gum disease

Are Your Gums Going To Pot?

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

A new study published in JAMA Psychiatry suggests that long term marijuana use may increase the risk of gum disease. The study did not find a link between long term use of pot and increased risk of other health problems.

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal (in most places) drug used in the United States. A 2014 survey found that 22.2 million Americans reported using the drug in the past month.

The study analyzed the data of 1,037 adults who were part of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study of New Zealand.Lead researcher Dr. Madeline Meier of Arizona State University  and her team looked at the frequency of marijuana use among participants between the ages of 1-38 and evaluated whether this usage had impacted their physical health at age 38. The researchers looked at whether the marijuana use affected periodontal health, inflammation, metabolism and lung function. Study participants who were heavy marijuana users for up to 20 years showed a greater risk of gum disease at the age of 38.

The research team points out study limitations, such as the drug use was self-reported. Some may not have disclosed their marijuana use.

The study authors reported, “In general, our finding showed that cannabis use over 20 years was unrelated to health problems in early midlife.” The researchers also noted that previous studies have shown that pot smokers tend to brush their teeth and floss less frequently and they are more likely to abuse alcohol, which is also a risk factor for gum disease. Smoking cigarettes is another huge risk factor for gum disease.

Good oral hygiene habits including brushing, flossing and visiting the dental hygienist regularly can help keep your gums and your smile healthy and beautiful.

To schedule your next visit please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.

 

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!

 

 

 

Can Mouth Bacteria Increase Risk For Pancreatic Cancer

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

All cancers are scary, but pancreatic cancer is especially so. A new study suggests that certain mouth bacteria may increase the risk for pancreatic cancer.

Previous research has linked a history of gum disease and oral health problems with and increased risk of pancreatic cancer. Some studies have also suggested that certain types of oral bacteria may be involved. Groundbreaking research from the NYU School of Medicine is the first to directly evaluate the oral microbiome.

in 2014 over 46,000 Americans were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and almost 40,000 died. The researchers are hoping that their findings may lead to earlier, and improved treatments for pancreatic cancer. Said Dr. Jiyoung Ahn, “Our study offers the first direct evidence that specific changes in the microbial mix in the mouth – the oral microbiome – represent a likely risk factor for pancreatic cancer along with older age, male gender, smoking, African-American race, and a family history of the disease.” Cigarette smoking is the most important risk factor for the disease and it is the 12th most common cancer in the United States.

The study involved comparing mouth bacteria sampled from men and women before they developed pancreatic cancer with those sampled from similar individuals who did not have the disease. The study participants had been taking part in a larger study of cancer risk and had been followed for nearly 10 years. When the results were analyzed, the researchers discovered that patients who had Porphyromonas gingivalis bacteria present had a 59% overall higher risk of developing this cancer. Another bacteria, Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans was linked to a 50% higher risk. Both types of bacteria are known to cause gum disease.

Another recently published study showed that smoking is tied to changes in mouth bacteria. The good news is that once smoking is stopped, the bacterial changes can be reversed. Professor Ahn stated, “These bacterial changes in the mouth could potentially show us who is at most risk of developing pancreatic cancer.”

Gum disease, and the oral bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay, have been linked to many serious health problems ranging from heart disease, premature birth and even cancers. Protect your overall health by keeping your smile as healthy as possible.

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

All Ages Need Dental Care

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

As we age it is important to remember that those old fillings and dental crowns don’t last forever. They last a really long time considering they are used many times a day, every single day, but eventually they will need to be replaced. If it has been a while since your last dental visit please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your appointment.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

Smokers Risk Losing Teeth

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Dentists have known for a long time that smoking is bad for your oral health, as well as your overall health.

New research confirms that regular smokers have a significantly higher risk of losing teeth than non smokers. How much higher? Try over three times higher for men and 2 1/2 times higher for women. The study, published in the Journal of Dental Research, was completed by researchers at the University of Birmingham (UK) and the German Institute of Human Nutrition. Worldwide about 30% of people aged 65-74 have lost all of their natural teeth.

Lead researcher, Dr. Thomas Dietrich explained, “Most teeth are lost as a result of either caries (tooth decay) or chronic periodontitis (gum disease). We know that smoking is a strong risk factor for periodontitis, so that may go a long way towards explaining the higher rate of tooth loss in smokers.” Smoking can actually hide the effects of gum disease like bleeding gums — people think their gums are healthier than they actually are. “The goog news is that quitting smoking can reduce the risk fairly quickly. Eventually, an ex-smoker would have the same risk for tooth loss as someone who had never smoked, although this can take more than ten years.”

Because gum disease and tooth loss might be the first noticeable effect on the health of someone who smokes, hopefully people will use this as a wakeup call and quit smoking before life threatening conditions such as COPD or lung cancer occur. Smokeless forms of tobacco have also been linked to gum disease and tooth loss, but with the added increase in oral cancer rates.

If you use tobacco products talk to your doctor about quitting. If you haven’t quit yet, remember to schedule more frequent dental hygiene visits at 3 month intervals to monitor and maintain gum health.

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.

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.

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