Recent Posts



If You Have Arthritis (RA), Your Oral Health Could Influence Its Severity

Posted on Feb 28, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

As a Periodontal Specialist, I treat all stages of periodontal (gum) disease as well as have particular expertise in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants. Over the years, I’ve watched miraculous progress made in the development of dental implant systems, becoming a dependable, safe and successful alternative to dentures and partials.

Where I’ve not seen much progress is the nation’s understanding of the hazards of periodontal disease. Still today, nearly 47% of American adults have some level of gum disease. And, this is in spite of research findings that have found a correlation between the bacteria of periodontal disease and a long list of serious health conditions. Because of the inflammatory triggers associated with gum disease bacteria, it has been linked to heart disease, stroke, memory loss, preterm babies, diabetes, some cancers and impotency.

In early stages, the condition causes gums to bleed when brushing, bad breath and gum tenderness. As gum disease progresses, gum tissues darken in color and pus pockets form at the base of teeth. Eventually, teeth loosen and require removal. To no surprise, gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among American adults.

Research is now showing a remarkably close connection between rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and gum disease. While the connections may seem unlikely, it’s been determined that gum disease and RA share a genetic likeness. Apparently, their clinical structures are similiar, primarily in pathogens, which are agents that causes disease or illness. Studies have noted that the pathological processes that occur in gum disease and RA are nearly identical.

While it has also been established that both conditions cause chronic inflammation in tissues that connect to bone, researchers have found that the two diseases also have a similar inflammatory trigger. The particular species of bacteria found in periodontally-compromised oral tissues and the tissues surrounding RA joints is nearly identical.

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

As RA-related inflammation worsens, joints become swollen with symptoms including fever, disfiguring of hands and feet, numbness and tingling. While there is no cure for RA, treatment options may include medications, physical therapy, or even surgery to ease the discomfort or slow its progress.

Like RA, gum disease causes pain, swelling, and tenderness. As it worsens, the associated inflammation can destroy the bone that supports teeth along with surrounding tissues. One study even showed a particular pathogen associated with periodontal disease could 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. It is suspected that this occurs because the system has a reduced burden of oral inflammation.

An exciting fact on the findings of past research is how oral health correlates so closely to our overall health. Hopefully, as more adults come to realize that the presence of gum disease can so greatly increase your risk for serious health conditions, there will be an increasing trend on achieving and maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

Begin with your own oral health and a healthy body and share this understanding with those you love. Be committed to a thorough oral hygiene regimen at home as well as a your 6-month dental check-ups and exams.

If you have signs of gum disease, seek treatment at your earliest convenience. Gum disease will only worsen and require more treatment time and expense as it progresses. Begin by calling 828-274-9440 to learn more and ask for a consultation appointment.

Afraid Of Going To The Dentist? The Results Can Be Oral Pain AND Pain In The Wallet!

Posted on Feb 21, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

For people who have a fear of heights, it is difficult for those who don’t to understand the emotions that high places can trigger. Or, for people who are afraid of dogs, it can be a rather puzzling problem for those who us who think of our dogs as family.

Fear of going to a dentist is another fear that some individuals have and others do not. And, dental fear is more common than not, with an estimated 75% of American adults having some level of fear or anxiety associated with dentistry. Fear Smiley Face

While people who are fearful of dogs can avoid them much of the time, people who have dental fear pay a high price for avoiding dental care. This ‘high price’ comes in the form of compromised oral health and the need for more-complex treatment that may have been prevented in the first place.

As a Periodontist, I see a great many patients who have acquired gum disease or lost teeth because of dental fear. For most, their fears began following a traumatic experience in a dental chair many years prior. I have also seen some fearful patients who can’t recall exactly when their fears began or why they emerged.

What I have learned in my specialty is that perceived pain can be just as real as actual pain. When someone has been hurt during dental care and the patient felt helpless to halt the pain, it’s logical that they may anticipate similar sensations during subsequent care — UNLESS the patient develops a tremendous amount of trust with their caregivers.

It’s normal that even patients with no fears of dental visits can feel anxious at times. Being positioned on your back on a narrow surface can make anyone feel vulnerable. Added to that? The mouth’s interior is a sensitive area. When you open your mouth for another person to prod around using pointed instruments without knowing what they’re doing, even relaxed patients know there is the potential for an even-slight jab or prick.

I am very proud of the relationship of trust I have with our patients. They know my goal is to NEVER cause them discomfort. Although we cannot always guarantee they’ll have no discomfort at all, my staff and I take extra steps to provide optimal comfort at every visit. This is why we offer oral and I.V. sedation (also referred to as “twilight sleep”) for patients who desire added relaxation throughout their visit.

When it comes to dental problems, the snowball effect begins when patients cannot bring themselves to come into a dental office for care. For those who have fears, just the thoughts of walking in the front door can conjure up uncontrollable reactions. Some patients shake, break out in a sweat, and even cry (both men and women).

From your caregiver’s standpoint, here’s the bigger problem: When dental care is delayed or avoided due to fear, small problems that could have been prevented (or easily treated) become big problems. Big problems require more extensive procedures, more expense and more time in treatment. The fear of going to the dentist simply adds to the need for treatment at the dentist.

Too, when regular dental check-ups and cleanings are avoided, the result can become periodontal (gum) disease and is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. Periodontal disease occurs when oral bacteria becomes infectious, causing damage to the gums and bone structures underneath the gum tissues. Treatment can be extensive. Additionally, tooth loss can create an entirely new set of procedural needs and expenses.

If you have dental fears, how do you have the care you need when just walking into a dentist’s office is unnerving? We begin with a Consultation in a private room that is removed from the clinical side of the office. We sit in comfy arm chairs and have an open and relaxed conversation. I’ll listen to your concerns and answer your questions and explain comfort options that should work best for your needs. Here, I occasionally find that a patient doesn’t want sedation but just to have treatment administered at a slower pace. That’s fine.

Although we offer relaxation medications in addition to a gentle touch, our patients find that trust is the key to their ability to have the treatment they need. Let us help you overcome your fears or anxiety so you can enjoy the healthy, confident smile you desire.

Remember, delay can result in more treatment, more expense and more time. Call 828-274-9440 to arrange a consultation appointment soon.

Weighing Benefits Of Dental Implants Vs. Crown-&-Bridge

Posted on Feb 17, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

When an adult is missing one, two, or several teeth in one area, a common replacement option, for many, has been a crown-&-bridge combination. This often because a bridge, in most cases, costs more than Dental Implants – initially. Yet, does the ‘initial’ investment of a bridge outweigh the long-term expenses commonly associated with its upkeep?

Dental Implants are held in the jaw bone, just like natural tooth roots. This means that they do not rely on adjacent teeth for support. They do not require the support of natural teeth that must be crowned merely to serve as supports for a bridge. By keeping your natural teeth ‘natural,’ you are able to protect the long-term benefits to your oral health.

Dental Implants are designed to last for a lifetime, making them an excellent investment. They will never need a root canal or repair of cavities. It is a fact that the teeth adjacent to a missing tooth are most likely next in line to require removal.

Dental Implants are designed to replace missing teeth using the natural foundation of your jaw bone. Once placed, Dental Implants integrate into the structure of your bone. Through this, they help to prevent the bone loss and gum recession that often accompany bridgework and partials.

Over time, bone loss becomes obvious through changes in facial appearance. Bone loss contributes to deep wrinkles around the mouth, causing the corners of the mouth to turn downward even in a smile. Eventually, many develop a collapsed appearance of the mouth. This creates a ‘granny look’ that contributes to an appearance far older than your actual age.

Because some people prefer to keep their Dental Implant treatment a private issue, no one need to ever know you have implant-supported teeth. While some implant systems allow you to remove attached teeth, many versions are non-removable. Non-removable types mean you’ll never have to remove your teeth from your mouth. You’ll wake up with a smile and brush your implanted teeth along with your natural teeth!

The success rate of Dental Implants is excellent. Properly selected, placed and maintained, this lifetime solution makes them a wise choice when it comes to tooth replacement. Since Periodontists specialize in gum tissues and underlying bone in the mouth, they have the knowledge, training and facilities to give you teeth that look and feel just like your own.

When you consider Dental Implants based on the long-term advantages and the ‘one and done’ cost versus , the choice is an easy one. Obviously, Dental Implants are a wise investment. To arrange a consultation to discuss your needs, call (828) 274-9440.

Many Dental Implant Types For Every Need

Posted on Feb 09, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

When you run out of tissues, do you think, “I need to buy more Kleenex?” Or, do you ask for “Tabasco Sauce” when you want a hot sauce for your food?

We often refer to certain items by brand names even though we’re thinking of a more generic product. This also happens when the term ‘Dental Implant’ is used. Although there are many types of implant systems, Dental Implants describe this particular genre of tooth replacement.

What sets Dental Implants apart from other tooth replacement systems is basically the ‘implanted’ portion. This is what is positioned into the jaw bone to provide the same foundation as that afforded by natural tooth roots.

However, there are a number of implant types, designed to accommodate specific needs. they can vary in shape, size and even what is attached to an implant. For example, some implants are designed to be placed at unique angles to compensate for minimal bone depth. Some implants are designed to support a single tooth or bridge of several teeth while others are strategically positioned to support a full arch of teeth.

A successful outcome in Dental Implant treatment begins with the selection of the proper type of implant. As a Periodontal specialist, my training includes the diagnosis and placement of Dental Implants. It is vital to a successful treatment for the doctor placing your implants to have intricate knowledge of the specific type needed. It is important that the amount of bone mass present, location of implant sites, and the number needed to support the attached teeth is factored in accurately.

Proper placement angles and depth are also important. The doctor placing the implants should also be skilled in the selection of the implant angles and positioning.

It’s amazing how seemingly minor miscalculations can create major issues that result in implant failure. For example, an implant placed in the upper jaw in too-shallow bone can penetrate the sinus cavity. A lower implant in too little bone depth can come in contact with a nerve that runs horizontally through the lower jaw, creating pain.

In our office, we take great joy in seeing patients who once struggled with dentures or partials complete implant treatment. They are able to resume a eating a wide variety of healthy foods and feel confident in social settings. However, when we are referred an individual who learns his or her implant has ‘failed’ and must be removed, it is unfortunate.

As a dental specialist, I occasionally remove implants when a patient has not taken proper care of their oral hygiene at home. Oral bacteria can contribute to an infection that works its way into the bone surrounding the implant. In some cases, the only way to resolve the infection is to remove the implant.

While this is unfortunate, it is ultimately a choice the patient made that resulted in implant failure. However, the most troubling thing I see in implant dentistry is when a patient opted for a “good deal” and had a less-experienced doctor place an implant that must now be removed.

When a patient entrusts their implant treatment to a skilled, qualified specialist and adheres to hygiene and healing guidelines, implant failure becomes a non-issue. You can increase your potential for a successful outcome by asking a Periodontist to join your dentist in team treatment. Many general dentists already have close relationships with Periodontists for implant placement and treatment of gum disease.

Feel free to discuss your specific needs and desires before you make your decision. Call (828) 274-9440 to schedule a consultation.