Recent Posts



Too Old For Dental Implants? No, Unless You Smoke!

Posted on Apr 29, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Dental Implants are nothing new, having first ‘formally’ emerged in the 1950’s. Over the past few decades, they have been perfected to provide a dependable tooth replacement system. There are now many types of Dental Implants, designed to accommodate various needs and preferences. While Dental Implants are designed to last a lifetime (having up to a 98% success rate), like anything that’s not a natural part of the body, there is a potential for failure.

Dental Implants are highly beneficial, restoring one’s natural ability to bite and chew comfortably. Because they recreate stimulation to the jaw bone like that of natural tooth roots, they also help to halt bone loss. This bone loss can contribute to the loss of neighboring teeth as well as changes in facial appearance. If you’ve seen someone with a mouth that seems collapsed into the face, this ‘granny look’ is a common result of bone loss due to missing tooth roots.

Any age can have a successful outcome with Dental Implants. Extended studies have shown that age is not a factor in implant success, with an equal success rate in younger and older patients. For example, a study of 133 adults over the age of 80 and having no teeth showed that the elderly patients had treatment results comparable to those achieved in younger age groups. The factors that enhance one’s potential to have a successful outcome, at any age, are having healthy gums and enough bone to hold the implant. Patients must also be committed to good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups.

What is a significant contributor to implant failure is smoking. Studies have shown that smokers have more calculus (tartar) than nonsmokers. Calculus is a cement-like buildup on teeth that is an intense accumulation of oral bacteria. When gum tissues are already battling a bacterial onslaught, their ability to accept Dental Implants and enable successful healing is not good.

In studies, smokers were 3 – 6 times more likely to have gum diseases than nonsmokers. Smoking dries out oral tissues in the mouth and decreases the production of saliva. Likely due to less saliva and constricted blood flow, smokers have less gum bleeding and redness. This can lead to the assumption that they have healthy gums. Smoking also hinders healing in your mouth, making treatment much more difficult.

To illustrate this point, one study found that smokers were twice as likely as nonsmokers to lose teeth in the five years after completing treatment for gum disease. Smokers also don’t respond as well to oral surgery treatments. Dental implants are much more likely to fail in people who smoke, because of poor bone healing.

Researchers who have studies how tobacco smoke affects oral tissues say it appears to interfere with the body’s natural ability to fight disease and promote healing. Apparently, smoking affects the way gum tissue responds to all types of treatment, possibly due to tobacco chemicals that interfere with blood flow to the gums. This slows the healing process and makes treatment results less favorable.

Pipe and cigar smokers and those who use smokeless tobacco are just as likely to have Dental Implant complications than those who smoke cigarettes. According to a study at Temple University, 18% of former cigar or pipe smokers had moderate to severe gum disease, three times the amount found in non-smokers.
Pipe smokers have rates of tooth loss similar to cigarette smokers.

The Surgeon General has good news for those wanting (or trying to) quit smoking. A recent study reported that people who had quit smoking 11 years prior had nearly the same rate of gum disease as those who never smoked.

Can’t quit? Reducing the amount you smoke can also make a difference. One study found that people who smoked over a pack and a half a day were 6 times more likely to develop gum disease than nonsmokers. Those who smoked less than a half pack per day had only 3 times the risk.

While every Dental Implant placed is intended to provide a successful outcome for a lifetime, regardless of one’s age, those who smoke need to accept the risks for failure. The first step is a thorough evaluation of your gums and assessment of bone mass to support Dental Implants. From there, we can help you take the first step towards the ability to eat the foods you love and laugh with confidence! Call (828) 274-9440 for an appointment.

Mouth Sore? Could Be A Canker Sore.

Posted on Apr 26, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Because of the devastating statistics associated with oral cancer, any sore or unusual spot in the mouth should be monitored carefully. However, some sores that occur inside the mouth can be canker sores.

A canker sore is a painful spot that appears on the tongue, inside of cheek or on the soft palate. Canker sores are white or gray circles with a red outline. They may begin with a tingling or burning sensation before the sore appears.

While stress or tissue injury is often suspected to be the reason canker sores arise, their exact cause is actually unknown. Tissue damage can occur from things like wearing braces, biting the inside of the cheek or a tooth that cuts into tender oral tissue. Citrus or acidic fruits and vegetables can also be a possible cause of canker sores.

Canker sores may also be caused by a compromised immune system, B vitamin or iron deficiency, or diseases such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease.

Fortunately, a canker sore doesn’t last long with discomfort subsiding in just a few days. They typically heal completely in less than two weeks. To speed healing, a prescription mouth rinse or ointment can be provided. Discomfort can also be lessened by some over-the-counter medications.

For people who have reoccurring canker sores, they should avoid citrus, spicy or acidic foods. Using a soft-bristled tooth brush is also advised.

A Periodontist specializes in treating gum tissues and should be contacted when canker sores seem unusually large, are multiplying or last longer than two weeks. Also, see a Periodontist when canker sore pain becomes extreme or is accompanied by a high fever. Call (828) 274-9440 for prompt attention.

Before You Have A Crown-&-Bridge…

Posted on Apr 22, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Adults who are missing one or several natural teeth often consider a Crown-&-Bridge combination for replacement. This is possible when the area of missing tooth or teeth are bordered by existing natural teeth. The natural teeth are crowned so they can serve as supports for the bridge.

Many dental insurance plans cover some costs associated with Crown-&-Bridge combinations. This is primarily because Crown-&-Bridge treatment is, upfront, less costly than having teeth replaced with Dental Implants. Yet, the issues ‘down the road’ from Crown-&-Bridge can create far more challenges while Dental Implants actually save in costs, time in treatment, and the ability to enjoy your “new” teeth without worry.

Dental Implants are held by the jaw bone, just as natural tooth roots. Since they do not rely on adjacent teeth for support, natural teeth are preserved. Additionally, Dental Implants will never need root canals or experience decay.

Not only do Dental Implants look and feel like your own teeth, they integrate into the structure of your bone. Through this, they help to prevent bone loss that frequently accompanies bridgework, partials and dentures.

Bone loss occurs when natural tooth roots no longer exist in the jaw bone. Without the stimulation of tooth roots, the bone begins to shrink over time. Bone loss can be seen through changes in facial appearance, such as deep wrinkles around the mouth and the corners of the mouth turning downward, even in a smile. Eventually, the mouth appears collapsed, creating a ‘granny look’ that makes you look far older than your actual age.

The success rate of Dental Implants is excellent. Properly selected, placed and maintained, this lifetime solution makes them a wise choice when it comes to tooth replacement. Since Periodontists specialize in gum tissues and underlying bone in the mouth, they have the knowledge, training and facilities to help replace teeth for a look and feel just like natural teeth.

When you compare Dental Implants to a bridge, consider the long-term advantages rather than initial costs. Because Dental Implants are designed to last your lifetime, they are a wise investment. To arrange a consultation to discuss your needs, call (828) 274-9440.

Gloomy Stats On America’s Sugary Smiles

Posted on Apr 15, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

On a worldwide scale, what is one of the most common diseases?

You may be surprised to learn that the answer is tooth decay. When researchers from the University College London and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine studied public health records from around the world, they found that the United States is far too sugary.

Almost 92% of American adults have experienced cavities. Compare this to Nigeria, where their diet contains almost no sugar. The study found that only 2% of the population had tooth decay.

Although fingers point at sugar as the villain, it’s actually how sugar reacts in the mouth that sets the destructive process into motion. When we consume sugar, it combines with saliva and bacteria in the mouth. Although all foods and beverages activate an acid attack in the mouth, sugar is the ‘perfect food’ for oral bacteria. These acids cause decay to teeth to begin.

Yet, the destruction doesn’t stop with your teeth. As oral bacteria reproduce and accumulate, the gums become inflamed. This is the initial stage of gum disease, which is the nation’s leading cause of tooth loss.

American diets are saturated in sugar. Foods and beverages are laden with it and sugary consumables are typically easy to access. Everywhere you turn, from vending machines to fast food establishments to nearly every check-out line, candy bars, gum and sodas are within arm’s reach.

The World Health Organization recommends that a person’s total calories in a day should consist of no more than 5% from sugar. For most, sugar is not an easy substance to delete or reduce in daily diets. Why? Because sugar is addictive. MRI scans have shown that sugar activates the same brain regions as are activated during cocaine use. It’s also been found that the more sugar you consume, the more you need since you build up a tolerance. This is a symptom of substance dependence.

Want to kick the sugar habit? There are numerous books and online sources that guide you through weaning yourself off of sugar. And, going cold turkey isn’t always the best way. Switching to honey, an actual food that the body processes without creating a ‘high,’ is a good way to begin.

While fluoride has helped, on its own, it is insufficient to overcome the continual bacterial onslaught from American sugar consumption. Your smile is more important than sugary indulgences. As a matter of fact, your entire body would operate better without sugar.

Take a stance that sugar will not ruin your smile (or the smiles of your family members)! Every habit takes time to break so allow 2-3 months to ease off of sugar altogether. Until then (and always), floss daily, brush twice a day (for 2 minutes each time), drink lots of water and be committed to your 6-month dental cleanings and check-ups.

Call (828) 274-9440 to get your mouth in healthy shape!