Posts Tagged ‘oral health’

Cancer Treatment and Oral Health

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

When patients are faced with cancer treatment it is understandable that their oral health is not something they spend much time thinking about. However, it is important that your dentist know your health status and about any future treatments. Dental and oral changes may occur before, during and after cancer treatment.

Prior to Treatment

Continue to maintain good oral hygiene routines including brushing and flossing. Avoid mouthrinses that contain alcohol. Your dentist may recommend fluoride therapies, xylitol products or products used for dry mouth. It is important to treat any condition causing pain and/or swelling or any problem that could risk infection during your treatment. 

Common Side Effects of Treatment

Dry Mouth – Decreased saliva flow, also called xerostomia, is a common side effect of many medications and can occur during cancer treatment. Sip water frequently and  use mouth moisturizing agents, available as rinses and lozenges, to keep the tissues of the mouth moist. Teeth will be more susceptible to decay so fluoride treatment may be suggested. Avoid spicy or acidic foods, alcohol mouthrinses and sugary foods.

Oral Pain - Mouth sores can occur in the mouth and throat. There are prescription rinses that can help alleviate the discomfort. Homemade mouthrinse recipes may be provided by your cancer treatment center. The same foods that irritate dry mouth will also irritate mouth sores. Talk to your health care professional if pain is severe.

Yeast Infections – Fungal infections of the mouth will appear as white or red changes on the tongue or inside  of the mouth, bad breath and changes in taste. Anti-fungal medication may be necessary along with maintaining good brushing and flossing habits.

Jaw Bone Health – Radiation treatment to the jaw area and some cancer medications can affect bone health. Your dentist and treating physician can work together on a treatment plan.

Managing oral health during serious medical treatments might seem unimportant but healthy teeth and gums are important for good nutrition and reducing the risk of inflammation from gum disease. Please keep us informed of your overall health and any treatments you may be going through that could affect your oral health. Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center at 706-391-8777 to schedule your visit.


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.

Sugary Drinks Increasing Dental Erosion In Kids

Friday, March 4th, 2016

Worldwide rising consumption of sugary drinks is increasing dental erosion in kids and adolescents. Most of these drinks are not only high in sugar, but are also very acidic and dentists have known for years that the combination erodes dental enamel.

New research from the University of Bergen, Norway has focused not on what is in these types of drink, but rather how they are consumed. The investigators followed the progression of dental erosion of a four year period in a group of 13 and 14 year olds. Cavities and gum health were reviewed as well. The research focused on lifestyle factors such as the method of drinking the sugary and acidic drinks, exercise, screen time, and even counted the intake of various other foods and drinks. These included ice cream, snacks, sweets, coffee, tea, yogurt, milk and cheese.

As the four years of the study progressed, dental erosion occurred on about 35% of the tooth surfaces. Boys showed more damage to their dental enamel than girls. Dental erosion occurs when acid dissolves the hard outer layer of the tooth, the enamel. This damage leaves the tooth vulnerable to decay.

The study found that consuming high amounts of sugary drinks and sour candy, and a lower intake of milk were linked to dental damage. One important note was that the habit of some to retain acidic soft drinks in the mouth before swallowing was linked to increased erosion.

Damage to the dental enamel in this age group is worrying and the researchers suggest that dentists and hygienists work to educate children and adolescents about preventing future cavities and the need for dental fillings, or even tooth loss.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule dental check-up appointments for your family. We can help everyone maintain a healthy, cavity free, smile.

Oral Bacteria Linked To Stroke

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

Oral bacteria has been linked to stroke and heart disease, and other health conditions. New research from Japan has increased scientists understanding of the link between certain types of strokes and oral bacteria.

Researchers at the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center in Osaka, Japan looked at stroke patients and the oral bacteria in their saliva. The researchers specifically looked at patients with hemorrhagic stroke, in which blood vessels in the brain rupture. Of the patients who experienced this type of stroke, 26% were found to have a specific bacteria in their saliva — cnm positive Streptococcus mutans. In patients experiencing other types of strokes, researchers found only 6% tested positive for the bacteria which causes tooth decay.

The research team also reviewed MRI’s of the stroke patients looking for small brain bleeds (cerebral microbleeds or CMB) which may cause dementia. The data showed that the number of these bleeds was higher in patients with the cnm-positive S. mutans than in those without the bacteria.

What does this all mean? The researcher think that it is possible that the bacteria may attach to blood vessels that have already been weakened by hypertension or age, leading to brain bleeds.

Dr. Robert Friedland, co-author of the study said, “This study shows that oral health is important for brain health. People need to take care of their teeth because it is good for their brain their heart as well as their teeth. The study and related work in our labs have shown that oral bacteria are involved in several kinds of stroke, including brain hemorrhages and strokes that lead to dementia.”

Many scientific studies have shown a link between gum disease and heart disease. The oral bacteria responsible for gum disease have even been proven to make rheumatoid arthritis worse.

Maintaining a health mouth is simple. Brush two times per day with a soft bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste. Floss your teeth every day and visit your dentist for professional cleanings every six months — more often if you have active gum disease.

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


Sleeping With Your Mouth Open?

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

Do you sleep with your mouth open? If you do, you could be damaging your teeth.

Researchers from New Zealand  looked at sleepers and found that the acidity level in the mouths of those who slept with their mouths open reached levels that could cause tooth enamel to break down.

When you breath through your mouth when you sleep your saliva dries up. Saliva is an important part of the process that keeps the pH balance in the mouth from becoming too acidic. Dentists are reporting that more and more patients are complaining of dry mouth — especially when sleeping or when they first wake up. Previous studies have shown that people suffering from dry-mouth have a higher risk of tooth erosion and tooth decay.

The researchers measured the pH levels of sleeping volunteers. To make them breath through their mouths the volunteers wore nose clips. While wearing the clips, the mouth pH during sleep was 6.6 while mouth breathing. The average sleep pH of the mouth for non-clipped volunteers was 7.0 and during waking hours it was 7.3. This seems like a small difference but these small changes are all it takes for the acid to erode teeth and leave them vulnerable to tooth decay.

Mouth breathing can be reduced by keeping the nasal passages open. Prior to bedtime try a saline nasal spray, nose strips or nasal cones to open up the breathing passages of the nose.

Mouth breathing can also be a sign of a sleep breathing disorder like obstructive sleep apnea. If you snore loudly when you sleep, have been told you stop breathing or gasp during sleep, and experience daytime sleepiness you may suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Ask your doctor or your sleep apnea dentist about diagnosis and treatment.

Protect your teeth from erosion and decay by visiting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today for your professional cleaning and fluoride treatment. Contact us today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your visit.


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.

Healthy Teeth After Halloween!

Friday, October 30th, 2015

Your kids are living the Halloween dream – lots of candy! But can you help protect their teeth from all that sugar and prevent future cavities? The answer is yes, your children can still enjoy their Halloween fun (in moderation) and a few tricks can help protect their teeth from those treats.

Don’t try to deny your kids their Halloween treats – this makes the candy seem even more enticing and they will probably end up eating more of the stuff when they are out of your control. They key to a healthy Halloween is moderation.

After your children have brought home their trick-or-treat bags sit down and go through them together. Let your children decide what their favorites are and choose some candy to “keep”, the rest of the candy can be packed up, put out of sight and donated. While this sorting is going on it is a great time to remind the kids that candy is made of sugar and sugar is bad for our teeth, and our bodies overall.

Pick a time each day that your child can eat Halloween candy. This stops the constant snacking on sugar that will really fuel the oral bacteria that damage tooth enamel. The best time to choose – following a meal! Your child is full from the meal and won’t want as much candy and following a meal our saliva is flowing more freely which will more quickly wash away candy debris from the teeth.

Make sure your child is brushing and flossing. You can keep tooth brushing fun by investing in a fun new toothbrush every three months. Children should also get to choose their toothpaste so they can get a flavor they like (watch them to make sure the toothpaste isn’t swallowed). Just look for a toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association.

Disclosing tablets or solutions are a great way to show your kids that they are missing some spots when they brush. These tablets and solutions temporarily stain the plaque that builds up on teeth and most kids find them fun to use.

Happy Halloween to everyone! Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today for more information on protecting your smile and 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.

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