Dental check ups

Silk and Salivary Glands

Friday, August 14th, 2015

Millions of Americans suffer from dry mouth caused by poor saliva flow. This uncomfortable condition can lead to serious health problems but there is currently no cure. So how are silk and salivary glands connected?

A new study has found that it may be possible to generate new salivary glands out of stem cells using silk fibers as a framework. Salivary glands have very little capacity to renew themselves, which leaves a need for cell based therapies to restore gland function. A team from the University of Texas at San Antonio described how they used silk fibers to provide salivary gland stem cells with a 3 dimensional scaffolding on which to grow. Dr. Chih-Ko Yeh stated that the achievement was significant because “salivary gland stem cells are some of the most difficult cells to grow in culture and retain their function.” The cells grown had many of the same characteristics as our natural salivary glands.

Of course it will be years before this research yields a treatment – if it ever does. The good news is that research into finding a solution for xerostomia (dry mouth) continues.

Why do people develop dry mouth? There are a number of causes including medication, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, radiation treatment for head and neck cancers and just getting older. Dry mouth is a problem for patients for the following reasons:

  • It is uncomfortable
  • Dry mouth leads to an increased risk for gum disease
  • Patients are more likely to develop tooth decay
  • Mouth infections such as thrush are common
  • Makes it more difficult to wear dentures if needed

If you experience dry mouth it is important to visit your dentist regularly. You can make yourself more comfortable by sucking on sugar free candy, using artificial saliva substitutes and drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. You can protect your teeth by using a fluoride toothpaste and rinse. Try to breath through your nose, not your mouth and use a humidifier in the bedroom at night.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, Georgia today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your visit to talk about dry mouth and your options for maintaining a healthy smile.

Your 5 Step Plan for Plaque Prevention

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

Yes, you can prevent dental plaque if you have a plan and stick to it. Plaque is a buildup of bacteria on your teeth – you probably know it as that “fuzzy” feeling when you haven’t brushed in a while.

When plaque is left on teeth for too long it hardens into a substance called calculus which is much harder to remove than the soft, slimy plaque. Bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay thrive in this environment. How do you prevent plaque problems?

  1. Brush your teeth twice each day. Use a soft-bristle brush and a fluoride toothpaste. Make sure you get all areas of your mouth, including the front and back of teeth, gums, tongue and inside of the cheeks. “Brushing twice daily prevents plaque from forming in the first place and disrupts any plaque that has already started to form…” shared Dr. JoAnne Gurenlian of Idaho State University.
  2. Floss! Cleaning between the teeth has a major impact on oral health (which can affect overall health). Floss once each day – interdental brushes, water flossers or floss handles count!
  3. Rinse it away. Mouth rinse and mouth wash are not the same thing. Mouthwash is usually sugar-filled, minty tasting stuff. Anti-bacterial rinses are a different animal and can actually help reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth. Using a mouth rinse may reduce plaque buildup more than brushing and flossing alone.
  4. Watch what you eat. Sticky, sugary foods cling to your teeth and are hard to remove. “If sugar is not removed from your teeth shortly after you eat it, plaque uses it to help create tooth decay” says Dr. Gurenelian. If you eat candy, raisins or granola bars you want to get that sugar off your teeth as soon as possible. If you can’t brush immediately, try chewing sugar free gum containing xylitol. The chewing action scrubs at the food debris and the xylitol has been shown to inhibit bacteria growth.
  5. Get your teeth cleaned regularly. Visit the dentist for a dental hygiene visit at least every six month (more often if you have active gum disease). Your dentist and hygienist can keep an eye on your healthy mouth and spot any oral disease before it becomes a problem.

If your teeth feel like they are wearing a fuzzy sweater it is time to get them cleaned! Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your next visit.

When To Toss Your Toothbrush

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

A toothbrush that is used properly gets a pretty good workout each day so it is a good idea to toss the old brush more often than you might think. How often should you replace your toothbrush? Is it safe to wait until the dental hygienist gives you a new one every six months?

You should toss your toothbrush at least every 3 to 4 months.  If you see the bristles begin to look worn – time to get a new toothbrush because frayed bristles cannot clean the teeth and gums as well. If you have been sick it is probably a good time to open the package on a new toothbrush. Viruses and bacteria can live quite happily on a toothbrush for days, or even weeks.

Keeping It Clean

Toothbrushes pick up oral bacteria after every use but we don’t usually think too much about cleaning our toothbrush. A good rinse with tap water will remove debris from your brush and storing it upright in a rack or cup will give it an opportunity to dry out. A wet brush can foster bacterial growth so don’t shove it in a drawer!  If you have an immune disorder you might want to soak your brush in an antibacterial mouthwash or try one of the toothbrush sanitizers on the market.

If you notice that your new toothbrush is looking a little frazzled after just a few weeks of use you are probably brushing too hard. Scrubbing away at your teeth can wear away tooth enamel leaving teeth susceptible to decay and giving them a yellow appearance. Gentle brushing, for 2 full minutes, with a soft-bristle toothbrush will clean your teeth and gums without causing damage. If you aren’t sure about your brushing style, ask your hygienist to show you the proper technique during your next regular visit.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center today at 706-931-8777 to schedule your next visit to our beautiful Toccoa, GA office.



Do You Know What is Contributing to Your Tooth Decay?

Monday, November 10th, 2014

While most people know that sugar can cause cavities, there are many other contributing factors when it comes to the onset of tooth decay. Help keep your mouth healthy by brushing twice daily, attending regularly scheduled teeth cleanings, and avoiding foods and behaviors that can make tooth decay worse. To follow are some of the most surprising contributing causes of tooth decay.

  1. Certain medications. Decongestants, antihistamines, depression  and anti-anxiety medications can all cause patients to experience dry mouth.  As saliva contains a plaque-fighting compound, patients with dry mouth are more susceptible to tooth decay.
  2. Anxiety and stress can also lead to chronic dry mouth, and subsequently contribute to tooth decay. If you are unable to properly manage anxiety and stress levels, it is recommended to seek professional help.
  3. Fruit juices have a higher acid content than may other beverages. Acid erodes tooth enamel which leaves teeth more vulnerable to decay.
  4. Sports drinks containing electrolytes will help to re-hydrate athletes or those recovering from a stomach virus. However, they are high in sugar as well as acid.
  5. Diet sodas may not contain sugar, which is notoriously known for causing cavities, but they do contain a high level of acid which contributes to the erosion of tooth enamel. Enamel is a protective coating on the surface of teeth.
  6. Chewable vitamins may make it easier for parents to coax their children into being healthier, however chewable vitamins are crammed with sugar and gelatin. High sugar content combined with the sticky texture of chewable vitamins can cause more tooth decay, as parts of the vitamins get stuck on teeth for prolonged periods of time between brushing.
  7. Diets high in starch like breads and cereals turn into sugar in the mouth faster than complex starches and carbohydrates do. By choosing foods rich in whole grains and avoiding white bread and sugary cereals popular among children, you’ll have a better chance at fighting tooth decay.
  8. Dried fruits are linked to tooth decay because the drying process reduces fruits into a stickier texture, and releases more sugars.

Preventative Dentistry in Toccoa

If you’re ready to learn more about your dental health, contact Wilbanks Smile Center today and schedule a consultation. Our offices are located in Toccoa, GA, and we can be reached at 706-886-9439. We look forward to serving you.

What To Expect During An Oral Cancer Screening

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Oral cancer is a common disease, with more than 40,000 Americans diagnosed each year. While serious, oral cancer is highly treatable when detected in its earliest stages. Many dentists include oral cancer screening as part of a regular dental check-up. Since dentists are trained to recognize the early signs of cancer, regular check-ups and screenings are the best chance a person has for early detection.

During your screening, the dentist will examine and evaluate your mouth and teeth for any signs of oral cancer. Some signs include:

  • Red or white patches in the mouth
  • Mouth sores that do not heal quickly
  • Mouth sores that bleed easily
  • Thickening of skin inside the mouth
  • Trouble with swallowing and/or chewing

If any abnormalities are detected, the dentist will perform a biopsy so that the tissue can be further examined and tested. There are two types of biopsies,and your dentist will select one at his or her discretion. An incisional biopsy removes a portion of the growth or lesion for testing, while an excisional biopsy involves the removal of the entire mass. Depending on the results of the biopsy, your dentist will devise a treatment plan.

Oral cancer tends to develop in people over the age of 40, and is more likely to affect men than women. Those who smoke or use other tobacco products or drink heavily have a much higher risk of developing oral cancer than those who do not use tobacco and consume alcohol in moderation. Research suggests that the combined use of tobacco and alcohol poses an especially high risk of oral cancer, since it is suspected that the interaction of these two substances has a synergistic effect in causing cancer. However, research also shows that abstaining from tobacco and alcohol use can immediately lower a person’s risk of oral cancer. Furthermore, within 10 years, a former smoker’s chances of developing oral cancer can become as low as a non-smoker.

For more information on oral cancer prevention, visit The Oral Cancer Foundation.

Dental Care in Toccoa

If you’re ready to learn more about your dental health, contact Wilbanks Smile Center today and schedule a consultation.  Our offices are located in Toccoa, GA, and we can be reached at 706-886-9439.  We look forward to serving you.

5 Dental Myths Debunked

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Healthy teeth make for a healthy body. As more and more research proves that dental health can have a strong impact on your overall health, it’s important to know that some commonly held beliefs regarding dental health may actually be hurting you. Learn what’s right and wrong for your teeth by exploring some common dental myths, debunked.

  1. Teeth whitening will destroy tooth enamel. In-home teeth whitening kits generally contain less than 3% of active ingredients, so moderate use of such products will typically not harm teeth. However, in-office procedures are the safest form of teeth whitening and will produce the best results.
  2. Only mouthwash containing alcohol is effective. Mouthwash containing alcohol has been linked to oral cancer since the 1970s. Alcohol dehydrates the mouth and teeth, which can lead to additional oral health issues.
  3. Everyone has to have their wisdom teeth removed. Wisdom teeth are like the tonsils or appendix because through evolution, they have become non-essential to human health. However, just as not every child  has his or her tonsils removed, not every child has to have his or her wisdom teeth removed. Unless wisdom teeth are causing pain, they can remain in the mouth.
  4. Silver cavity fillings are safe. This is actually contrary to research findings. Silver fillings contain more than 50% mercury. Mercury that leaks out of silver fillings over time has been linked to auto-immune diseases, mental disorders, and neurological disorders. If you have silver fillings, it is recommended seeing your dentist to have them replaced with tooth-colored fillings.
  5. Eating sugar is the main cause of cavities. Sugar has a bad reputation in regards to health, but it is not the main cause of cavities.  Acid is the major culprit when it comes to tooth decay and the formulation of cavities. Acid and saliva mix together to produce the plaque-causing agents that cause cavities.

Dental Care in Toccoa

If you’re ready to learn more about your dental health, contact us today and schedule a consultation.  Our offices are located in Toccoa, GA, and we can be reached at 706-886-9439.  We look forward to serving you.

Caring for Your Teeth During Pregnancy

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

With all the changes that happen to a woman’s body during pregnancy, dental health can easily be forgotten. However, pregnant women should never neglect caring for their teeth and gums.  Though many do not realize it, women face a host of a serious dental issues during pregnancy.

Let’s take a look at some of the most concerning dental issues among pregnant women today:

  • Pregnancy tumors. Pregnancy tumors are red, lumpy growths that appear along the gum line and between teeth. These lumps tend to bleed easily, and can cause a great deal of discomfort. Despite the word “tumor” being part of the name, these growths are not cancerous. They can be removed if they prove to be extremely painful, but they will usually disappear on their own once the baby is born.
  • Gingivitis. Pregnant women usually find themselves at an increased risk for developing the gum disease gingivitis. Common symptoms of gingivitis include swelling, and tenderness of the gums. Usually, the gums will also bleed when the patient brushes his or her teeth. If left untreated, gingivitis can cause long-term damage to the tissues holding the teeth in place. Scheduling regular, professional dental cleanings can prevent this condition from becoming worse.
  • Tooth decay. During pregnancy, women usually experience food cravings which cause them to snack frequently, and often, not wisely. Tooth decay is usually linked to poor diet, specially when one snacks on foods that are high in either starches or complex sugars. Eating a great deal of sugary foods can significantly weaken your tooth enamel, which may eventually result in tooth decay.

During pregnancy, it is important to schedule regular oral examinations with your dentist. If any dental issues are found, treatments can be delayed, so that complications to the unborn child will be prevented. Normally, though, women will be able to maintain their dental healthy simply by brushing and flossing regularly. If you are pregnant, speak with your dentist, who can help you establish and maintain an effective dental care plan!

Dental Care in Toccoa

If you’re ready to learn more about caring for your teeth during pregnancy, contact us today and schedule a consultation.  Our offices are located in Toccoa, GA, and we can be reached at 706-886-9439.  We look forward to serving you.

The Impact of Eating Disorders on Teeth

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Eating disorders such as bulimia take a serious toll on teeth, changing their appearance and health. Studies have shown that the average onset age of an eating disorder is 16, and that the length of time that the person typically experiences the disorder is approximately four years.

The disorder is most predominant among young women, with nearly 10 million women affected by it in the United States alone. However, men also suffer from the disorder, with 1 million men affected by it annually, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).

Along with annual physicals, dental exams play an important role in catching and identifying the disorder. Because so many of the patients suffering from eating disorders are teen girls, dentists are often the first notice that there is a problem. This is because disorders such as bulimia result in side effects that include distinct signs of dental decay and erosion.

Common signs of eating disorders include the erosion of tooth enamel and tooth sensitivity caused by the thinning of enamel. In eating disorders such as bulimia or binging and purging, when the patient forces him or herself to throw up, the mouth is subjected to the stomach’s erosive acids and fluids.

This exposure to stomach acids negatively affects sensitive gum tissue and corrodes tooth enamel. The worst of this damage often occurs along the back side of the upper front teeth. Damage from purging also causes dental decay, which increases the patient’s risk of having cavities, fillings or missing teeth.

Patients with eating disorders may also suffer from gingival bleeding, gum inflammation, sores in the soft tissue and erosive lesions on the surface of the teeth. Other tell-tale signs can include a tender mouth, throat and salivary glands, dry mouth, teeth than look worn and have areas that are nearly translucent in coloring, and bad breath.

If parents are concerned about whether their teen has an eating disorder, they can ask their dentist to analyze and look for these signs during a dental exam, cleaning or checkup. Examining and addressing early dental signs of an eating disorder can help to stop dental issues from becoming worse and prevent further tooth decay.


Dental Health in Toccoa

If you would like to learn more about oral health, annual dental check ups or any of the dental treatments that the Wilbanks Smile Center offers, contact us today and schedule your consultation. Our offices are located in Toccoa, GA, and we can be contacted at 706-886-9439. We look forward to hearing from you.

Don't Fear the Dentist: The Benefits of Sedation Dentistry

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Does the thought of going to the dentist or needing to have dental work done make you feel anxious, distressed or scared?

Dental procedures shouldn’t be something to be and feared and avoided – regular check ups, cleanings, routine and restorative procedures are a vital part of taking care of your health and preserving your smile. Don’t neglect your dental health because of fear of getting into the dentist’s chair!

To ease your worries and discomfort regarding visiting the dentist, let’s look into sedation dentistry and how it can improve your experience. Although sedation dentistry is sometimes referred to as sleep dentistry, most patients are usually remain awake throughout the procedure.

Sedation dentistry implements the use of medication to provide a relaxing and anxiety-free experience for people who are undergoing dental treatment. It can be used on patients of all ages – including young children over a certain age, so consult with your child’s pediatrician and dentist regarding whether sedation dentistry is right for them.

Other benefits of sedation dentistry include:

  1. It accommodates a low pain threshold or sensitive teeth
    For those with the often painful and bothersome condition of having sensitive teeth, undergoing dental work can be especially unpleasant. Sedation dentistry makes the process significantly more comfortable for these patients.
  2. It’s great for those who can’t sit still in the dentist’s chair
    For younger patients of those who usually get antsy or impatient while undergoing a prolonged dental procedure, sedation therapy allows them to feel settled and calm during complex and lengthy procedures.
  3. It helps those who have a bad gag reflex feel more comfortable
    For many people, having any type of dental work done in their mouths makes them feel uncomfortable and triggers their gag reflex. Knowing that sedation dentistry helps to repress this makes it easier for some patients to undergo elective procedures that they may have otherwise been apprehensive about.
  4. It’s perfect for patients who need substantial dental work done
    As a result of the soothing and sleepy experience that sedation dentistry provides, patients feel as though time flies by during their treatment, so their lengthy procedures seem to last for only a few minutes.

Sedation Dentistry in Toccoa

If you would like to learn more about sedation dentistry or any of the dental treatments that the Wilbanks Smile Center offers, contact us today and schedule your consultation. Our offices are located in Toccoa, GA, and we can be contacted at 706-886-9439. We look forward to hearing from you.

Taking Care of Your Teeth for Diabetic Health

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

March 25 is American Diabetes Day, and although dental health should be an important part of everyone’s life, it’s especially important for those with diabetes. Studies have shown that patients with diabetes are especially susceptible to various types of oral infections and gum disease, which is also known as periodontal disease. In a catch-22 situation, diabetic patients with active gum disease also have a more difficult time controlling their blood sugar levels.

Here are several tips for how diabetics can better maintain their oral and dental health:

  • Get regular check-ups. Along with an annual, routine dental exam, it’s important to get a cleaning every six months. Besides keeping your mouth feeling and looking clean, regular visits to the dentist will help to preemptively catch and treat any potential dental and oral problems.
  • Watch out for the signs. Since people with diabetes are more prone to infections and certain dental conditions, it’s important to know what signs and symptoms to look out for. For example, uncontrolled diabetes often leads to a decrease in saliva flow, which then causes dry mouth. Other diabetes-linked health issues and conditions to keep an eye out for include bleeding gums, gum inflammation or tenderness, and gingivitis.
  • Don’t ignore healing issues. Those with diabetes – especially if they are having a hard time controlling their blood sugar – may notice that cuts or sores take longer than usual to heal. If there is a sore, ulcer or sensitive area in the oral tissue that is taking a substantial time to heal, it’s vital for the patient to visit their dentist to address this issue right away. Poor healing may also be a sign that the area’s blood flow may be damaged or hindered, so seeking treatment as soon as possible is vital for dental health.
  • Control your blood sugar. Oral health issues are more likely to develop when blood sugar levels are not being properly monitored and controlled. Always strictly follow your doctor’s instructions about watching, checking and controlling your blood sugar levels. Whether that is by following a special diet, taking medication or giving yourself insulin injections, staying on top of your sugar levels will benefit your dental and overall health.

Click here to learn more about diabetes and dental health.


Dental Health in Toccoa

If you would like to learn more about oral health, annual dental check ups or any of the dental treatments that the Wilbanks Smile Center offers, contact us today and schedule your consultation. Our offices are located in Toccoa, GA, and we can be contacted at 706-886-9439. We look forward to hearing from you.


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