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How To Save Money At The Dentist

Posted on Apr 25, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

When we purchase or lease an automobile, we realize there are maintenance requirements to ensure our investment stays in good working order. We have oil changed, fluids checked, and tires rotated or replaced. We do this because we know the consequences of not tending to the upkeep of an auto can be costly.

Your oral health also requires regular maintenance. In addition to twice daily brushing and daily flossing, 6-month dental check-ups and cleanings are needed to prevent problems from occurring. By avoiding problems, we save ourselves from costly and time-consuming treatment.

Prevention is key when it comes to both oral and overall health. A 2014 report on National Health Expenditures estimated that U.S. adults spend nearly $10,000 annually on health care. And, dental expenses are extra. According to the Government Accountability Office, the average annual out-of-pocket for dentistry increased by 26% between 1996 – 2010, from $520/year to $653/year.

Like tending to our vehicles, caring for our dental health is necessary. If ignored, the result is more than losing natural teeth. Research now shows that the infectious bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. It has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some cancers, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies and impotency.

Gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. It is estimated that over 47% of adults over age 30 have some level of gum disease. For those over the age of 65, 64% are said to have moderate to severe gum disease. Symptoms include tender gums that bleed easily when brushing, persistent bad breath, gums that darken in color, gums that recede from teeth and expose darker tooth root sections and pus pockets on gums.

As a Periodontist, the majority of the problems I treat are one that were essentially preventable. With the proper home care and regular dental check-ups, you can save money by avoiding problems and costs for repairs. For those that do arise, early treatment helps to minimize expenses. This is why your regular dental cleanings and exams are so important.

Between visits, the goal is to keep oral bacteria levels to a minimum. While brushing twice daily is important, we urge patients to get into the habit of flossing. This is a significant benefit in the fight to keep oral bacteria buildup from damaging tooth enamel and gum tissues.

For those who floss daily, it only takes a minute. By removing particles caught between teeth, you can reduce oral bacteria growth tremendously. Find flossing awkward? Our 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 yet still effective.

Another way to greatly reduce oral bacteria is to use a tongue scraper. This small tool uproots oral bacteria that are embedded in the tongue. Scrape back to front over the tongue 2 – 3 times and rinse after each pass. Brushing your tongue after brushing teeth is also helpful in removing bacteria from the tongue.

For many, a surprising cause for oral bacterial growth is ‘dry mouth.’ Saliva flow is designed to continually rinse oral bacteria out of the mouth. When saliva levels are low, oral bacteria accumulate and reproduce quickly. When your mouth is dry, you may notice that your breath odor is bad. This results from an overgrowth of oral bacteria.

Causes for a dry mouth are smoking, alcohol, caffeine and some medications as well as mouth breathing, including snoring. The aging process and health conditions such as anemia, hypertension, arthritis and diabetes also contribute to dry mouth.

To lessen the negative effects of dry mouth and enjoy fresher breath, drink water throughout the day. If you take medications that are drying to the mouth, ask your doctor if alternatives are available. For frequent dry mouth, purchase an over-the-counter mouth rinse that is designed to replenish oral moisture. Be sure the ingredients do not include alcohol, which is drying to the mouth even in this form.

Remember, your smile is more than teeth and gums. It is an important part of your overall health and well-worth the care you give it. In addition to avoiding costly dental problems, a healthy mouth will reward you with fresh breath and a confident smile. Plus, when you keep your natural teeth, you avoid a long list of expenses and associated problems for replacement teeth.

If you are missing teeth or have tender gums that bleed easily when brushing, call 828-274-9440 for an appointment.

Dental Fear Can Cause Little Problems To Become Big Ones

Posted on Apr 20, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

It is estimated that over 70% of American adults have some level of dental fear. For some, this fear prevents them from having regular exams and cleanings — visits that are designed to help you avoid problems in the first place or catch those that do occur at early stages while they’re easier to treat.

Dental fear causes many people to delay care, which can greatly increase time and expense for more complex treatment in the future. For example, keeping gums healthy through regular care is a small investment when compared to the expenses to treat gum disease.

A healthy, confident smile helps people to feel good about smiling, which means they tend to smile more often. Research has shown that smiling boosts one’s mood, self-esteem and self-confidence. This is because the act of smiling causes the release of endorphins, the brain’s ‘happy’ chemical. It has been shown that even faking a smile creates this same ‘natural high.’

For those who avoid dentistry because of fear, enjoying the benefits of a confident smile can be a challenge. Without regular dental care, many adults develop periodontal (gum) disease or lose natural teeth, even with a committed oral hygiene regimen at home.

In our office, we understand that perceived pain can seem just as real as actual pain. This is why we offer Oral and I.V. Sedation (twilight sleep). Both forms of sedation help patients relax before and throughout treatment. Too, both are effective at erasing most or all memory of the procedure afterward.

With the help of sedation, many procedures can be completed in just one or two visits. For lengthy procedures, sedation helps patients to combine several appointments into just one or two.

Today’s dentistry can be a comfortable, pleasant experience – for all patients. For many fearful patients, however, the key lies NOT in being sedated, but finding the right dentist. Feeling assured that you are in gentle hands, are respected, and in control of the pace of your care is the best way to overcome your dental fears – for good!

In our office, we are pleased that many patients who once had dental fear have overcome their fears to achieve healthy, confident smiles. Many no longer need sedation, knowing we are committed to their comfort at every visit.

If fear has kept you from regular dental visits, you may have some level of gum disease. Gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. Additionally, the potent bacteria of gum disease has been shown to trigger systemic inflammation. This can create serious health problems far beyond the mouth.

Begin with a friendly conversation with our phone staff. They’ll be happy to arrange a consultation if you’d like to begin with a conversation to have your questions answered. Call 828-274-9440 to schedule.

For Replacing Teeth, Dental Implants Are Best Value

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

As a Periodontal Specialist, I stay current on the advancements in implants dentistry because, for many reasons, it is the ideal replacement option for missing teeth. The various systems, modern techniques and advanced materials now offer exceptional choices for any individual who is missing natural teeth.

Along with the developments in implant dentistry, my advanced training in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants gives me expanded skills to provide optimal results. While our patients mainly see the results of an appealing, confident smile once their treatment is completed, it is the foundation of healthy gums that is the true benefit to dental implant recipients.

Think about the way nature created your smile with natural teeth held by their roots in the upper or lower jaws. The jaw bones are nurtured by the existence of tooth roots, which provide stimulation that keeps the bone healthy. Without their presence, the jaw bones experience a process known as resorption. Resorption causes bones to lose mass, declining in height and width.

Healthy Jaw Bone Vs Bone Loss From Missing Teeth

Bone loss leads to a number of problems. Once resorption begins, remaining teeth adjacent to the area of bone loss are affected. A shrinking bone that abuts areas of resorption weakens tooth root stability. This creates a domino effect. When a natural tooth is lost, statistics show the next to go will most likely be an adjacent tooth.

As bone loss continues, your potential to lose more teeth increases. With each extraction, the continual process of bone loss leaves you with an ever-shrinking jaw and weaker foundation for remaining teeth. Bone resorption can be detected visually in people who have a collapsed mouth (referred to as a ‘granny look’) where the nose is unusually close to the chin.

Bone loss is also the reason that once well-fitted dentures and partials begin to slip and cause uncomfortable rubbing on gum tissues. When a denture is first made, it is designed to conform to the unique contours of your gum ridge (the gum-covered arch that once held your natural tooth roots). As the bone declines in mass, this secure fit loosens and moves while chewing or laughing. Denture pastes or adhesives can help, but eventually even relines (reshaping the previously-made contours) are of little help.

To many people who choose dental implants to replace teeth, however, it is the appeal of making a lifelong investment that is the determining factor when comparing costs of implants to other tooth replacement options. Since they are designed to last a lifetime, many see dental implants as a ‘one and done’ choice for treatment.

In cases where one or several teeth together are missing, crown-&-bridge combinations are an option. However, crowns and bridges can require repairs and/or replacements over time. And, they do nothing to halt bone loss. The other consideration is the need to crown natural teeth for the sole purpose of supporting a bridge. This compromises the integrity of otherwise natural teeth for the mere purpose of holding a bridge.

Since they are held in the jaw bone, dental implants do not rely on adjacent teeth for support providing the same, sturdy foundation as natural tooth roots. An added bonus is how the implanted portion recreates the presence of a tooth root, halting the process of resorption.

Our goal is to always provide the best outcome possible based on the long term goals you desire. Let’s begin with a private, no obligation consultation to discuss your specific goals or concerns. Call 828-274-9440 for an appointment.

Vitamin C Good For Oral Health

Posted on Apr 12, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

According to the Journal of Periodontology, people who consume at least 180 mg of vitamin C per day give their gums and teeth a healthy boost. As an anti-inflammatory, Vitamin C also binds cells to build connective tissue with collagen. Vitamin C has even been shown to increase bone regrowth, which helps to restore healthy teeth.

Dietary sources of vitamin C include coconut water, citrus, red peppers, brussel sprouts, broccoli and tomatoes. Getting your C through food sources is best since most chewable vitamin C is highly acidic, which can erode tooth enamel. If you aren’t getting sufficient vitamin C through your diet, non-acidic alternatives are an over-the-counter vitamin C that comes in powder form or vitamin C chewing gum, which is also non-acidic.

Healthy teeth and gums mean fresher breath and save you time and money by decreasing your risk for gum disease and cavity repair. While foods and vitamin supplements are beneficial to maintaining a healthy mouth, having a professionally cleaned mouth is to your advantage. If you haven’t had regular dental cleanings, arrange an examination by calling 828-274-9440.

Also, be aware of the signs of gum disease. These are tender gums that bleed when brushing, swollen and achy areas on gums, gums that darken in color, receded gums and persistent bad breath. Gum disease only worsens without treatment. It is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. If you have any of these symptoms, call promptly so treatment can be scheduled without delay.