Tooth Enamel

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.


Protect Your Teeth From Holiday Treats

Friday, December 18th, 2015

‘Tis the season for cookies and candies and lots of holiday treats and you need to protect your teeth. In addition to being bad for your waistline all of these high sugar goodies translate to a higher risk for tooth decay.

Many people think that tooth decay happens mostly to children — everyone is susceptible to tooth decay. Some adults, especially seniors and people who take certain medications that result in “dry mouth”, are at higher risk for tooth decay.

We all have good and bad bacteria that live in our bodies. Over 700 different strains have been detected in the human mouth! The trick to maintaining a healthy body and mouth is to keep the balance of good and bad bacteria in the right proportions.

Eating and drinking foods high in carbohydrates (sugars) provide a feast for the bad bacteria in our mouths. The bacteria eat the sugars and excrete acids which soften the tooth enamel. Once enamel has been damaged, the tooth is open for tooth decay. You can protect your teeth during the holidays, and throughout the year, by following these simple steps:

  • Limit your intake of goodies to specific times. Grazing all day long means that the teeth are constantly covered in sugars and food debris.
  • Have your treats after eating a meal. Saliva is already flowing and will help to wash away debris and protect the teeth.
  • If you have something sugary and high in acid, like a soft drink, wait about 30 minutes to brush. The acids will have softened the tooth enamel and immediate brushing can cause more harm than good.
  • Enjoy the holiday parties but station yourself near the veggie tray, not the cookies. Chewing crunchy vegetables actually helps clean teeth.

These guidelines can help both children and adults protect their pearly whites during the sugar rush that accompanies the holidays. So go ahead and enjoy Grandma’s special fudge. Just remember to brush, floss and schedule your next dental hygiene appointment!

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777  to schedule your visit.


Why Do My Teeth Hurt?

Friday, September 25th, 2015

When people complain that their teeth hurt, they usually aren’t talking about one tooth aching, they are talking about tooth sensitivity.

How do you know if you have sensitive teeth? Trust me, you would know. Sensitive teeth react to heat or cold. and even sweets. Hot coffee, ice water and sometimes even breathing in on a cold day cause immediate pain. This pain happens because the dentin, a soft layer that makes up the inner part of the tooth and roots is exposed. The dentin has thousands of tiny tubes that lead to the nerve center of the tooth (the pulp). These channels allow the trigger — for example, the hot, cold, or sweet food — to reach the nerve in your tooth, which results in the pain you feel.

What causes teeth to become sensitive? Usually because the enamel has become damaged or the root of the tooth has been exposed. These things occur because of:

  • Brushing too hard or using a hard bristle brush. This wears away tooth enamel.
  • Gum disease causes the gums to pull away from the teeth exposing tooth roots.
  • Tooth whitening product overuse – more is not always better.
  • Drinking too much soda, energy drinks or sports drinks. All have high levels of sugar and acids — a bad combination for tooth enamel.
  • Tooth grinding.
  • Dental work can make teeth sensitive but the good news is that this type of sensitivity will clear up over time.

What can you do to feel better with sensitive teeth?

  • Brush and floss regularly with a soft bristle brush. Brush gently, don’t scrub!
  • Use a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth.
  • Watch what you eat and drink – avoid food and drink that is very acidic.
  • Use fluoride products to products such as mouth rinses.
  • Don’t grind your teeth – if you do ask your dentist about a bite guard to protect your teeth and jaw.
  • Talk to your dentist about your sensitivity.

Sensitive teeth can be a real “pain” but the discomfort can be managed. Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your visit.

Sugarless Gum Can Improve Oral Health

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Chewing sugarless gum containing xylitol can actually help improve your oral health. Chewing sugarless gum does two things. First, the action of chewing gum scrubs your teeth and activates saliva flow which rinses away debris. Secondly, studies have shown that the sweetener xylitol actually inhibits bacterial action in the mouth and can help keep bacteria from adhering to teeth.

Keeping teeth cleaner and keeping bacteria from adhering to teeth reduces the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.

Tooth decay begins when the bacteria in our mouths encounter any substance that they can use for food – sugar is a great example. The bacteria feed on the sugar and then produce acids which soften the tooth enamel. Since the bacteria are being fed they multiply and form colonies which stick to the teeth. The acid produced by these colonies eventually results in tooth decay.

Getting your teeth cleaned every six months removes these bacterial colonies, keeping the gums healthy and reducing your risk of tooth decay. Adding products containing xylitol, like sugarless gum or mints can help reduce bacterial damage between cleanings. Studies have even shown that regular use of products containing xylitol can change the balance of bacteria living in the mouth – fewer bad bugs that cause decay and gum disease and more of the good bacteria that our bodies need!

Xylitol is now being added to toothpaste, mouth rinses and can even be purchased as an artificial sweetener for home use. Too much xylitol can cause stomach upset in some people so it is best to start slowly adding these products to your daily routine. Try chewing xylitol gum after lunch or after an afternoon snack at work. Without a toothbrush you are helping to clean your teeth and maintain good oral health!

Find out more about keeping your smile healthy by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in beautiful Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and schedule your next visit!



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.

Mom's Vitamin D Gives Baby Strong Teeth

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Moms with low levels of vitamin D during pregnancy have been linked to a higher risk of tooth decay in the teeth of their babies. Higher levels of vitamin D may give baby stronger teeth.

Researchers in Canada found that children born to mothers with low levels of vitamin D when pregnant were at increased risk of poor quality dental enamel and early childhood caries (tooth decay). Previous studies had shown that vitamin D deficiency among mothers also lead to defects in the enamel of their toddlers’ teeth.

This recent study looked at the vitamin D levels of women and then checked their children for dental decay during the first year of life. Researchers discovered that one-third of the women had low levels of vitamin D and that the mothers of children with tooth decay had significantly lower levels of the vitamin than did the moms of kids without tooth decay.

Prenatal vitamin D improves the development of tooth enamel in the developing fetus, the researchers concluded. Vitamin D also helps prevent abnormalities of the spinal cord and brain, and enhances brain development. For women, vitamin D helps promote bone density during and after pregnancy. Researchers also believe that vitamin D may help prevent high blood pressure during pregnancy.

Vitamin D means strong teeth for adults too! Known as the sunshine vitamin, the human body makes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Very few foods offer vitamin D so supplements may be in order if you don’t spend much time in the sun.

Find out more about oral health during pregnancy by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439.


Wear And Tear On Your Teeth

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Even our teeth experience the wear and tear of daily life. Teeth are tough but accidental injuries, grinding and bad habits can take their toll. Here are some of the biggest threats to teeth.

Bruxism (Grinding)

Our teeth are designed to chew and grind our food but many of us grind our teeth without knowing it. The constant grinding and clenching can damage chewing surfaces and in some cases, even wear down the teeth themselves. Bruxism is what dentist call this grinding. Many times it occurs during sleep and you never realize it is happening until a bed partner complains about the grinding noises or your dentist notices the damage to your teeth.

Tooth grinding can also cause headaches, muscle spasms and injury to the jaw joint. Your dentist can make a protective splint that will keep the grinding from doing further damage to your teeth and jaw joint. Tooth grinding has been linked to stress in some cases, and some believe that it may also be a subtle sign of certain sleep disorders. If you are grinding a visit to the dentist to protect your teeth and then a visit to your physician to talk about stress relief and to check for other medical issues may be in order.

Accidents Happen

Chipped, broken or fractured teeth are usually due to an accident. These can range from sports mishaps to biting on a popcorn kernel, but the effect is the same. A broken or cracked tooth. Teeth that have fillings or root canals are at higher risk for damage simply because their structure has been weakened by restorations. Protect your teeth (and your children’s teeth) during sports by wearing a mouthguard. Avoid chewing hard substances like hard candy and ice. Ice is especially bad for teeth because the extreme cold, combined with the hard crystalline structure of the ice can cause cracks and chips.

Avoiding Erosion

Another common factor in dental damage is erosion of the tooth enamel. This can be avoided but once the enamel is gone it can never be replaced. Teeth with solid enamel are white and healthy looking. Eroded enamel makes teeth appear yellow and dingy because the dentin layer of the tooth is showing. Avoid dental erosion by skipping the soft drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks — all contain high amounts of sugar and acids which are a bad combination for healthy dental enamel. Brushing too vigorously can also wear away enamel, remember to brush gently, using a soft bristle brush for 2 minutes.

Certain medical conditions can also lead to dental erosion. GERD, bulimia, morning sickness in pregnancy and chronic gastritis can all cause stomach acids into the mouth to erode teeth.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at706-886-9439 to schedule your next visit. We can help you protect your smile against the wear and tear!

A Stellar Smile: Beat Tooth Staining with Whitening Treatments

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Teeth whitening is a safe, common procedure that can drastically whiten and brighten up your smile. A lighter smile can make a person look younger and more attractive. Over the years, many factors can cause one’s smile to become darkened and stained.

Some of these factors include eating acidic foods that wear away tooth enamel, such as sodas, tea and fruit drinks. Particles in food coloring can also build up on the tooth surface over time, and even all-natural, healthy foods such as apples and potatoes can stain your teeth over time.

Natural aging, dental trauma, hereditary factors and health problems can also play a role in a person’s tooth color. Certain medications, such as antibiotics, antihistamines and drugs taken to treat high blood pressure, can also lead to tooth discoloration.

Smoking, chewing tobacco and using other tobacco products, as well as drinking wine and coffee, are also infamous for negatively affecting your smile. Neglecting biannual dental tooth cleanings and not cleaning teeth thoroughly enough during your at-home dental cleaning routine can also yellow your smile.

Along with getting regular dental check-ups and cleanings, as well as thoroughly cleaning your teeth as part of your daily routine, you can maintain your smile with whitening.

Wilbanks Smile Center offers ZOOM! Whitening, an increasingly popular chair-side whitening system that brightens patients’ teeth in a single office visit. Zoom! Whitening is fast and convenient, and is more effective and convenient than other whitening treatments, which only consist of wearing cumbersome trays or strips. ZOOM! Whitening is coupled with our take-home Nite-White system, which provides patients with state-of-the-art tooth whitening.

Another one of the whitening treatments that Wilbanks offers is the Rembrandt™ One-Hour Smile Whitening Program, which uses the Sapphire Plasma Arc Light for dual-arch whitening. This light individually whitens teeth for uniform shade consistency, which creates a brilliantly white, even smile.

Depending on the tooth’s condition and what others aspects of their teeth that the patient wants to improve, one or more teeth  can also be whitened using dental bonding or veneers. Tooth-colored fillings consisting of composite resin, glass ionomer cement (GIC) or porcelain ceramics can also make cavities and other dental procedures practically invisible to the untrained eye.


Teeth Whitening in Toccoa

If you would like to learn more about teeth whitening procedures 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.

Think Before You Drink: Kick Your Cola Habit

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Drinking soda doesn’t just negatively impact your waistline – it permanently affects your teeth. All carbonated soft drinks, whether they are diet or touted as low in sugar, wear away your teeth’s enamel.

Tooth enamel is a hard, thin, translucent layer of calcification that protects your teeth from daily wear and tear. Although it’s the hardest substance in your body, enamel cannot be replaced once it’s gone. That’s why it’s important to protect and properly care for your enamel while you still have it.

Acidic and sugary foods and drinks erode enamel, and dentists are noticing that more and more – as well as younger and younger – people are suffering from worn off enamel. Most popular sodas contain phosphoric and citric acid, which contribute to flavor, but these chemicals make drinks more acidic than lemon juice or vinegar.

Many studies have shown how soda contributes to tooth erosion, cavities and dental decay. But unfortunately, the amount of soda that Americans drink remains steadily on the rise. In fact, the average American drinks about 44 gallons of soda every year, according to the National Soft Drink Association.

If you’re used to having a soda at lunchtime or drink several sodas a week, it’s time to put your dental health first and kick your cola habit. Cut down on your soft drinks or try going cold turkey altogether, and know that you’re doing what’s best for your teeth.

If you have a soda every now and then, don’t sip it throughout the day, which will expose your teeth the acidic chemicals for a longer amount of time. Only drink it while also eating other food, which will help to clear it off of your teeth.

To further remove phosphoric and citric acid from your teeth, brush them immediately after drinking soda. If you aren’t able to brush, thoroughly rinse with a mouthwash or water. Chewing sugar-free gum also helps get harmful chemicals and bacteria away from your teeth and gums.

Those who don a mouthguard during sports or who wear Invisalign aligners should be extra careful about avoiding sodas – these devices can force acidic chemicals to stay against your teeth even longer, which leads to enamel loss as well as tooth decay and staining.

Dental Care in Toccoa

If you would like to learn more about protecting your enamel, taking care of your smile, 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 reached at 706-886-9439. We look forward to hearing from you.

Surprising Foods That Stain Your Smile

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Everyone knows that soda and coffee stain your teeth, but some of the foods that can yellow a smile may come as a surprise to you. We’ve rounded up five of the top offenders when it comes to staining teeth below.

Remember that when it comes to keeping yours smile white and bright, you should cut back on these foods — but when you do eat them, brush your teeth immediately afterwards.

  1. Sports Drinks. Those bright blue, green or orange energy drinks definitely leave their mark on your teeth. When you hit the midday slump and need an energy boost, reach for a tall, invigorating glass of ice water with a sprig of mint, rather than a neon-hued sports drink.
  2. Berries. They may be good for your health nutrition-wise, but dark berries such as blueberries, blackberries, cherries and pomegranates stain your teeth. Watch out for acidic fruits as well, such as oranges, grapefruit and pineapples. They don’t seem like they’re dark enough to cause tooth staining, but they contain enamel-eating acids that can harm your teeth and gradually contribute to staining.
  3. Wine & Alcohol. Red wine’s coloring rubs off on your teeth’s enamel, causing them to look darker. You may logically assume that switching to a white wine will avoid that problem, but the truth is that alcohol itself has a negative impact on teeth. Alcohol irritates the soft tissue in your mouth and can cause inflammation, which can lead to gum disease.
  4. Tomato Sauce. While it may seem healthy, tomato cause is chock full of high acidic content and bright red coloring. The food coloring that’s added to many products can significantly affect your smile, and even worse, tomato sauce has a high sugar count, which also wrecks havoc on teeth and gums.
  5. Bread & Carbohydrates. White bread doesn’t seem something that would stain your smile, but it directly affects your teeth’s whiteness. When the starches in bread and other carbohydrates mix with the enzymes in your saliva, they create an acid that erodes teeth enamel. As enamel erodes, more of the tooth’s dentin is exposed, making teeth look more yellow.

Tooth Whitening in Toccoa

If you would like to learn more about whitening your smile, or any other 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 reached at 706-886-9439. We look forward to hearing from you.


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