March, 2016

Root Canal Therapy - Why Do I Need It?

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Root canal therapy treats the inside pulp of the tooth. Why root canal therapy is suggested is because the inside of the tooth has become infected and root canal therapy can preserve the tooth. 

The pulp of the tooth usually becomes infected because an untreated cavity has allowed bacteria to enter the center of the tooth or because of trauma to the tooth. Your dentist will review your symptoms which may include:

  • Severe toothache
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Abscess

Once the pulp of the tooth is infected it is imperative that treatment begin as soon as possible. Not only will treatment alleviate the discomfort, but it will avoid the danger of the infection spreading throughout the body. Yes, untreated tooth infections can actually become deadly.

The actual root canal therapy may take several visits to clean out the infected center of the tooth, and then clean and seal the tooth to prevent further damage. Because a tooth that has had root canal therapy is weaker than a healthy tooth a dental crown is typically placed at the end of treatment.

There are many old horror stories about root canal treatment but most of these stem from the severe toothache that prompts the visit to the dentist, not from the procedure itself. Local anesthesia ensures that you will remain comfortable throughout the procedure.

Is There An Alternative Treatment?

The alternative to root canal therapy is to remove the infected tooth and replace it with a dental implant. Dental implants are placed in the jaw and serve as an artificial tooth “root”. A special implant crown is placed over the implant and the resulting restoration looks, feels and functions just like a natural tooth. Talk to your dentist about your treatment options for your infected tooth.

Find out more about your treatment options for severe toothache by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.




The Best Easter Candy For Your Child's Smile

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

Let’s be honest, no Easter candy is really good for your child’s smile. While it is all yummy, some Easter candy is worse than others when it comes to your teeth.

Most candy contains high amounts of sugar. Cavities form when this sugar feeds the harmful bacteria in your mouth and these bacteria secrete acids. The acids soften the tooth enamel and, the next thing you know, the beginnings of tooth decay.

The Worst Easter Candy

Candy that is sticky, or candy that is both sweet and sour, can be especially damaging to teeth. Avoid the following:

  • Peeps – This is sad, I know, but peeps are nothing but sticky sugar, rolled in more sugar.
  • Gummy Bunnies – Again, sticky sugar.
  • Jelly Beans – Ditto.
  • Malted Milk Eggs – Unfortunately, the filling gets stuck in teeth which means the sugar is in contact with the tooth surface for a long time.

Better Easter Candy Options

  • Chocolate Bunnies – Try to go for dark chocolate because it has been shown to actually reduce the risk of tooth decay. You are allowed to bite the ears off first!
  • Sugar Free Gum – Chewing sugar free gum stimulates saliva flow and the xylitol used as a sweetener may help fight the bacteria responsible for gum disease.
  • No Candy – How about small toys, prizes or even cash stashed in those plastic Easter eggs?

Tips To Prevent Cavities From Easter Candy

  • Don’t allow snacking on candy all day – limit the treats to a set time and place.
  • Use the candy as dessert – eating candy following a meal will cause less damage because the saliva is already flowing which will wash away sugars and your child is already full so they won’t eat as much candy.
  • Rinse with water – Swishing water around in the mouth can remove some of the sugar and acids.
  • Wait to brush – While it seems like a good idea to brush right after eating you need to wait. The mouth is full of acids which have softened the tooth enamel. Waiting 30 minutes (you did swish with water, right?) before brushing allows the enamel to harden so it won’t be damaged by the bristles of the brush.

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


Could An Anti-Cavity Pill Exist In The Future?

Friday, March 18th, 2016

Modern dentistry is all about prevention and what could be better for our dental future than an anti-cavity pill?

Researchers at the University of Florida have identified a strain of oral bacteria that seems to cavity causing bacteria in check. The scientists speculate that it might be possible to use this “good” bacteria as a supplement to prevent tooth decay.

One of the reasons that rates of tooth decay have been rising is what we are putting in our mouths. A healthy mouth requires a neutral pH environment — when the mouth becomes too acidic we see tooth decay and other dental problems. Lead study author, Robert Burne said, “At that point, bacteria on the teeth make acid, and acid dissolves the teeth. It’s straightforward chemistry.”

Unfortunately, the modern American diet is not designed for good oral health. Energy drinks, soda, sports drinks and even fruit juices are often sipped throughout the day, rather than just at mealtime. These beverages are often highly acidic and filled with sugars that serve to feed oral bacteria.

The beneficial bacteria that the University of Florida researchers discovered is a strain of streptococcus called A12. Study co-author Marcelle Nascimento said, “If we can get to the point where we can confirm that people who have more of this healthy type of bacteria in the mouth are at lower risk of cavities, compared to those who don’t carry the beneficial bacteria and may be a high risk, this could be one of the factors that you measure for cavity risk.” Research into oral bacteria will continue with a new 5-year grant.

While we are waiting for the magic anti-cavity pill here are some things you can do to protect your teeth.

  • If you sip on something all day long at your desk – make it water.
  • Visit your dentist regularly. Small problems that are ignored will only get worse – teeth cannot heal themselves but your dentist can help stop tooth decay in its tracks.
  • Brush and floss every day.

Tooth decay no longer means having ugly, black, mercury based dental amalgam fillings. Wilbanks Smile Center uses advanced tooth colored materials to fill cavities. These materials are long lasting, safe, and maintain your beautiful smile.

Schedule your appointment at Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.

Low Vitamin D Levels and Dental Implant Success

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

Can low levels of vitamin D affect the success of your new dental implants? It turns out he answer is yes!

Dental implants are surgically implanted into the jaw and the bone actually integrates with the implants – basically turning them into a new tooth root. Implants provide a base for the implant crown, which replaces the missing tooth, and the dental implant also helps maintain the structure of the jaw bone itself.

Vitamin D is pretty amazing because it is a nutrient that our body can actually manufacture on its own, although it is also found in certain foods. However, about half of us have deficient levels of vitamin D! This is important because vitamin D is crucial for the health of our bones and teeth because it allows our bodies to absorb calcium. Without vitamin D that fortified milk and calcium supplements cannot make new bones and maintain tooth enamel. If your body isn’t able to absorb new calcium it will try to get the calcium it needs from your existing bones, including the jaw.

Studies have shown that rats that have less vitamin D in their diets have trouble integrating the implants into the jaw. Giving rats vitamin D supplements helped rats with osteoporosis and chronic kidney disease have successful implant healing. Insulin combined with vitamin D helped diabetic rats achieve implant success as well.

If you are contemplating dental implants there are several ways to increase your vitamin D levels. Spend a little time in the sun in a tank top and shorts and your body will begin producing vitamin D – it only takes about 10 minutes of exposure so you don’t need to worry about sunburn! Many foods are fortified with vitamin D and some are naturally high in the substance like egg yolks and beef livers. If you are vegetarian include mushrooms in your diet which are brimming with vitamin D. Talk to your doctor about vitamin D supplements if your levels are low.

Dental implants rarely fail but adding the knowledge that healthy vitamin D levels can make a difference in their success should not be overlooked.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your dental implant consultation and find out how dental implants can be used to replace just one tooth or even to anchor a complete denture. We look forward to your call.


All Ages Need Dental Care

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

People of all ages need regular dental care. Regular dental care saves health care dollars in the long run by preventing gum disease and managing dental decay.

The National Center for Health Statistics completed a survey of the percentage of patients who had at least one dental visit in 2013.

The good news — over 80% of children aged 2 to 17 visited the dentist. The bad news — only about 60% of adults over age 65 visited the dentist. The survey also confirmed that women were more likely to visit the dentist than men.

Men, in general, tend to visit any type of health care practitioner less than women. In dentistry, this is reflected in more gum disease and eventually possible  tooth loss. The good news among the sexes is that men have slightly increased their dental visits between the 2010 survey and the 2013 numbers. Come on guys, make and appointment and reap all the benefits of a healthy smile!

Among adults aged 18 to 64, almost 2/3 of women visited the dentist every year but those numbers drop off after age 65. The survey did not cite reasons for the decline in dental visits. Perhaps it is because Medicare does not include dental coverage or perhaps it is because homebound seniors do not have easy access to dental care. Because oral bacteria and the inflammation from gum disease has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and Alzheimer’s disease it is vitally important for those over 65 to continue regular dental visits and maintain good oral health. A healthy smile can impact both quality of life and longevity.

As we age it is important to remember that those old fillings and dental crowns don’t last forever. They last a really long time considering they are used many times a day, every single day, but eventually they will need to be replaced. If 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 appointment.


Sugary Drinks Increasing Dental Erosion In Kids

Friday, March 4th, 2016

Worldwide rising consumption of sugary drinks is increasing dental erosion in kids and adolescents. Most of these drinks are not only high in sugar, but are also very acidic and dentists have known for years that the combination erodes dental enamel.

New research from the University of Bergen, Norway has focused not on what is in these types of drink, but rather how they are consumed. The investigators followed the progression of dental erosion of a four year period in a group of 13 and 14 year olds. Cavities and gum health were reviewed as well. The research focused on lifestyle factors such as the method of drinking the sugary and acidic drinks, exercise, screen time, and even counted the intake of various other foods and drinks. These included ice cream, snacks, sweets, coffee, tea, yogurt, milk and cheese.

As the four years of the study progressed, dental erosion occurred on about 35% of the tooth surfaces. Boys showed more damage to their dental enamel than girls. Dental erosion occurs when acid dissolves the hard outer layer of the tooth, the enamel. This damage leaves the tooth vulnerable to decay.

The study found that consuming high amounts of sugary drinks and sour candy, and a lower intake of milk were linked to dental damage. One important note was that the habit of some to retain acidic soft drinks in the mouth before swallowing was linked to increased erosion.

Damage to the dental enamel in this age group is worrying and the researchers suggest that dentists and hygienists work to educate children and adolescents about preventing future cavities and the need for dental fillings, or even tooth loss.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule dental check-up appointments for your family. We can help everyone maintain a healthy, cavity free, smile.

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