Start The New Year With A Smile That Enhances Your Life!
Posted on Dec 31, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
As we look at the new year, many of us are setting goals for positive changes in our lives. Whether we aim to lose weight, tackle an upcoming 10k run, or kick a bad habit, a new year resets our enthusiasm and motivation to improve.
And oft-overlooked area that many Americans should add to their “need to improve” list is caring for their oral health. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), over 47 percent of the adult population in the U.S. has some level of periodontal (gum) disease.
So, this year, I’d like you to relook at the list you’ve already made and consider adding “improve oral wellness” to it.
Although a clean, healthy mouth gives you a better-looking smile and fresher breath, there are even more important reasons to maintain excellent gum health. Not only is periodontal disease the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss, it has been linked serious health risks. This includes heart disease, high blood pressure, memory loss, arthritis, diabetes, preterm babies and impotency.
Gum disease can begin silently, with warning signs that are not obvious or may be easily ignored. It may be first noticed by sore spots on gum tissues. You may notice some blood in the sink when brushing teeth. Your mouth may feel sticky and you have bad breath more frequently.
When these signs are ignored, gum disease is allowed to progress further. The symptoms of gum disease are:
- Red, swollen or tender gums or other sore areas in your mouth
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Gums that recede or pull away from teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before
- Loose or separating teeth
- Pus pockets between your gums and teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- A change in the fit of partial dentures
You can also learn about the stages of gum disease on the web site of the American Academy of Periodontology: (https://www.perio.org/consumer/types-gum-disease.html).
Your mouth also sends off warning signs when something is wrong. For example, an ache coming from a tooth may indicate a cavity or crack. A sore spot in the mouth could be caused by a canker sore or warning sign of oral cancer.
Some periodontal needs can be managed by their general dentist. However, as signs of periodontal disease continue, periodontal treatment may require the skills of a specialist. Patients who have moderate or severe levels of periodontal disease, or patients with more complex cases, are often best managed through ‘team treatment’ between a general dentist and periodontal specialist.
The American Academy of Periodontology defines a periodontist as “a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease, and in the placement of dental implants. Periodontists are also experts in the treatment of oral inflammation. Periodontists receive extensive training in these areas, including three additional years of education beyond dental school. They are familiar with the latest techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease, and are also trained in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures.
“Periodontists often treat more problematic periodontal cases, such as those with severe gum disease or a complex medical history. Periodontists offer a wide range of treatments, such as scaling and root planing (in which the infected surface of the root is cleaned) or root surface debridement (in which damaged tissue is removed). They can also treat patients with severe gum problems using a range of surgical procedures.
“In addition, periodontists are specially trained in the placement, maintenance, and repair of dental implants.”
However, if you are experiencing signs of periodontal disease and do not have a regular dentist, please know that you do not have to be referred to our office for care. Once your mouth is restored to optimal health, we can suggest a general dentist for you if you do not have one.
Don’t delay seeking care when you notice the first warning sign. Early treatment may save you greatly in time and expense – and even help you avoid tooth loss! Once your mouth is restored to a healthy state, we’ll help you maintain it by recommending home care steps combined with periodic check-ups.
If your obstacle has been fear of dentistry, we have an excellent reputation for helping fearful dental patients overcome these. We also offer oral and I.V. sedation (twilight sleep) that help patients feel more relaxed during treatment.
Or, if you feel you can’t manage the expenses associated with dental care, we offer several payment plans. Through these, you can afford to achieve a healthy smile while making easy, monthly payments.
Begin with a consultation or ask for an initial periodontal exam by calling 828-274-9440. Let our specialized skills in periodontics help to restore your teeth and gums to excellent oral health and confident smiles!
You CAN Avoid Gum Disease – Know How It Forms & Easy Prevention Tips
Posted on Dec 14, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
I know of so many friends and family members who have avoided or minimized serious health problems (and perhaps even death) by taking preventive measures when it comes to their health. Annual screenings (such as mammograms, prostate checks, pap smears, and colonoscopies, to name a few) have enabled countless people to simply treat or avoid serious conditions and get back to their lives and loved ones.
When we “take charge” of our health, we can also avoid the time and expense required for treating problems that could have been prevented in the first place. For example, not smoking helps us avoid the risk of many cancers and respiratory diseases. Eating a healthy diet and regular exercise lowers our risk for heart disease.
I believe that when people know what to do to avoid problems, they can be proactive in their health. This is especially true for periodontal (gum) disease. What I find is that many individuals are simply not familiar with effective prevention measures nor the signs and symptoms of this infectious disease.
People are often surprised to learn that gum disease first begins without obvious symptoms. Even when it’s fully underway, the warning signs are often ignored or deemed “normal.” For instance, seeing blood in the sink when brushing is a sign that the gums are weak and inflamed, even though some people assume this means they’re doing a good job. (BTW, you should NEVER see blood in the sink when brushing!)
The path that leads to gum disease can easily be bypassed, however. The process of how it forms and progresses is:
• Oral Bacteria Overload: Bacteria in our mouths is unavoidable. It is on our food, utensils, the glasses we drink from and the pencil we hold between our teeth. Because the mouth is a warm, dark, and moist environment, it offers an ideal setting for bacterial growth. Although certain bacteria levels are manageable through brushing, flossing, and saliva flow, problems begin when too much bacteria accumulate and remain in the mouth.
• Plaque: Without regular brushing, flossing, sufficient saliva flow, and low-sugar diet, oral bacteria can reproduce rapidly. Their accumulation can quickly form a sticky film that you feel on teeth (a ‘fuzzy’ feeling), known as plaque.
• Tartar (or Calculus): In just 48 hours, plaque can harden on teeth. This is known as tartar (or calculus) and is actually a cement-hard mass of oral bacteria. Like plaque, tartar will continually grow as the bacteria reproduce. Their destruction includes boring into tooth enamel and eating away at gum tissues.
• Gingivitis: This is actually the first phase of gum disease. At this stage, gum tissues are under attack and become sore. It can cause the gums to bleed when brushing and gum tenderness. You may experience an aching sensation in some areas. Your breath will be bad more often. By taking proper measures as soon as you notice these symptoms, the gums can be restored to a healthy state. However, there is a fine line between being able to undo gingivitis and its progression to gum disease.
• Gum Disease: At this level, the gums are inflamed and tender and red rather than a healthy pink color. Your breath will be unpleasant on a consistent basis. The gums may also begin to pull away from the base of some teeth, exposing sensitive tooth root areas. As the inflammation progresses, pus pockets may form at the base of some teeth. Without treatment, teeth will loosen as the bacteria destroy the structures that support tooth roots. Eventually, tooth removal may be required.
Almost half of American adults have some level of periodontal disease, which is also the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. Yet, it’s one of the most preventable diseases with simple measures.
It has also been found that the bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream, triggering systemic inflammation. Gum disease has been linked to a long list of serious health problems. These include heart disease, some cancers (including prostate, lung, and pancreatic cancers), stroke, preterm babies, arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and erectile dysfunction (ED).
Twice daily brushing (at least two minutes each time), daily flossing, drinking plenty of water, and limiting sweets and caffeine (including colas, tea, and coffee) are simple ways to keep your mouth healthy between regular dental check-ups and cleanings. Remember that your 6-month check-ups are very important. During these visits, any tartar that has accumulated can be removed and signs of early gum disease can be noted – and promptly resolved.
These simple steps can help you avoid the discomfort of gum disease as well as the devastation of losing your teeth and having to decide on replacement. These procedures – and the expense – can be avoided. And, contrary to what some people believe, losing teeth is NOT a natural part of the aging process. With proper care, you can easily enjoy a smile of natural teeth throughout your lifetime.
If you are experiencing symptoms of gingivitis or periodontal disease, call our Asheville periodontal office at 828-274-9440. As a periodontist, I have specialized skills to restore your oral health and customize a program to help you keep it at its best.
Have GOOD Breath For The Holidays! And Ban BAD Breath Forever!
Posted on Dec 05, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
The holidays are a time when friends and family bring us closer together. Whether sitting side-by-side at the table or in close conversations at cocktail parties, we find ourselves a little more conscious about our breath odor than perhaps we normally would be.
Of course, we’ve all encountered that individual who has the memorable bad breath. And, what a terrible impression that leaves, which tends to be forever associated with that person. Fortunately, there are easy ways to avoid having bad breath in these situations and to have fresher breath throughout the year.
It is important to know that bad breath is typically the result of accumulated oral bacteria. It’s as simple as that. And, it’s as difficult as that. Like aging garbage, bacteria in the mouth that amass to high numbers create an odor — a stinky odor.
There are a number of things that contribute to the ability of these icky organisms’ ability to reproduce. One that may surprise you is having a dry mouth.
A dry mouth may seem less inviting as a breeding ground for bacteria since they typically thrive in environments that are warm, moist, and dark. However, when saliva flow is unable to efficiently cleanse bacteria buildup from the mouth, they are easily able to reproduce.
A dry mouth is rather common today. A large percentage of common medications (including anti-depressants, decongestants, and anti-histamines) have a side effect of oral dryness. Too, many beverages contribute to a dry mouth. These include colas, coffee, tea, and those containing alcohol.
Another way that oral bacteria can run rampant has to do with our oral hygiene routines. To be truly thorough in cleaning tooth surfaces, it is recommended to spend two minutes per brushing, twice a day. That applies to both manual and electronic toothbrushes.
Even so, it is estimated that nearly one-third of American adults brush their teeth for an insufficient amount of time. Even worse, about that same amount fail to brush twice a day. This means that a frightening number of bacteria are left to grow and thrive in these mouths.
When you factor in that brushing only tackles about half the amount of bacteria in the mouth, you’re left with a tremendous amount that are able to grow and thrive. You may be surprised to learn that the tongue harbors anywhere from 58 to 65 percent of the bacteria in your “oral cavity.”
Oral bacteria love to embed in the tiny bumps and grooves of the tongue since they are not easily dislodged. Thus, it’s necessary that the tongue be involved in your oral hygiene regimen at home to keep bacteria levels under control.
Some toothbrushes have a “tongue scraper” on the reverse side of the bristles that’s an effective option. Or, you can just brush your tongue with the bristles after you’re teeth are brushed. Be sure to reach towards the back of the tongue where the majority of bacteria exist.
Another challenge for maintaining control of oral bacteria have to do with the eating habits of the American population. While “three squares” were once the norm, today’s American has more of a “grazing” schedule.
For example, your “average Joe” may have breakfast, a mid-morning latte, lunch, a mid-afternoon snack, dinner, and a bowl of popcorn or ice-cream while watching television. Throw in coffee, colas, and tea in with this consumption, you have a pattern that works against your smile.
Although saliva is designed to rinse the mouth consistently during the day, this frequency in eating poses more of a challenge than it is capable of handling. Too, food has more opportunities to becomes stuck between teeth. For those who do not floss daily, these bits are left to rot, adding to bacterial growth.
So, how do you avoid being “the one who has bad breath”? It begins with your time at the sink. Slow down! Spend at least two minutes each time you brush. Don’t scrub your teeth but allow the brush to sweep over them, especially near the gum line. Spend extra time, too, going over the tops of large teeth that have deep grooves.
Tend to your tongue. Either brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper. You’ll be removing a tremendous amount of bacteria that can form bad breath.
Floss daily. If it’s difficult for you, ask our hygienist to work with you on your technique so it is comfortable and efficient. You can also purchase an electronic flosser (water flosser). These are affordable and proven to be just as effective as manual flossing.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you take medications that are drying, consider using an oral rinse formulated to replenish moisture (available over-the-counter). If you’re having a beverage that contains alcohol, drink a glass of plain water between each drink. This not only adds moisture to the mouth, it will dilute the acids in the mouth for less potential damage to tooth enamel (and lessen staining).
Not mentioned prior but very important to avoiding oral bacteria buildup – keep your six-month dental cleanings and exams without fail! These visits remove plaque and calculus (or tartar), which are nothing more than gathered bacteria.
These small measures will help you avoid cavities, gum disease, AND be the one who’s easy to get close to at any gathering! If you have tender gums, gums that bleed when brushing, or frequent bad breath, however, you should arrange to see a periodontal specialist as soon as possible.
A periodontist is a dental specialist who has advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of all stages of periodontal (gum) disease. He or she is your best way to have a confident, “get close” smile! Call our Asheville periodontal office at 828-274-9440 to learn more.