Proper Bite Alignment Necessary To Support Oral Health & Implant Success
Posted on Mar 27, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
As a Periodontist, I specialize in treating all stages of gum disease and perform a number of procedures that involve the gum tissues (including crown lengthening and repair of ‘gummy smiles‘). My specialty also includes advanced training in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants.
So, why would I be so concerned with bite alignment?
In my profession, I work with a number of general dentists and dental specialists. Together, we create a ‘team treatment’ approach designed to fulfill each patient’s unique oral wellness needs. While I do not provide orthodontic realignment services or claim to specialize in that area, I do understand the need for having properly aligned teeth.
I see a lot in an adult’s mouth that isn’t necessarily obvious to the patient, yet has a tremendous impact on overall oral health, especially in their potential to AVOID problems.
First, the position of the teeth is more important than how they come together and create an attractive smile. Teeth that become crowded or crooked tend to form tight angles that make it difficult for a toothbrush to get into.
These nooks can easily become breeding grounds for oral bacteria. The accumulation of oral bacteria can lead to the formation of cavities and the development of gum disease.
Example of gum recession
Also, know that each tooth helps to support neighboring teeth, providing an abutment to keep other teeth in their positions. This is why it is so important to replace a missing tooth.
Without it, the teeth on either side can tilt out of their proper positions. Additionally, the tooth above (or below) can grow longer. These abnormal positions of teeth can contribute to a number of issues.
When a bite is misaligned, gum recession can occur. This is due to the unnatural pull of the gums around the base of teeth. Without this tight seal, oral bacteria can more easily penetrate below the surface of the gum line. Bacteria that reaches tender tooth root segments can create decay and periodontal disease.
Another problem with improperly aligned teeth has to do with dental implants. A ‘bad bite’ can lead to problems that include night-time clenching and grinding. A dental implant is placed in the jaw bone, the same sturdy foundation as natural tooth roots enjoy. However, a newly placed implant can be put at dire risk when surrounding teeth are interfering.
A dental implant is placed in the jaw bone, which serves as a replacement tooth root. During the first 3 – 6 months, the bone is growing around it, securing it in place. It is during this time that an implant is most vulnerable to the forces that clenching and grinding exert.
However, all teeth are at risk when clenching and grinding occur – not just those attached to an implanted post. ‘Bruxing’ (as it is known) can lead to chipped, broken and fractured teeth. It can also transfer stress and strain to facial, neck and shoulder muscles.
A number of people who have frequent headaches and migraines are surprised to discover the originating source is actually their TMJ (jaw joints). This typically occurs when a bite is misaligned. This can lead to a domino effect that reaches these joints. As a matter of fact, ear ringing, dizziness and difficulty opening the mouth fully are common symptoms of TMJ disorders that people are often unaware.
So, as a periodontist, I see how bite misalignment can cause the gums to recede and also how the potential for implant success can be affected. Simply, a correct bite is necessary for good oral health. Having it can help you avoid a long list of problems.
If gum tenderness or bleeding gums seems to occur in the area of crooked teeth, then let’s evaluate the issue. Or, if you’re considering dental implants but suspect you clench or grind your teeth, we’ll discuss ways you can achieve your smile goals and protect your investment.
Call 828-274-9440 to schedule a consultation.
Remove Sugar From Your Diet For Your Health & Your Smile!
Posted on Mar 20, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
An interview on the March 19th ‘CBS This Morning’ was of Dr. Mark Hyman, a nutritionist and Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine. Dr. Hyman was there to discuss his recently authored book “Food: What The Heck Should I Eat.” (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/dr-mark-hyman-food-what-the-heck-should-i-eat/)
Simple carbs break down as sugar in the mouth.
Over the years, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has left Americans confused about what really IS good for the human body and what is not. Dr. Hyman’s book debunks many FDA dietary guidelines, such as milk being healthy and fats and cholesterol being unhealthy.
He also discussed how food is not just an energy source but serves as a ‘medicine’ that sends signals to our body. According to Dr. Hyman:
“We now know that food is information – it’s instructions that literally change your gene expression, regulate your hormones, can affect your immune system, inflammation in your body, even affects your gut’s microbiomes. Every bite of food you take is really like instructions to control your operating system of your biology.”
However, one food he emphasized had to do with the harm of sugar.
“Sugar is the biggest driver of obesity, type-2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, even dementia — they’re calling it type-3 diabetes. And it’s not fat, it turns out. And that’s why we got the whole story wrong.”
Of course, the harmful effects of sugar are nothing new. While Dr. Hyman adds the ill-effects of pasta, rice and bread to the list of foods to eliminate from the pantry, sugar is noted as the first item listed in his book’s 10-day cleanse.
1. ELIMINATE SUGAR, PROCESSED FOOD, AND POTENTIALLY INFLAMMATORY OR TOXIC FOODS
When it comes to your smile, sugar has always been a no-no. In one report published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14522753), sugar is specifically noted to lower the natural pH levels in saliva and points out that “the resultant action is the beginning of tooth demineralization.” (Think of demineralization as the process of dissolving enamel and tooth structures.)
The entry point for any food or beverage is the mouth. Oral tissues are moist by nature and highly absorbent. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that the destructive nature of sugar can trigger an imbalance in the mouth. And, it’s not just a risk of cavities that sugar poses.
Research has found that people with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal (gum) disease than people without diabetes. In fact, periodontal disease is often considered a complication of diabetes. Diabetics who don’t have their diabetes under control are especially at risk.
Research shared by the American Academy of Periodontology suggests that the relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease goes both ways – periodontal disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their blood sugar.
Severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to increased periods of time when the body functions with a high blood sugar. This puts people with diabetes at increased risk for diabetic complications. (https://www.perio.org/consumer/gum-disease-and-diabetes.htm)
Both diabetes and gum disease are inflammatory by nature. According to research, one seems to be able to trigger the other. However, research also shows that when glucose levels are controlled, the severity of gum disease wanes. By the same token, when gum disease is treated, blood sugar levels improve. (https://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Publications/Files/FTDP_July2013_2.pdf?la=en)
The health of your teeth and gums is important to your overall health. Just as you avoid taking drugs to prevent harming your body, you should know that the addictive nature of sugar is harmful to your body, with the mouth getting the initial blow.
For the good of your body, be good to your smile! Start by lowering your intake of sugar and then, gradually, omit it from your diet – in all forms. Read labels. Although catsup and BBQ sauce are known to be laden with sugar (often in the form of corn syrup), I was surprised to see that even Lemon Pepper contains sugar.
Remember, too, that the inflammatory triggers that occur from oral bacteria of gum disease have been associated with a long list of serious health problems. Good overall health begins with a healthy mouth.
If you’ve been remiss in having regular dental checkups, it is recommended that you see a periodontal specialist. This professional can help you eliminate existing gum disease (which begins silently, often with no obvious symptoms) and maintain good oral health between regular care visits.
Call 828-274-9440 to schedule or learn more.
What Smoking Does To Your Oral Health
Posted on Mar 13, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
I saw a television commercial recently that caught my attention. It was a court mandated announcement on how low-tar and ‘light’ cigarettes were just as harmful as regular cigarettes.
The announcement, to me, was a reminder of just how much major tobacco companies have concealed the true harm that comes from inhaling cigarette smoke. Although the lungs are assumed to take the greatest impact from these toxic fumes, remember – it is your mouth that is the initial recipient of the poisons from this smoke.
Oral tissues (the soft, pink tissues in your mouth) are moist because they are absorbent. Saliva flow helps to keep the mouth moist along with the liquids you consume that keep the mouth and your body hydrated. Because gum tissues absorb, they take the brunt of the toxic smoke that enters the mouth with each puff.
Tobacco contains chemicals that are known to be harmful, including:
•Nicotine (a rapidly-addictive drug)
•Radioactive elements, such as uranium (see below)
•Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
Smokers shorten their life expectancy by an average of 10 to 15 years. Smoking is responsible for an estimated 30 percent of all cancer deaths and is the reason for 90 percent of all lung cancers.
Smoking increases the likelihood of leukemia as well as pancreatic, liver, cervical, kidney, bladder and stomach cancers. Additionally, it causes emphysema and heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Smoking and chewing tobacco also causes 80 – 90 percent of oral cancers (mouth, lips, throat).
Second-hand smoke is harmful to those in range of your smoking. Your exhaled smoke can lead to the development of numerous diseases in loved ones, including cancer and heart disease. Young children take the biggest brunt of secondhand smoke with studies showing children of smoking parents being sick more often, having more respiratory infections (including bronchitis and pneumonia), and having ear infections more often.
As a periodontist, my dental specialty focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of all stages of periodontal (gum) disease as well as the placement of dental implants. When it comes to smokers, I have a unique view of what this does to one’s oral health.
When it comes to a smile, smokers have a higher risk for gum disease, bad breath, stained teeth, and higher levels of dental plaque. A smoker requires longer healing periods after extractions, oral surgery or gum therapy. Smoking is also a noted cause for dental implant failure.
The increased risk for gum disease is primarily the result of the drying effects that cigarette smoke has on oral tissues. A dry mouth creates a welcoming environment for oral bacteria accumulation and reproduction.
In its initial stages, gum disease causes persistent bad breath, tender gums that bleed when brushing, and gums that turn red in color. As it worsens, pus pockets form on gums and the infectious bacteria destroy bone and tissue structures that support tooth roots. Eventually, teeth will loosen and require removal.
In our office, we do not lecture patients. We respect individual preferences and feel it is our job to help patients to be informed rather than reprimanded. However, if you have not included your smile as one of the many reasons to kick the habit, you should.
Please note – Not only is gum disease an inflammatory disease, it has been associated with a number of serious health problems. These include heart disease, stroke, Alzheimers disease arthritis, diabetes, preterm babies, erectile dysfunction, and impotency. Add these to the long list associated with cigarette smoke and you have even more reasons to quit. Although, we know it is not an easy thing to do.
There are a number of online support sources for those who do wish to quit. Consider starting with the American Cancer Society’s online support at:
If you smoke or have noticed signs of gum disease, call for an examination. Be aware that gum disease only worsens without treatment and is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. Call 828-274-9440 to schedule.
Stroke Risk Higher Due To Gum Disease
Posted on Mar 07, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Ischemic stroke happens because of a blocked artery to the brain. Because the brain relies on oxygen and nutrients carried through blood, a blocked artery means the brain cells struggle. Thus, a blocked artery can eventually lead to dying brain cells and stroke.
Ischemic stroke is the most common kind of stroke and about 88 percent of all strokes. Most people with ischemic strokes are over the age of 60 and the risk goes up with each year. Certain conditions increase one’s risk for stroke, including high blood pressure, heart disease, smoking, and diabetes.
Having certain health conditions also make an individual more susceptible to stroke. These include narrowing of the arteries, an irregular heartbeat (a-fib), heart attack, abnormal heart valves, injury to blood vessels in the neck, or blood clots.
The very word ‘stroke’ conjures up the image of an individual with a droopy face and a dangling arm that fails to function. Some of us can remember a grandparent going from a busy, self-sufficient person to one who became bed-ridden or was never the same because of a stroke.
Although stroke recovery today is more successful, it remains a dreaded episode with life-altering outcomes in many instances. Of course, the goal is to prevent a stroke from ever occurring. There are a number of ways that today’s adults can lessen the risk, one being good oral health. Does that surprise you?
The oral health-overall health connection has become more front-&-center in scientific research. About half of Americans aged 30 years or older have periodontitis, which is an advanced level of gum disease. Obviously, this has given cause to a diligent pursuit in finding paths of its associated hazards.
Gum disease is actually an inflammatory disease, which has a strong association to one’s risk for stroke. Periodontal disease occurs when oral bacterial accumulate, eventually attacking the soft and hard structures that support teeth. Think of the inflammatory triggers of gum disease as similar to those of high blood pressure, for instance.
Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease of the oral gum tissues. It can be mild or severe and begins with swollen, tender gums that may eventually lead to tooth loss. The oral bacteria of gum disease has been linked to a wide array of serious health conditions through past research.
These include heart disease, some cancers, Alzheimers disease, diabetes, preterm babies, arthritis and erectile dysfunction (ED). These are in addition to already-established links between gum disease and heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.
Prior studies have also shown an association between periodontal disease and incident stroke risk. While a recent, U.S. based study reinforces the link between gum disease and the risk for stroke, it also shows that regular dental care may actually lower the risk for stroke. (https://www.diabetesdaily.com/blog/research-shows-link-between-periodontal-disease-and-stroke-538122/)
Researchers in the ARIC study (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities), beginning in the 1980s, analyzed data from 10,362 middle-aged adults. None had experienced a previous stroke and participants were given dental evaluations and regular follow-up.
All were screened on their level of dental care and classified as either ‘regular’ (having routine dental visits more than once a year) or ‘episodic’ (those who saw a dentist only when something hurt, required repair, or didn’t see a dentist at all).
Researchers noted that the relationship between gum disease and myocardial infarction has been shown through previous studies as well as an association between gum disease and stroke.
So, could having good periodontal health reduce the stroke risk?
During the 15-year follow-up period, 584 participants had an incident ischemic stroke. The results indicated that adults who had regular dental care had half the stroke risk of those in the episodic category.
The study also showed that the more severe the periodontal disease was present, the higher the risk of future stroke.
Researchers surmised that a proper dental hygiene regimen combined with regular dental care can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. (https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/891550#vp_2)
Even after adjustments were made for race, age, sex, body mass index, hypertension, being diabetic, smoking, and education, those receiving regular dental care showed lower rates of ischemic stroke. The highest rate of stroke was seen among those who developed the more advanced levels of gum inflammation.
We all want to avoid health problems, especially something with consequences as severe as stroke. That’s why we have annual physicals, periodic screenings, and tests that can catch problems at early stages so only minimal treatment is needed.
Apparently, regular dental checkups play a major role in helping you avoid problems far beyond the mouth. As a periodontist, I have a unique understanding for how intricately the health of your mouth effects the health of your body.
When it comes to your overall health, good oral health obviously gives you a ‘leg up’ for whole-body health. If you’re behind on having 6-month dental checkups and cleanings, call 828-274-9440 to schedule a complete periodontal exam. Or, begin with a consultation. I’ll be happy to answer your questions and discuss treatment and comfort options during this time.