Recent Posts



Receded Gums – Symptoms & Causes

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

Each tooth is arched by gum tissue. When the gums pull away from the teeth, it exposes darker portions of the tooth , which are actually tooth roots sections. Being without the protective layer of gum tissue over these areas leaves the roots exposed to hot, cold or the bristles of a tooth brush.

While the darker segments of teeth detract from the appearance of a smile, they are also highly sensitive. Drinking hot coffee, eating ice cream or brushing across these areas can send a quick jolt of pain. Although some toothpastes are available to help with this sensitivity, there is a reason to determine what is contributing to recession so the process can be halted.

The process of gum recession occurs gradually. Many people may not notice it until they have a painful sensation, which can be a jolt of pain from hot or cold or an ache that is mistaken for pain from a cavity. Causes for gum recession include:
• Periodontal (gum) disease: When bacteria build up on teeth at the gum line, healthy gums are weakened and lose their grip on teeth. As gum disease continues, the tissues and supporting bone are literally eaten away by oral bacteria. Gum disease is also the leading cause of adult tooth loss.
• Rigorous tooth brushing: Using a tooth brush with hard bristles or being too zealous when brushing can wear down enamel as well as gum tissue. Also, abrasive substances such as baking soda are too gritty for teeth and can wear down gum tissues.
• Inadequate oral hygiene: Without thorough and regular brushing and flossing, oral bacteria accumulate. This results in a build up of plaque, which hardens into calculus. Plaque is a cement-like substance made up of an overload of oral bacteria and can only be removed by a dental professional. Whether plaque or calculus, these are colonies of bacteria that feed on gum tissues.
• Smoking: A dry mouth is when saliva flow is insufficient to effectively wash bacteria from the mouth. The chemicals in tobacco are terribly drying to oral tissues, which creates an ideal environment for the formation of plaque. Plaque is a build up of oral bacteria that destroys gum tissue and contributes to recession.
• Grinding & clenching teeth: When you clench or grind your teeth during sleep, the force that is placed on teeth can be so strong that they begin to tilt out of  position. As this continues, the gums eventually pull away from teeth.
• Hormonal changes: Pregnancy, menopause and puberty can cause changes in hormone levels. These hormonal fluctuations can cause gums to feel tender and be more vulnerable to recession.
• Misaligned teeth: When not properly aligned, teeth endure added force to bite and chew. This can also place added strain to the TMJ (jaw joints), gums and bone that supports tooth roots. This can lead to gum recession.

When dark areas of a tooth are visible, it detracts from a smile and makes the tooth more susceptible to decay or gum disease. For comfort, appearance and health of the tooth, repairing the problem before costly damage occurs is the best move.

As a Periodontal Specialist, I am specially-trained in gum recontouring procedures that repair recession comfortably and quickly. However, it is important to repair recession before it becomes several. Waiting may require more-extensive tissue grafting that may increase treatment time and expense.

Call 828-274-9440 to learn more.

Dental Implants Are Wise Investment

Posted on Nov 16, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

As a Periodontal Specialist, I’ve been pleased to stay on top of the advancements in dental implants as the optimal replacement for missing teeth. The various systems that employ unique techniques and materials have provided exceptional choices for about any individual who has lost natural teeth.

Along with these developments in implant dentistry, I’ve completed advanced training that has expanded my skills to provide optimal results. Not surprisingly, at treatment completion our patients mainly see the results of an appealing, confident smile. Yet, it is the foundation of it all — beneath the gums — that is the true benefit to dental implant recipients.

Think about your smile the way nature made it. Natural teeth are held by tooth roots situated in your upper or lower jaws. The jaw bones actually thrive on the presence of tooth roots, which provide a stimulating interaction that keeps the bone healthy. Without their presence, the jaw bones go through a process referred to as resorption. Resorption causes bones to lose mass, declining in both height and width.

Bone loss causes a number of problems. Once resorption begins, remaining teeth adjacent to the area of bone loss are affected. A shrinking bone that abuts areas of resorption weakens tooth root stability. This creates a domino effect. When a natural tooth is lost, statistics show the next to go will most likely be an adjacent tooth.

As bone loss continues, your potential to lose more teeth increases. With each extraction, the continual process of bone loss leaves you with an ever-shrinking jaw and weaker foundation for remaining teeth. Bone resorption can even be seen in people who appear to have a collapsed mouth (referred to as a ‘granny look’) where the nose is unusually close to the chin. This is actually the result of severe bone loss.

Bone loss is also the culprit for dentures and partials that slip and cause uncomfortable rubbing on gum tissues. When a denture is first made, it is designed to conform to the unique contours of your gum ridge (the gum-covered arch that once held your natural tooth roots). As the bone declines in mass, this secure fit loosens and moves while chewing or laughing. Denture pastes or adhesives can help, but eventually even relines (reshaping the previously-made contours) are of little help.

To many people who opt for dental implants, however, it is the appeal of having a lifelong investment that is the deciding factor when comparing implants to other tooth replacement options. Because dental implants are designed to last a lifetime, many see them as an appealing ‘one and done’ choice for treatment.

In cases where one or several teeth together are missing, crown-&-bridge combinations are an option. However, crowns and bridges can require repairs and/or replacements over time, they do nothing to halt bone loss and crowning natural teeth for the sole purpose of supporting a bridge forever compromises the health of otherwise natural teeth.

Dental implants do not rely on adjacent teeth for support since they are held in the jaw bone, providing the same, sturdy foundation as natural tooth roots. An added bonus is how the implanted portion recreates the presence of a tooth root, halting the process of resorption.

Our goal is to always provide the best outcome possible based on the long term goals you desire. Let’s begin with a private, no obligation consultation to discuss your specific goals or concerns. Call 828-274-9440 for an appointment.


Quit Smoking For Your Smile – And More

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

Wow – we are nearing the end of another year already. As is common for many Americans, new year’s resolutions are being considered as the holiday season is upon us. For smokers, cutting back or quitting altogether is a common resolution, for good reasons.

When you quit, NOT smoking can cut your risk for heart attack in half. If you quit before age 40, you can also reduce excess mortality that’s attributed to smoking by 90%. Quit before you turn 30 and you’ll reduce this by more than 97%. However, it’s not just YOU who benefits when you quit. Second-hand smoke contains at least 50 known carcinogens and other harmful chemicals.

Smokers shorten their life expectancy by 10–15 years on average. It is responsible for an estimated 30% of all cancer diseases and deaths and 90% of all lung cancers and increases the risk of lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, cervical cancer, cancer of the  kidneys, liver cancer, bladder cancer, stomach cancer and leukemia. Smoking or chewing of tobacco causes 80 – 90% of oral cancers (mouth, lips, throat).  Smokers who are also alcohol drinkers have a risk of oral cancer greater than the combined risk of those who only smoke and those who only drink alcohol. Smoking is also a cause for emphysema and other respiratory diseases, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Pregnant women who smoke create heightened risks of first trimester spontaneous abortions, placenta abruption, preterm births, low birth weight babies and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Women are also at risk for early menopause. Men who smoke have a higher risk for sperm abnormalities and impotency.

Tobacco contains chemicals that are known to be harmful to the body. Smokers also have an increased risk of periodontal (gum) disease, bad breath, stained teeth, an increase in dental plaque, and slow healing after extractions, gum therapy or oral surgery.

Smoking dries out the oral tissues, creating a vulnerable environment for the rapid growth of oral bacteria. Once gum disease begins, you can expect persistent bad breath, sore gums, gums that bleed easily when you brush and gums that turn red in color. As the disease progresses, pus pockets will form at the base of teeth. The teeth will become loose as the bacteria destroys bone and tissues that support tooth roots. Eventually, these teeth will require removal.

If you ever needed a reason to quit, look at the loved ones around you who not only breathe in the deadly smoke you exhale. Then, consider the health problems they’ll likely see you endure. Finally, imagine losing your smile and having to wear dentures or partials to replace the teeth you lost due to the effects of smoking.

There are a number of online support sources for those who wish to quit. Begin there, and be committed to keeping this resolution. Your life, literally, depends on it.

Some Causes Of Dry Mouth May Surprise You

Posted on Nov 03, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

As a periodontal specialist, I’m acutely aware of the factors that contribute to oral bacteria. Oral bacteria is the reason for gum disease, cavities, leading cause of tooth loss and an inflammatory trigger for health problems elsewhere in the body. Obviously, oral bacteria is no small issue.

One of the biggest factors when I see a new patient with gum disease is typically dry mouth. Even though poor oral hygiene is a major contributor when it comes to bacteria in the mouth, dry mouth is so common because it has many causes.

Saliva is necessary for a number of reasons. It helps to move food around in the mouth as you chew and delivers an acid that aids in the digestion. It also serves as a constant rinse that removes food particles from the mouth. This helps to keep bacteria under control.

When saliva flow is compromised, the reproduction of oral bacteria runs rampant. Some factors, such as smoking, alcohol, caffeine (coffee, colas, chocolate), and some medications are known to be drying to oral tissues.

When saliva flow is insufficient to overcome these agents, bacteria reproduce at an alarmingly rapid rate. Once saliva becomes unable to efficiently rinse these elements from the mouth, oral bacteria can quickly multiply. This is why you may feel a film on teeth before brushing at night. This film is a buildup of bacteria that has accumulated in just the short amount of time since you brushed that morning.

While some causes of dry mouth are obvious, others are not. Mouth breathing is one. Some illnesses or health conditions, such as snoring or sinus conditions, can lead to frequent mouth breathing.

People who have Sjogren’s Syndrome or are undergoing certain HIV or cancer treatments are more susceptible to dry mouth. And, with the aging process comes less oral moisture.

Obviously, good saliva flow is necessary to help in the prevention of gum disease, cavities and even tooth loss. It’s important to drink plenty of water during the day or use oral rinses that replenish moisture. Certain prescription types may be advised for individual needs. However, it is important that you are proactive when dry mouth becomes an ongoing or even temporary condition.

Consider this – if oral bacteria can form a sticky film of bacteria between brushing in the morning and at night, imagine the damage they are capable of without the continual cleansing action of saliva. As a Periodontist, I know this is a common cause for problems that can be expensive and time consuming to treat. And, with the right measures, we can help you prevent them.

Let’s work together to avoid the problems that come from dry mouth. If you feel your mouth is occasionally dry during the day or are aware of the factors that contribute to dry mouth, call us at 828-274-9440 to schedule an exam. Preventing problems in the first place is the best way to save both time and money!