Recent Posts



Arthritis & Gum Disease Linked According To Research

Posted on Nov 28, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Periodontal (gum) disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. However, the oral bacteria that lead to gum disease have been found to cause problems far beyond the mouth. Through tears in weakened gum tissues, this infectious bacteria can enter the bloodstream and move through the body. Research has found that the inflammation of gum disease bacteria can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere.

So, what does this have to do with arthritis? Let’s go back and start at the beginning. Gum disease forms from an accumulation of oral bacteria that becomes infectious. Initially, symptoms include gums that bleed when brushing, frequent bad breath and gum tenderness. As it progresses, the gums darken in color and pus pockets form at the base of teeth. Eventually, teeth loosen and may require removal.

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.

While the association between rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and gum disease seems unlikely, research is showing a remarkably close connection. Apparently, gum disease and arthritis share a genetic similarity in their clinical makeup. Both have similar clinical structures, primarily in pathogens, which are agents that cause disease or illness. What has been found is that the pathological processes that occur in both gum disease and RA are almost identical.

microscopeWhile it is apparent that both conditions cause chronic inflammation in tissues that connect to bone, researchers have found that both also have a similar inflammatory trigger. Another likeness is in the bacteria found in gum disease tissues and tissues surrounding joints in arthritic patients.

In one study, a particular pathogen associated with gum 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, symptoms often improve. This has been attributed to a reduced burden of oral inflammation to the system.

RA is a disabling and painful disease that destroys joints. It typically emerges on a gradual basis, often beginning with morning stiffness and weak, achy muscles. This is commonly followed by joint pain along with sore and stiff joints.

As RA inflammation increases, joints become swollen with symptoms of fever, disfiguring of hands and feet, numbness and tingling. Arthritis is traditionally felt in the fingers, wrists, elbows, hips, knees, ankles, toes, shoulder and neck.

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 associated inflammation can destroy gum tissues, teeth and the bone structures that support teeth (including surrounding tissues).

What’s exciting about these research findings is how oral health is so closely correlated to one’s overall health. Yet, it should also be a wake-up call to adults to take note of how the presence of gum disease can significantly increase one’s risk for serious health conditions.

Even in today’s advanced age of modern medicine, nearly 75% of the American adult population have some level of periodontal disease. Be committed to sharing your knowledge of the link between oral health and good overall health. Promote 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, call for an examination at your earliest convenience. Gum disease only worsens when treatment is delayed, which often requires more treatment time and expense as it progresses. As a periodontal specialist, a Periodontist has unique expertise to treat all stages of gum disease to restore your smile to a healthy state.

Call 828-274-9440 for more information or to schedule an examination.

The Lifetime Value Of Dental Implants

Posted on Nov 14, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

When you make a purchase based on quality – how long it will last and how well it will hold up over time – paying more is well worth it when calculating how much you actually receive for the investment made along with future savings. This is true when it comes to replacing teeth. Your decision to get the most from your dollars begins with opting for the best outcome long-term.

As a Periodontist, a dental specialist, I’ve seen how dental fear can be the prevailing reason that causes many people to delay or avoid looking into replacing teeth. This is ironic, mainly because the reason many people lose teeth in the first place is due to dental fear. When dental fears prevent adults from having regular cleanings, exams and repairs, the results are often periodontal (gum) disease and/or tooth loss.

Dental fear is no small problem in this country. Quite frankly, it is estimated that nearly 75% of American adults have some level of fear or anxiety associated with dental visits. There is no ‘typical’ age group, gender or education or income level that predisposes these individuals to having dental fears. It runs rampant throughout all walks of life.

With the addition of I.V. or oral sedation, many fearful adults are able to relax and have much-needed dentistry. Although sedation and the other comfort options we offer provide a way for high fear patients to relax throughout care, the bigger obstacle for many is implant treatment cost.

Because the costs for dental implants are all ‘up front,’ many people perceive them as more expensive. While implant treatment may seem more costly than crown-&-bridge combinations, dentures or partials, it’s actually a far better investment. For example, after a dental implant is placed and the final teeth attached, your investment is intended to last your lifetime.

Dental implants are constructed from a material that biologically bonds with living bone known as titanium. For decades, titanium has been implanted into the body, accepted by surrounding bone, and have had bone grown around it. This process, known as ‘osseo-integration,’ embeds the implant in the jaw bone so it can serve as a replacement tooth root.

Not only is the implant intended to last a lifetime, the replacement teeth attached to it will not experience cavities, need a root canal or cause problems for neighboring teeth. With the treatment costs upfront seeming to be a larger investment, dental implants are actually a savings when considering the future expenses to maintain other tooth replacement options.

Crown-&-bridge combinations are a common way to replace one or several missing teeth in one area. However, a crown-&-bridge requires the crowning of otherwise healthy, neighboring teeth on both sides of the bridge. The potential for future costs includes root canals, crown repair, bridge replacement, etc.

There is another issue that can evolve in future costs that lies beneath the gums. Without the presence of natural tooth roots, the bone that once held them begins to shrink. This process, known as ‘resorption,’ impacts the health of remaining natural teeth and weakens the strength of the jaw bone.

Once set into motion, resorption continues to make matters worse. As bone loss continues, it also creates changes in facial appearance. These include deep wrinkles around the mouth, jowls, and a mouth that appears to sink inward.

Because dental implants are held by the jaw bone, they halt the potential for bone loss. Since they have the same, sturdy foundation that natural teeth enjoy, implants do not reply on neighboring teeth to support replacement teeth.

Dental implants also support good physical and psychological health. Having the ability to properly chew healthy foods is paramount to maintaining a healthy body. Implants make it possible to bite and chew all types of food you love without uncomfortable rubbing or embarrassing slips. Older Couple Eating

Eating a diet of foods packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein helps to keep our bodies in tip top shape. And, when chewing is performed with stability and comfort, people feel more confident joining others for meals and outings that include food. Being socially active is a bonus to our mental stimulation and well-being.

If you are considering dental implants, begin with a no obligation consultation. Call 828-274-9440 to discuss your individual needs and goals. From there, I’ll explain options best for your needs and goals so you can decide what is best for you. I’ll also have our Financial Coordinator discuss ways you can make easy monthly payments for your implant treatment, often without a down payment and no interest charged.


Reshaping Gums For Dramatic Improvements To Smile’s Appearance

Posted on Nov 07, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

When a Periodontist is mentioned, many people think the treatment we provide is dental implant placement and treating periodontal (gum) disease. However, another part of the periodontal specialty is reshaping gum tissues, known as periodontal plastic surgery.

In addition to the shape, shade and length of teeth, the gum tissue that surrounds teeth has a significant effect on the appearance of a smile. Think about a print you wish to hang on a wall. The matting and frame can have a tremendous role in how the print is displayed. Along the same lines, your teeth also rely on a balanced, properly-aligned amount of gum tissue, which is the frame around each tooth.

With unique expertise in the re-contouring of oral tissues, a periodontist offers several ways to improve a smile’s appearance.

Gum reshaping is often performed when certain teeth are bordered by more gum tissue than that bordering surrounding teeth. Crown lengthening is the procedure most commonly performed to correct this. This is usually done in conjunction with crown placement but may be possible in mild cases of excess gum tissue.

Crown lengthening creates an appealing, balanced smile line that frames each tooth with an arch that is balanced to that over adjoining teeth. This procedure typically requires only one visit with minimal healing time.

Another way that Periodontal Plastic Surgery can enhance the appearance of a smile is grafting to repair gum recession. Receded gums are the result of gum tissue that pulls away from the base of the tooth, exposing darker, more sensitive tooth root sections. Receded gums are often the result of age, bite misalignment, gum disease and too-rigorous tooth brushing.

Also referred to as Gingival Grafting, this procedure uses a small section of tissue from the roof of your mouth, which heals quickly. The section is placed over the receded area and allowed to heal (normally requiring only a week or two). The results restore the look of a healthy tooth with a natural gum arch.

Another example is repositioning gum tissues for those who are born with a Gummy Smile, or a gingivectomy. This creates a balance of gums to teeth for a more beautiful smile.

Katie Couric - a famous 'gummy smile.'

Katie Couric – a famous ‘gummy smile.’

In a gummy smile, too much gum tissue is exposed above the teeth most visible in a smile. This causes many people to ‘hold back’ from smiling fully. Some with this trait smile with their lips only or conceal their smile with a hand.

The procedure to correct a gummy smile can be done in one visit. Excess gum tissue is removed and the remaining gums are arched over each tooth for a natural appearance. In most cases, porcelain crowns or veneers are placed to accentuate the natural look and feel of the teeth involved. The result is a fabulous smile that can be shared fully and joyfully!

The bonus of using a Periodontist to create an optimal outcome is the skill level needed to minimize disruption to the gums involved. Tender gum tissues heal faster and more predictably when the precision skills of a periodontal specialist incorporates their ability to tend gently and adeptly to each patient’s individual needs.

When it comes to your smile, your gum tissues are truly a significant part of its appearance. To improve the health and appearance of your smile, call 828-274-9440 for a consultation. During this time, I’ll gladly make recommendations and discuss specifics of each part of the process.

Sores In The Mouth

Posted on Nov 03, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Tis the season! Not only is it cold season, it’s a stressful time of year. This means your likelihood of getting a cold or canker sore increases.

They are often confused, however. The difference is…

Canker Sores
Small ulcers with a white or gray base and a red border. Unlike cold sores, canker sores appear inside the mouth. They are not contagious but their exact cause is uncertain. Some experts believe that immune system problems, bacteria or viruses may be involved.
Fatigue, stress or allergies can increase the likelihood of a canker sore. A cut caused by biting the cheek or tongue, or reactions from hot foods or beverages may contribute to canker sore development. Intestinal problems, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, also seem to make some people more susceptible.
Canker sores usually heal on their own after a week or so. Over-the-counter topical anesthetics, steroid preparations,  and antimicrobial mouth rinses can provide temporary relief.

Cold Sores
Also called fever blisters or Herpes simplex, these are groups of fluid-filled blisters that often erupt around the lips, under the nose, or around the chin. Cold sores caused by herpes virus type 1 are very contagious.
Herpes lesions look like multiple tiny fluid-filled blisters that are most common around the edge of the lips. An outbreak may follow a fever, sunburn, skin abrasions or emotional upset.
Cold sore blisters usually heal in a week by themselves. Over-the-counter topical anesthetics can provide some relief. Prescription antiviral drugs may reduce the duration of these kinds of viral infections.

However, any change to oral tissue that does not heal within 14 days should be examined without delay! This is a symptom of oral cancer. Nearly 40,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal (throat) cancer each year. These cancers kill about 1 person every hour, every day.

The survival rate is one of the worst of all cancers. Of those who acquire oral cancer, only 57% are estimated to be living 5 years from now. The death rate is higher than cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, laryngeal cancer, cancer of the testes, thyroid cancer, or skin cancer (malignant melanoma).

The death rate for these cancers has seen a slight decrease since 1980. Unfortunately, some symptoms do not emerge until the cancer has reached an advanced stage because symptoms can mimic a bite on the inside of your cheek.

Because tissue changes in your mouth are normal, ignoring symptoms can prove deadly. The most common are:

• white or red patch of tissue
• lesion in the mouth
• difficulty or discomfort when swallowing
• persistent sore throat
• a lump or mass inside the mouth or neck
• wart-like mass
• numbness in the oral/facial region

Although new cases have been dropping over the past few decades, a recent rise has been seen in throat cancers related to HPV (human papilloma virus) in white males under age 50. The average age of most people diagnosed with these cancers is 62, but about a third occur in patients younger than 55.

Lesions or discolorations that are early warning signs are not always visible, particularly in the back portion of the mouth (the oropharynx, the tonsils, and base of tongue), which can be an obstacle to early diagnosis and treatment. This is yet another reason that keeping your regular oral hygiene exam and cleanings is so important. During these times, your dentist and hygienist look for unusual changes in the mouth that can indicate a problem. However, you should never wait until your scheduled appointment to have anything unusual examined.

Although a stubborn canker or cold sore may not be welcome, they tend to go away in a week or ten days. Again, if an unusual spot or sore is still present after two weeks, call 828-274-9440 immediately for an appointment.