Are Dental Implants Worth The Cost?
Posted on Jan 29, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
As a periodontal specialist, I have advanced training in treating all stages of periodontal (gum) disease as well as in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants.
Over the years, I’ve seen exceptional developments in both areas. As research reveals more about the importance of having good oral health and the ability to bite and chew comfortably and securely, the adult population is taking note.
In some of my prior articles, I’ve addressed the correlation between the bacteria of gum disease and systemic inflammation. I’ve also mentioned the problems – both physiological and psychological – related to missing teeth, and primarily with wearing dentures and partials.
Losing teeth means their tooth roots are no longer held by the jaw bone. Without their presence, the jaw bone lacks the stimulation and nourishment needed to maintain a healthy mass. This leads to bone resorption. Simply put, this term describes a ‘melting away’ process of the bone where tooth roots no longer exist.
Not only do dental implants restore a sturdy, dependable foundation for replacement teeth, they recreate the presence of tooth roots. This halts the process of resorption and helps the jaw bone to retain it’s mass.
Why is the size of the jaw bone important?
When the jaw bone shrinks, the ability to bite and chew comfortably is compromised. The bone is also more susceptible to breaks and fractures. Another problem occurs with changes in facial appearance that are aging far beyond one’s actual years.
For example, as the jaw bone shrinks, facial muscles detach and jowls form. Deep wrinkling occurs around the mouth and the corners of the mouth turn downward, even in a smile. The chin becomes more pointed and moves closer to the nose. The mouth appears ‘sunken in,’ creating a ‘granny look.’
With all the positive aspects of dental implants, what keeps some adults from this ideal tooth replacement option?
In most cases, we find the only deterrent is the cost of implant treatment. Since treatment fees are all ‘up front,’ some people feel the expense is more than they can manage. Yet, there are payment plans that can help break implant fees into affordable monthly payments. Too, I like to remind patients about the life of a dental implant.
When properly selected, placed and maintained, dental implants should last your lifetime. Additionally, you’ll be able to bite and chew the foods you love without worrying about uncomfortable rubbing or embarrassing slips. You’ll also enjoy everyday pleasures, such as speaking, laughing and being close with others.
The American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID) also addresses the importance of dental implants from an oral health standpoint (https://www.aaid-implant.org/about-dental-implants/dental-implant-costs-3-things-you-need-to-know/):
“Dental implants may also offer better oral health-related quality of life compared with other tooth replacement options. This is related to the bonding of the implant with your jawbone – it can be more important than you might realize. Yes, it reduces the slipping associated with dentures, but just as importantly, it stimulates healthy bone formation. In contrast, dentures and other non-implant options can lead to bone loss over time as the body senses that the tooth is missing. In addition, while dentures may allow food to wedge in between the gums and the denture itself, dental implants behave like natural teeth.”
Rather than assume dental implants are out of reach monetarily, arrange a consultation appointment to discuss the fees as they would apply to YOUR INDIVIDUAL NEEDS. There are many different types of implants and the one best suited for you may come at less cost than you realize.
I also find that people have misconceptions when it comes to implants. For instance, some assume that an implant is needed for each missing tooth. In fact, one implant can hold a bridge of several teeth and several strategically-placed implants can secure a full arch of teeth.
Let’s discuss your needs and goals according to a process that will enable you to enjoy the advantages of dental implants within a realistic budget. Call 828-274-9440 to schedule a private consultation.
Dental Fear Can Lead To Lost Teeth.
Posted on Jan 23, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
There are many reasons that adults lose teeth. Poor oral hygiene, accidents and gum disease can all result in the loss of natural teeth. Yet, the most unfortunate reason, as far as I’m concerned, is dental fear.
Having a fear of dental visits affects over 70 percent of American adults by some estimates. When people are afraid of going to the dentist, they often do not receive the regular care necessary to maintain a healthy smile.
While twice daily brushing and daily flossing are beneficial in having healthy teeth and gums, those 6-month checkups provide a ‘clean slate,’ of sorts. During these visits, the hygienist is able to remove tartar (or calculus) that has built up from accumulated plaque.
Tartar is actually a hardened mass of oral bacteria that attaches to teeth. It eats away at healthy tooth enamel and gum tissues. As the bacteria mass thrives and reproduces, the gum tissues become inflamed. This is the beginning of periodontal disease, which is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.
In one study published by the Dental Research Journal, nearly 59 percent of 473 adult participants were found to have dental fears. The study included males and females of varying ages and education levels. Although females presented a higher likelihood for dental fear, there was very little difference elsewhere. What did stand out, however, was how many had experienced traumatic dental episodes. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4432608/)
As a periodontal specialist, I have advanced training and experience in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants. Thus, over the years, I have treated a large number of adults who have lost natural teeth and wisely chose to replace them with dental implants.
However, when an individual loses a tooth (or teeth) because they avoided dental care due to fear, it’s a pretty big task for many to set those same fears aside in order to go through a dental procedure that is surgical in nature. So, how do they do this?
In our office, we have found the best results for fearful patients is to form a relationship that is built on trust. Our patients come to feel assured of knowing our commitment is to create a pain-free environment, with oral or I.V. sedation (‘twilight sleep’) available, if desired.
For some patients, they feel more relaxed after beginning with a conversation in our consultation room. This room is removed from the clinical side of the practice where we sit in comfy chairs and discuss specific needs and goals. We take the time to answer questions thoroughly and can recommend comfort options.
For most, after their first appointment, they feel more relaxed. Others need several visits to realize that dentistry doesn’t have to hurt. Still others can’t help but have anxiety during their dental care and we understand this. Every person is different and we try to tailor the pace and the comfort options according to each one’s need.
If you’ve lost teeth because you’ve found it difficult to have regular dental care, the solution may be as close as our consultation room. We will make this visit as relaxed as possible so you can decide if we are the right dental team for you.
It may also be helpful to speak with some of our once-fearful patients who now have healthy, confident smiles. Ask to be put in touch with some during your consultation to have a ‘first-hand’ understanding from people with similar issues.
Call 828-274-9440 to schedule a consultation.
Oral Health For Adults – Latest On Dementia And Alzheimer’s
Posted on Jan 16, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
These days, it’s not unusual to open the refrigerator and wonder to myself, “Now, what was I going to get?” Or, to get halfway up the stairs only to realize I’d forgotten what I was headed up for.
Quite frankly, most busy adults have the same things occur from time to time. Our minds become so preoccupied that our focus on one thing is quickly shoved aside by other things that are hovering around, calling out for attention.
While I can laugh with my friends about these happenings (since they experience similar things from time to time), for a percentage of aging adults in the U.S., this forgetfulness has no humor in it.
In the United States alone, 4 to 5 million adults are said to suffer with dementia. While this is a concern, a 2016 article in the New York Times shared how American adult dementia rates are actually declining – from 11.6 percent (in 2000) to 8.8 percent.
Too, the average age of being affected by dementia has risen from 80.7 years to 82.4 years. (https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/21/health/dementia-rates-united-states.html) This is good news, although it fails to take into account the rising percentage of Alzheimer’s sufferers.
According to a 2017 report put out by the Alzheimer’s Association, “As the size and proportion of the U.S. population age 65 and older continue to increase, the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s or other dementias will grow. This number will escalate rapidly in coming years, as the population of Americans age 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 48 million to 88 million by 2050.”
Remembering that the first of those categorized in the baby boom generation turned 70 in 2016, there is a dire concern among the medical and dental communities surrounding the overwhelming needs of these individuals. Constant home care, frequent doctor visits and overseeing their unique needs as each declines in the ability to care for themselves.
The link between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease to oral health is revealing itself more and more through research. In one study shared by Reuters, a research team at the Chung Shan Medical University in Taichung City examined patients ages 50 and over who suffered with long-term periodontitis (advanced gum disease). The goal was to determine if this could cause a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Although no direct link between periodontitis and Alzheimer‘s was found, they did note that people who had gum inflammation for 10 years or longer had a 70 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than those without periodontitis.
The results rang true even after adjustments were made for factors that could influence the onset of Alzheimer‘s, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-alzheimers-gum-disease/long-term-gum-disease-linked-to-alzheimers-disease-idUSKCN1AX2F0)
As a periodontist, one of the greatest challenges I see is how periodontal disease can exist for years without an individual realizing its presence. For example, when some adults see blood in the sink when they brush, they assume it’s because they’re doing a good job. In reality, this is NOT a good thing and actually an initial symptom of gum disease.
Other signs and symptoms are tender gums, swollen gums, persistent bad breath, gums that pull away from teeth (receded gums) and expose darker areas of a tooth (these are actually sections of your tooth root), and gums that darken in color to red rather than a healthy pink.
As gum disease worsens, pus pockets form and teeth may start to loosen as the bone structures that support them are destroyed by this destructive oral bacteria. Eventually, some teeth may require removal.
It is estimated that over 47 percent of American adults have some level of gum disease. Therefore, it’s no surprise that gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.
While these symptoms sound pretty severe, it’s amazing how many new patients I see tell me they haven’t noticed any obvious symptoms. And, a great many patients are totally unaware of what symptoms are associated with gum disease.
Protect your smile, your overall health and that of your loved ones. Be proactive when it comes to your oral health and share this information with others. The potent, infectious bacteria of gum disease should be deemed downright dangerous to your health. Yet, you can easily avoid gum disease with a committed oral hygiene routine at home and regular dental check-ups.
If you haven’t been diligent in your oral health in the past, we’re here to help. Call 828-274-9440 to begin with a thorough periodontal examination. If periodontal disease is found to exist, we’ll determine a treatment plan to help you achieve excellent oral health. From there, we’ll create an individualized care program so you can maintain your oral health between visits.
What’s Keeping You From Dental Visits?
Posted on Jan 10, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
You know how stressful it can be to go to the Ophthalmologist and have that puff of air shot into each eye. While it’s a necessary part of an annual eye exam, it tends to be the most dreaded part of the appointment, even moreso than having our eyes dilated.
Although a puff of air in our eye is not going to cause pain, going to the dentist, for some, creates an anticipation of pain. Even for visits that do not require numbing, some patients perceive pain to the extent that they actually feel it.
We see these patients all the time. In my office, we provide the specialized dental services of periodontal therapy (for treating all stages of gum disease) and dental implant diagnosis and placement. And, we stay pretty busy.
It is estimated that over 47 percent of American adults have some level of gum disease. (https://www.perio.org/consumer/cdc-study.htm) Because gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss, our day involves a full schedule of treating gum disease and replacing teeth.
There are a number of reasons that people avoid dental visits, ranging from not understanding the importance of these visits (assuming “if it doesn’t hurt, then nothing is wrong”) to having limited funds. While it may seem that most adults avoid regular dental care because of dental fear, that’s just one of the reasons.
In a 2014 survey of 965 respondents (published by the American Dental Association: https://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Science%20and%20Research/HPI/Files/HPIBrief_1114_1.ashx), the top three reasons for not seeing a dentist on a regular basis were cost, not feeling a visit was needed, and not having the time.
For me, this shows a nonchalant attitude among our adult population when it comes to the importance of oral health. Research has already linked the bacteria of gum disease to serious health issues. These include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, erectile dysfunction and some cancers. Research is now delving into the connection between this bacteria and Alzheimer’s Disease. Why is oral health still a low priority with so many?
Although Americans love the look of a bright, white smile, the health of your gums is far more important than the shade of your teeth. Just because “nothing hurts” doesn’t mean an individual has a healthy mouth.
I believe the misconception of the value of healthy gums is partly due to the silent development of gum disease. For example, an early warning sign is seeing blood in the sink when brushing, yet many people assume that’s normal or even a sign they’re doing a good job.
One of the reasons that pancreatic cancer is so deadly is that, by the time symptoms become obvious, the disease is so far along that treatment is rarely effective. The same is true for oral cancer, which has one of the worst survival rates of all cancers. While regular screenings are advised for colon, breast, uterine, prostrate and skin cancers, the simple and inexpensive path to maintaining a healthy smile hasn’t been given nearly enough publicity.
Losing teeth is no small issue. When natural tooth roots are no longer present in the jaw bone, the bone begins to shrink, or resorb. This thinning jaw bone leads to a number of problems, including changes in facial appearance as well as a compromised ability to properly bite and chew.
If the eyes are the ‘windows to the soul,’ the mouth is the door to the body. Taking good care of your gums will help you keep your natural teeth and avoid the risks associated with the potent bacteria of gum disease.
This year, be determined to improve your overall health by being committed to good oral health. See your dentist twice this year and discuss an at-home oral hygiene routine that will help you maintain a healthy smile between visits.
If you are experiencing any of the following signs of gum disease, call 828-274-9440 for an examination as soon as possible. Gum disease only worsens without treatment. Watch for: sore gums that bleed when brushing, swollen gums, gums that pull away from teeth and expose tender tooth root areas, persistent bad breath, and gums that darken to a red color.