Do You Hate To Floss?

Friday, April 1st, 2016

If you hate flossing you aren’t alone. Patients tell us that they floss, when we know that they don’t. But if you hate to floss there are some alternatives that you can choose to get the gunk from between your teeth.

First, lets talk about why we insist that everyone clean between their teeth. Brushing is great for cleaning the surfaces of the teeth, but a toothbrush can’t reach between the teeth where bacteria and plaque build up. Without removing the plaque it hardens into a substance called calculus (not the math kind) which can only be removed by professional cleaning. Calculus is made up of dead bacteria and minerals — because it has a rough surface it is the perfect place for even more bacteria to congregate. These oral bacteria lead to gum disease and tooth decay.

Why Do You Hate Floss?

First, figure out why you hate flossing? Is it a problem battling those long strands of floss, wrapping it around your fingers (sometimes too tightly) and putting your fingers in your mouth? Maybe you feel like you don’t really know HOW to floss. Perhaps you have extensive dental work like dental bridges that make flossing difficult. Whatever the reason, there are options other than regular dental floss.

What Else Can You Use To Clean Between Teeth?

If you hate flossing simply because the whole idea of wrapping string around your fingers and sticking them in your mouth bothers you, try floss threaders or floss piks. These handy gadgets have a little piece of floss on a plastic handle. Use one for each quadrant of your mouth and say goodbye to plaque. You can purchase a big back of floss piks (even mint flavored ones) at the dollar store. Try keeping a bag in the car so you can floss when stuck in traffic!

Water flossers have been around for a long time – you probably remember the Water Pik brand. Water flossers are great at cleaning between teeth and many even come with many different tips to help clean in tight spaces. The water flosser will sit next to your bathroom sink so it is a great reminder to water floss before brushing your teeth. These work whether you have bridges or braces.

Prophy brushes are another great way to effectively clean between teeth. These are tiny little brushes that are gently moved between the teeth to remove debris and bacteria. Prophy brushes come in several different sizes depending upon the spacing of your teeth. Try a few different ones to find the perfect fit for your smile.

Keep that clean smile healthy by visiting Wilbanks Smile Center regularly. Please contact us at 706391-8777 to schedule your next visit.

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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!

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.

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.


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