Don’t Let Hot Weather Drinks Dry You Out!
Posted on May 29, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Summer is right around the corner! The coming months are typically those that move us to outdoor activities for “fun in the sun!”
Before you stock a cooler to tote along meant to quench your thirst, consider it’s contents — for your smile! While the intention with these drinks is to re-hydrate, many of these beverages can actually dry you out, including the oral tissues.
Let me explain the hazards behind having a dry mouth. First, think about how your mouth feels when you first wake up. Because the mouth is dry upon awakening, it causes a sticky buildup. This occurs when saliva flow is at minimum levels during sleep.
Without sufficient saliva flow, bacteria in the mouth are not being cleansed efficiently. Their accumulation leads to a sticky film that forms over teeth and gums. When we wake up, this is why our breath is less-than-fresh.
This film of bacteria is known as plaque. Bacteria are tiny organisms that eat, reproduce, and create waste. When the film they form becomes acidic, it can lead to the demineralization of teeth – a fancy term for cavities. Bacteria capable of eating into tooth enamel should be taken seriously!
Obviously, the goal is to keep oral bacteria levels to a minimum not only for fresh breath, but to avoid cavities and periodontal (gum) disease. When oral bacteria becomes too much for healthy gums tissues to handle, they become inflamed.
This inflammation destroys gum tissues, which become feeding and breeding grounds for oral bacteria. Once inflamed to a certain extent, the gums (the foundation of healthy teeth and the bones that support them) are destroyed.
As oral bacteria amass further, diseased gum tissues will release their firm grip around teeth, allowing these potent bacteria to attack structures below the gum line. They can also enter the bloodstream.
Research has shown that the oral bacteria of gum disease can create inflammatory triggers in the body. This inflammation has been linked to a number of serious health problems, including heart disease and stroke.
The goal is to keep oral bacteria levels manageable. This is why it’s so important to brush thoroughly twice daily, floss each day, and to keep the mouth moist. Through these simple steps, you greatly reduce your risk for cavities, gum disease, bad breath, and the penetration of oral bacteria into the bloodstream.
Saliva is your body’s natural oral cleanser. However, a number of things can deplete the amount of moisture in the mouth. Summer beverages tend to fool people since it is assumed that something cold and wet replenishes moisture. Beware the following:
• Colas – A cooler full of colas may seem like a good way to cool down, but most of these beverages pack a double whammy. The majority of colas are caffeinated AND contain sugar. Even those that are “sugar-free” and/or caffeine-free are bad for you. Why? Colas are highly acidic. This acid mixes with digestive acids that flow into the mouth each time you eat or drink. Sugar ramps up the acid content even more. When you combine a drink that has caffeine and sugar with these acids, you create a challenging ordeal for teeth and gums.
As if all that weren’t bad enough, think of the nature of how we drink colas. Most of us sip these drinks over a period of time. So, with each sip, oral acids are flowing into the mouth, wreaking havoc on teeth and gums. Because it takes 20-30 minutes for an acid attack to subside after the last bite or sip, drinking a cola over an extended period of time merely lengthens the period of overly-high acid levels.
• Alcohol – Ahhh… savoring a cold beer by the lake or a poolside daiquiri sounds refreshing, doesn’t it? Although these beverages are cooling to the mouth, alcohol is a drying agent to oral tissues. Even wine or alcoholic drinks with sugarless mixes (such as club soda or tonic) can trigger drying reactions in the mouth.
• Iced Coffees & Teas – Remember the problems created by the acid in colas? Iced coffee and iced tea are acidic as well. They are also caffeinated, which is drying to oral tissues. Add in sweeteners and you have a challenging concoction for the mouth.
• Ice-Cream – Everyone’s favorite summertime dessert, ice-cream, is laden with sugar and fat. Although ice-cream can be a source of calcium, the sugar content can easily deplete its benefits to teeth. Hint: Opt for chocolate ice cream (and sugar-free versions, if available). Chocolate contains anti-oxidants and dissolves quickly in the mouth, reducing sugar’s contact time on teeth.
• Antihistamines – Summer’s blooms (and even grass) cause a number of people to deal with allergic reactions, including itchy eyes and sniffling noses. To lessen the symptoms, a number of antihistamines are available over-the-counter. Keep in mind that these medications typically have a side effect of oral dryness. When the mouth is dry due to these meds, it can last for hours. (By the way, these drying side effects are common in many other medications as well).
For all of these oral dryness challenges, there is an easy solution – water! Drinking lots of plain, filtered water throughout the day not only replenishes moisture in our mouths, it hydrates the body. Keeping adequate hydration levels allows the body (including the mouth) to function more efficiently. In the mouth, especially, water helps to keep saliva flowing at proper levels. Thus, oral bacteria are less likely to reproduce and accumulate.
While we would never suggest that you deny yourself a cold cola with your just-grilled burger or a Marguerita with friends, remind yourself to enjoy a glass of water after each drink or bowl of Rocky Road. We want your summer outings to be relished while you keep your teeth and gums in great shape at the same time!
With simple measures, you will hopefully avoid the time and expense required to treat cavities and gum disease. Plus, you’ll share summer smiles with fresher breath and brighter teeth!
How better to begin your summer than with a healthy smile! For a thorough periodontal check, call 828-274-9440.
Is Insurance Coverage Ruling Decisions For A Confident Smile?
Posted on May 22, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
I think we’d all agree that having insurance coverage today is necessary, albeit rather costly. For those who shell out hundreds of dollars each month (or more, based on deductibles and dependents), it can be an investment that gives peace of mind and strains our budgets at the same time. I have friends who pay MORE for health insurance coverage than their monthly home mortgage. Ouch!
Regardless of the type of insurance coverage you have, using its benefits to the max is a yearly goal. Some people have Health Savings Accounts (HSA) to help buffer certain non-covered, health-related expenses. However, because of the monthly costs, it is to no surprise that we monitor treatment accepted to keep our out-of-pocket within covered levels.
Dental insurance was developed to give people some help for typical annual expenses. For many, this includes twice-a-year dental exams and cleanings. Some policies include assistance for an annual crown or filling, and some coverage for periodontal (gum) therapy to treat gum disease. Higher end policies may cover portions of orthodontic treatment (braces) or oral appliances to treat TMJ (jaw joint) disorder.
For smile-conscious individuals, these benefits sound terrific. For an affordable monthly fee, the annual costs for dental care are more budget friendly. But, are they smile friendly?
The ‘catch’ for policy holders occurs in what these for-profit insurance companies deem coverage-worthy. What is appropriate for a patient’s long term oral health versus what is approved for coverage may be very different. This has become a real dilemma for many dentists and dental specialists.
For example, when I consult with a patient who is missing several teeth, I recommend dental implants. My recommendation is based upon what will provide the patient with a lifelong solution for missing teeth as well as other benefits.
I look at a dental implant as the ideal in tooth replacement, since it is held in the jaw bone just as natural tooth roots. An implant restores the dependable foundation necessary for biting and chewing, enabling the patient to eat a healthy diet and chew foods comfortably, which supports the digestive system and overall health.
Yet, dental implants are a more expensive option (initially) than crown-&-bridge combinations, dentures, or partials. So, guess what is often deemed as ‘elective’ by insurance companies? Right! But, is protecting your overall health and smiling confidence elective to YOU?
What it comes down to is, essentially, how we perceive insurance coverage. While major medical insurance gives us peace of mind should we experience a health challenge that would otherwise drain us financially, most dental insurance coverages are different.
Dental insurance, for the most part with most policies, is set up to provide ‘support’ in maintaining a healthy mouth. For people who already have good oral health and are able to tend to it sufficiently between regular dental checkups, this is fine. However, for most American adults, tooth repair, tooth loss and gum problems are a fact of life, particularly as we age.
For most of us, the decisions we make today will affect us in the years to come. When it comes to your oral health, don’t let your long-term oral wellness, the longevity of your teeth, the comfort of eating, or the confidence of smiling and laughter be dictated by what insurance coverage allows.
If you trust your dentist and others involved to help guide you towards good oral health and maintaining your smile, consider the recommendations made and ask questions. Be an informed consumer. But, most importantly, be sure to make decisions that are in your best interests rather than that which a for-profit insurance company deems worthy for your smile.
You may be interested that the five largest insurance companies in the U.S. (Aetna, Anthem, Cigna, Humana, United Health Group) enjoyed $4.5 billion in NET earnings in just the first quarter of 2017. That’s BILLION, with a B! (https://www.axios.com/profits-are-booming-at-health-insurance-companies-1513302495-18f3710a-c0b4-4ce3-8b7f-894a755e6679.html) And, that’s just a 3-month period!
Healthcare is a dilemma our nation will struggle with for years to come. In the meantime, put YOUR needs first and take charge of YOUR well-being by finding dental caregivers you feel will guide you best to a lifetime of confident, comfortable, and healthy smiles – for a lifetime!
If you don’t have regular dental care and would like recommendations, feel free to contact us at 828-274-9440. We work with exceptional general dentists in Western North Carolina and will be proud to connect you. Or, feel free to begin with a thorough periodontal exam here. We will make recommendations based upon your unique needs and goals.
Advanced Skills & Technology Provide The Best Care For Specific Needs
Posted on May 14, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
When our heating system or air condition goes on the blink, I don’t call a do-it-all handyman. I call a trusted HVAC company to schedule a technician who is specially trained in its repair. He (or sometimes she) shows up understanding the specifics of our system and already has the tools (and many parts) at hand to do the job quickly and efficiently – and most of all, correctly!
The same is true when people have periodontal (gum) disease. Seeing a periodontist (a dentist who specializes in accurate diagnosis and treatment of gum disease) provides a number of benefits:
• Proper diagnosis: Do you have periodontal disease? If so, at what stage is your disease? A periodontal specialist has advanced training to properly diagnose all stages of gum disease.
• Proper treatment: I have a reputation for never over-treating or under-treating. While I always want to provide the most successful outcome based on each patient’s specific needs, I never want to put anyone through more time and expense than is necessary. My skills and experience enable me to know what will work best based upon each individual’s unique needs.
• Proper tools and equipment: As a periodontal office, we are fully prepared for the diagnosis and treatment of all stages of gum disease as well as the placement of dental implants (another important realm of the specialty). As such, we can tend to our patients in an efficient and effective manner. This also enables us to provide treatment in minimal time and to an exceptional level of comfort.
• Advanced features: One of the reasons we receive so many referrals from other doctors, dentists, and past/present patients (in addition to trust) is in the environment we provide. Our office is structured to tend to the unique needs of our patients to the highest standards of care possible. For example, in administration of IV sedation (twilight sleep), we utilize an on-site Board Certified Anesthesiologist. Additionally, diagnosis and treatment planning is backed by images from our on-site 3D Cone Beam technology. These features are not required of a periodontal practice. We simply believe that our patients are given better care with them.
• Proper care of patients’ needs: We see our patients far beyond their oral health needs. Here, patients are respected, cared for with compassion and gentle hands, and given the quality of care we would want for ourselves and loved ones. The caregivers who refer to us know this, and the patients who come to us for care experience it firsthand.
In a perfect world, everyone would have excellent periodontal health and teeth that last a lifetime. But, we know we live in a world where gum health can become compromised and teeth can fail. Our goal is to help our patients regain healthy, confident smiles they’ll be proud to share, often and joyfully!
If you feel your gum health is poor or have experienced tooth loss, begin with a consultation appointment. Call 828-274-9440 to schedule. From the very first phone call, I believe you’ll know you are in good hands!
Interesting History Behind Dental Implants
Posted on May 08, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Would you be surprised to learn that Dental Implants date back to ancient Egypt? Then, get ready for an interesting history lesson!
Archeological digs in Egypt unearthed jaw bones that had seashells or stones carved into tooth shapes positioned to replace lost teeth. The ancient Egyptians weren’t alone in this pursuit.
The Mayan civilization from 600 AD apparently used a similar process to replace missing teeth. A 1930’s excavation in Honduras uncovered a human jaw bone where shell pieces fashioned into tooth shapes were positioned into the sockets of missing teeth.
Attempts to replace teeth in ancient cultures has been discovered over the years across the globe, including North and South America, Middle Asia, and the Mediterranean. Discoveries in a number of ancient cultures have revealed early versions of dental implants, including attempts at implanting teeth made from gold and metal.
In the Middle Ages, early attempts in tooth replacement through implants were made using bone grafting techniques. Minimal success occurred due to infections, often resulting in death. Yet, the pursuit to replace teeth held in the jaw bone continued.
Successful developments were finally experienced by a World War II Army doctor, Dr. Norman Goldberg. After noting that certain metals used in other parts of the body were having consistently successful results, Dr. Goldberg started on a quest to apply this to dental implants.
After the war, Dr. Goldberg teamed with Dr. Aaron Gershkoff. Together, they created an implant type that integrated successfully with bone. Their work was the springboard to developing modern dental implant systems used today. (https://www.aaid.com/about/History.html)
Doctors Goldberg and Gershkoff shared their successes in the dental community through an article published in Dental Digest. This created enthusiasm with other doctors, who worked to fine-tune the implantation process. This also spurred efforts to develop implant designs to accommodate various needs.
When titanium was developed by NASA, Swedish surgeon Per-Ingvar Brånemark, M.D., Ph.D. found that the jaw bone would not only accept implants, it would grow around it to secure them in place. The process of ‘osseo-integration’ was an exciting new development that inspired continued research. (https://www.ada.org/sitecore/content/home-ada/publications/ada-news/2015-archive/january/dr-branemark-father-of-modern-dental-implant-dies-at-85)
Dr. Brånemark’s first titanium dental implant patient (in the mid-1960s) had four titanium implants placed, which lasted until his death four decades later. However, Dr. Brånemark spent years trying to convince the medical and dental communities that titanium would integrate with living bone. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Brånemark implants would be approved in Sweden.
At a professional meeting in Toronto in 1982, Dr. Brånemark presented his system for ‘osseointegrated’ implants. There, he finally received widespread recognition for his methods. Referred to as the father of modern dental implants, Dr. Brånemark’s dental implant system is still manufactured and on the market.
Perfection in the techniques and technology surrounding implant dentistry has continued. Patient now have a wide variety of implant systems available for individual needs. Advancements in dental materials also provide implants patients with replacement teeth that have the look and feel of natural teeth.
An estimated 450,000 dental implants are placed each year with a success rate of over 96% — higher than any other implant-in-bone procedure (including hips and knees). Patients who select dental implants for replacing teeth enjoy an exceptionally natural-looking smile as well as the function like that of ‘real’ teeth.
Dental Implants do more than merely replace missing teeth. They restore the ability to eat the foods you love without worry, laugh confidently and have a smile will last a lifetime. To discuss dental implants, call 828-274-9440 to schedule a consultation.