Is Your Face Melting?
Posted on Feb 27, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
In dentistry, the term used for bone loss is resorption. This describes the melting away of bone structures that support teeth, caused by the loss of natural tooth roots.
The relationship that tooth roots have with the bone structures that support them is not something most people think about. We tend to focus on the teeth we see in a smile. Yet, loss of bone mass of the upper or lower jaws can create a number of problems – some related to oral health and some related to facial appearance.
To begin, understand that tooth roots provide nourishment and stimulation to the jaw bones. This helps the jaws to maintain a healthy depth. When tooth roots are removed, the bones slowly begin to shrink. This bone loss begins almost immediately, yet most don’t notice it until it reaches problematic levels.
Because we humans are visual creatures, I’ll begin by explaining the ‘look’ of bone loss, which results from changes in facial structures. Initially, you may only notice more wrinkles around the mouth. Later, you may realize that the corners of your mouth are turning downward, even in a smile.
The extreme visual change of bone resorption is referred to as a ‘granny look.’ This is when the shrinking jaw bones have caused the chin to become pointed and the mouth appears collapsed into the face. The nose gets closer to the chin and jowls form from the detachment of facial muscles. None of this is a good look.
Yet, what’s taking place beneath the gum tissues should be cause for even more concern.
For those who wear a denture or partial, losing jaw bone mass will cause a change in the way the denture or partial fits. For example, your denture may fit fine the first year after your teeth are removed and a denture is fitted. However, you’ll eventually notice slips when biting or chewing.
As bone loss continues, you’ll likely experience uncomfortable rubbing on tender gum tissues while eating. You may start to bypass foods that require rigorous chewing, such as a crusty bagel or thick pork chop. You may also worry about embarrassing slips when dining with friends or family.
When frequent applications of denture pastes or adhesives are of little help, a reline may be recommended by your dentist. Of course, this simply readjusts your denture or partial to fit the current contours of your gum ridge (the raised arch that your denture sits on). Eventually, continued bone loss will require yet another reline as the ridge flattens further.
Denture wearers are typically unaware that the pressure on the gums from wearing a denture actually speeds up the rate of resorption. This means that the problem will only continue, unless stimulation to the jaw bones is recreated.
One of the reasons we recommend dental implants is because of their ability to halt bone loss. Dental implants act as replacement tooth roots, thus restoring stimulation to the jaw bones. Additionally, dental implants use the same, sturdy foundation as natural teeth once had. This means you can bite and chew the foods you love without worrying about embarrassment or uncomfortable movement.
A Periodontist is a dental specialist who has advanced training in the treatment of gum diseases as well as in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants. He or she is specially trained to determine the best implant system for your needs. And, a periodontal specialist can enhance your outcome through proper placement.
If you are missing natural teeth or have become frustrated with a denture or partial, call 828-274-9440. You can begin with a consultation to discuss the type and number of implants most appropriate for your needs. We can also explain the procedural process, comfort options, and review easy payment options.
Your smile goes much deeper than what you see in the mirror. Make sure its structure is solid. Dental implants, which are designed to last your lifetime, can help you enjoy a confident, worry-free smile through your life.
Men Have Room For Improvement When It Comes To Caring For Their Smile!
Posted on Feb 20, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Guys – when it comes to the battle of the sexes, you’re losing when it comes to your smile!
According to a survey by the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), only 66 percent of males brush their teeth twice or more a day compared with 86 percent of females who do so.
The study of over 800 participants included completion of a written questionnaire on dental knowledge and oral health habits. The study, shared by the Journal of Periodontology, also included an oral exam of each participant to detect signs of periodontal disease. (https://www.perio.org/consumer/gender-differences)
Things don’t get much better when it comes to flossing, but that pertains to both sexes. Only 49 percent in the survey stated they floss on a daily basis. Even worse,1 out of 3 assumed that seeing blood in the sink when brushing is normal and were unaware it is a sign of periodontal (gum) disease.
The study also showed women as twice as likely to see their dentist for regular dental check-ups and more likely to follow through with recommended dental treatment. As a result, it was no surprise that the study revealed women had better levels of gum health with less dental plaque, calculus, and bleeding.
Men – remember that gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. If the thoughts of enduring tooth extractions and replacement decisions don’t motivate you to brush and floss more, try this image. Oral bacteria are living, breathing and eating creatures that live in our mouths. Like any living thing, what is eaten is then released through defecation. Yes, these organisms do this in your mouth! If you’ve ever wondered about bad breath, keep this vision in mind and, if nothing else, that alone should motivate you to brush more often!
Also, be aware of the signs and symptoms of gum disease, which is an over-accumulation of bacteria in the mouth. Initial symptoms are tender or swollen gums, seeing blood in the sink when brushing, and frequent bad breath. However, keep in mind that some signs don’t emerge until gum disease is running rampant.
As the disease worsens, you may experience persistent bad breath, gums that turn red in color (versus a healthy pink) and pus-filled pockets that form at the base of teeth. Untreated, you’ll eventually experience gums that pull away from teeth and teeth that loosen and may require removal.
It takes mere minutes each day to avoid this disease. And it’s easy and inexpensive. Use a soft to medium toothbrush and brush for two minutes twice daily. Brush in a swirling motion rather than scrub back and forth, which wears down tender gum tissues. After brushing teeth, brush your tongue to remove hoards of oral bacteria embedded in the tongue. Swish and spit several times.
You should also floss daily to remove food particles caught between teeth that a toothbrush can’t dislodge. If you find flossing too awkward or uncomfortable, purchase a water flosser. These are easy to use and equally as effective.
Last but not least, see your general dentist twice a year. These appointments remove calculus (also referred to as tartar), which are hardened forms of oral bacteria that eat away at tooth enamel and gum tissues.
It is important to have a healthy mouth, which research has shown also supports a healthy body. It has been found that the toxic bacteria of gum disease can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. A growing number of health problems have been linked to gum disease, including some cancers, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, diabetes, preterm babies, erectile dysfunction (ED) and impotency.
If you are behind on dental visits or are experiencing any of the signs of gum disease, call 828-274-9440 to schedule an appointment. I’ll discuss ways to restore your mouth to a healthy state and easy ways to help you maintain good oral health between visits. We will also be happy to discuss comfort options and financial plans, if desired.
Research Shows Cancer Linked To Periodontal Disease Bacteria
Posted on Feb 13, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
The findings of today’s health research is astounding, especially in light of the recent discoveries of how microbes effect our health. These minuscule colonies of bacteria, fungi and viruses aid certain functions in the body by sending signals. These signals can be highly beneficial to our health or may work against the immune system, based upon their environment.
While much remains to be learned regarding microbes, the findings that relate to the bacteria of gum disease continues to reveal some alarming truths. This potent bacteria has been linked to a long list of serious health problems. These include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, erectile dysfunction (ED) and even some cancers.
The problem begins when these bacteria enter the bloodstream through tears in diseased gum tissues. Once blood borne, they are able to trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. This systemic inflammation has come to light as a major contributor to a number of diseases, some even deadly.
Periodontal (gum) disease forms in the mouth, but does so silently. Like most diseases that form in our bodies, people are typically unaware of its presence in its initial stage. By the time symptoms do emerge, gum disease may be running rampant, which means that it may already be creating reactions far beyond the mouth.
The suspected links between gum disease bacteria and some cancers has long been followed by researchers. Now, new data has been published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that shares findings of a long-term study that reinforces the link between some cancers and advanced stage gum disease.
The Atherosclerosis Risk In Communities Study began in the late 1990s and was conducted until 2012. In the beginning, dental examinations were provided to nearly 7,470 participants. After following up, researchers identified 1,648 new cancer diagnoses. (https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/more_evidence_of_link_between_severe_gum_disease_and_cancer_risk)
The researchers noted a 24 percent increase in cancer risk for participants who had advanced periodontal disease as compared to those with mild periodontitis or no periodontitis. For those in the study who were missing all natural teeth due to periodontal disease, a 28 percent increased risk for cancer was shown.
Additionally, participants with severe periodontal disease (periodontitis) had twice the risk for lung cancer and an 80 percent increased risk for colon cancer (in those who were without teeth at the study’s onset). There was also a slight risk increase in pancreatic cancer.
Because smoking is a factor in periodontal disease as well as colon and lung cancers, smokers in the study were compared to people who had never smoked. The findings showed that even if someone hadn’t smoked before, having severe periodontal disease created an increased risk of lung cancer and colorectal cancer.
In 2016, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shared recent research that found people with high levels of a specific oral bacteria are more likely to develope pancreatic cancer. (https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/gum-disease-may-signal-warning-for-pancreatic-cancer)
Using DNA from saliva samples, researchers noted higher levels of a particular bacterium in study participants who eventually developed pancreatic cancer, showing a 59% greater risk. The bacterium, P. gingivalis, is one of the most common bacteria of periodontitis.
Although prior research showed correlations between gum disease and pancreatic cancer, this study was the first to show that high levels of a particular strain of oral bacteria preceded pancreatic cancer rather than developing after the cancer appeared.
What does this mean? As a Periodontist, I feel it clarifies the importance of achieving and maintaining good oral health. It is no longer practical to take the stance, “If it doesn’t hurt, then nothing is wrong.” People must be proactive when it comes to their oral health. These measures could even save your life.
If you haven’t seen a dentist regularly or feel your oral health is not good, call 828-274-9440 to schedule an examination. This is your first step to a healthy smile that supports a healthy YOU!
Senior Years Add To Challenges Of Enjoying A Healthy Smile
Posted on Feb 06, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Every age has its challenges. As a teen, I longed to have more freedom. As a twenty-something, I wanted to feel more established and confident in my career. In my thirties and forties, I craved more downtime as I juggled a jam-packed schedule with a home, children, a periodontal practice, and friends.
With each decade, I think we find ourselves with similar challenges. Now, like others who have entered their ‘mature’ years, health challenges seem to be more prominent in my life.
Although senior age may have its challenges, from an oral health standpoint, today’s senior is in a far better position than that experienced by our grandparents.
Most of us can recall seeing our grandparents’ dentures soaking in a glass by the bathroom sink each night. Today’s senior knows that keeping their natural teeth all their life is very possible (and highly beneficial to their overall health).
I’d like to address some of the challenges that the senior smile faces today and how they can decrease the risk for developing problems or losing teeth.
• Dry Mouth: The aging process leaves us less, well… supple. It causes our skin to sag, leads to more susceptibility for skin problems, and produces less moisture in our mouths. As saliva production declines, there is less of a rinsing agent to move bacteria and food particles from the mouth. This increases the risk for oral bacteria accumulation. It is no wonder that seniors have a higher incidence of gum disease – over 70 percent for those over the age of 65 (compared to 47.2 percent for ages 30 and over). (https://www.perio.org/consumer/cdc-study.htm)
• Poor Manual Dexterity: The aging process may cause some people to have achy joints or dexterity difficulties. When it becomes difficult to brush and floss thoroughly, the potential for bacteria accumulation in the mouth increases. As oral bacteria amass, the overload can lead to decay and gum disease.
• Tooth Loss: Many people lose one or several teeth before reaching their senior years. This may be due to accidents, health problems or gum disease (the number one cause for adult tooth loss). However, it is important to know that losing a natural tooth sets off a domino effect. Statistics show the tooth most likely to be lost next is a tooth adjacent to the missing area.
• Financial Limitations: Some of us joke about elders rushing to ‘early bird specials’ or sneaking sugar packets into purses, but the truth is, people who are retired must live on tighter budgets. When health coverages are no longer available through one’s employer, managing increased expenses for doctors’ visits, medications and unexpected problems can mean sacrifices in other areas. For some people, they forgo their 6-month dental checkups, assuming that “if nothing hurts, then nothing is wrong.” However, the lack of preventive measures when it comes to oral health can catch up to a senior in other, rather expensive ways.
• Accessibility To Care: For those of us who drive, getting to a dental office for a cleaning or to treat a problem is far simpler than those who no longer drive. When a senior has to recruit a friend or family member to accomplish these needs, the frequency in dental care can take a back seat.
• Diet: Cooking for one or two can mean a rather altered blend of nutritious foods. It may seem so much easier and even more economical to open a can rather than put a pot on to boil. Fresh foods also require more frequent visits to the grocery store. For those who rely on others for transportation, this may lead to greater consumption of processed foods laden in sugar or starchy fillers. This increases the bacteria level in the mouth.
So, how does a senior avoid tooth decay, tooth loss and gum disease? Here are some recommendations:
– Nothing is as effective or as economical as prevention. Be committed to twice-a-day brushing and daily flossing. Brush for at least two minutes each time and finish up by brushing the tongue, where millions of oral bacteria hide. If brushing is difficult, use an electronic toothbrush or wrap the foam from a hair roller around the handle for a better grip. If flossing is awkward, use a water flosser. These are just as effective as flossing and easy to use.
– Although money may be tighter on a retired budget, look at your 6-month dental checkups for the savings they provide. These visits remove plaque and tartar buildup that can lead to cavities and gum disease. Liken these visits to having your vehicle’s oil changed. You don’t have to do it, but it will eventually cost you big-time if you don’t.
– Be conscious of what you eat and how often you eat. Try to steer clear of sweets and carbs, opting for fresh fruits and veggies. Limit snacking or sipping colas over an extended period of time. Remember — every time you eat or drink (other than water), an acid attack begins in your mouth. If you like a sweet treat during the day, have it for dessert after a meal when an acid attack is already underway. This will keep a new one from bombarding your precious tooth enamel with this harsh acid.
– Keep your mouth moist. Drink pure, filtered water throughout the day. This will keep your mouth fresher and hydrates the entire body at the same time. Try to limit things that are drying to the mouth. This includes caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, hot chocolate) and spicy foods. If you take medications that are drying to the mouth, consider using an over-the-counter oral rinse designed to replenish oral moisture. If you smoke, you have special challenges with drying. Be very conscious of the moistness level in your mouth.
– If you are missing teeth, it is important to replace them with an option that is comfortable, secure and stable. I’ve had patients who avoided dining with friends for years because of unstable dentures. I’ve also had patients who developed health problems because their diet consisted of soft foods that dissolved easily in the mouth. Dental implants restore the ability to eat a healthy diet comfortably and laugh with friends without worry. The investment of implants will last your lifetime and bring you everyday pleasure. I’ve never had a dental implant patient who didn’t say, “It’s the best investment I’ve ever made.” That’s well-worth looking into.
Be a senior who smiles and enjoys the confidence and pleasures of growing older! Call 828-274-9440 to schedule a consultation. During this time, we’ll discuss your individual needs and the options that may be best for you. And, if financial challenges exist, we’ll have our Financial Coordinator discuss easy payment options.