A Clean Tongue Creates A Healthy Mouth
Posted on Jun 30, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
The tongue is defined as: “the fleshy muscular organ in the mouth of a mammal, used for tasting, licking, swallowing, and (in humans) articulating speech.” It is also essential for efficient chewing by helping to move food around in the mouth.
The tongue is a pretty useful organ and is rarely at rest. However, it is important to think of the tongue just as you would other structures in your mouth. Just as it is necessary to keep the teeth and gum tissues clean, the condition of the tongue can play a significant role in supporting good oral health.
The tongue is a muscle covered with moist, pink tissue called mucosa. Tiny bumps called papillae give the tongue its rough texture. Thousands of taste buds cover the surfaces of the papillae.
As useful as the tongue is, it can also be a tremendous breeding ground for oral bacteria. Think about it, the tongue provides tiny hiding places for bacterial growth in an ideal environment – warm, moist and dark.
While saliva helps to rinse some of the bacteria from the mouth, it doesn’t have the ability to dislodge bacteria embedded in the tongue’s grooves. Oral bacteria tends to breed rapidly. And, when sugar or carbohydrates are consumed, their growth is accelerated even further.
An accumulation of oral bacteria in the mouth can literally be felt by running the tongue over the teeth. At the end of the day, you can probably feel a film in the mouth. This sticky film is known as plaque, which is oral bacteria that has accumulated since your morning brushing.
The tongue can help you keep oral bacteria levels to a minimum. In addition to twice daily brushing and daily flossing, brush your tongue with your toothbrush following tooth brushing at least once a day. If this is uncomfortable, consider purchasing a tongue scraper (available at most drug stores). Scrap from the back forward, rinsing after each pass.
Even though the rear portion of the tongue seems smooth and less likely to harbor bacteria, the most dense amount are actually embedded there. To uproot the little critters, be sure to reach that area (try to go no further than what makes you gag).
A mouth wash that kills germs without containing alcohol (which can dry out oral tissues), can also help. Also, drink plenty of water throughout the day to help keep oral tissue moist and limit sweets and carbs – for the good of your smile AND your waistline!
When plaque is not removed daily, it begins to harden on the surfaces of teeth. This is referred to as tartar or calculus. This is what makes your gums tender during your oral hygiene visits and what the hygienist is scrapping off teeth. Calculus cannot be brushed or flossed away, so your 6-month cleanings are the only way to eliminate this hardened form of bacterial buildup in the mouth.
Oral bacteria is the cause of bad breath, tender gums that bleed easily when brushing, cavities, gum disease and the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. Simple measures each day can significantly enhance your potential to avoid problems, and the expenses associated with repairing them.
If you are experiencing bleeding gums, you already have gum disease. This will not go away without treatment. Call 828-274-9440 to arrange an exam at your earliest convenience.
Losing Teeth In Old Age Is NOT To Be Expected
Posted on Jun 27, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
With proper care, your natural teeth are designed to last your lifetime. And it is important that you do everything possible to keep your natural teeth.
It has been shown that denture wearers take more medications and have more gastrointestinal problems than those with their natural teeth. It should also be noted that denture wearers die ten years sooner, on average, than those who have their natural teeth.
The discomfort, inconvenience, and embarrassment experienced by most denture or partial wearers is due to a shrinking bone foundation. When natural tooth roots no longer exist in the jaw bone, the bone begins to shrink in depth and height. While denture adhesives may lessen the amount of movement for brief periods, difficulty when eating forces many people to resort to a diet of soft foods that dissolve easily in the mouth.
Bone loss also causes changes in one’s facial appearance, including deep wrinkling and a sunken-in appearance of the mouth. The corners of the mouth turn downward, even in a smile. Jowls form when facial muscles detach from the declining mass of jaw bone. This causes denture wearers to look far older than their actual age.
Because Dental Implants are held by the jaw, just as natural tooth roots, they halt the bone loss that dentures and partials actually accelerate. Another benefit is that Dental Implants are ‘self-supporting’ so it is not necessary to crown otherwise healthy, adjacent teeth to serve as a support for a bridge.
With proper selection and placement by an experienced Doctor, Dental Implants will provide as much pleasure and satisfaction as natural teeth. To discuss replacing a denture or partial, call 828-274-9440 to arrange a consultation appointment.
Dealing With Pain The OTC Way!
Posted on Jun 20, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
As a periodontist, a priority with each patient is to make every appointment as comfortable as possible. For patients with problems that have become painful, my goal is to get them out of pain as quickly as possible.
While I’d like to think that everything we do is painless, the periodontal specialty often involves procedures that require penetrating tender gum tissues.
We offer sedation options and use technology and techniques designed to speed healing and minimize discomfort. However, once the patient leaves our office, post-surgical or post-treatment discomfort may occur as the tissues heal.
For example, when we place Dental Implants, we sedate patients so they will be relaxed and comfortable throughout the process. Once the patient returns home and the numbness wears off, they may experience some swelling and tenderness for a day or so.
During the healing period, we make prescription strength medications available to our patients for pain relief. Most tell us they did not need them and only took over-the-counter (OTC) medications (if any).
Although we make recommendations as to which OTC medications will be most effective for pain relief and swelling, I thought it would be helpful to explain the variations between the long list of drug store pain relief.
Once upon a time, if you had pain, you took aspirin. Drug options have greatly expanded. For most mild to moderate pain, over-the-counter pain relievers (analgesics), like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – commonly known as NSAIDs) or acetaminophen are the first choice.
When medications do not require a prescription, we typically assume they are safe. Yet, analgesics can have side effects and interact with other medicines, dietary supplements, and alcohol. Too, they contain the same ingredients found in many prescription drugs. This means if you’re taking several medications, you could be getting more of a particular pain reliever than you realize.
NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve, Naprosyn, others), and ketoprofen (Orudis, others) are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. They reduce pain, inflammation, and fever by inhibiting production of the prostaglandins (hormone-like substances) that cause them. The down side is that they also block other prostaglandins that protect the stomach lining, regulate blood flow to the kidneys, and initiate blood clotting.
Stomach inflammation, peptic ulcers, and intestinal bleeding are major hazards for NSAID users. People who take high doses for an extended time are at greater risk, older adults especially. NSAIDs also slightly increase the risk for hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding in the brain).
Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Anacin-3, others) relieves pain and fever by affecting the parts of the brain that receive pain signals. Although acetaminophen reduces pain and fever, it has no effect on inflammation, but neither does it cause the bleeding and clotting problems associated with NSAIDs.
Acetaminophen is metabolized by enzymes in the liver. Taking too much can lead to liver damage in susceptible people, such as those who drink alcohol regularly. Taking two or more acetaminophen-containing products at the same time, or taking doses too close together, can cause overdose.
Closely read the labels of all medications to ensure you’re not exceeding the maximum recommended dose of acetaminophen — 4,000 mg per day, for people with no liver problems.
If you don’t fall into a specific risk group, taking nonprescription pain relievers as directed is generally safe. The potential for trouble emerges when you add the following:
• Some NSAID and acetaminophen products, as well as cold, sinus, and allergy remedies, contain a combination of pain relievers. Regular and long-term use of painkillers that combine analgesics can damage the kidneys.
• Many prescription painkillers contain acetaminophen (Darvocet, Vicodin, others) or NSAIDS (Celebrex, Percodan, others). Do not take both prescription and over-the-counter painkillers without checking first with your doctor. A chart of prescription drugs containing acetaminophen and NSAIDs is available on the American Academy of Family Physicians’ website: www.familydoctor.org/otc/knowmeds.html.
• NSAIDs can interact with many drugs, including ACE inhibitors, anticoagulants, beta blockers, lithium, and methotrexate. Aspirin interacts with anticonvulsants, corticosteroids, insulin, and sulfa antibiotics. If you take any of these prescription medicines, check before using NSAIDs.
• Herbal supplements such as garlic, ginger, feverfew, ginkgo, and ginseng can thin blood and should be avoided when taking an NSAID.
• NSAIDs can interfere with absorption of folic acid. If taking NSAIDs regularly, take a multivitamin daily.
It is important that your treatment and recovery result in a positive outcome without undue complications or discomfort. By understanding the advantages as well as potential adverse reactions of NSAIDs and acetaminophen, you can minimize the amount needed while gaining the most comfort from your chosen brand.
Want To A Healthy Body? Begin With A Healthy Mouth.
Posted on Jun 15, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
I love being in this profession. Being a Periodontist, I’ve witnessed a number of advancements in dental technology, techniques and materials. I have also followed scientific research that has made enormous strides in connecting oral health with our overall health.
Time and again, studies keep showing how closely related the health of your gums is to the prevention and reduced risk for some serious health problems. Research has found links between the oral bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease to heart disease, stroke, memory loss, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, some cancers, impotency, preterm babies and more.
The culprit is apparently in the ability of oral bacteria to trigger inflammation elsewhere in the body. When gum disease has weakened the tissues in the mouth, the bacteria is able to enter the bloodstream. As it travels through the body, it can set a series of negative reactions into motion.
Knowing this potential, it’s no surprise that a growing number of surgeons are now advising patients to have their gums checked prior to surgery. Additionally, Ob-Gyns have started recommending pregnant patients to be especially diligent in having and keeping their gum health in good shape.
Some recent research findings has shown a predisposition to the deadly pancreatic cancer. Over several years, researchers at the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society collected oral samples as part of a cancer prevention and screening study. They noted elevated levels of two oral bacteria in pancreatic cancer patients. One oral bacteria was found to create a 59% higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer with another creating a 50% greater likelihood of developing this deadly disease.
The mouth can also reveal indications of some diseases, even before it is diagnosed. For example, Celiac Disease (an autoimmune disease that causes damage the small intestine) can create defects in tooth enamel. These may appear as yellow, white or brown spots on teeth or cause pits or band-like grooves to form.
Knowing this, it simply makes good sense to take VERY good care of your oral health. Yet, only half of American adults brush twice a day and nearly 80% don’t floss. These actions take just minutes a day and can make an enormous difference in your oral health, and apparently, your overall health as well.
Reconsider your oral health commitment, knowing that you’re doing a favor to your smile AND your body! And, be watchful for signs of gum disease, which include tender gums that bleed when brushing, swollen areas, gum recession or gums that darken from a healthy pink color to red.
Call (828) 274-9440 if you suspect you may have gum disease or have not seen a dentist on a regular basis.