Recent Posts



Difficult Battle With Oral Cancer

Posted on Sep 25, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

This past year, former Padres’ ball player and Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died from oral cancer. Mr. Gwynne felt this was a result of years of using smokeless tobacco, a habit that is fairly common among Major League baseball players.

Gwynn’s oral cancer was diagnosed in 2010, which began in his salivary glands. Even after a rigorous fight with chemotherapy and radiation, it’s progression was beyond treatment. Oral cancer has some of the worse statistics of all cancers. It takes the life of an American every hour and has one of the worst survival rates.

Apparently, smokeless tobacco had become such a problem that a survey was conducted to determine just how rampant its use had become. The survey found that about one third of Major League rookies were regular users of chewing and snuff. Also revealed was that, when including all players, approximately 30% overall used smokeless tobacco. This was a disturbing find since it showed that once a user the habit had very few giving it up.

Because the MLB felt this growing trend was sending a message to young fans, they have since set rules regarding the use of these products. There is still much work to do, obviously, since a 2012 study showed that nearly 11% of high school males were smokeless tobacco users.

Users typically tuck chewing tobacco or snuff between their cheek and gums and spit out the juices. Snuff is occasionally snorted directly into the nostrils. And, while the hazards of cigarette smoke are better known, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention warns that smokeless products contain 28 carcinogens and are a known cause of oral cancer.

Too, it is common knowledge that cigarettes are addictive. However, just like cigarettes, nicotine occurs naturally in all tobacco products – smokeless, too. It is also physically and emotionally addictive. Many don’t realize just how addictive these products have become until they try to quit. Common symptoms, similar to those experienced with giving up cigarettes, include weeks of depression, irritability, headaches, weight gain and dizziness.

In addition to giving up the use of all tobacco products, current and former users, especially, should be aware of warning signs. These include a spot or sore in the mouth, tongue or lips that does not heal within 10-14 days. Other signs may be a persistent sore throat, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness or change in the voice. These symptoms should be checked by your dentist or periodontal specialist immediately. When treated early, oral cancer can be survivable.

Also, please share this information with team coaches when you notice signs of smokeless tobacco use. You may be helping to save a growing smile from disfiguration or even death. For more information, call us at 828-274-9440, or schedule a prompt appointment if you’ve noticed any of the above mentioned symptoms.

YOU Can Affect Dental Implant Success

Posted on Sep 21, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Studies show that dental implants continue to be one of the most successful of all implant-in-bone procedures, over 90%. As a Periodontal specialist, dental implants are an area in which I have received advanced training.

Periodontists are uniquely skilled in diagnosing a patient’s best options when it comes to dental implant treatment – the number of implants needed, the type of implant system, selection of placement locations and actual placement.

I pride myself on our success rate when it comes to selecting and placing dental implants. Absolutely, a successful outcome begins with the part of treatment I can oversee in my office. Once the patient leaves our office, however, the ability to enjoy the benefits of implants for a lifetime are mostly in their control. There are ways a patient can affect the outcome of dental implants — for the good and bad.

When dental implants ‘fail,’ it is typically due to the onset of infection. This occurs when an overload of oral bacteria has accumulated in gum tissues surrounding the implant. Infections cause gums to become inflamed. This inflammation can travel down the implanted post and attack the bone structure supporting the implant. When caught and treated early, many infections can be eliminated. If not, the implant must often be removed to allow the area to heal.

A common cause for infection is poor oral hygiene. Other reasons for failure include smoking, diabetes, teeth grinding during sleep and diabetes.

Although smoking is a well-known risk factor when it comes to implant success, bruxing (clenching and grinding teeth) can cause implant failure to a higher level than many realize. In one study on dental implants, 29% of patients who had bruxing problems experienced implant failure. Nearly the same percentage of patients with diabetes suffered implant failure.

Studies show that implant failure rates are higher when the placement doctor has less than 5 years of experience. Because your choice of who places your implants can have an impact on their success, choose carefully. Having a successful outcome will save you time, money and allow you to enjoy your dental implant without undue delays. To begin, ask for a consultation. During this time, I’ll answer your questions and make recommendations. Call 828-274-9440 to schedule.

Every doctor wants their patients to enjoy a positive experience when it comes to any procedure. While not all aspects of treatment are within the control of the doctor, being thoroughly communicative with patients on ways THEY can enhance the success of their implants is as important to us as the exceptional care you’ll receive.

Helping Patients Understand What They Can’t See

Posted on Sep 09, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

For many of us, we not only want to know how to do something, but why it’s beneficial to do it a certain way. For instance, if I understand that using a higher octane gas in a new car will give more efficient mileage than a cheaper grade, I’ll likely pay a little more at the pump to get a better value in the long run.

In dentistry, it’s also helpful to understand why a particular treatment is needed in addition to what is needed. Occasionally, we have patients who are referred to us for care but are unaware of the advantages of the care they’ve been sent to have.

We find that, once patients are familiar with the ‘why,’ they tend to feel better about the treatment that is recommended for their particular needs. This applies especially to people who have periodontal disease. Because periodontal (gum) disease can have mild symptoms in initial stages, some people do not comprehend the amount of damage that is actually occurring in their mouths.

Here’s an example… a patient is referred to us with severe periodontal disease. He is experiencing symptoms that include persistent bad breath, sore gums, gums that bleed easily and swollen pockets around the base of some teeth. We begin by explaining how oral bacteria is literally eating away at their gum tissue and supporting tooth structures. It’s not unusual for people to be surprised when we explain that some teeth have become so loose that removal is required.

The biggest surprise for many with periodontal disease is when we explain that oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream through tears in diseased gum tissue. Once bloodborne, the bacteria can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. Research has linked the bacteria of gum disease with heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, impotency and other serious health problems.

It is not only important that patients are aware of what is happening in their mouths, but what will happen if the problem persists. Gum disease, like any chronic disease in the body, does not just go away. It does not repair itself. To the contrary, gum disease runs rampant and is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

When natural teeth are lost, an entirely new set of problems begin. Without natural tooth roots in the jaw bone, the bone begins to shrink. This decline in bone mass weakens the ability to bite and chew. For denture wearers, it decreases the foundation a denture is contoured to fit. This results in continual changes that lead to slips and uncomfortable rubbing.

Conquering periodontal disease early saves time and treatment expense. It can also save your teeth! And, by ridding your mouth of gum disease bacteria, you decrease your risks for developing other serious health problems, some that can have deadly consequences.

Keeping you ‘in the know’ gives you the ability to make decisions that are best for your individual goals. We will always strive to help you understand ‘why’ so you are a more-involved participant in your oral health.