Dental Health

Dental Care And Pregnancy

Friday, May 20th, 2016

Many years ago women were told to avoid dental care during pregnancy. We now know that maintaining good oral health is important for both mom and baby because women with gum disease have higher rates of pre-term birth.

Before You Get Pregnant

While you are thinking about starting a family is the perfect time to see your dentist to make sure your teeth and gums are in great shape. If you have any old fillings that need replacing or if you have a cavity  now is the time to get treatment. If your gums are not as healthy as they should be talk to your hygienist about what you can do to get them back to optimal health. Brushing with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing every day can do wonders for your oral health.

During Pregnancy

So you started your pregnancy with healthy teeth and gums and now your gums are a puffy, sore, bleeding mess. What happened? Hormonal changes during pregnancy wreak havoc with gum health causing pregnancy gingivitis.  Pregnancy gingivitis is common during pregnancy but that doesn’t mean that it should be ignored. When symptoms appear contact your dentist.

If you experience morning sickness you probably don’t think about damage to your tooth enamel, you just want to feel better. When stomach acids come in contact with the teeth the enamel is softened and damaged. This damage to the tooth enamel can lead to sensitivity, discoloration of the teeth, and tooth decay. Don’t brush your teeth immediately after being sick, rinse your mouth with water and wait at least 30 minutes before brushing. This gives the tooth enamel a chance to harden so the brushing won’t cause further damage.

Bruxism, or tooth grinding, is another symptom that some women experience. Grinding your teeth while sleeping happens to many people, even when they aren’t pregnant. Signs you may be grinding and clenching throughout the night include morning headaches, jaw pain, facial and neck pain, and your bed partner may complain about the grinding noise. Causes for bruxism vary – an incorrect bite, stress, anxiety, and even obstructive sleep apnea. If you experience symptoms contact your dentist for an evaluation.

Did you know that babies aren’t born with the bacteria that cause tooth decay? They get the bacteria from their parents. Keep your smile healthy before, during and after your pregnancy!

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your visit. If you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant please let us know!




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.

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.

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.


Diabetic Patients Lose Twice The Teeth

Friday, December 11th, 2015

Patients with diabetes lose twice the number of teeth than people without the disease reports a study from Duke University.

Tooth loss in the United States has dropped dramatically over the past 40 years due to better dental care, better patient education regarding home care and the use of fluoride to protect teeth. People who suffer from diabetes however, have not seen the same drop in the rate of tooth loss

The American Dental Association said that the study highlights “both the connection between oral health and overall health”. Spokesperson Dr. Edmond Hewlett also stated that “It’s critically important to understand that managing your dental health is part of managing your diabetes.”

The American Diabetes Association recommends that physician’s refer diabetic patients to a dentist for regular care. Unfortunately, the Duke study also found that the majority of physician’s are not following this guideline. The lead researcher on the study, Dr. Bei Wu, said that “Foot care and eye care are on the top of their agenda, but dental care is not. Diabetics need to have regular dental care.”

How can you protect your smile if you have diabetes? First, brushing and flossing every day are vitally important – removing oral bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease will help protect teeth. Secondly, keep a regular schedule of appointments with your dental hygienist for professional cleanings. No matter how good oral care is at home, professional cleanings are needed to remove plaque and tartar that harbors bacteria.

Diabetic patients usually need to receive cleanings more often than patients with good overall health. Visits may be scheduled at three month intervals rather than every six months.

Of course, the diabetes/oral health connection goes both ways. Previous studies have shown that patients with active gum disease and poor oral health have a more difficult time controlling their blood sugar levels. In this case, a healthy mouth can help maintain a healthier body!

If you have diabetes and 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 next visit.

Can Blueberries Save Your Teeth?

Monday, September 7th, 2015

When teeth and blueberries are in the same sentence we usually think about removing the stains they have left behind. Good news out of Canada, researchers are developing a treatment for gum disease based on extracts from wild blueberries.

Gum disease is very common. Most people experience some degree of gingivitis or gum inflammation as a result of bacteria filled dental plaque. When the plaque isn’t cleaned away on a regular basis the resulting tartar and inflammation eventually leads to gum disease. Dental plaque is a biofilm containing bacteria and is a soft, sticky substance that can be brushed away. If not removed in a timely manner, the plaque hardens into dental tartar, a substance that cannot be removed by brushing and flossing but requires a professional cleaning. Nearly 50% of adults over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease.

Researchers at the Canadian Universite’ Laval had been looking at natural antibacterial substances to fight gum disease. Recently they focused on blueberry polyphenols from the wild lowbush blueberry. Laboratory testing showed that the polyphenol compounds stopped bacteria from growing and forming biofilms. Tests on the immune system cells linked to inflammation were also positive – the extract blocked a molecular pathway required for the inflammation response.

The research team is now working on a device that can slowly release the natural extract after a deep dental cleaning to help treat gum disease instead of using antibiotics.

Healthy gums are important for more than just a pretty smile. Research has shown that poor gum health is linked to heart disease, pre-term birth and even raises the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Find out more about keeping your gums healthy and schedule your next cleaning by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.

Back To School - Don't Forget That Healthy Smile

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

The start of school is just a few weeks away and that means lunchtime away from home for your students. Keep their healthy smiles in mind when you pack that school lunch and you’ll help your child with better overall health as well!

All ages are at risk of developing cavities, especially if they don’t practice healthy dental habits but dental caries (tooth decay) is the most common childhood disease. Here are a few tips that can help you promote healthy dental habits in your family:

  1. Eat healthy at home. A healthy diet that avoids added sugars and simple carbohydrates will do more than help your children avoid tooth decay. A balanced diet with healthy whole grains, lean protein and lots of fruits and vegetables will also promote your child’s growth and physical health. Your children will imitate household eating habits when away from home – even though they may say they won’t!
  2. Make sure the lunchbox contains fruit and dairy. Naturally sweet fruits make a healthy snack that satisfies cravings and add needed nutrients. Low fat cheese is another good option that adds calcium to your child’s diet. That added calcium makes for strong bones and teeth. Cheese or other dairy products are a great way to end a meal — they actually help protect tooth enamel from decay.
  3. Say NO to sticky or sugary foods. Frequent sugar consumption is one of the worst things for your teeth and is a direct cause of tooth decay. Avoid packing lunchtime treats with added sugars, especially sticky stuff, like candy, cookies and sodas. These snacks may be convenient but they are better food sources for the bacteria that cause tooth decay than for your kids. Remember to check the sugar content on packaged items, there can be lots of sugar bombs hiding in healthy sounding items like apple sauce!
  4. Participate in oral hygiene care. Be a part of the morning and nightly ritual of brushing and flossing. Teaching your kids good oral health habits when they are young will result in a lifetime of better oral health. Let your children watch you brush and floss so they can imitate you. Morning tooth brushing should be after breakfast so they go to school with clean teeth and fresh breath.

Healthy habits, like eating well and good hygiene habits, begin at home so make these times fun. Sing a song while brushing teeth – this helps time the brushing so they don’t cut it short.

Now is a great time to arrange dental appointments for the entire family. Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your next visit.

Chewing Gum Helps Remove Bacteria

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

Dentists have been telling patients about the benefits of chewing sugarless gum for several years. Chewing gum has been shown to fight cavities and increase the flow of saliva. A new study funded by the Wrigley gum company has shown that chewing gum can also remove bacteria from the mouth.

This small study showed that chewing gum may remove as much bacteria as brushing without toothpaste, or flossing your teeth. “This study was initiated as a method development study to determine the number of bacteria that are trapped in a piece of sugar-free gum,” said study author Stefan Wessel. “According to our knowledge, this is the first time that an estimate of the number of bacteria trapped in a piece of chewed gum is determined.”

The study found about 108 bacteria detected per gum piece. The volunteer gum chewers had been asked to chew the gum for up to 10 minutes. The research showed that most of the bacteria were trapped during the initial chewing period. The researchers emphasized that brushing and flossing are much more effective in reaching many areas of the mouth, and that chewing gum would not replace these methods of cleaning the teeth. Chewing sugarless gum can be a useful addition to a good oral health regimen. Many sugarless gums are sweetened with a substance called xylitol which has also been shown to be effective against bacteria growth.

When should you chew sugarless gum? After meals is a perfect time, the extra saliva will help wash away food debris and now we know that some bacteria will be removed as well which may help with afternoon bad breath.

Find out more about keeping your smile healthy and beautiful by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your next visit.

Second Hand Smoke and Gum Disease

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

The link between smoking and gum disease has been known for many years, but new research appears to show that even second hand smoke can greatly increase the risk for periodontitis.

Almost half of US adults have some form of gum disease. Untreated gum disease has been linked to health issues throughout the body including heart disease, poor blood sugar control, premature birth and even some types of cancers.

The risk factors for gum disease include smoking, diabetes, using certain medications, hormonal changes in women and having a genetic predisposition to the disease. Most cases of gum disease can be prevented by proper oral hygiene (brushing and flossing), and regular dental hygiene visits. Our patients with diabetes and those who smoke are warned of their higher risk and advised on preventative measures – now it appears that we will need to add the family members of smokers to this group.

Using tobacco in any form, either smoked or orally, has serious effects upon oral health. Oral problems linked to tobacco use include:

  • Bad breath
  • Yellow teeth
  • Increase risk of Gum Disease
  • Risk of developing white patches or leukoplakia in the mouth
  • Delayed healing following dental surgery
  • Increased risk of oral cancer
  • Increased risk of dental implant failure
  • Increased loss of bone in the jaw

Quitting is hard. Talk to your doctor about your support options when you make the decision to quit using tobacco products. Sweeter smelling breath and a healthy white smile (along with reduced risks of heart disease and cancer) are at the end of the journey.

Find out more about keeping your smile healthy by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your next visit.

Keeping Your Smile Healthy After 50

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

There is news to smile about for people past 50 – more and more are keeping their smiles! A few generations ago it was expected that teeth would be lost as we got older – today this is no longer true. People are keeping their teeth longer than before and the number of teeth that older American’s retain has increased. Keeping our teeth longer does mean that there are some problems to be aware of as we age.

Tooth Decay

We usually think of kids getting cavities but tooth decay can happen at any age – even over 50! Some patients who have never had a problem with cavities find they start getting them on the surface of their teeth, more commonly decay forms around old fillings or at the root of the tooth. Old dental fillings need to be checked regularly and replaced if they show signs of damage or leakage. Fluoride treatments, including brushing with fluoride toothpaste or using a fluoride rinse, help protect teeth against decay. Ask your dentist if over-the-counter products will work for you or if you should step up to a prescription strength product.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is caused by medications, smoking, or some medical conditions. Dry mouth is uncomfortable, but more importantly, saliva plays a huge role in keeping our mouths healthy. Saliva protects our teeth from decay by washing away food debris and helping to remineralize tooth enamel that has been softened after exposure to acids in food and drink. Chewing sugarless gum helps stimulate saliva in some people or you may find that a saliva substitute works best for you.

Gum Disease

Bleeding gums are never normal. Gums that are swollen, red or bleed easily tell us that you have gingivitis, an early form of gum disease. Left untreated, gum disease will only progress leading to eventual tooth loss and even affect the bone in your jaw. Gum disease and the inflammation that goes along with it has also been linked to a number of serious health problems including cardiovascular disease. Keeping your gums healthy by brushing, flossing and visiting the dental hygienist regularly can help maintain your overall health – which saves healthcare dollars in the long run!

Oral Cancer

Over 40,000 people in this country will be diagnosed with oral cancers and more than 8,000 will die from the disease. Oral cancers are linked to smoking, heavy alcohol use and HPV (the human papilloma virus). Surviving oral cancer means early detection is necessary. Your dental examination includes an oral cancer screening – don’t skip this important step.

Crowded Teeth

Our teeth move as we get older. Typically the bottom teeth become crowded and you may find that food “sticks” in new places in your mouth. Crowded teeth are more than a cosmetic worry. Teeth that are crowded are more difficult to keep clean and this may lead to erosion of the gums or gum disease. More and more older adults are deciding to straighten those crooked teeth – talk to your dentist about your options for creating a straight, beautiful smile without the “brace-face” you remember from childhood.

Please contact our full service dental office, Wilbanks Smile Center, in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-8777. We’ll be happy to work together to help you get (and keep) a healthy, beautiful smile for life!

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