Halloween is upon us….

Published on October 27, 2016 by

Halloween is upon us…halloween-1

Dressing up and trick-or-treating creates lasting memories for the whole family, but there’s nothing spookier than cavities in your teeth!


Here are your best options to consider in choosing your treats from your little goblins bag.

  • Sugar free candy or gum- because of exactly what the name describes, it doesn’t contain sugar that can feed on bacteria in the mouth and produce decay.
  • Powdery Candy- sure, it’s packed with pure sugar but the texture allows it to dissolve quickly, which prevents sugar from sticking and the producing of acids and bacteria.
  • Chocolate- much like the powdery candy, it dissolves quickly in the mouth. Dark chocolate, being your best option. (Especially because in some cases it has been shown to provide beneficial antioxidants when ingested.)    Happy Halloween from Dr. Banks office!halloween-2

Published on August 25, 2016 by

Sport drinks, like Gatorade and Powerade, are popular for both children and adults. Many sport drinks contain electrolytes and vitamins that are helpful to maintain energy during sporting activities. Others prefer tasty sports drinks as an alternative to water to stay hydrated during warm weather. While sport drinks do have benefits, many overlook the negative effects of these drinks if the consumers are not careful, including added sugars.

Dr. Kenneth Banks and his team want to make sure you understand how sports drinks can cause damage to healthy teeth. The general assumption is that sports drinks contain low to no sugar, and therefore do not contribute to tooth decay. However, this is far from the truth. Tooth-related damage from sports drinks does not come from only the sugar content but from the acidity in the drink. Along with sugar, acid can also cause teeth erosion.

Dental decay is common and occurs as we age due to diminishing tooth enamel. However, sugar and acidity in food and drinks will speed up the process of erosion. Enamel cannot be regrown after it is damaged, so erosion is permanent and eroded teeth are more susceptible to cavities and even tooth damage.

The easiest way to prevent harmful oral effects from sports drinks is to avoid them and drink water. However, if you prefer sports drinks it is important to follow a few steps to protect your teeth. Dr. Banks recommends rinsing your mouth with water immediately after consumption. Doing so will prevent excess sugar and acid from staying on your teeth. Rinsing and cleaning your mouth guard will also decrease the risk of having sugars and acid left behind. Dr. Banks also recommends waiting at least one hour to brush your teeth after consumption. Acid and sugar weaken the enamel and brushing too soon could further weaken the teeth.

There are many sport drinks and flavored waters sold today so take the time to read the labels. When selecting a drink, Dr. Banks advises you to check the sugar content and acid in the ingredients. If sugar or acids are one of the top ingredients on the label, Dr. Banks suggests avoiding them.

Just as an athlete must care for his or her muscles, one must also maintain oral health to make sure they have a lasting smile to support a healthy body. Taking care of your teeth after consuming sugary beverages like sports drinks and good at home oral care will prevent your risk of tooth erosion. Visit our office twice a year for routine professional cleanings and exams with Dr. Banks to promote a long-lasting, healthy smile!

Woman outdoors drinking from a water bottle

Sleep Apnea & Snoring

Published on June 27, 2016 by

It is estimated that about a half million adults suffer from snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), making them two of the most common sleep disorders. In addition to keeping a patient from getting a good night’s sleep, snoring and/or sleep apnea can also present a serious health risk and have been associated with cardiovascular and systemic disease.

If you snore or think you have OSA, contact our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kenneth Banks. If you’re a candidate, we can fabricate a snore guard and/or refer you to a specialist for treatment.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

Diagnosing a sleep-related breathing disorder such as OSA typically involves the dentist as well as the patient’s physician and/or other specialists. Diagnostic imaging such as x-rays may be done to examine the airway and look for signs of blockage. A sleep study may be performed, either at home or at a specialist’s office, to evaluate the quality of sleep.

Treatment for Snoring & Sleep Apnea

Dr. Banks offers oral appliance therapy to address the complications of snoring and reduce the health risks associated with OSA. Left untreated, OSA can significantly increase the risk of stroke and heart attack and impact the severity of systemic disease such as diabetes. Patients with OSA repeatedly stop breathing throughout the night, reducing oxygen flow to internal organs and causing the patient to awaken with a loud snore as breathing is restored. Although many patients are unaware of their snoring, many experience similar daytime symptoms related to the disorder.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
  • Daytime sleepiness, ability to fall asleep easily while reading, watching television or driving
  • Loud snoring and/or gasping while sleeping
  • Dry mouth
  • Frequent headaches
  • Poor concentration, mood and mental clarity

Schedule a Consultation

If you or a loved one snores, discuss this with Dr. Banks at your next visit. Treating a sleep disorder can restore overall health for both the patient and those affected by their snoring. Call 304-229-2181.sleep

America Smiles Bigger Than Ever

Published on May 17, 2016 by

Smiling in pictures is something that people didn’t used to do. Everyone used to be so dour, partly because they were afraid that they would look like madmen, and partly because people thought they needed the same expression in a photograph as people who were posing for a painting.

But Kodak taught us that we ought to be smiling in pictures, that we should look happy and healthy in these images, making a beautiful smile an essential social asset. People’s smiles have grown larger and broader over time and today they are the largest that they’ve ever been, according to a study of over 100 years of high school yearbook photos.
Aggregate Portraits over Time

Researchers at the University of California Berkeley and Brown University wanted to see if computer-blended images could be used to study how our smiles have changed over time. They started with a sample size of nearly 155,000 yearbook pictures taken from 1905 to 2013. Because they wanted to average the smiles together, they could only use straight-on images, so they had to eliminate most of their sample size, but they ended up with about 38,000 pictures representing 115 high schools in 26 states. The sample size was divided evenly between images from the top 100 largest cities in the US and those from smaller communities and rural areas.

To determine how much people smiled during each year, they created a composite image of all yearbook pictures from a single year, then measured the curvature of the lips to determine the extent of the smile.

Initially, people didn’t have very pronounced smiles. In fact, in 1905, the composite image for men had a negative curvature of 0.5 degrees, or slightly frowning. Women were smiling, but only slightly, by about 1.2 degrees. But by 2005, women’s smiles curved by nearly 13.5 degrees, and men’s smiles curved by 9.5 degrees.
Women Have Always Smiled More Than Men

One of the interesting discoveries of this research is that women have always smiled more than men, but for most of the 20th century, women’s and men’s smiles broadened about the same amount. Initially, women’s smiles were curved about two degrees more than men’s. And women’s smiles took off first, so that by 1915, women’s smiles were about three degrees more than men’s smiles. Then came a crash in women’s smiles (perhaps related to suffrage?) and by 1920, women and men’s smiles were only one degree apart.

Women’s and men’s smiles began to diverge strongly starting in the 1960s. In 1965, women’s and men’s smiles were only about 1.5 degrees apart, but the difference consistently widened. Men in 2005 had about as much of a smile as they did in 1955, but women’s smiles continued to broaden by another 20%, and now they’re about 4 degrees more pronounced than men’s smiles.
You Can’t Get Away without Smiling!

These days, smiling is considered the social norm. Although some people may try to fly in the face of tradition, we are expected to smile for pictures, and if you are reluctant to smile, it can make you look sad, angry, or standoffish. Even a slight, toothless smile can have a similar impact on your appearance. People may think it’s ironic or even spiteful.

If you’ve tried hiding your teeth by not smiling, you’re probably already familiar with this. If you’re tired of all the nagging by people trying to get you to smile, or if you’re just sick of having a smile you don’t feel like you can share, we can help.

Cosmetic dentistry can address most complaints you might have about your teeth, whether they’re discolored, crooked, or even if you have missing teeth.

To learn what we can do for your smile, please call (304) 229-2181 for an appointment with an Dr. Kenneth L. Banks.

Sugar Free Gum And Reducing Tooth Decay

Published on April 12, 2016 by

Contrary to everything you learned as a child, chewing gum (the right kind) can actually reduce tooth decay! Dr. Kenneth Banks recommends only sugar free gum that has the ADA seal of approval on the label.

Studies have shown that chewing sugar free gum for up to 20 minutes after meals can help prevent tooth decay. Increasing the flow of saliva, washing away food, and neutralizing acids produced by bacteria, sugar free gum is a great way to increase your oral hygiene. These acids destroy tooth enamel over time, which is why it’s important to brush at least twice a day.

In addition to preventing cavities, sugar free gum also helps strengthen enamel and reduce tooth sensitivity. Look for gum with the first active ingredient xylitol – the xylitol in sugar free gum stays behind on teeth and reduces acids from foods and drinks. This promotes healthy teeth by supplying minerals to the teeth, ultimately preventing enamel erosion. The increase in saliva from chewing gum also reduces tooth sensitivity, particularly sensitivity caused by teeth whitening. In addition, some people experience improved concentration and cognitive performance, and less daytime sleepiness from chewing gum.

Those with TMD (temporomandibular disorder) symptoms such as jaw pain, loose dental work, metal braces, or gastrointestinal issues should stick to brushing after meals instead of chewing gum to avoid aggravating symptoms or damaging dental appliances.

Of course, chewing gum with sugar has the opposite effect – leaving sugar and bacteria on your teeth, which leads to tooth decay- so choose your gum wisely.

It is important to note that chewing sugar free gum should never replace daily tooth brushing and flossing, but be considered an added layer of protection for your teeth.

Don’t forget to visit our office at least twice a year for preventive care,  including a professional dental cleaning and exam to look for developing problems. Keeping your mouth healthy plays an important role in maintaining good physical health and well being.

close up on  beautiful girl while enjoying a candy



Published on February 23, 2016 by

Looking to add some glitter to your smile? Call us today and ask how we can help! 304-229-2181

bling 2

Gum Disease

Published on February 8, 2016 by

Most people take care of their teeth and gums in hopes for a white, beautiful smile. But did you know that when you brush, floss, and visit our office, you’re also doing your heart a favor?

Gum disease is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Inflammation caused by gum disease may be responsible for heart disease. The bacteria that occurs when gums are infected is also found in the heart and is harmful to the rest of your body. If the gum layer is disrupted, bacteria from the mouth travels into your bloodstream, moving throughout the body. The bacteria found in gum disease can play a role in strokes and heart problems.

According to a recent study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, treating gum disease can lead to better health among those with certain conditions. Analyzing health and dental records from 339,000 people who had gum disease and one of the following: type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease (stroke), rheumatoid arthritis, and pregnancy, had lower medical costs and less hospitalizations within four years of treatment of gum disease than those that weren’t treated. Specifically, those with cardiovascular disease who also had gum disease treated had medical costs 20-40% lower than those who did not have their gum disease treated.

Though more research is needed to declare a cause and effect relationship between gum health and heart disease, experts do agree that there is a link and at the very minimum, gum health can be an indicator of heart problems. Those with poor oral health have more heart attacks than those with better hygiene and gum health.

Symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Constant bad breath • Red, swollen, tender gums • Bleeding gums • Loose teeth • Change in bite • Gum and teeth separation

Though it’s not always intuitive, the body is all connected. Treating one aspect or condition can only improve other parts of the body. It’s important to see a dentist regularly to keep your teeth and gums healthy and to spot any potential heart problems. If you are experiencing symptoms of gum disease or it’s been more than 6 months since your last dental checkup, call our office today to schedule a cleaning.

Female patient brushing her teeth


Opalescence go

Published on December 10, 2015 by

Need a last minute gift for someone special at Christmas? Give them a new white smile! Try our Opalescence Go professional alternative to over-the-counter whitening options. It’s a simple, fast, and great-tasting way to start a whitening treatment or for whitening touch-ups. With no impressions or custom trays necessary, Opalescence Go is ready to use right out of the package!

  • Opalescence tooth whitening gel contains PF (potassium nitrate and fluoride). Potassium nitrate has been shown to help reduce sensitivity. Fluoride has been shown to help reduce cavities and strengthen enamel. Together they help to improve the overall health of the teeth.
  • No impressions, no models, no lab time
  • Sleek and comfortable; adapts to any smile
  • Discreet, clear tray material
  • 6% (wear 60–90 minutes for 5 to 10 days), 10% (wear 30–60 minutes for 5 to 10 days), and 15% (wear 15–20 minutes for 5 to 10 days)

Happy Holidays!




Holiday Season

Published on December 8, 2015 by

The holiday season is full of festive get togethers, family parties, gift exchanges, traditional activities- and lots of sugary snacks and beverages!

While we hope that your holiday season leads to more great memories, we also hope that you don’t have to call us due to a dental emergency, or that your next visit to our Smile Designs of the Shenandoah Valley dental office involves a dental filling.

Dr. Kenneth Banks and Dr. Christopher Banks and their dedicated team offer a few oral hygiene tips to keep your smile healthy throughout the season:
•Enjoy those cakes, cookies and candies in moderation- good for the smile and the waistline!
•Chew sugar free gum or rinse with water after a sweet snack or dark beverages such as red wine
•Never use your teeth to crack a nut or open a package- keep the right tools handy for guests
•Brush and floss daily, even when your routine is disrupted by fun and travel
•Be sure to visit our office for routine dental care as needed to keep your teeth and gums healthy

Should a dental emergency arise, contact Dr. Kenneth Banks or Dr. Christopher Banks  as soon as possible for advice on how best to handle the situation and mitigate permanent damage.

If holiday stress is leading to tooth grinding or jaw clenching, contact our dental office to schedule a visit and learn more about how a custom mouth guard could protect your teeth and improve dental health. Left untreated, these habits often lead to tooth damage and other dental problems.


Sweet pie

Cosmetic Dentistry for A Lasting Smile

Published on September 28, 2015 by

Cosmetic Dentistry for A Lasting Smile

We understand that aesthetics are also important to our older adult patients and we would like to address certain cosmetic procedures that may benefit us as we age.

Throughout our lives, our teeth may begin to darken due to staining or may abrade due to parafunctional habits. Teeth whitening and porcelain veneers are both options for older patients who desire to improve the look of their smiles!

In addition to brushing and flossing, a healthy diet and exercise is important for older adults in maintaining the healthiest mouth possible. Certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes are connected to oral health; living a healthier lifestyle can lessen our risks for these diseases.

If you have any questions about specific oral health concerns for older patients, please don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Banks during your next visit.

Friends Laughing at Beach