Suffer From Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)? Why To Make Good Oral Health A Priority.
Posted on Jul 23, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a painful, debilitating disease. It is primarily known to destroy joints but can also affect internal organs (including heart, lungs, and kidneys). Although more common in older adults, RA can occur in younger ages as well, including adolescents and children.
For most people, the symptoms of RA begin with morning stiffness along with weak and aching muscles. As it worsens, joints become sore and stiff, most often affecting the fingers, wrists, elbows, hips, knees, ankles, toes, and neck.
An inflammatory disease, RA can further lead to swelling in the joints, disfigurement of the hands and feet, and numbness and tingling in the extremities. While there is no cure for RA, its discomfort and progression can be eased through medications, physical therapy, or surgery.
Like RA, periodontal (gum) disease is an inflammatory disease. And, like RA, gum disease causes pain, swelling, and tenderness. As it worsens, the inflammation can extend beyond the gums and attack the bone structures supporting the teeth as well as surrounding tissues.
For years, research has been following the close connection between RA and gum disease. They’ve even noted that gum disease and RA share a genetic likeness, having similar pathogen structures ( agents that cause disease or illness). Another close similarity is in the formation process of both gum disease and RA.
And, the similarities between the two diseases continue further. While both conditions cause chronic inflammation in tissues that connect to bone, researchers have found the particular species of bacteria in each of nearly identical makeup.
A recent study has shown that people who are deemed “at risk” for RA have noteably higher incidences of gum disease. In the study, gum disease was diagnosed in 73 percent of individuals shown to have RA-associated antibodies before any evidence of joint disease (versus 38 percent of individuals without the antibody marker for RA). This suggests they originate from a site outside of the joints.
Perhaps from bacteria in the mouth? Based on its genetic similarities, this would be a logical conclusion.
The study, presented at the 2018 Annual European Congress of Rheumatology, took age, gender, and smoking into consideration. (http://www.dentistrytoday.com/news/industrynews/item/3499-gum-disease-may-initiate-autoimmunity-related-to-rheumatoid-arthritis)
Previous studies support this connection, even showing how a particular pathogen associated with periodontal disease activates the same destructive process of RA. On a positive note, research has shown that the successful treatment of gum disease can improve RA symptoms, which likely lessens the body’s inflammatory load.
A periodontal specialist has advanced training in the treatment of all stages of gum disease (as well as in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants). As a periodontist, it is troubling to know that nearly half of American adults have some level of gum disease. (https://www.perio.org/consumer/cdc-study.htm)
For our nation’s health, this poses a particular challenge since research continually reveals close connections between the bacteria of periodontal disease and serious health conditions. For example, research has linked gum disease to heart disease, stroke, memory loss, preterm babies, diabetes, some cancers (including pancreatic and lung cancer), Alzheimer’s disease, and impotency — in addition to its connections to RA.
I believe the prevalence of gum disease is mainly due to how its symptoms can go easily ignored until it’s potent bacteria are running rampant. By the time the disease is well underway, gum disease bacteria can have penetrated weakened gum tissues and entered the blood stream. This is how it is able to trigger inflammatory reactions that can reach far beyond the mouth.
When gum disease begins (due to an over-accumulation of oral bacteria), it causes the gums to become sore and often bleed when brushing. As the disease progresses, it can lead to persistent bad breath and gum tissues that darken in color. Untreated, pus pockets may form at the base of teeth and teeth can loosen. In advanced stages, teeth may require removal. Gum disease is the nation’s main reason for adult tooth loss.
The findings of research is indisputable in this: Our oral health is intricately connected to our overall health. As more adults understand how the presence of gum disease can greatly increase the risk for serious health conditions, we will hopefully see a better commitment to protect overall health through good oral health.
If you need to renew your own commitment to good oral health, or if you have signs of gum disease (as mentioned above), begin by calling 828-274-9440 to learn more or to schedule a consultation appointment (or tap here).
Ways To Have A Successful Outcome With Dental Implants
Posted on Jul 16, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
For many individuals who wish to replace one or more missing teeth, dental implants have become the leading preference. Dental implants restore the look, feel, and function like that of natural teeth. They also help to prevent bone shrinkage that occurs when tooth roots are no longer present in the jaw bone.
A periodontist has advanced training in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants. He or she can help you enjoy a higher potential for dental implant treatment that lasts your lifetime. There are a number of reasons you should strongly consider having a periodontal specialist involved in your treatment.
SELECTION OF IMPLANTS – Dental implants come in a wide array of shapes and sizes. Each system is designed to accommodate certain needs and preferences. For example, some implants are designed to support a full arch of teeth while others can be placed in areas where a great deal of bone loss has occurred. The selection of the implant type that is appropriate for your needs and goals requires a unique understanding of all implant types. That is, a periodontist can select the type that will work best for you rather than go with the one or two in which they have received training.
PLACEMENT OF IMPLANTS – In addition to selecting the best type for your needs, proper placement of implants has a great deal to do with having a successful outcome. When an implant that is too long, for instance, is placed in bone that is too shallow, it can have future repercussions that may require its removal. This could occur when a lower implant is placed too close to a nerve that runs horizontal through the jaw bone (mandible). Or, when an upper implant is placed in shallow bone, it can work its way into the sinus cavity. A periodontal specialist considers intricate factors that can effect your potential for success.
STRUCTURAL ISSUES – In addition to the factors involved with bone loss, other issues can ‘make or break’ having a successful treatment outcome with dental implants. For example, for people who have bite misalignment or TMJ disorders, they may be grinding or clenching their teeth during sleep – often unknowingly. Telltale signs of ‘bruxing’ including remaining, natural teeth that are chipped or worn. These forces have been measured to that enough to crack a walnut! When dental implants endure these forces, especially during their ‘healing’ phase, there is greater risk for implant failure. A periodontist considers these issues prior to your treatment, helping you to bypass problems that can result in eventual removal.
INDIVIDUALIZED TREATMENT CONSIDERATIONS – Our goal is to help you get the most from your dental implants. When there are individual habits or preferences that can complicate success, we work with each patient to help them enjoy their dental implants for a lifetime. For smokers, we advise ways to support saliva flow and minimize oral bacteria levels. For people who take certain medications that can interfere with oral moisture, we recommend methods to keep the mouth properly hydrated. And so on. We want to make sure your care is individualized so your potential for implant success is high!
Unfortunately, I have seen a number of patients over the years who have had implants that were improperly placed or chosen. It is a significant loss for the patient when they have to have these implants removed and start all over. Like any procedure, you want your treatment time and investment to be successful and a pleasant experience. We do, too!
If you’ve considered dental implants to replace missing teeth, let’s discuss how a periodontal dental office can enhance your potential to enjoy confident smiles and chewing comfort for your lifetime! Call 828-274-9440 to schedule an appointment.
We Make Your Comfort A Priority At Every Visit
Posted on Jul 10, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
As a periodontal specialist, I’ve always been proud to combine specialized skills with a commitment to exceptional care that creates healthy smiles. I am also committed to performing procedures to the highest degree of patient comfort – regardless of the treatment.
Dental care – of any type – can be provided without the patient experiencing pain. For some people, an unfortunate experience in the past can create a road block to achieving and maintaining good oral health and a smile they are proud to share.
We all have reactions to certain things that are automatic. For example, when some people see a wasp, they may have a sudden urge to flee. Other people may react to seeing a wasp by swatting it away. The same is true for dental fear. Different people have different reactions.
Some of our patients are relaxed from the moment they walk in our office and throughout treatment. Others are fine until they are seated in the treatment chair and then experience some anxiety (which is often overcome once numbing medications have taken full effect). Still, others are nervous and uneasy the entire time.
And, while a painful experience in the past may be the root source of dental fear, some people have no idea how their fears originated. Others have uneasy feelings that are triggered by certain smells and sounds common to a dental office. People with fear or anxiety often experience sweating or a more rapid heartbeat, many for unknown reasons.
If you experience negative feelings associated with dental visits, there is nothing ‘wrong’ with you. We all have individual response systems that can create feelings of vulnerability. Some people even perceive pain before they are touched. This can cause people to avoid dental care – some for decades.
Here, we are a judgement-free zone. We do not lecture patients or judge them for avoiding dental care. We know it is not the way that people want to be, especially when dental fear is the catalyst of otherwise healthy adults who have developed oral decay, periodontal (gum) disease, or experienced tooth loss.
Unfortunately, it’s not just a smile that suffers when oral bacteria run rampant. Periodontal (gum) disease is an inflammatory disease. This potent bacteria can enter the bloodstream through tears in weakened gum tissues, triggering inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body.
The bacteria of gum disease has been associated with heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, memory loss, arthritis, diabetes, preterm babies, some cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, and impotency. As research continues, new associations are coming to light at an alarming pace.
Our comfy reception area
Our entire team makes patient comfort a priority at every visit. You’ll notice the difference from the very first time you enter our office – from the reception area that pampers you to the staff who greet you. Our patients are offered a selection of gourmet coffees and enjoy cable television and WIFI connection during brief wait times.
We also offer a private consultation room where patients can freely discuss concerns and preferences. During these sessions, we explain treatment options and answer your questions in a living room type setting. This allows patients to learn about individualized care recommendations without the need to be seated in a treatment chair.
Enjoy beautiful, relaxing views from our surgical suite.
Even our surgical suite provides a unique setting. A large window provides beautiful mountain views, which our patients find very soothing. For added comfort and relaxation, we offer oral sedation or I.V. sedation (twilight sleep) for most procedures for those who want or need these options.
Both sedations are administered to the highest standards of safety possible. Our sedated patients are closely monitored throughout treatment with advanced safety equipment and trained professionals.
Oral sedation is a pill that helps patients relax. It also has an amnesiac effect, leaving most with little or no memory of treatment afterward. I.V. sedation places the patient in a deeper sedative state, also erasing memory of the procedure. It is administered by a highly-trained doctor of anesthesiology for optimal comfort and safety.
Our entire staff are committed to extending patients a sincere level of compassion and commitment to exceptional care. While the doctors on our team are all top-notch, I must admit that our staff members are the aces when it comes to making patients feel truly pampered.
When patients realize our goal is to provide optimal care and complete comfort, they relax. This instills a sense of trust, which we believe is the very foundation for a patient who releases fear and anxiety and no longer feels the urge to avoid dental care.
We know that patients who are ‘afraid’ of dental care truly desire healthy, confident smiles. By helping to remove the basis of their fear, they are able to achieve that, often overcoming their fear and sense of dread for good.
If you or someone you know has fear that has prevented needed or desired dental care, schedule a consultation appointment. This will take place in our private consultation room. Here, we can discuss your needs and concerns and have your questions answered thoroughly. You can then determine what pace is best for you.
Call 828-274-9440 to learn more. Our friendly staff will make you feel good from the very first call! If fear has kept you from achieving the healthy smile you desire, or if you know someone who avoids dentistry because of fear, your very first conversation will hopefully be the beginning of a lifetime of confident smiles!