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Know The Unseen Risks Of Wearing Dentures


Posted on Sep 19, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

As an Asheville periodontist, my goal is to provide each patient with the very best so they can enjoy a healthy, confident smile. For patients who have lost one or more natural teeth, some come to me because they want to avoid ending up having to wear a full or partial denture. For those who wear one and are unhappy with the feel and function, we are sought out as specialists in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants.

Denture wearers, especially those who have worn dentures for many years, can quickly become dissatisfied with the uncomfortable rubbing and difficulty eating foods they once enjoyed. Although their ‘appliance’ may have fit well when first made, changes in the fit, over time, are due to what is taking place below the gum tissues. These changes aren’t obvious, at first.

When first made, a denture is custom-designed to fit snugly to the unique contours of the gum ridge. This ‘ridge’ is the raised arch where natural teeth were once held. Over time, denture wearers begin to notice that the denture moves while chewing certain foods. This can rub sore spots on gums. As the denture loosens more, even using denture adhesives or pastes don’t help much.

Denture patients also learn that it can be painful for something as small as a sesame seed to become trapped between their denture and gums, piercing into tender gum tissues. Some people eventually switch to a diet of soft foods that dissolve easily to avoid rigorous chewing. Because of fear of embarrassing slips, others begin to decline social invitations when they are centered around food.

The problem for a denture wearer is what is happening underneath the gums. The looser fit is not because the denture has expanded – it’s the decline of the jaw bone. This occurs with the absence of tooth roots, which once provided nourishment and stimulation to the bone that supported them.

When natural tooth roots are removed, the jaw bone begins to shrink. This decline in bone mass also contributes to changes in facial appearance, such as deep wrinkling around the mouth and the formation of jowls.

The process of bone loss continues as the gum ridge your denture was contoured to flattens. Relines may temporarily adjust the denture to accommodate some of the change. However, as the jaw bone continues to decline, the denture continues to be difficult to keep in place.

The denture itself merely adds to the problem of bone loss. The pressure of wearing a denture actually accelerates the rate of bone loss. Since a number of denture wearers also sleep in their dentures, the 24/7 pressure speeds this rate even more.

Long-time denture wearers often complain that they are not able to chew, with some admitting they have to even remove their denture to eat. Fear of embarrassment is another common complaint. Speaking, laughing and even sneezing in the presence of others can create embarrassing moments that leave lasting impressions.

The solution to these problems – dental implants. Not only do implants restore the ability to bite and chew comfortably, they halt bone loss that is associated with dentures. Because they are held by the jaw bone, just as natural tooth roots once were, implants recreate the stimulation needed by the jaw bone to maintain its mass.

Does your denture bring to mind words like rocky, wobbly and slippery? If so, the problem will only worsen over time. When people choose dental implants to replace an ill-fitting denture, they can smile, laugh and chew with confidence.

Eating a healthy diet, socializing with friends and family, and feeling confident are essential to a healthy, happy life. Call our friendly Asheville periodontal dental office: 828-254-9440 to schedule an initial appointment. (A referral is not required). During this time, I’ll explain the type of implants that may be best for your needs as well as comfort options, including oral and IV sedation (“twilight sleep”). We are also happy to discuss estimated costs and payment options.

Using A Manual Or Electric Toothbrush Could Make A BIG Difference.


Posted on Sep 11, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

If you use an electric toothbrush, that can help in the prevention of tooth loss. However, it’s but one part of the steps needed for thorough oral hygiene at home.

Findings of an 11 year study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology tracked the oral health of over 2800 adults. Their use of electric toothbrushes was monitored to watch for periodontal disease, cavities, and the number of natural teeth.

Participants were examined in 2002 – 2006, with 18 percent being electric tooth brush users. Follow ups were conducted after six and 11 years. At the time of their 11 year follow up, 37 had converted to using electric toothbrushes.

The study showed electric brushing promoted better gum health and slower progression of gum disease. Electric tooth brushing also related to a reduction in tooth loss by 20 percent (compared to those who brush with manual toothbrushes). The study did not reveal measurable reduction in cavities, however.

Although more adults are using them, their long-term effectiveness has not been proven to be significant. It is suspected that this is due to technique more than the brushing tool itself. For manual brushers, a major hazard with manual brushes is one’s choice of bristles. Stiffer bristles can be very damaging.

If you use a hard bristle tooth brush, you may be damaging tooth enamel and gum tissues. People often feel they need to press down firmly as they brush and use a scrubbing, ‘back & forth’ motion. This action can wear down the protective shell of tooth enamel, leaving teeth more vulnerable to decay.

Another problem with using a hard bristle tooth brush is its ability to damage tender gum tissues. If the bristles on your toothbrush are fanned out after a couple of months, it’s because you are applying too much pressure when brushing.

The ideal technique for brushing teeth is applying gentle pressure on the brush in a swirling motion. By using a circular pattern over both sides of each tooth and along the tops, teeth are cleansed without wearing away gum tissues.

This is where electric toothbrushes can help greatly. Many of the newer models include timers to indicate the time needed for each quadrant of your mouth. This is your teeth divided into 4 sections. They also warn you when you are using too much pressure.

While tooth enamel is important, equally so are the health of your gum tissues. The gums provide a seal around the base of each tooth. This seal helps to prevent the entry of bacteria that can lead to periodontal (gum) disease, which the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

As devastating as tooth loss can be to one’s overall health, as we now know that the bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream. Research has shown this infectious bacteria can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body, correlating to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, some cancers, diabetes, arthritis, impotency, preterm babies and more.

Whether using a manual or electric tooth brush, it is necessary to brush twice a day for effective results. In order to thoroughly remove the sticky film of plaque from teeth, you should also brush at least two minutes each time.

Plaque is a buildup of oral bacteria that coats teeth and gums. If not removed daily, it forms a hardened mass of calculus (or tartar) that attaches to teeth. This is what you may feel your hygienist scraping off teeth during cleanings since it cannot be brushed or flossed away.

Another place for oral bacteria to thrive are the grooves in the tongue. These offer a dark, warm and moist environment for bacterial reproduction. To uproot these organisms (that reproduce rapidly), use your toothbrush to brush your tongue after brushing teeth. Be sure to reach the back of the tongue where the majority of oral bacteria are embedded. Swish with water several times after.

Another way to improve gum health, lower cavity risk, and prevent tooth loss is through flossing. It is estimated that only 31 percent of American adults floss on a daily basis. Because brushing cannot dislodge all food particles caught between teeth, daily flossing should be a part of oral hygiene routines.

Flossing removes trapped bits of food remain in the mouth, which feeds oral bacteria and helps them to quickly multiply. Proper flossing is easy for those who are in the habit of it and takes under a minute each day. For those who have problems with manual dexterity or find the maneuver awkward, water flossers are effective alternatives and easy to use.

Practice the recommended techniques mentioned above and you’ll not only do a better job at having a clean mouth, you’ll find your time at the sink requires less effort. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of periodontal disease, however, don’t delay. You should be seen at your earliest convenience for treatment since this disease will only worsen over time.

Signs of gum disease include tender gums that bleed easily when brushing, gums that darken in color to red (versus a healthy pink), frequent bad breath, and gums that pull away from teeth (receded gums) and expose darker root areas of the tooth.

If you’ve noticed any of these, please know that the condition will only worsen without treatment. As a periodontist, I specialize in gum tissues (as well as dental implants). Our environment optimizes patient outcomes and comfort throughout treatment.

Call 828-274-9440 to learn more.

Gag Reflex? Some Tips To Help.


Posted on Sep 04, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

For people who have a sensitive gag reflex, going to the dentist can be a trying experience. After all, the suction tube that removes water spray and saliva accumulating in the back of the mouth can trigger it. Once activated, gagging becomes all the more likely.

A gag reflex is a protective reaction that helps prevent foreign bodies from entering the trachea. While gagging is an involuntary and natural response, over thirty percent of otherwise healthy adults have an abnormal gag reflex.

For those who have a severe gag reflex, the mere thoughts of a suction tube or having a dental impression taken can create both dread and fear of embarrassment. After all, gagging triggers a spasm, which causes some people to have dry heaves or even regurgitate. Gagging may also be caused by acid reflux. For some, it can be triggered by certain smells and even anxiety.

Having a severe gag reflex is nothing to be ashamed of; it’s a common occurrence. If you feel this is a concern, feel free to mention this prior to any procedure (including dental cleanings). If you have avoided dental care because of gagging worries, we can discuss ways to help minimize the response and make procedures more comfortable.

The tips offered below may also help you reduce the severity of your gagging reflex as well.

• Breathe through your nose – Breathing through the nose can alter your focus from the potential to gag. Some patients find it beneficial to count their breaths to distract their minds. Breathing through the nose can also help your ability to relax. Concentrate on taking deep breaths in and out as you relax the jaw muscles.

• Go to your ‘happy place’ – When the fear of gagging is replaced by pleasant thoughts, patients are less likely to gag or the severity of the reflex is reduced. Think about things and people who make you happy. Your grandchildren? Your best friend? Relive a terrific vacation in your mind. Relaxing on a beach? Hiking a beautiful mountain? Think about foods that bring back memories. Peach cobbler with ice cream melting on top?

• Occupy your mind with tasks – A great distraction is to think of to-do’s in our head. For example, make a grocery list or the birthdays you need to remember for the next few months. The goal is to take your focus away from what’s going on in your mouth.

• Ask about sedation options – Having a severe gagging reflex may be helped greatly with an added sedative. In our Asheville periodontal office, we offer oral and IV sedation. Oral sedation is in pill form and has a quick recovery. I.V. sedation (referred to often as twilight sleep), provides a deeper level of sedation.

• Know you can take a break – Our patients are not prisoners in a chair, at any point – We realize some procedures can be long and are happy to provide a break to sit up, or move your mouth around, or get up and walk around. An opportunity to move your head and neck muscles around may revive you and provide just the relaxation you need.

• Don’t think of drooling as awkward – Saliva is a natural flow of moisture in the mouth. Drool is simply saliva that gets past the lips. As dental professionals, drool is not something that bothers us If drooling helps to relax your gag reflex, then go for it. If you do, we’ll help keep you comfy with suction and dabbing with tissues as needed.

Remember, gagging is rather common occurrence in a dental office. If gagging has caused you to avoid or delay having regular dental care or lengthy procedures, consider scheduling a consultation appointment in our beautiful Asheville periodontal dental office.

Call 828-274-9440 to schedule.

Men Have Greater Risks For Dental Problems.


Posted on Aug 20, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Research has found that periodontal disease is higher in men (56.4 percent) than in women (38.4 percent). https://www.perio.org/consumer/gum-disease-and-men

The reason for this significantly higher number may be due to some findings revealed through some unsettling findings. According to a survey by the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), only 66 percent of males brush their teeth twice or more a day compared with 86 percent of females who do so.

This was revealed through a study of over 800 participants. Evaluation included a written questionnaire on dental knowledge and oral health habits. It also included an oral exam of each participant to detect signs of periodontal disease. (https://www.perio.org/consumer/gender-differences)

Flossing had even worse numbers, but that pertains to both sexes. Only 49 percent in the survey stated they floss on a daily basis. Only 1 out of 3 assumed that seeing blood in the sink when brushing is normal and were unaware it is a sign of periodontal (gum) disease.

While women were as twice as likely to see their dentist for regular dental check-ups, they were also more likely to follow through with recommended dental treatment than men. As a result, the study revealed women had better levels of gum health with less dental plaque, calculus, and bleeding.

The Journal of Periodontology shared nine risk factors for tooth loss due to periodontal (gum) disease, including …

• Being over age 35
• Being male
• Not having professional dental care
• Not brushing teeth
• Smoking
• Being diabetic
• Having high blood pressure
• Having RA (rheumatoid arthritis)

Although age and gender are unchangeable, decisions to not brush your teeth or to smoke, for example, are something you can control. As of 2017, 18.6 percent of American men smoke, compared with 14.3 percent of women. (https://www.edrugstore.com/blog/current-health-news/men-smoke-more/) Because more males smoke cigarettes (or use tobacco in other forms), they are more likely to develop gum disease.

Why should you worry about gum disease? In addition to causing tooth loss, oral bacteria can enter then bloodstream through tears in diseased tissues in the mouth. Once in the bloodstream, this bacteria can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body.

The bacteria of gum disease has been linked to heart disease, stroke, memory loss, preterm babies, arthritis, diabetes, and even impotency. According to the American Academy of Periodontology (perio.org), men who fail to maintain good oral health are also at higher risk for:

PROSTATE PROBLEMS – Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is an enzyme created in the prostate that is normally secreted in very small amounts. However, when the prostate becomes inflamed, infected, or affected by cancer, PSA levels rise. Research has shown that men with indicators of periodontal disease such as red, swollen or tender gums  as well as prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) have higher levels of PSA than men with only one of the conditions. This means that prostate health may be associated with periodontal health, and vice versa.

HEART DISEASE – Research indicates that periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease are associated; having periodontal disease may actually increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Both diseases are chronic inflammatory conditions, and researchers believe that inflammation is the connection between gum disease and heart disease. Since men are already more likely to develop heart disease than women, maintaining periodontal health is another way to reduce this risk.

IMPOTENCE – Men with periodontal disease, especially those younger than 30 or older than 70, are at increased risk of developing impotence, according to research. Researchers believe that inflammation may be the link between the two conditions; prolonged chronic inflammation (the same type of inflammation that is associated with periodontal disease) can damage blood vessels leading to impotence.

CANCER – Research has found that men with a history of gum disease are 14 percent more likely to develop cancer than men with healthy gums. Specifically, men with periodontal disease may be 49 percent more likely than women to develop kidney cancer, 54 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and 30 percent more likely to develop blood cancers.

If you aren’t concerned about losing teeth, these overall health risks should get your attention. Treating gum disease before it becomes severe can be done comfortably and affordably. In our Asheville periodontal dental office, we use the latest technology and offer I.V. sedation for those who desire a “twilight sleep” state during treatment.

Gum disease will only worsen without treatment. Call (828) 274-9440 if you have tender, sore gums or see blood in the sink when brushing. You need to be seen promptly.