Losing Teeth Can Lead To Shrinking Jaw Bone


Posted on May 24, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

If you’ve worn dentures or partials for ten years or more, take a moment to literally see what is going on with your jaw bone.

Remove your denture or partial and look in the mirror. You may notice deep wrinkles around your mouth. The corners of your mouth may turn downward even when you smile. Your mouth may appear to be slightly sunken in, moreso than when you had your natural teeth. You may have jowls on the sides of your face.

These are all telltale signs of bone loss. This occurs beneath the gum tissue because your jaw bone is shrinking. Here is why this occurs.

Healthy Jaw Bone Vs Bone Loss From Missing Teeth

When a tooth root is removed from the jaw bone, the bone is no longer nourished and stimulated by the root. Thus, a process known as ‘resorption’ begins. Resorption is a term used to describe a shrinking or declining mass of jaw bone.

Bone resorption also leaves adjacent teeth susceptible to the effects of bone loss. As the area of bone declines in height and width, neighboring teeth are at a greater risk of cavities, gum disease, and tooth fractures. It is a fact that when a tooth is lost, the one next to the one missing is most likely the next to be lost.

And, it’ not just tooth loss that contributes to a shrinking jaw bone. The pressure on the gums from wearing a denture or partial denture adds to the rate of bone loss. For those who sleep in their dentures, this constant pressure accelerates this rate even more.

For people who opt to replace a tooth (or teeth) with a crown-&-bridge, they can also expect bone loss. Over time, this can be detected through a gap that appears between the bridge and gums. In a smile, this gap may be visible.

As a periodontal specialist, the most common complaint I hear from those who wear dentures or partials is having discomfort while eating. Many long-time denture and partial wearers experience sore spots on tender gum tissues. This occurs because their appliances move when chewing.

This movement is the result of the declined bone mass that supports the denture. This gum-covered ‘ridge’ where teeth were once held flattens as the jaw bone declines in height and mass. Because a denture or partial is made to contour to this ridge, it begins to slip as the bone shrinks. This is when people tend to use denture adhesives and pastes more frequently.

To avoid discomfort when eating, denture wearers may adjust their diets to consist of soft foods that dissolve easily in the mouth. In many cases, these diets lack the nutritional benefits of fiber, vitamins and protein necessary for a healthy body. Due to fear of embarrassing slips, people also begin to avoid social gatherings where food is the centerpiece.

It stands to reason that there is a need to replace more than the presence of teeth. This is why so many dentists and dental specialists now recommend Dental Implants. Over the years, they have proven to be a successful alternative to dentures and partial dentures.

There are many advantages to Dental Implants. From a health standpoint, I see their ability to halt bone loss as a leading benefit. Dental implants are placed in the jaw bone, recreating the stimulation of tooth roots. This helps to preserve the strength of the jaw bone while restoring biting strength and chewing stability.

I also like that Dental Implants are self-supporting since they use the jaw bone for support. They do not rely on having otherwise-healthy, natural teeth crowned for the mere purpose of supporting replacement teeth (as in crown-&-bridge combinations).

From a value perspective, Dental Implants are an excellent investment. With proper selection, placement and care, they are designed to last your lifetime. And, it’s an investment you’ll enjoy every day as you comfortably eat foods you love, smile and laugh without worry, and wake up with a smile!

There is much to know as to why keeping your natural teeth is so important. However, when tooth loss does occur, you can protect your health and well-being by replacing them with Dental Implants. With Dental Implants, you are able to avoid the long-term repercussions of bone loss.

Ask about Dental Implants to restore a natural look and feel while you protect surrounding teeth and bone structure. As a Periodontist with advanced training in the diagnosis and placement of all types of implant systems, I can recommend options that will work best for your individual situation.

Call 828-274-9440 to learn more or ask for a consultation appointment to personally discuss your needs and preferences. If you’ve already experienced a great deal of bone loss, I’ll explain methods to rebuild your bone to a healthy level, often with no grafting needed.

Different Implant Designs For Different Needs


Posted on May 22, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

As a dental specialist with advanced skills in the diagnosis and placement of Dental Implants, I enjoy staying on top of the latest techniques, technology and materials. Over the years, I have been especially excited to provide our patients with the advancements that make implant dentistry such an ideal option in tooth replacement.

Today’s implant dentistry is successful, safe, dependable and often immediate. As the doctor who places the implants, having a role in restoring a patient’s ability to bite, chew, speak and laugh has been a major highlight in a rewarding career.

One of the reasons for the high success rate of Dental Implants is in the design of different systems. For decades, Implant designs have been fine-tuned so various systems are able to accommodate specific challenges and preferences. In addition to being more affordable than ever, implant systems are now available for nearly every situation, including:

Implants Supporting Non-Removable Teeth – For some, removable teeth attached to implants were too similar to the denture they had (and detested). Even though these removable replacement teeth are firmly secured to the implants, most individuals want teeth that do not come out. However, some of the more affordable systems have been those that support removable teeth. Now, an implant system known as All-On

Just 4 Implants Support Non-Removable Teeth In Minimal Bone

-4 is able to support non-removable teeth using just 4 strategically-placed implants. By positioning the implanted portions at unique angles, the biting and chewing forces are distributed evenly among fewer implants. Another advantage of this system is its ability to be placed in minimal bone. Long-time denture wearers are often challenged because of severe bone loss. Having insufficient bone mass to support Implants has prevented some people from having implants or required bone rebuilding procedures prior to implant placement. The All-On-4 implant system is able to overcome this obstacle.

Traditional Dental Implants – Still today, the ‘gold standard’ for most implant treatment requires several stages. Placement of the implants is performed first. For several months after, the bone goes through a process  known as ‘osseo-integration.’ This takes place over a 3-6 month period and secures the implant in the upper or lower jaw bone, similar to natural tooth roots. Once secured, the implant sites are uncovered and a post is positioned inside to which the replacement teeth are secured. During osseointegration, however, patients are able to comfortably wear their denture or partial.

Fast-Track Dental Implants – As the design of implant systems have advanced with the involvement of computerized technology, implant placement and teeth attachment can often be completed in less time than that required by traditional implants. Having the ability to pre-select ideal placement positions prior means that, in some cases, immediate attachment of teeth can occur. While this option isn’t appropriate for everyone, certain patients are, indeed, excellent candidates. This is why it is important to have an experienced and highly-trained doctor coordinate your diagnosis and placement. When your individual needs are carefully assessed, a successful outcome has greater potential with the foundation of a proper diagnosis and implant selection.

Dental Implants are the closest thing to the natural teeth you once had. They are also designed to last a lifetime, making them an excellent investment. The type of implant system best suited to your needs will be discussed after an examination and review of Panorex (jaw-to-jaw) imaging.

Let’s discuss the implant system that is best for your needs and goals during a private consultation appointment. We’ll also discuss comfort options, including Oral and I.V. Sedation. Call 828-274-9440.

Special Care Of Oral Health Needed For Moms-To-Be & Unborn Babies


Posted on May 16, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

With pregnancy comes a long list of guidelines to ensure a healthy baby. From day one, pregnant women must monitor what they eat, drink and breathe as well as medications they should and should not take.

A growing number of obstetricians are adding a very important item to the mom-to-be list. For their patients who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, they are recommending a thorough periodontal examination to reveal signs of gum disease.

Periodontal (gum) disease bacteria is a potent threat to any individual, as research continues to show. It is the nation’s’ leading cause of adult tooth loss and has been linked to heart disease, stroke, some cancers, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure and impotency.

Gum disease bacteria can be a destructive force far beyond the mouth. How?

It is felt that the infectious bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream through tears in weakened gum tissues. Once bloodborne, oral bacteria can trigger inflammatory reactions that can be the catapult for a number of serious health problems, including those listed above.

For pregnant women, hormonal changes during pregnancy increase their risk for periodontal (gum) disease. This is why nearly half of pregnant women develop Pregnancy Gingivitis, a form of gum disease. Symptoms include swollen, tender gums that bleed easily when brushing.

Because of their susceptibility, the risk for full-blown periodontal disease is higher for moms-to-be, which extends to their unborn babies. As a matter of fact, nearly one-third of pregnant females will acquire periodontal disease because of their vulnerability to inflammation. Research has shown that gum disease increases the risk for pre-term delivery (prior to 37 weeks) and babies of low birth weight (less than 5.5 lbs.).

One study showed the preterm birth rate for women without gum disease to be approximately 11% compared to nearly 29% for pregnant women with moderate to severe periodontal disease. It has also been shown that gum disease increases the likelihood for late-term miscarriage and pre-eclampsia. When oral bacteria reach placental membranes via the bloodstream, inflammatory reactions can trigger pre-eclampsia or early labor.

As research continues, the links between the oral health of moms-to-be and their unborn babies are becoming more profound. In one study, pregnant women who had higher blood levels of antibodies to oral bacteria also had higher incidences of preterm birth and babies of low birth weight. These elevated antibodies have been found in amniotic fluid and fetal cord blood samples of infants who were preterm or of low birth weight at birth.

When periodontal disease is present, however, successful treatment has shown to lower the risk of preterm births. A periodontal specialist is trained to treat all levels of disease in a way that is safe for pregnant women (as well as all patients).

Symptoms of gum disease include gums that bleed when brushing, swollen or tender gums, receded gums or gums that darken in color. If you have any of these symptoms (whether pregnant or not), you are urged to schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience by calling 828-274-9440. Gum disease will only worsen without treatment.

Sugar – Your Smile Wants You To Know The Truth


Posted on May 08, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

What is one of the most common diseases across the globe? Dental decay – thanks to sugar. And, Americans are the biggest consumers on earth.

As a matter of fact, when researchers from the University College London and the London School of Hygiene studied public health records from around the world, they found that sugar consumption in the U.S. was off the charts.

According to their findings, nearly 90 percent of America’s school age children have experienced tooth decay and 92% of adults have had cavities. To grasp the extent of our sugar problem, compare the U.S. statistics to Nigeria, a country with a diet very low in sugar, where only 2% of the population have had tooth decay.

Why is sugar such a problem for teeth? It is how it reacts in the mouth when saliva combines with oral bacteria. Although all food and beverage activate an acid surge in the mouth (as part of the digestive process), sugar super-charges oral bacteria. Combined with acid’s ability to soften tooth enamel for 20-30 minutes, you have a higher risk for tooth decay.

Oral bacteria are living, eating and breeding organisms. They thrive in colonies as they subsist on gum tissues and tooth enamel. As bacteria levels grow, the gums become inflamed. This is the initial stage of periodontal (gum) disease and the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Although the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends no more than 5% of daily caloric intake from sugar, or less than 25 grams, the average American consumes 82 grams daily. That translates into over 19 teaspoons of sugar per day and 66 pounds each year, per person.

What has led Americans to become so overloaded with sugar, and carbohydrates, in general? Consider that cheap, easy snacks and beverages are everywhere we turn. There is hardly a check-out line anywhere in the U.S. where you can’t reach out and add a candy bar or package of gum to the order.

In the U.S., sugar overload begins early. The television is saturated with youth-targeted commercials for sweet cereals, cookies and candy. School vending machines are stocked full of sugary drinks and snacks. Even daily vitamins have taken the form of sweetened ‘gummies.’

It’s easy to see the toll this is taking on our children. Childhood obesity is out of control. The Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that the U.S. percentage of children with obesity “has more than tripled since the 1970s. Today, about one in five school-aged children (ages 6–19) has obesity.”  https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm

With all the negatives surrounding sugar consumption, you’d think we Americans would be more determined to cut back. However, there is a good reason that our new year’s resolutions are so often broken when it comes to limiting its intake. Sugar is addictive.

In MRI scans, sugar is shown to activate the same regions of the brain as those activated by cocaine use. Like drug addiction, research has found that the more sugar you consume, the more you need since you develop a tolerance, which are symptoms of substance dependence.

Yet, like giving up cigarettes or drugs, people overcome addictions every day. With sugar, it is recommended that, rather than going ‘cold turkey,’ to switch to honey or agave (which are processed in the body more as food). When sugar is closer to the WHO’s recommended 5% mark of daily caloric intake, the pay off will be pleasing, to your waistline and your smile.

By reducing your intake of sugar and carbohydrates, you lower your potential for damage by oral bacteria. This will reduce your risk for cavities and gum disease when coupled with a thorough at-home routine of daily flossing, twice a day brushing and drinking plenty of water.

Limiting sugar in your diet will also save you money when considering the time and expense for dental treatment you’ll avoid! That may be the sweetest reason of all!

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