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.
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.
Sunday, January 24th, 2016
Have you noticed white spots on your teeth? These white spot lesions can be appear for a number of reasons — your dentist will work to determine the cause of your white spots and if they are a cause for concern.
Sometimes white spots on teeth are caused by nutrition, genetic predisposition or an excessive intake of fluoride. A common cause for white spots is orthodontic treatment and the white spots will be noticed when brackets are removed.
Most of the time white spots are actually areas of decalcified tooth enamel which is an early sign of cavity formation. Fluoride treatments may help to remineralize the tooth and hold off tooth decay.
While fluoride is terrific at helping to prevent tooth decay, too much of it can also cause white spots. If you live in an area where there are naturally high fluoride levels you may encounter this problem which is called fluorosis.
Braces are associated with white spot formation because patients with orthodontic braces often have a difficult time cleaning their teeth. This results in a build-up of plaque on the tooth surface. Acids produced by plaque can severely damage the tooth enamel which may eventually become tooth decay. White spots following the removal of braces can cause severe upset — the teeth are now straight but their color is no longer uniform.
The best treatment for these types of white spot lesions is prevention, of course. Follow your dentist’s instructions regarding oral hygiene care when wearing braces and maintain your schedule of professional dental cleanings.
Treatment options for white spot lesions can include fluoride treatments, dental bonding and dental veneers depending upon how severe the case.
If you suddenly notice a white spot on your tooth that hasn’t been there before — schedule a visit with your dentist. If it is the beginning of tooth decay we can work to prevent a cavity from forming or from becoming larger. Treating problems when they are small is easier and less expensive — don’t wait because teeth can’t heal themselves.
Find out more about tooth decay and your treatment options by contacting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777. We’ll be happy to schedule your next visit!
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
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.
Saturday, September 12th, 2015
Kids get cavities – but they don’t have to! A study conducted in Great Britain is the first to look at the economics of preveting cavities in children. In the UK about 26,000 children are admitted to the hospital for dental treatment each year and this is expensive. Small children typically can’t sit through a large number of dental procedures and must be sedated in order to have their care completed. This happens in the US as well but our health system can’t quantify the exact number of hospitalizations for dental care.
Professor Elizabeth Kay from Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, has carried out the first economic evaluation of public health measures to reduce tooth decay in children at high risk. Tooth decay can be prevented by proper tooth brushing and the use of dental sealants on young children. Dr. Kay said “I think it is a national outrage that so many children in the UK are admitted to hospital for surgical procedures for conditions which are by and large preventable. If there was a health issue that resulted in this number of children having another body part removed under general or local anaesthetic there would be a justifiable national outcry, yet for many reasons tooth extraction appears to have become accepted in some circles. This study demonstrates that it is also economically viable and sensible to prevent tooth decay.”
Small children need supervision, and sometimes help, to ensure proper dental hygiene. Today there are Apps for making sure that kids brush for the recommended 2 minutes — this can make brushing more fun. Remember that after the children brush they should spit but not rinse — this keeps the fluoride from the toothpaste on the teeth, not rinsed away.
Dental sealants are applied to the biting surfaces of teeth to help prevent cavity formation. These are highly effective, safe and affordable.
Find out more about protecting your child’s smile from decay by visiting Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777.
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.
Thursday, August 6th, 2015
The start of school is just a few weeks away and that means lunchtime away from home for your students. Keep their healthy smiles in mind when you pack that school lunch and you’ll help your child with better overall health as well!
All ages are at risk of developing cavities, especially if they don’t practice healthy dental habits but dental caries (tooth decay) is the most common childhood disease. Here are a few tips that can help you promote healthy dental habits in your family:
- Eat healthy at home. A healthy diet that avoids added sugars and simple carbohydrates will do more than help your children avoid tooth decay. A balanced diet with healthy whole grains, lean protein and lots of fruits and vegetables will also promote your child’s growth and physical health. Your children will imitate household eating habits when away from home – even though they may say they won’t!
- Make sure the lunchbox contains fruit and dairy. Naturally sweet fruits make a healthy snack that satisfies cravings and add needed nutrients. Low fat cheese is another good option that adds calcium to your child’s diet. That added calcium makes for strong bones and teeth. Cheese or other dairy products are a great way to end a meal — they actually help protect tooth enamel from decay.
- Say NO to sticky or sugary foods. Frequent sugar consumption is one of the worst things for your teeth and is a direct cause of tooth decay. Avoid packing lunchtime treats with added sugars, especially sticky stuff, like candy, cookies and sodas. These snacks may be convenient but they are better food sources for the bacteria that cause tooth decay than for your kids. Remember to check the sugar content on packaged items, there can be lots of sugar bombs hiding in healthy sounding items like apple sauce!
- Participate in oral hygiene care. Be a part of the morning and nightly ritual of brushing and flossing. Teaching your kids good oral health habits when they are young will result in a lifetime of better oral health. Let your children watch you brush and floss so they can imitate you. Morning tooth brushing should be after breakfast so they go to school with clean teeth and fresh breath.
Healthy habits, like eating well and good hygiene habits, begin at home so make these times fun. Sing a song while brushing teeth – this helps time the brushing so they don’t cut it short.
Now is a great time to arrange dental appointments for the entire family. Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your next visit.
Friday, June 12th, 2015
Research presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology reported that people who share bathrooms may be sharing some icky stuff on their toothbrushes!
The study conducted at Quinnipiac University found that over half of toothbrushes used in communal bathrooms had fecal bacteria on them at that there was an 80% chance that those germs came from someone else using the same bathroom. Regardless of the storage method, at least 60% of toothbrushes were contaminated. Cleaning methods for the toothbrushes were also checked — it didn’t matter whether the brushes were rinsed in hot water, cold water or rinsed with a mouthwash, the contamination as still there. “Using a toothbrush cover doesn’t protect a toothbrush from bacteria growth, but actually creates an environment where bacteria are better suited to grow by keeping the brisles moist and not allowing the head of the toothbrush to dry out between uses,” said Graduate Student Lauren Aber.
So how can you protect yourself if you share a bathroom with a lot of other people? Clean your brush after each use and store it in a manner that allows it to dry out. If possible you may want to store the toothbrush in the bedroom rather than the bathroom. Change your toothbrush at least every three months or earlier if the bristles show wear.
Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your next office visit and we’ll let you know how well you’ve been brushing!