How To Prevent Oral Problems & Expensive Treatment
Posted on Apr 28, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Let’s face it – health care is expensive. Although insurance coverages help, just the price of the coverage is a strain for many people. The 2014 National Health Expenditures report estimated that U.S. adults spend over $9,523 per year on health care.
Caring for your smile requires a monetary commitment as well. The Government Accountability Office reported that between 1996 – 2010, the average out-of-pocket dental costs per individual per year increased 26%, from $520 to $653.
While these expenses are hefty amounts for most, caring for our health does require an investment and one that is well worth the cost. Even though people are typically committed to annual screenings and exams, many often fail to place an equal priority on their oral health.
Your smile influences far more than facial appearance. The presence of teeth is vital for maintaining jaw bone mass, processing a healthy diet and feeling confident in social settings. It is a fact that people who wear dentures have more gastrointestinal problems, take more medications and eat out less.
However, a deeper problem can emerge from having poor oral health. The bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease have been found to create internal inflammation elsewhere in the body. These inflammatory reactions trigger a higher risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies and impotency.
Gum disease is also the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. And, it’s running rampant in the U.S. It is estimated that over 47% of adults over the age of 30 have some level of gum disease. For those who are over age 65, 64% are said to have moderate to severe gum disease.
As a Periodontal Specialist, the majority of the problems I see and treat could have been prevented altogether. By taking proactive measures, it’s actually easy to prevent oral problems and costs for repairs. Simply spending a few minutes each day and having 6-month check-ups can save you greatly.
Your dentist structures your regular oral hygiene visits to remove buildup that can lead to problems or catch ones that may have emerged at early stages. Early treatment can help to keep time and expenses needed for repairs to a minimum.
The ‘way to save’ begins at home, for the most part. Your oral care routine at home can help you avoid problems by keeping oral bacteria to minimal levels. When performed correctly, twice-daily brushing and flossing are very effective in reducing oral bacteria and preventing buildup. Brush (for at least two minutes each time) using a soft to medium bristle brush and fluoridated tooth paste.
However, brushing without flossing is like rinsing off in the shower but not using soap. After brushing, food particles can remain between teeth, which provide oral bacteria the sustenance they need to thrive and reproduce. When you feel a sticky film on teeth and gums (known as plaque), it is actually an accumulation of oral bacteria.
For those who are in the habit of flossing, it takes about a minute a day. And this one minute can make a world of difference in helping to keep oral bacteria from damaging tooth enamel and gum tissues. If you would like, our dental hygienist can show you how to comfortably hold floss and move it easily between teeth (even those hard-to-reach teeth). However, for those who have dexterity problems, an electronic flosser can make the task easy but still very effective.
Oral bacteria can also be greatly reduced by using a tongue scraper. This tool gently uproots oral bacteria that are embedded in the tongue. Scrape 2 – 3 times over the tongue, starting at the back of the tongue where most bacteria exist and rinse after each pass. You can also brush your tongue after brushing your teeth, if preferred.
For many, a surprising cause for oral bacterial growth is ‘dry mouth.’ The natural flow of saliva in the mouth is designed to continually rinse oral bacteria. When saliva levels are low, oral bacteria can accumulate quickly. Smoking, alcohol, caffeine, some medications and mouth breathing (such as snoring) are all drying to oral tissues. The aging process and some health conditions, including anemia, hypertension, arthritis and diabetes also contribute to causes of dry mouth.
To lessen the negative effects of dry mouth, drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you take medications that are drying to the mouth, ask your doctor about alternative options. Also, consider using an over-the-counter mouth wash designed specifically to replenish oral moisture.
To protect the tooth’s enamel, delay brushing after eating for 20 – 30 minutes. The reason? Each time you eat, an acid attack begins in your mouth. While this is a helpful part of the digestive process, these acids tend to soften tooth enamel for about 30 minutes. Brushing during this time can wear away precious tooth enamel.
It may seem expensive to absorb the cost for crowning a tooth, but it can actually prevent costly future problems or even tooth loss. A tooth that is too laden with fillings or has cracks is vulnerable to breaking. If the break extends below the gum line, the tooth must be removed. This leaves you with an entirely new set of expenses.
Missing teeth affect the alignment of surrounding teeth and increase the risk for broken, chipped or worn teeth. Misaligned teeth can lead to night-time clenching and grinding as well as migraines, headaches, sore jaw joints, pain in facial and neck muscles, dizziness and ear ringing.
The added bonus of a healthy mouth is fresh breath and the ability to avoid preventable problems from occurring – thus, saving you time and money. Be committed to your dental health every day. You will be greatly rewarded!
If you are experiencing problems with missing teeth or have tender gums that bleed easily when brushing, call 828-274-9440 for an appointment.
Smoking & Your Smile
Posted on Apr 25, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
If you’re a smoker, you don’t need one more lecture, especially one from a Periodontist. I’m sure you’ve heard so many reasons to quit smoking that they’re starting to run out of your ears. However, allow me a couple of minutes to provide a better picture of what I can see in your mouth that you probably can’t.
When it comes to your smile, smokers have a greater risk of periodontal (gum) disease, more frequent bad breath, higher plaque levels, stained teeth, and slower healing following extractions, gum treatment and oral surgery.
Smoking has a drying effect on oral tissues. This creates an environment for oral bacteria to thrive and reproduce. Initially, gum disease causes persistent bad breath, sore gums and gums that bleed easily when brushing. As it progresses, gums turn darker in color and pus pockets form at the base of teeth. Eventually, teeth will loosen as oral bacteria attack supporting bone and tissues surrounding tooth roots. It’s no surprise that gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.
Maybe losing teeth doesn’t sound so awful. It is. While it was once assumed that tooth loss was a ‘normal’ part of the aging process, today we know better. Studies have shown that people who wear dentures die at an age that is ten years younger than those who have natural teeth, on average.
Denture wearers also take more medications and have more gastrointestinal problems. They tend to eat out less and wear less make up. In order words, they become more reclusive, likely due to fear of embarrassing slips or chewing discomfort.
The tobacco in each cigarette contains chemicals that are harmful to the body. On average, smokers decrease life expectancy by 10–15 years. Smoking is attributed to nearly one-third of all cancer diseases and deaths.
For pregnant women who smoke, they have an increased risk for first-trimester spontaneous abortion, preterm births, low birth weight babies and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Women who smoke are at risk for early menopause while men who smoke have a higher risk of impotency.
There is only one solution and you don’t need me to plead with you to take that step. I’m sure you’ve already had close friends or relatives do that. However, should you decide you’re ready, you’ll be pleased to know that the positive effects are almost immediate.
In 48 hours, damaged nerve endings will start to regrow and your sense of smell and taste begin to return to normal. In 3 days, the lungs begin to repair and breathing is easier and with fuller air intake. Within two weeks, circulation in your gums and teeth is similar to that of a non-smoker. Your heart attack risk is now also declining. In a month or so, your circulation greatly improves, walking is easier and your chronic cough is gone.
Need another incentive to quit? Your loved ones who breathe in ‘second-hand smoke’ are inhaling no less than 50 known carcinogens and other harmful chemicals. It is not uncommon for children of smoking parents to wake up with ‘smoker’s cough.’
I don’t want to lecture. I feel it is far more beneficial to an individual to provide the facts so they can proceed as they feel best. Some people who smoke are willing to accept the risks for the sake of their habit, and that’s their choice. For those who do wish to overcome the grip of this addiction, there are excellent online sources. Start with: http://smokefree.gov/
Consider their stop-smoking app for added support.
And good luck – for your smile and the best you can be.
How Teeth Add Years To Your Life
Posted on Apr 19, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Studies have shown that denture wearers live, on average, ten years less than adults who have their natural teeth.
Years ago, many adults assumed they’d lose their natural teeth as a ‘normal’ part of the aging process. Today, we know that is not the case. Or, it doesn’t have to be. Typically, losing natural teeth is well within our control. And, keeping our natural teeth is an important component of maintaining good overall health.
Natural teeth are held by the upper or lower jaw, with their roots embedded in the bone. This dependable, stable foundation of bone allows us to bite and chew thoroughly and comfortably. The ability to eat a diet of protein rich meats, fiber rich vegetables laden with vitamins and minerals, and healthy fruits helps our bodies reap the nutrition it needs to function properly.
When dentures slip or ‘give’ while trying to bite and chew, it can cause discomfort and lead to embarrassing moments when dining with others. This is why denture wearers will gravitate to foods that are soft and dissolve easily in the mouth. Unfortunately, these choices typically lack the fiber and nutritional makeup needed to keep our systems in proper order.
Hence, denture wearers tend to take more medications and have more gastro-intestinal problems than those who have their natural teeth. Because of fearing awkward slips, many start to decline invitations to outings that are centered around food. This decrease in social involvement is not good for one’s health, either.
Another problem is bone loss. When tooth roots are no longer embedded in the jaw bone, the bone begins to shrink. This decline in bone mass causes changes in facial appearance that are aging far beyond one’s actual years. For example, when the chin points and the mouth seems to collapse inward, this creates a ‘granny look.’ Perhaps this is why female denture wearers tend to wear less makeup than those who have their natural teeth. They simply feel old and are resigned to look it as well.
As a Periodontist, my specialty includes the diagnosis and placement of Dental Implants. One of the main benefits of Dental Implants is their ability to halt bone loss. Because implants are placed in the jaw bone, they mimic the presence of natural tooth roots. And, since they are held in the bone, Dental Implants restore the ability to bite and chew that is comfortable and worry-free.
What some of my patients share is how their Dental Implants are their “secret.” Dental Implants restore a smile that is healthy and natural looking. So, no one needs to know your teeth are not your real teeth except you! And, you’ll enjoy knowing they are designed to last your lifetime.
If you wear dentures, you’ll know when bone loss has begun. Your dentures will move in spite of denture adhesives and pastes. Small particles of food, such as nut pieces or seeds, will become trapped under the denture and pierce tender gum tissues. And, even though relines will improve the movement and discomfort for a time, the process of bone loss will continue until, eventually, even relines are of little help.
Protect your smile, your health and your confidence. Look into Dental Implants and learn which are most appropriate for your needs. You deserve to live a full, rich life and Dental Implants can help you do just that! Call 828-274-9440 for a consultation appointment.
Gum Disease & Prostrate Health
Posted on Apr 11, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
All bodies contain bacteria, some are even good for us. However, the human body was built to tackle the bad kind by sending white blood cells to battle the bacteria that can lead to infection. Although this is our body’s reaction to bacterial accumulation, some infection spreads beyond what white blood cells can handle.
This can be seen in a cut that goes unwashed and untreated. As bacteria multiply, inflammation sets in. This is what causes redness and swelling as white blood cells arrive to tackle the enemy. When the white blood cells are overwhelmed, an antibiotic may be needed to overcome the overload that the white blood cells cannot combat.
Systemic inflammation is similar, except it cannot be seen like the redness or swelling from a cut. This internal inflammation in the body can simmer without being obvious. With chronic inflammation, the reaction can’t turn itself off. While the white blood cells will back off when a cut heals, chronic inflammation inside the body continues for no reason.
Although invisible, this continual inflammation can contribute to a number of serious health problems. For example, research has found links between systemic inflammation and heart attacks, arthritis, diabetes, some cancers, preterm babies and even Alzheimer’s Disease. Now, researchers have begun to take a closer look at periodontal disease, a bacterial infection in the mouth, as being a potential trigger of internal inflammation.
As oral bacteria accumulate in the mouth, periodontal (gum) disease develops, thrives and spreads by eating away at gum tissues, tooth enamel and supporting bones. When the bacteria of gum disease enter the bloodstream through weakened gums, inflammatory reactions can create destruction far beyond the mouth.
Research now shows a potential link between oral bacteria and Prostatitis, an infection of the prostate. Prostatitis, an inflammatory disease, causes a frequent urge to urinate and a burning sensation or pain during urination.
The connection between periodontal disease bacteria and Prostatitis was recently noted in a study conducted at Case Western University. Researchers from Case Western’s School of Dental Medicine and the Case Medical Center’s Department of Urology & Pathology found that the symptoms of Prostatitis could be greatly improved by treating gum disease.
In their study, all participants had moderate to severe levels of periodontal disease. Those in the study also had inflammation of the prostrate gland with higher than normal prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels.
During the study, one group of participants were treated for gum disease while having prostrate symptoms and PSA levels monitored. The other group received no treatment for their gum disease while prostrate symptoms and PSA levels were monitored. Neither group was given treatment for their prostate conditions during the study.
PSA levels were measured in both groups after one month and again after two months. Researchers noted an overwhelming majority with noticeably lower PSA levels in the group who received treatment for gum disease. Hopefully, these findings can help Prostatitis patients achieve better treatment results.
As studies continue, it is obvious that your oral health is closely connected to your overall health. By avoiding bacteria overload in the mouth, you reduce the risk of triggering inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. Additionally, your smile will avoid problems that are time-consuming and expensive to treat.
Common symptoms of gum disease are tender gums that bleed when brushing, persistent bad breath, gums that turn red, gums that loosen from teeth and pus pockets that form at the base of teeth. If you have any of these symptoms, you should also know that periodontal disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the U.S.
Obviously, the potent bacteria of gum disease is nothing to ignore, as research continues to find links between it and serious health problems. Take good care of your body AND your smile! Call 828-274-9440 to schedule a thorough examination. If signs of gum disease exist, we can make recommendations for treatment to restore your smile to a healthy state.