Could Gum Health Make You More Likely To Develop Cancer?

Posted on Jul 18, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Periodontitis is commonly referred to as gum disease or periodontal disease. It begins with Gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums, typically due to inadequate oral hygiene. Periodontitis creates an infectious cauldron of bacteria that attacks the structures supporting your natural teeth.

According to research published by the National Institutes of Health (and the U.S. National Library of Medicine), evidence indicates that chronic infections and inflammation such as periodontal disease create an increased risk for developing some cancers. (

Along the same lines, there is considerable evidence that shows a relationship between bacterial and viral infections and cancer development. Because periodontitis is a bacterial infection, it has warranted more attention in recent decades as a source for other health problems.

For example, it has been determined that arthritis, an inflammation of the joints, and periodontal disease show similarities. When the tissues of both gum disease and RA are examined, their clinical structures are similar with the pathological processes being nearly identical.

Periodontitis creates a cycle that leads to the chronic release of inflammatory cytokines (a substance secreted by immune system cells that effect other cells), prostaglandins (designed to aid in tissue damage recovery), growth factors and enzymes. The combined reactions are closely associated with the development of cancer.

While all of this sounds very scientific and complex, it boils down to something that research has noted time and time again — the oral bacteria of gum disease can trigger harmful reactions elsewhere in the body.

The bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream through weakened oral tissues. Once bloodborne, it can travel throughout the body and create systemic inflammation. Research has already found links between the inflammatory triggers of gum disease and heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, preterm babies, diabetes, arthritis, erectile dysfunction and impotency.

There has also been research to support a correlation between periodontitis and pancreatic cancer, lung cancer and prostrate cancer. While more research is needed to pinpoint the cause-&-effect, the connection with oral bacteria and the chronic inflammation that can result is established.

Although over 47 percent of American adults have some level of periodontal disease, more education is needed so a stronger proactive stance can be taken. In addition to twice daily brushing and daily flossing, a particular caution should go out to denture and partial wearers. Why?

These appliances can become loose over time due to bone loss that occurs when tooth roots are no longer present in the jaw bone. They can rub sore spots on tender gum tissues in an attempt to chew, which increases susceptibility to gum inflammation.

One of the reasons we are strong proponents of dental implants is their ability to halt bone loss by recreating the presence of missing tooth roots. Additionally, they do not move when eating or speaking, eliminating the possibility of sore spots.

Your oral health is an important component of your overall health. Think of your mouth as the front door to your body. By keeping a healthy smile, your overall health will benefit. And the time and expense to have excellent gum health is so little! Just minutes per day and twice a year visits to your dentist should help you enjoy all the benefits of a clean, fresh smile!

If you’ve fallen behind on dental visits or suspect you have gum disease, begin with a thorough examination by a Periodontist. A Periodontist specializes in gum health and is the expert in treating all levels of gum disease.

Signs of gum disease include sore or bleeding gums (including seeing blood in the sink when brushing), swollen gums, gums that turn red in color, persistent bad breath, pus pockets on gums, gums that recede from teeth, and teeth that eventually loosen.

Remember — gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss. It will only worsen without treatment. Please see a periodontal specialist promptly if you’re experiencing any of these signs. Your entire body will benefit through your commitment to having health gums!

Call 828-274-9440.

The Advantages Of Seeing A Periodontist

Posted on Jul 13, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Some patients’ periodontal needs can be managed by their general dentist. However, as signs of periodontal disease grow, coupled with research that indicates a correlation between periodontal disease and other chronic diseases, periodontal treatment may resolve at a more effective level through the expertise of a trained specialist. Patients who have moderate or severe levels of periodontal disease, or patients with more complex cases, are often best managed through ‘team treatment’ between a general dentist and periodontal specialist.

What Is A Periodontist? The American Academy of Periodontology explains a periodontist as a “dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease, and in the placement of dental implants. Periodontists are also experts in the treatment of oral inflammation. Periodontists receive extensive training in these areas, including three additional years of education beyond dental school. They are familiar with the latest techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease, and are also trained in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures.

“Periodontists often treat more problematic periodontal cases, such as those with severe gum disease or a complex medical history. Periodontists offer a wide range of treatments, such as scaling and root planing (in which the infected surface of the root is cleaned) or root surface debridement (in which damaged tissue is removed). They can also treat patients with severe gum problems using a range of surgical procedures.

In addition, periodontists are specially trained in the placement, maintenance, and repair of dental implants.”

On their web site, the American Academy of Periodontology lists the symptoms of gum disease as:

  • Red, swollen or tender gums or other sore areas in your mouth
  • Bleeding while brushing or flossing
  • Gums that recede or pull away from teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • Pus pockets between your gums and teeth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • A change in the fit of partial dentures

Additionally, the site features an explanation of the various stages of gum disease (

Please know that you do not have to be referred to our office for care. While we want you to receive regular dental care once your mouth is restored to optimal health, we can suggest a general dentist for you if you do not have one.

Our goal is to ensure you are receiving the care you need to be healthy and to keep your natural teeth. As research continues to show, the health of your mouth has an impact on the health of your body.

Begin with a consultation or ask for a thorough periodontal exam by calling 828-274-9440. Let our specialty restore your teeth and gums to good health and confident smiles!


The Makeup Of Dental Implants

Posted on Jul 10, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Every once in a while, I find it is helpful to explain the components of Dental Implants. Because implant systems come in many different shapes and sizes, understanding the basics can often help an individual determine which is best suited to his or her overall goals.

For example, some people who have worn a denture for years prefer an implant system that has ‘fixed’ teeth attached. This means they will not need to remove the replacement teeth for cleaning.

First, it’s important to understand that a Dental Implant is not the replacement tooth, but a component that serves as the stablizer. The actual implanted portion is positioned into the jaw to serve as a tooth root replacement. This restores a dependable, sturdy foundation that supports teeth that can bite and chew without movement.

In placing the implant portion, an insertion point is made in the gum tissues and the bone underneath where natural tooth roots were once held. Into this, the implant, which is similar to a hollow screw-like cylinder, is placed.

In most cases, the implants are recovered with gum tissue and allowed to bond with surrounding bone for several months. Throughout this period, you can wear your denture or temporary teeth comfortably.

The process of bone growing around the implant is known as ‘osseo-integration.’ During this time, the bone grows around the implant and secures it in place. After several months, the gum tissue is uncovered and a post is secured inside the implant. Onto this post, the final replacement tooth or teeth are attached. These teeth are referred to as crowns or restorations.

One implant can often support a bridge of two or more teeth. Several strategically-placed implants are often used to support a full arch of teeth. For people who have lost a great deal of bone mass, certain implant systems rely on implants that are placed at specific angles to support teeth in minimal bone depth. However, some levels of bone loss need bone rebuilding procedures. These can be performed prior to implant placement and help restore facial appearance as well as overall eating and speaking function.

Because of the wide variety of implant systems, it is important to carefully choose the doctor who will place your implants. A Periodontist has advanced training in the diagnosis and placement of Dental Implants and works closely with other general dentists and dental specialists to help you enjoy a successful outcome.

The type of Dental Implant best suited for your needs can be discussed during a private Consultation. Call (828) 274-9440to arrange a time to discuss the choices that will work best for you.

Dental Implant Vs. Crown-&-Bridge

Posted on Jun 14, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

For those who have lost one or several teeth, adults have often gravitated to a crown and bridge combination. However, that option is becoming ‘second fiddle’ to the lifetime tooth replacement solution of Dental Implants.

Dental Implants are made from titanium, which is a material that biologically bonds with living bone. Implants that are properly selected, placed and maintained are designed to last a lifetime. An implant will never get a cavity, need a root canal, or create risk for surrounding natural teeth. Dental Implants are the closest thing to the look, feel and function of natural teeth.

When it comes to choosing a Dental Implant or a Crown-&-Bridge to replace a missing tooth or teeth, the only deterrent seems the price tag. However, when comparing the overall, longterm expense to the initial costs, implants stand out as a far better value.

First, an implant does not rely on neighboring teeth for support, as does a crown-&-bridge combination. A bridge must be attached to adjacent teeth on both sides for support. This is done by crowning otherwise healthy natural teeth that are attached to the bridge. Once a tooth is crowned (or ‘capped’), it will always need a crown.

A Dental Implant does not rely on the support of adjacent teeth. It is anchored by the jaw bone, having the same, sturdy foundation as natural tooth roots once had. And, one implant can often support one, two or more teeth. Since the cost of implant treatment is largely based on the number of implants placed, this keeps treatment costs more manageable .

Another advantage of Dental Implants over Crown-&-Bridge is in the prevention of bone loss. When natural tooth roots are removed from the jaw bone, the bone begins to decline in mass. This process is known as resorption. This can be visible when the area of gum tissue under (or above) the bridge diminishes. Eventually, a smile can reveal a gap between the bridge and the gums.

As the bone declines, the teeth supporting the bridge are at greater risk. On average, the next teeth to be lost are teeth adjacent to areas of missing teeth. Because Dental Implants recreate the presence of tooth roots, they help to halt bone resorption. And, since implants are held by the jaw, they restore comfortable and stable biting and chewing.

We urge patients to look past the initial costs to replace teeth and assess the lasting advantages of Dental Implants. They are actually a much wiser investment, not to mention to many benefits they provide.

If you have considered replacing teeth with Dental Implants, call 828-254-9440 to schedule a consultation.

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