could be damaging your teeth.

Researchers from New Zealand  looked at sleepers and found that the acidity level in the mouths of those who slept with their mouths open reached levels that could cause tooth enamel to break down.

When you breath through your mouth when you sleep your saliva dries up. Saliva is an important part of the process that keeps the pH balance in the mouth from becoming too acidic. Dentists are reporting that more and more patients are complaining of dry mouth — especially when sleeping or when they first wake up. Previous studies have shown that people suffering from dry-mouth have a higher risk of tooth erosion and tooth decay.

The researchers measured the pH levels of sleeping volunteers. To make them breath through their mouths the volunteers wore nose clips. While wearing the clips, the mouth pH during sleep was 6.6 while mouth breathing. The average sleep pH of the mouth for non-clipped volunteers was 7.0 and during waking hours it was 7.3. This seems like a small difference but these small changes are all it takes for the acid to erode teeth and leave them vulnerable to tooth decay.

Mouth breathing can be reduced by keeping the nasal passages open. Prior to bedtime try a saline nasal spray, nose strips or nasal cones to open up the breathing passages of the nose.

Mouth breathing can also be a sign of a sleep breathing disorder like obstructive sleep apnea. If you snore loudly when you sleep, have been told you stop breathing or gasp during sleep, and experience daytime sleepiness you may suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Ask your doctor or your sleep apnea dentist about diagnosis and treatment.

Protect your teeth from erosion and decay by visiting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today for your professional cleaning and fluoride treatment. Contact us today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your visit.


The Perfect Smile

Friday, February 5th, 2016

Don’t you love when you find the perfect pair of shoes? How about that perfect restaurant you just discovered? Why not have a perfect smile? A perfect smile it well within reach and can be easier to achieve than you might think.

The first step to creating your perfect smile is a consultation with your cosmetic dentist. You may discover that your perfect smile is only a tooth whitening away! If the smile that mother nature gave you isn’t making you happy, this consultation can bring a professional eye to the problem and help you plan a strategy, and treatment plan, for achieving your goals.

The majority of smile makeovers can be completed in just a couple of visits using dental veneers. Dental veneers are thin porcelain shells that dentists use to change the color, shape and visual position of teeth. There is minimal preparation so the majority of your natural tooth is intact. Dental veneers are incredibly lifelike in appearance — and are extremely durable.

You might be a candidate for dental veneers if you have the following problems with your smile:

  • Teeth are discolored and bleaching doesn’t work on the staining.
  • Teeth are poorly shaped or misshapen.
  • There are small gaps between teeth.

Using dental veneers your cosmetic dentist can fill in those small gaps and your smile will look like you had braces for months. Some people have teeth that have been stained by medications or are an unattractive shape. Again, dental veneers can easily correct these problems giving you a beautiful, white, straight smile.

Find out more about dental veneers and other cosmetic dental services by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.

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