Posts Tagged ‘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!

 

 

 

Insurance Companies Connect Oral Health With Overall Health

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Dentists have known for a long time that oral health affects overall health. In the past decade the general public has acknowledged the link as well. We are now beginning to see that insurance companies are connecting good oral health with good overall health as well.

The bacteria that are responsible for oral health problems including gum disease, infections and tooth decay, have the ability to travel throughout the body. Oral bacteria has been linked with heart disease, diabetes, pre-term birth and has even been found to link to certain cancers. Keeping the gums and teeth as healthy as possible and reducing the number of “bad” bacteria in the mouth can have a positive affect on overall well-being.

Some insurance companies are now adding links between their health insurance and their dental insurance. For instance,  Cigna has the Oral Health Integration Program, where patients who are pregnant or have with certain medical conditions like diabetes, chronic kidney disease, side effects from head and neck cancer radiation, among others, may quality for 100 percent reimbursement for copays or coinsurance for specific dental procedures for periodontal treatment or caries protection. Another insurance company, Aetna insurance started their medical/dental integration program back in 2007 after a study they did with Columbia University found that people with diabetes, heart disease and atherosclerosis  who were receiving dental care had risk scores that averaged 27 percent lower from those who did not. The study also showed that the medical costs for patients with those conditions who had been treated for periodontal disease averaged 12 percent lower medical costs.

“We’re starting to see this more and more as insurance companies begin to realize how closely oral health is connected to a patient’s overall health,” Dr. Ronald Riggins of the American Dental Association  said. “We want dentists to be aware of these benefits so they can alert their patients, who may not be aware these are available to them.”

Most dental insurance plans don’t cover much so it is nice to see that there are some small improvements. People that have dental insurance usually receive it as a benefit from their workplace. If you do purchase this type of coverage make sure that you are looking at a plan that allows you to see any dentist you wish. Most highly qualified dentists do not participate in insurance plans but will be happy to submit your claim so you can receive reimbursement from the company.

If you are experiencing oral health problems such as bleeding gums, infections, tooth decay or bad breath (a sign of gum disease), please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today. We can help you achieve a healthy mouth which can lead to better overall health and save you healthcare dollars.

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.

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.

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.

 

Straight Teeth Are Healthier Teeth

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Quick – what is the first reason that people get orthodontic treatment to straighten their teeth? Yes, many people get braces to improve the appearance of their smile, but straighter teeth also lead to a healthier smile!

Everyone knows the routine for brushing and flossing to maintain a healthy smile. Sticking to this routine protects our teeth from plaque buildup, gum disease and tooth decay. Unfortunately for people with misaligned or crooked teeth brushing and flossing is severely inhibited. Crooked teeth are almost impossible to floss effectively, meaning that food debris and plaque is trapped in those hard-to-reach areas. Crooked teeth also mean that the toothbrush cannot reach the entire surface of the tooth, again leaving the tooth open to decay.

Crowded or misaligned teeth can also cause excess force on certain parts of the jaw. This can lead to painful jaw joint (TMJ) dysfunction and can even weaken the jaw bone surrounding the teeth. Frequent headaches, facial pain, neck pain and clicking or popping noises in the jaw joint are signs that damage has occurred.

Crooked teeth can also lead to cracked teeth. Orthodontic treatment does much more than make a smile look pretty, the treatment is also designed to ensure that teeth are placed to ensure a proper bite. Teeth that press against one another because they are out of place cause damage that is avoided in people with straight teeth. Teeth are meant to close against one another in a certain way, when this does not happen the constant tooth on tooth banging will cause chips and breaks. The uneven bite also causes uneven wear and tear on the tooth enamel which again leaves teeth open for decay.

Find out more about orthodontic treatment, your options for braces and how a straight beautiful smile can be a healthier smile in the long term.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your consultation.

Is Bad Breath Making You Avoid Socializing?

Thursday, December 24th, 2015

You don’t need to avoid socializing with friends and family because of bad breath. Halitosis has many causes and discovering why your breath doesn’t smell fresh is the first step to solving the problem.

All of us experience bad breath from time to time, especially after ingesting certain foods or drinks. If you suspect that your bad breath occurs on a regular basis it is time to investigate. Here are the usual suspects in cases of bad breath:

  1. Oral bacteria. Lots of bacteria live in our bodies and when the ones that live in the mouth aren’t cleaned out on a regular basis they begin to give off odors. The solutions is simple – keep your oral bacteria count low by brushing the teeth and tongue for at least two minutes twice each day. FLOSS! Flossing is necessary to remove the bacteria and food debris stuck between teeth. Visit your dentist for regular professional cleanings to ensure that bacterial colonies below the gum line are removed.
  2. Tonsil Stones. The tonsils are full of nooks and crannies that collect bacteria and mucus. This goop eventually hardens into a “stone” which is really stinky and can cause a nasty taste in the mouth. Gargling with warm salt water or using a water flosser can help remove debris before stones form and you can gently remove stones with a cotton swab or toothbrush. If you form stones often and experience frequent throat infections you may want to discuss removing the tonsils with your doctor.
  3. GERD. People who experience gastric reflux may also experience bad breath. Talk to your physician about keeping your GERD under control with medication and lifestyle changes.
  4. Food. We think of smelly foods like onions and garlic causing bad breath but your morning coffee can pack a malodorous punch! Some of these foods cause a stink in the mouth and again, when they have been digested. The chemicals in the food travel through the bloodstream to the lungs where you breath them out. The cure – in the short term you can brush and floss but until that garlic has worked its way through your system you will possess garlic breath. Avoid these foods unless they are cooked.
  5. Dry Mouth. Dry mouth is common as we age and is a side effect of many medications. Our saliva cleans debris from the mouth and without it, bacteria can breed and cause odors and oral disease. Drink lots of water, try chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production and check out the saliva substitutes now available.
  6. Oral Disease. If you have active gum disease, tooth decay or infection in your mouth it will smell bad. Visit the dentist to see what is going on and get your mouth healthy again!
  7. Smoking. Smokers breath is always bad. The only cure is quitting the habit. Chewing tobacco or other forms of tobacco also leave a bad smell and taste in the mouth. Smokers are also more likely to develop gum disease which is another cause of bad breath.

If you suspect bad breath but can’t pinpoint the cause, contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777  to schedule a visit. We can get to the bottom of your bad breath and make you more comfortable going out and socializing!

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.

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