Posts Tagged ‘oral hygiene’

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.


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.


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.


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!

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.

Night Owls Get More Cavities

Saturday, August 8th, 2015

Researchers at a Swedish university have discovered that young people who were night owls had greater cavity risk than those who went to bed early.

To evaluate the differences in tooth decay risk between teens that were night owls versus early risers, the investigators looked at the oral health and habits of almost 200 Swedish 15 and 16 year olds. The study participants were classified as being either low risk or high risk for tooth decay and data on their sleep habits, diet and oral care were collected.

The researchers distinguished three different circadian rhythm types:

  • Evening types are alert in the evening and tired in the morning
  • Morning types are alert in the morning and tired in the evening
  • Neutral types who followed neither and were the most common type

The most common sleep cycle, with half of the participants, were the neutral types. Following, with 37 percent, were the evening group and only 13 percent were morning  early birds. Morning and neutral types reported eating breakfast every morning and brushing their teeth twice each day. In contrast, the evening types brushed less often and ate breakfast less regularly. More evening types than morning types were rated at high risk for tooth decay.

The results showed that evening types, the stereotypical night owls, had an almost 4 times higher risk of developing cavities. The researchers suggested that dentists incorporate knowledge of their patients circadian rhythms into their patient education aimed at preventing tooth decay.

You can prevent tooth decay by brushing, flossing and visiting your dental hygienist regularly. 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.

Do You Have Bad Breath?

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Do you have bad breath? How would you even know if someone didn’t tell you and, most importantly, what is the best way to avoid bad breath?

The most common causes for bad breath and the ways to avoid having them cause you problems are:

  1. Oral bacteria – lots of bacteria live in our mouths and the by-products of these bacteria produce a stinky odor. Keeping the number of oral bacteria in check will help keep breath smelling fresh. Brushing teeth thoroughly twice each day and flossing once per day removes oral bacteria. Chewing sugarless gum containing xylitol following meals helps clean teeth and the xylitol has been shown to reduce bacterial activity.
  2. Tonsil stones – tonsils often have creases or grooves that collect bacteria and food debris. This collection of gunk leads to smelly accumulations known as tonsil stones. If you are prone to tonsil stones you may also be prone to tonsil infections. Speak to your physician if tonsil stones are a recurring problem.
  3. Dry mouth or xerostomia – Many older adults suffer from dry mouth, or reduced saliva flow. Saliva is important because the constant flow helps keep your teeth and gums clean and neutralizes the acids produced by oral bacteria. Dry mouth is a side effect of many medications and can lead to more frequent tooth decay or gum disease, as well as bad breath. Fight dry mouth by drinking lots of water and using saliva replacements available at most drug stores.
  4. Gum disease – Periodontal infections (gum disease) are responsible for really terrible breath. Gum disease is an infection caused by the buildup of plaque on the teeth. Plaque is formed on teeth when oral bacteria attempt to attach themselves to the teeth. Dental plaque is soft and easily removed by brushing and flossing. Over time dental plaque hardens and becomes calculus which can only be removed by a professional dental cleaning. This is why brushing and flossing are so important in maintaining a healthy mouth.
  5. Smoking – Use of tobacco products orally or by smoking them have much higher rates of gum disease than non-smokers. Tobacco users with gum disease are also much more likely to experience more serious gum disease and have an increased risk of tooth loss. Talk to your doctor about a strategy for stopping your tobacco use.
  6. Onions, garlic, coffee, etc. – Many foods cause bad breath, even hours after you have eaten them and brushed your teeth. Try eating some yogurt to help replenish the “good” bacteria in your mouth and be patient because the garlic breath will go away eventually!

There are some cases of bad breath that are caused by serious health issues so if a visit to the dentist doesn’t solve your bad breath problem your next step should be to schedule an appointment with your physician.

Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your next visit. We’ll help you keep your smile healthy and your breath fresh!


Is Invisalign® for You?

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Most people associate dental braces as being worn by young children and teenagers. However,  braces are now more popular than ever among adults who want to correct the look of their teeth, and improve their smile! Orthodontic treatments offer something for everyone.

Adults seek orthodontic treatment for various reasons, from crooked teeth to unwanted spaces in between teeth. Aside from cosmetic issues, crooked or uneven teeth can also make everyday activities, like eating or talking comfortably, quite difficult for many adults.

Dental braces have come a long way over the years. In the past, uncomfortable metal braces were the only option for patients who needed to correct crooked or imperfect teeth. However, Invisalign® braces have become increasingly popular over the years- especially among adults, who do not want to wear embarrassing, or uncomfortable, metal braces.

Invisalign are invisible dental aligners, which can discreetly correct your crooked teeth, and give you a more beautiful smile! Unlike traditional dental braces, Invisalign braces are removable. This means you have the flexibility to drink and eat what you like, while still treating dental issues by simply removing the aligners! Just by brushing and flossing regularly, you can maintain good oral hygiene.

Invisalign is also preferred by many patients since it will not cause any irritation to your mouth. Perhaps best of all, you will spend much less time in a dental chair, although your dentist will monitor your progress closely as you wear Invisalign.

So, is Invisalign for you? Most patients are considered good candidates for Invisalign, since it offers all the same benefits of traditional dental braces without the added irritation or discomfort! Both younger and older patients alike can benefit from the treatment, especially if they wish to correct the appearance of crooked, overcrowded, or spaced teeth. However, your dentist will make the final determination of whether or not Invisalign is right for you.

Dental Care in Toccoa

If you’re ready to learn more about Invisalign®, contact us 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.


Ancient Bacteria Still Causing Oral Health Problems

Friday, March 7th, 2014

The same bacteria that gave our ancient ancestors oral health problems are still wreaking havoc on modern smiles.

An international team, led by Dr. Christina Warinner from the department of anthropology at the University of Oklahoma, is attempting to built a detailed picture of people from the German Medieval population. In the quest to find more information about the health and diets of this population they took samples of dental calculus from 1,000 year old teeth. Although the samples were small, dental calculus harbors a lot of DNA. “What makes dental calculus so unique is that it acts both as a long-term reservoir of the oral microbiome and as a trap for dietary and environmental debris,” said Dr. Warriner.

The DNA and protein analysis found that the same inflammatory disease-causing bacteria found in Medieval Germans is about the same as the bacteria that cause periodontal disease today!

Preventing Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is completely preventable thanks to modern dentistry. There were no dental hygieniests 1,000 years ago. Now we know that good home care – brushing and flossing every day – along with regular dental hygiene visits can keep most smiles healthy.

Dental calculus is a very hard substance that cannot be removed with regular brushing and flossing. Because dental calculus serves as “reservoir” for bacteria and traps food particles it is important that it be removed regularly by a dental hygienist in order to maintain healthy gums.

Find out more about preventing periodontal disease by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-886-9439 to schedule your next visit.

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