Recent Posts



Aim For Lowest Number When Hygienist Performs ‘Probing’ Of Gums

Posted on Jun 27, 2014 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Gum disease affects over 80% of the population at some time in their life. This is why your 6-month dental check-ups include ‘probing’ of the gums.

A periodontal probe is a thin instrument with a blunted end. It has markings that measure ‘pocket depth’ of gums. Using light pressure, the Hygienist places the probe’s tip into the gum tissue between each tooth and at front and back sides. The probe measures the pocket depth in six points around each tooth.

The depth of the periodontal pockets around teeth is the main indicator for the progression of gum disease and level of tissue destruction. Periodontal probing is the main tool used by dentists and periodontists for evaluating the severity of periodontal disease. Probing is also the recommended system in the U.S. to calculate levels of periodontal disease and is endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

During the probing process, you’ll likely hear the Hygienist call out numbers as she probes different points around each tooth. These are recorded in your patient chart. Hearing a ‘one’ or ‘two’ is an indication of healthy gums. Measured depths of ‘three’ and over indicates the presence of gum disease. When gum disease is classified at depths of 3 to 5, mild periodontal disease has begun. Five to 6 indicates moderate periodontitis and over 6 or 7 is severe periodontitis.

These measurements determine the level gum disease present as well as the treatment needed. Anything over a ‘3’ or ‘4’ level typically requires the skills of a Periodontal Specialist for successful treatment.

Periodontal disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. Early diagnosis of gum disease can prevent or minimize damage to teeth, supporting bone and connective tissues around teeth. Gum disease in initial stages (when bleeding is noticed while brushing teeth, for example) can often be treated with a thorough dental cleaning and committed at-home oral hygiene routine.

However, many people with periodontal disease delay care, allowing damage to progress. In addition to tooth loss, gum disease bacteria can create inflammatory triggers in the body. The bacteria associated with gum disease has been associated with severe health problems, including heart disease, stroke, arthritis, diabetes, memory loss, pre-term babies and more.

If you have delayed or avoided your 6-month dental check-ups, you are missing an important step in maintaining good overall health in addition to a healthy smile. If you find that dental check-ups and cleanings are uncomfortable, mention this to your Hygienist at the beginning of your appointment.

Keep in mind that patients who have 1 or 2 probing measurements don’t complain about discomfort during these visits. Healthy gums aren’t nearly as sensitive as those with bacterial inflammation. Ask your Hygienist how you can achieve a “number one” smile!

Call (8282) 274-9440 if you’ve noticed bleeding when brushing, have sore or swollen spots on gum tissue, have persistent bad breath, or have gums that are red rather than a healthy pink. The sooner you receive diagnosis and treatment, the less involved your treatment needs will be.

Saliva Is Vital To Gum Health

Posted on Jun 26, 2014 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

In Winter months, we remind people to drink plenty of liquids because of the drying effects that cold temperature tends to have on the body. In Summer months, our reminder is the same, but for different reasons.

During hot months, the body loses moisture. Even if you don’t feel yourself sweating, the higher air temperatures cause the body to work harder to cool itself. People who participate in outside activities or sports are encouraged to drink 16 ounces of water prior and several ounces every 20 or so minutes.

Maintaining sufficient moisture impacts your ability to produce saliva. Saliva helps to cleanse the mouth and remove food particles and bacteria build-up between brushing.

For people involved in rigorous outdoor sports, certain ‘replenishing’ drinks (such as Gatorade) are helpful. However, we encourage both adults and children to stick to water. Water has no sugar, sugar substitutes or chemical additives and is ideally processed by the body.

This Summer, go and enjoy our beautiful Carolina outdoors! And, take some water with you wherever you go!

One Dental Implant Can Support Several Teeth

Posted on Jun 24, 2014 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Occasionally, I’ve been in Consultations with patients who have postponed or avoided Dental Implants because they felt they couldn’t afford them. Because they may be missing more than one tooth, they assume an implant is needed for each missing tooth.

The number of implants used in Dental Implant treatment is a significant factor in the overall cost. However, in many cases, one implant can support two or more teeth missing in one area. Teeth held by implants can replace a bridge without needing the support of adjacent teeth on each side. Since implants are held by the jaw bone, just as natural tooth roots, this prevents having to crown two otherwise healthy, natural teeth for the mere purpose of supporting a bridge.

Additionally, people who wear partials are also pleased to learn that one implant can support several teeth, helping them to avoid the inconvenience of a removable appliance. They are able to eat the foods they love without worrying about slips or trapped food particles causing discomfort to gums.

Since Dental Implants are designed to last your lifetime, they make an exceptional investment in your health and confidence level. Rather than assume Dental Implants are out of your reach, call (828) 274-9440 for a Consultation appointment. You may be pleasantly surprised by the affordable options available.

Baseball Major Leaguer Loses Battle With Oral Cancer

Posted on Jun 17, 2014 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

There was sad news for baseball fans recently. Tony Gwynn of the Padres died of oral cancer, something Gwynn blames on his use of smokeless tobacco. Apparently, the habit is rampant throughout Major League baseball teams.

A 1999 survey found that nearly a third of Major League rookies were regular smokeless tobacco users (primarily chew and snuff). Other studies found that approximately 30% of all players were smokeless tobacco users. Recognizing the growing trend and the message it sent to young fans, the MLB set forth rules regarding the use of these products. Still, in 2012, approximately 11% of high school boys were using smokeless tobacco.

Users typically tuck chewing tobacco or snuff in the side of their mouths and spit out the juices. Snuff is occasionally inhaled (snorted) through the nose. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention points out that these products contain 28 carcinogens, a known cause of oral cancer.

Gwynn was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, which began in his salivary gland. He underwent chemotherapy and radiation to fight this aggressive cancer. Unfortunately, it had progressed too far. Oral cancer has one of the worst survival rates of all cancers, taking the life of one American every hour.

Smokeless tobacco users become physically dependent on and emotionally addicted to nicotine. Nicotine, the addictive substance found in cigarettes, occurs naturally in all tobacco. Those who try to quit go through a withdrawal phase, which can cause weeks of depression, headaches, irritability, weight gain and dizziness.

As hard as it may be to quit, reducing the risk of oral cancer is worth it. Users should immediately react to any spot or sore in the mouth or on the lips. Also, a persistent sore throat or difficulty swallowing are symptoms that should be checked immediately. When treated early, oral cancer is survivable.