The Problems Associated With Missing Back Teeth.
Posted on Aug 28, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
If you lose a back tooth, why replace it when the tooth isn’t visible?
Think of your teeth as you would a framed brick wall. Each brick is held securely in place by the unity of adjoining bricks. If you remove a brick or two, the others are vulnerable to shifting. While a seemingly minor issue at first, the stability of the wall is based upon how each brick relies upon the stability of the others. Much like your teeth do.
Your teeth are arranged in a carefully balanced configuration. Each tooth beside and above (or below) works in unison to provide proper support and stability. Losing a tooth can start a vicious cycle of ongoing oral and structural problems.
In a normal, healthy mouth, there is a natural balance of teeth. Each tooth has three or four companion teeth. These include the adjacent teeth on either side as well as upper or lower teeth that meet them. Upper and lower teeth work together to provide comfortable chewing function.
The problems associated with missing teeth include teeth that lean, tilt or elongate. This creates the risk for chipped and broken teeth, worn teeth, and tooth fractures. It also contributes to an increased risk of gum disease and decay.
When teeth are not in proper alignment, there is also a risk of strain on the jaw joints (TMJ). This can lead to frequent headaches, migraines, night-time clenching and grinding, dizziness, sore jaw joints, ear ringing and jaw popping.
When a tooth is lost, statistics show a companion tooth is most likely be lost next. Then, the next closest tooth is subjected to the same conditions. With each tooth lost, the problems are magnified and the cycle of tooth loss continues.
You see, not only does a missing tooth leave remaining teeth vulnerable to shifting, the foundation of your jaw bone is compromised. When natural tooth roots are no longer present in the bone, it begins to decline in height. As the bone shrinks, neighboring teeth become vulnerable to problems, including tooth loss.
The best time to replace missing teeth is immediately after the tooth is lost or, ideally, at the time of removal. For tooth replacement, we recommend Dental Implants since they also preserve the integrity of the jaw bone. They provide a dependable foundation for biting and chewing and support the balance of surrounding teeth.
Replacement at the time of removable helps simplify placement and preserve the natural contours of the gum tissues that arch over each tooth.
If you are missing teeth, begin with a consultation. During this time, I’ll answer your questions and explain how Dental Implants support your oral health and prevent future problems. Call 828-274-9440.
New Study Reveals Smoking Concerns For Youth Through E-Cigs
Posted on Aug 22, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
A study recently published by Pediatrics revealed some concerning data on nicotine use among younger people. Especially troubling is how a new trend is attracting adolescents to use electronic cigarettes (‘e-cigs’) among those who would typically be deemed low risk for smoking otherwise.
In a survey coordinated by the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), researchers examined 2004 – 2014 data collected in a survey of over 140,000 students. While they found that cigarette smoking among middle and high school students declined during that period, the use of e-cigs (or ‘vaping’) ran rampant.
Findings showed that cigarette smoking among this age group fell (to 9.3% in 2015 from 15.8% in 2011) while the growth of e-cigarettes from 2007 to 2009 increased from 1.5% students to 16.0% by 2015.
Apparently, the appeal of vaping is attracting students with characteristics unlike those previously deemed most likely to succumb to the habit of smoking. By 2013, nearly half of high school students (46%) admitted to trying tobacco products.
Proponents of electronic cigarettes claim that the new trend is helping to lower the percentage of youth who are smoking cigarettes. Yet, the survey showed results to the contrary. When combining adolescent use of e-cigs and cigarette use in 2014, the percentage was higher than in 2009. This has led researchers to relook at the traits of students who may be attracted to nicotine use who would have avoided it without the lure of vaping.
Rather than lowering the number of U.S. youth who become nicotine users, e-cigs are appealing to a whole new set. This merely muddies and complicates our nation’s war on smoking. According to the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/adultsmoking/index.html):
“Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the US. Some people who smoke every day are smoking fewer cigarettes; however, even occasional smoking causes harm. The percentage of American adults who smoke decreased from 20.9% in 2005 to 19.3% in 2010. That translates to 3 million fewer smokers than there would have been with no decline.”
Gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss and effects over 47% of American adults. According to the American Academy of Periodontology (https://www.perio.org/consumer/gum-disease-risk-factors):
“Studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease.”
This particular study, “E-cigarettes and National Adolescent Cigarette Use: 2004-2014,” comes on the heels of another showing similar results among California youth. Conducted by the University of Southern California, their results showed that youth are being encouraged rather than discouraged to smoke through the use of e-cigs.
If you have children, discuss with them the hazards of nicotine addiction and how e-cigs actually perpetuate developing the habit. Ask them questions about their own exposure and assumptions on the use of e-cigs as well as any form of tobacco.
Like all parents, we want our children to make wise choices and live healthy, active lives. Help them to avoid the entrapment of tobacco use and nicotine addiction. Let’s add to a future generation who have healthy smiles and healthy lives!
Afraid Of Going To The Dentist? Fear Has Big Price Tag.
Posted on Aug 15, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
In my periodontal specialty, I see a large number of patients who have developed gum disease or have lost teeth because they were too afraid to go to a dentist. Some people have even avoided dental care for decades. Yet, like a leaky roof on a house, ignoring the problem only leads to bigger, more complicated issues to deal with eventually that can’t be avoided.
Dental fear is a major problem in the U.S. and is a contributing factor to developing periodontal disease. Because gum disease begins without obvious warning signs, it is often allowed to develop further. This can create more complex problems and the need for treatment that is more involved and costly than if caught early on.
Gum disease, at some level, affects over 47% of American adults. However, most Americans are unfamiliar with the typical warning signs. These include tender gums that bleed easily when brushing, bad breath and swollen gums. As the disease progresses, gums become redder from inflammation and may recede from teeth, exposing tooth roots segments that are sensitive to hot and cold.
While it is estimated that over 70% of adults have some level of dental fear, from anxiety to dental phobia (an uncontrollable reaction that causes some adults to shake, sweat or even cry when faced with a dental visit), there is no typical persona when it comes to who has dental fear and who does not. There is no common age, gender or educational level, nor is there a typical income level.
What is ‘normal,’ so to speak, is the fact that most dental fear exists because of a traumatic experience in a dental chair in the past. This may have been as a child when a dentist was too rough or forceful. It may have been as an adult when the patient was not yet numb, yet the dentist continued to work on a tooth.
Dental fear, once embedded in the brain, often triggers perceived pain in the future. What exacerbates it is how it leaves a patient feeling vulnerable. When reclined in a treatment chair and unable to see what is taking place in a sensitive area such as the mouth, there is a sense of not being in control. For those who have experienced pain thrust upon them in the past that continued beyond their pleas, this sensation of helplessness is not something that is easily overcome.
In our office, we frequently see patients because they are beyond what can be treated by a general dentist. A Periodontist specializes in all levels of gum disease. This means that we have the best potential to help you save your natural teeth, even when at advanced levels.
While red, inflamed gums may not sound highly serious, they are. Research has shown that the oral bacteria of periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream and create inflammatory reactions. This is known as systemic inflammation. This inflammation has been linked to serious health problems including pre-term babies, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, some cancers, impotency and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Signs of gum disease
Apparently, healthy gums are important to having good, overall health. Your periodontal wellness is important and dental fear can be addressed so you can achieve a healthy, confident smile without feeling white-knuckled in the dental chair! We offer oral sedation, which is in pill form, for relaxation. We also offer I.V. sedation that creates a “twilight sleep” state.
Both sedation options are safe. Trained staff monitor sedated patients throughout treatment using special safety equipment. Both tend to erase most, if not all, memory of treatment afterward and recovery for both is fairly quick. Within hours for oral sedation and without 24 hours for I.V. sedation.
However, as a dental specialist AND a caring, compassionate caregiver, I have seen patients relax the most when they realize our goal is to make sure they are always comfortable. We never want a patient to feel helpless or vulnerable in our dental chair. Once a new patient explains their concerns about comfort and we discuss options to keep them relaxed and comfortable, we will determine – together – the best sedation and pace of treatment that fits.
Consider beginning with a consultation appointment so we can get to know one another. We can arrange to meet in our private consultation room that is removed from the clinical side of the practice. Here, we’ll sit in comfy arm chairs and have a conversation about your specific needs.
Call 828-274-9440 and let’s get your smile in great shape! After all, having a smile that looks as good as it feels is a reason, in itself, to smile!
Dementia Adds To Periodontal Disease Risk For Aging Population
Posted on Aug 08, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Our population is getting older, and not just that of the U.S. Globally, nations are looking at an aging population and how to address the diminished physical and cognitive abilities facing them.
In Stockholm, Sweden, for example, researchers from the Karolinska Institute examined the data of over 58,000 persons between 2007 and 2015, including dental health data. Common problems associated with aging include xerostomia (dry mouth), root and tooth decay, and periodontal disease along with increased sensitivity to local anesthetics.
Researchers found that a reduction in the utilization of dental health services was more predominant in patients with neuro-degenerative diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, a particular form of dementia. Those who experienced diminished cognitive function were at higher risk of developing several oral conditions, including periodontal disease. (http://www.dental-tribune.com/articles/news/europe/35704_frequency_of_dental_visits_dramatically_decreases_after_dementia_diagnosis.html)
Although forgetting twice-daily brushing and flossing and having regular dental visits may seem less urgent than tending to other health care issues, research is continually linking serious, and even deadly, diseases and conditions to the oral bacteria of periodontal disease. These include heart attack, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, preterm babies, impotency, some cancers, and erectile dysfunction (ED).
The massive Swedish study is a reminder that older adults may need added assistance when it comes to making their oral health a priority. This applies to at-home oral care routines and having periodic dental check-ups. For those in the U.S., the need is now and only becoming more dire with each passing year.
According to the U.S. Census (https://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2017/cb17-ff08.html), “By 2060, people age 65 and older will comprise nearly one in four U.S. residents. Of this number, 19.7 million will be age 85 or older.”
And, the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention adds that life expectancy is nearing the age 100 mark with both sexes at 65 years having an average of another 19.3 years to live. While men at 65 years are looking at another 18 years (on average), age 65 women have an average of an additional 20.5 years.
These figures are especially alarming since studies show a dramatic decrease in the number of dental visits before and after a dementia diagnosis. The first step, obviously, is better organization to detect these patients and ensure they attend to their dental health.
If you have an aging loved one in your care who may be showing signs of dementia, consider ways to help them keep their oral health in good condition. This applies to those who have their natural teeth as well as those who wear dentures or partials. Many people assume that not having natural teeth eliminates the risk of developing gum disease. To the contrary, dentures and partials can rub sore spots on tender gum tissues, making them more vulnerable to bacterial penetration.
Begin by having a periodontist conduct a thorough periodontal examination to determine if there is the presence of periodontal disease. If not, he or she can help establish an effective at-home program to follow and schedule more-frequent dental check-ups.
Through research, we’re learning that maintaining good overall health starts with a healthy smile. Staying healthy throughout our lifetimes is a goal we can all strive for and an easy, loving way to help our aging population.