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Wine Lover? Some Oral Health Tips

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

If you’re a wine lover, you may not be surprised that the United States ranks as the leading consumer of wine. Wine has become a regular accompaniment to meals and is often present in many social gatherings. In the past decade, the once-dominant beverage in France has fallen in consumption by 17% while the States have seen a 20% increase.

Many consumers believe that wine is a healthy beverage. In moderation (like anything), drinking wine is said to offer health benefits – everything from helping to lower blood pressure and reducing the risk for health problems such as diabetes and stroke. When it comes to your smile, however, wine isn’t beneficial – at all.

Red wine is a known culprit when it comes to staining teeth. However, white wine has a tint and can discolor teeth as well.

Yet, a deeper problem exists for your smile when it comes to wine. Wine is highly acidic, much more than most people realize. When this acid mixes with the acids in the mouth that aid in digestion, the level of acid can erode tooth enamel. When this protective shell on teeth is compromised, your risk for cavities increases.

So, just how high can wine boost acidity in the mouth? Studies show that tooth enamel can soften in about ten minutes from drinking wine. For those who sip a glass of wine before dinner or several glasses over the course of an evening with friends, the damage that can occur is nothing to ignore.

To minimize damaging your pearly whites, alternate sips of wine with drinks of water. When drinking the water, let it wash over your teeth before you swallow to dilute acid levels. You should also conclude your wine consumption by swishing with water.  Also, eat cheese while you enjoy your wine. Cheese is high in alkalinity, which helps neutralize wine’s acidity. At home, consider using a prescription level fluoride toothpaste or mouth rinse for your oral hygiene. These products strengthen tooth enamel.

Do NOT brush your teeth after wine consumption! Because tooth enamel is already soft from high acid levels, brushing will actually cause damage due to the abrasiveness of tooth paste and toothbrush bristles. It is recommended that you wait 30 minutes before brushing to give acid levels in the mouth time to lower. Enamel, once worn away, is gone for good. This leaves teeth weak and vulnerable.

By taking simple steps to protect your teeth, you can greatly lower your risk for problems and save greatly in time and expense. The good news is that you can protect your oral health and still enjoy a good glass of wine!

Pregnant Women – Beware Oral Bacteria

Posted on Oct 20, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

I was watching a health segment on a morning news program recently. The topic of that day surrounded things that women should avoid during pregnancy, such as soft cheeses, smoking and alcohol. I am pleased that modern medicine has created more awareness when it comes to things that have the potential to be harmful to a developing fetus.

What was disappointing, as a Periodontist, is how the hazards of periodontal (gum) disease have not been given the same ‘red flag’ for its potential harm to unborn babies. Numerous studies have shown that women with gum disease may be at risk for pre-term babies or having a low-birth weight baby.

Babies born with a birth weight of less than 5.5 lbs. have a higher risk of long-term health problems. These include delayed motor skills, social development and learning disabilities. Additionally, a baby born at least 3 weeks earlier than its due date can have similar complications as well as respiratory problems, vision and hearing loss and digestive problems.

Periodontal disease is an inflammatory condition that stems from oral bacteria. The bacteria attack gum tissue and bone structure that supports teeth. Periodontal disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss and is linked to other serious diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), medical and dental communities agree that maintaining good periodontal health during pregnancy is important. If a woman who is pregnant or planning to become pregnant is not current on her dental examinations and cleanings, this should be a high priority.
This is also supported by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who now encourage pregnant women to achieve and maintain good oral health. This includes regular dental care, including dental cleanings, during pregnancy. If signs of gum disease are present, non-surgical periodontal therapy is safe for pregnant women and can improve gum health.

Typical signs of periodontal disease include gums that are tender, red or swollen. Other symptoms include gums that bleed when brushing, gums that have pulled away from one or more teeth, frequent bad breath and loose teeth. These signs should create a sense of urgency for anyone who experiences them, however, these are especially important during pregnancy.

Through all phases of your pregnancy, it is necessary to maintain a thorough oral hygiene regimen. This includes twice-daily brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups. If you are behind on your dental visits, seeing a Periodontist can help to decrease the chance of adverse pregnancy complications. This will help to reduce your own risk for health problems as well as enjoy a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby.

You may want to learn more about gum health as it relates to pregnancy at the web site of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP).

Long History Behind Today’s Dental Implants

Posted on Oct 13, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

If you like history, you’ll find the following information both interesting and potentially useful, especially if you ever lose a natural tooth.

Dental implants actually date back to ancient Egyptian times. Archeological digs have discovered seashells and stones that were carved into tooth shapes. These were found positioned into jaw bones to serve as replacements for missing teeth.

Over the years, metal and other dental implant versions (including gold) have been found to exist in ancient cultures in North and South America as well as Middle Asia and the Mediterranean. One exciting find occurred in Honduras during the 1930’s. An excavation revealed the Mayan civilization of 600 AD had examples of dental implants. This was determined when a fragment of a lower human jaw bone was discovered with three carved shells in tooth shapes that had been placed in the sockets of three missing teeth.

In the Middle Ages, dental implantation was performed by attempting certain grafting techniques. However, these proved minimally successful due to infections that were not uncommon, some of which resulted in deaths.

Advancements in dental implants took a major jump during World War II when Dr. Norman Goldberg was serving in the Army. Realizing that some metals had been used successfully to replace other parts of the body, he began to apply this to dental implants. After the war, he and Dr. Aaron Gershkoff created the first successful implant type in modern times, the sub-periosteal implant.

Their success became the foundation of implant dentistry, inspiring more research. In 1957, Dr. Per-Ingvar Branemark, a Swedish orthopedic surgeon, discovered that living bone could grow around a new metal developed by NASA, called titanium. He found this metal would integrate successfully with bone without being rejected. This process became known as ‘osseo-integration’ and was the beginning of numerous studies.

In 1965, Dr. Branemark placed the first titanium implants in a mid-30’s patient, inserting four implants into the patient’s lower jaw. After allowing the bone to secure the implanted portions for several months, he attached a set of replacement teeth. The dental implants were fully functional for the patient for over 40 years throughout the life of the patient.

Dr. Brånemark’s success marked a turning point in implant dentistry with advanced techniques that are used still today. The Food & Drug Administration approved titanium dental implants in 1982. This furthered the development of fine-tuning implant systems and techniques, including computerized implant treatment planning.

In addition to the dependable function and longevity of today’s implants, modern ceramics has been incorporated into the restoration process. Teeth attached to the implants can be designed to provide the look and feel of natural teeth. Today’s Dental Implant patient can enjoy the best of all worlds!

The average age of today’s dental implant patient is 53, most who are replacing a single tooth or several. It is estimated that over 450,000 dental implants are placed every year with a success rate of 95% with minimum risks or complications.

Now that your history lesson is complete, the lingering question may be, “Why do so many people choose dental implants today?” That’s easy. Just ask someone who has had a dental implant to replace a partial, crown-&-bridge combination or full arch of dentures. Dental implants give them a lifetime solution for their missing teeth with dependable function and stability. And, their smile shows no signs of ‘false’ teeth.

If you’ve thought about dental implants, learn the type that’s best for your needs after an examination. We can then discuss recommended implant options, costs and treatment time. Call 828-274-9440 to schedule.

Oral Bacteria – The Source Of Problems (in the mouth & beyond)

Posted on Oct 06, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Our bodies are full of bacteria. Certain bacteria are good, such as bacteria in the gut. This is why some people take a probiotic supplement to ensure they have a sufficient level so digestion functions efficiently.

While bacteria in our bodies is a fact of life, it is our job to control the levels. By eating a proper diet, keeping our bodies clean and tending to cuts and illnesses, we support our health with bacteria levels under control.

Too much bacteria sends signals to us. For example, if you don’t take a shower for several days, the bacteria buildup on skin creates an odor. An excess of bacteria in the mouth sends signals, also.

Saliva in the mouth is designed to help wash away some of the oral bacteria that occurs from food particles left behind. Our job is to remove this debris on a daily basis before oral bacteria begin a come-one-come-all feast. Brushing and flossing help accomplish this.

Bacteria are living organisms. They eat, reproduce and excrete waste. As they multiply, they form colonies that attack anything that can be consumed. This includes tooth enamel and gum tissues.

Saliva can only do so much. It’s ability to work efficiently can easily be hampered by factors that decrease saliva production. These include smoking, some medications, mouth breathing, drinking alcoholic beverages and some illnesses.

Your mouth will send signals when too much bacteria has accumulated. Your breath will smell bad and your gums may become sore and bleed when brushing. When prompt action is not taken to conquer the overload of bacteria, the destruction continues and becomes more severe.

As oral bacteria eat away at tooth enamel and gum tissues, cavities occur and gum disease penetrates tissues at a deeper level. Pus pockets form at the base of teeth, gums turn a darker color and teeth eventually begin to loosen. Periodontal (gum) disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Yet, oral bacteria from gum disease can cause problems far beyond the mouth. They can become bloodborne through tears in diseased gum tissues. Research has found that oral bacteria can trigger inflammatory reactions that put your overall health at risk. Oral bacteria has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, arthritis, diabetes, preterm babies and impotency.

The health problems that originate with oral bacteria can so easily be avoided. Twice daily brushing, flossing daily, drinking plenty of water and seeing a general dentist twice a year can help keep oral bacteria levels under control. These simple measures are so minimal when considering the broad spectrum of problems they can help you avoid.

If your mouth is sending you warning signs – persistent bad breath and sore and bleeding gums – act promptly to avoid much in time and expense while protecting your overall health.

As a dental specialist with advanced training and skills to treat gum disease, a Periodontist is your partner in helping you restore a healthy mouth and maintaining it.

Call 828-274-9440 to schedule an examination. And, the sooner the better. Gum disease will only worsen without treatment.