Recent Posts



Afraid Of The Dentist? Fear Can Be Costly.

Posted on Feb 25, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

It is estimated that nearly 75% of American adults have some level of anxiety or fear when it comes to going to the dentist. Much of this stems from traumatic experiences in younger years, yet many individuals cannot explain when it actually began or what prompted it.

When you think about it, feeling uneasy in a dental chair is not such a puzzle. You’re on your back, positioned on a fairly flat, narrow base while hemmed in by arm rests on each side. You have someone hovering over your open mouth with unfamiliar instruments and you have no idea what they’re going to do with them or what you’ll feel. Recipe for anxiety? Well, duh!

Basically, the difference between those who have dental fears and those who don’t is (from what I see) the relationship of trust I have with my patients. They know I truly have no intention to hurt them. Quite frankly, my goal is to make sure they are always comfortable. Because they believe I have this intention and I will do everything to ensure their comfort, they are able to relax or to communicate with me when they feel it’s necessary.

For those who have fears, however, it’s not that simple. Some of these patients shake or start to sweat even when they walk in our front door. I’ve had some cry (men and women) in the dental chair before they’ve been touched. For these individuals, their fear is an uncontrollable reaction to perceived pain – nothing they feel, but pain they anticipate.

Here’s the bigger problem: When dental care is delayed or avoided due to fear, small problems that could have been prevented (or dealt with simply) become big problems. Big problems require more extensive procedures, more expense and more time in treatment. The longer a fearful patient has to be in a dental chair for a procedure, the more anxious they are.

Too, when regular dental check-ups and cleanings are avoided, the buildup of bacteria that daily brushing and flossing doesn’t remove turns into calculus. This hardened form of oral bacteria attacks tooth enamel and gum tissues. This is also what develops into periodontal disease, which is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Periodontal disease is a massive accumulation of bacteria that damages gums and bone structures far beneath the gum line. Therefore, in order to treat gum disease, the procedure requires the gums be opened in order to reach the full extent of the bacteria. All of this is far more involved than what could have been prevented through 6-month dental check-ups.

I see a number of patients who have acquired gum disease because they were too afraid to go to the dentist. Yet, when gum disease symptoms become severe, they are forced to set these fears aside in order to get out of pain and/or save as many teeth as possible.

So, how does a fearful patient deal with dental fears and have the care they need? There is nothing like opening up and sharing your concerns. Begin with an open and honest conversation. We provide a consultation room that is away from the clinical side of the practice. We’ll sit in arm chairs and discuss your past experiences and what makes you feel uneasy and what we can provide to help you relax.

In our office, we offer relaxation medications in addition to comfort options. Yet, our patients find that trust is the key to their ability to have the treatment they need without pangs of fear.

Begin with a consultation appointment. Call 828-274-9440 to schedule. Remember, more delay can mean more treatment, more expense and more time. Focus on achieving MORE smiles without dental fear dictating your decisions.

Cost Of Dental Implants Based On…

Posted on Feb 22, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

There are many reasons Dental Implants are such a wise choice for people missing one or more teeth. Many see the biggest benefit is the restored ability to bite and chew comfortably and without worry. However, as a Periodontal specialist, I know there are additional benefits that occur beneath the gums that aren’t as obvious to the patient.

Because Dental Implants are held by the jaw bone, they recreate a type of stimulation that helps to preserve the bone’s mass. Without natural tooth roots or the presence of Dental Implants, the bone resorbs, which is a melting away process of sorts.

Resorption is why dentures that fit well when they were first made will begin to move and slip over time. The change in the jaw bone directly affects the fit of a denture that was originally made for the unique contours of the gum ridge. When the jaw experiences a decline in mass, or resorption, this ridge flattens out over time.

There are denture wearers who are completely fine with their denture. They don’t mind having teeth that come out at night and feel they can chew sufficiently. While I want every person to have the tooth replacement option that is aligned to their preferences, it is their comfort ten years from now that is a concern for me. While they may be comfortable with their denture now, being happy with its fit years later is doubtful.

The obstacle with Dental Implants, for most individuals, is the cost of treatment. Here is where I’d like to correct a misconception. The cost for treatment is based largely on the number of Dental Implants needed. However, while you may be missing several teeth or even a full arch (all upper or lower) of teeth, an implant is not needed for each missing tooth.

For example, when several teeth are missing in one area, one implant can often support a bridge of two or more teeth. There is an additional bonus of using a Dental Implant to support the bridge. Unlike a traditional crown-&-bridge that requires crowning adjacent teeth to support the bridge, an implant does not rely on neighboring teeth.

A Dental Implant is held in the jaw bone. This not only provides stability and dependability, an implant helps you protect the integrity of otherwise healthy natural teeth. This is because it is not necessary to have teeth shaved down for crowning merely to lend support for a bridge.

Another example is when is a full arch of teeth is missing. In most cases, several implants (3-6) can be strategically positioned to support an arch of replacement teeth. Often, these are non-removable teeth that are securely ‘fixed’ to the implanted posts.

By placing a conservative (yet sufficient) number of implants, costs are more manageable for most budgets.

A Periodontist has extensive training in assessing the type and number of Dental Implants you’ll need and in placement techniques to provide an optimal outcome. Knowing your care is in specialized hands helps you achieve your goals to eat comfortably and laugh confidently, without fearing implant failure in the future.

Regardless of what you’ve heard in the past about implant cost, I encourage you to have a consultation. Here, we can discuss today’s many implant systems and those that will work best for your needs and goals. I’ll explain the associated costs and have our administrative staff go over payment options. These are structured to help you enjoy the benefits of Dental Implants while making affordable monthly payments.

Call 828-274-9440 for an appointment.

Are You At Risk For Oral Cancer?

Posted on Feb 16, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

From the mid-1970’s through 2004, the National Cancer Institute Survey cites a 15 percent increase in oral cancer rates. As research is being conducted to explain (and hopefully halt) this upward trend, findings to-date reveal some significant disparities among certain population groups.

While oral cancer rates are higher for adult men, in particular, they are especially so for Black males. Additional statistics from this decades-long study are:
•    For every 100,000 adults, 10.5 will develop oral cancer.
•    Oral cancer rates are significantly higher for males than for females.
•    Oral cancer rates are higher for Hispanic and Black males than for White males.
•    Oral cancer rates increase with age. The increase becomes more rapid after age 50 and peaks between ages 60 – 70.

When all age groups are assessed, oral cancer affects 15.7 of White males and 17.2 of Black males. The risk increases for males and females with age, with oral cancer most often occurring after age 40. However, there is a particular spike with men in the 50-59 age group with White males having 33.8 rates and Black males at 43.2.

Other risk factors for oral cancer include tobacco and alcohol use. While most cases of oral cancer are linked to cigarette smoking or heavy alcohol use, combined tobacco and alcohol use increases the risk even more.

Another risk factor is the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV).

Sun exposure is a contributing risk factor of cancer of the lip. A diet low in fruits and vegetables is suspected to also have a role in the development of oral cancer.

Early treatment is vital when it comes to oral cancer. Oral cancer is one of the deadliest of all cancers to survive and takes the life of an American adult every hour. Know the warning signs and symptoms of oral cancer, which include:
•    A sore, irritation, lump or thick patch in the mouth, lip, or throat
•    White or red patch in the mouth
•    Feeling there is something caught in the throat
•    Difficulty chewing or swallowing
•    Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
•    Having numbness in the tongue or other areas of the mouth
•    Unexplained swelling of the jaw
•    Having pain in an ear without hearing loss

When any of these symptoms are present for 10 days to 2 weeks, it is vital that you are examined immediately. While the symptoms mentioned above do not always indicate oral cancer, taking proactive measures can mean the difference between resolving the problem successfully or disfiguring surgeries, and even death.

A Periodontal specialist has extensive training in the treatment of all areas of soft tissues in the mouth. By seeing a periodontist should an unusual symptom arise, you are helping to protect your smile and your health.

Call 828-274-9440 for an examination appointment. Also, read up on risk factors at:

Research Closely Ties RA To Gum Disease

Posted on Feb 10, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

As a Periodontist, I treat all stages of periodontal (gum) disease. In early stages, the condition causes gums to bleed when brushing, bad breath and gum tenderness. As gum disease progresses, gums become red in color and pus pockets form at the base of teeth. Eventually, teeth loosen and may require removal. Gum disease, to no surprise, is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Over the years, research has found a correlation between the bacteria of periodontal disease and a number of serious health problems. Due to the inflammatory triggers associated with the oral bacteria of gum disease, it has been linked to heart disease, stroke, memory loss, preterm babies, diabetes and impotency.

For people who have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the condition’s association with gum disease seems unlikely. Yet, research is showing a remarkably close connection.

It’s not only been determined that both gum disease and RA share a genetic likeness, their clinical makeup shows similar structures, primarily in pathogens. A pathogen is an agent in the body that causes disease or illness. The pathological processes that occurs in both gum disease and RA are almost identical.

While it is apparent that both conditions cause chronic inflammation in tissues that connect to bone, researchers have found that both diseases also have a similar inflammatory trigger. Also alike is the particular species of bacteria found in periodontally-diseased oral tissues and tissues that surround joints in those who suffer with RA.

RA is a debilitating disease that destroys joints. It is disabling and painful. In most cases, RA emerges gradually, often beginning with morning stiffness along with weak and aching muscles. Joint pain follows, with joints feeling sore and stiff. RA is typically found in the fingers, wrists, elbows, hips, knees, ankles, toes, shoulder and neck.

As inflammation from RA increases, joints become swollen with symptoms including fever, disfiguring of hands and feet, numbness and tingling. There is no cure for RA and lifelong treatment is required. Treatment may consist of medications, physical therapy, or even surgery.

Like RA, periodontal disease causes pain, swelling, and tenderness. As it worsens, the associatedinflammation can lead to destruction of the bone that supports teeth along with surrounding tissues.

In one study, a particular pathogen associated with periodontal disease was found to activate the same destructive process of rheumatoid arthritis. It has also been shown that, by treating periodontal disease in RA patients, RA symptoms often improve. This is likely due to the system’s reduced burden of oral inflammation.

What’s exciting about the findings of these research findings is how oral health correlates so closely to one’s overall health. Yet, it’s a bit scary at the same time. When you realize that the presence of gum disease can so greatly increase your risk for serious health conditions, it should send up alarms. However, even in this advanced age of modern medicine, nearly 75% of the U.S. adult population have some level of periodontal disease.

Help spread the word about the link between your oral health and a healthy body, especially to those you love. Emphasize the need for a thorough oral hygiene regimen at home as well as a commitment to 6-month dental check-ups and exams. If you have signs of gum disease (as mentioned above), seek treatment at your earliest convenience. Gum disease will only worsen and will require more treatment time and expense as it progresses.

Call 828-274-9440 to learn more.