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Afraid of the Dentist? Here’s How To Get Your Smile Back!


Posted on Oct 11, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Have you ever suddenly seen a snake out of the corner of your eye?

Immediately, the brain kicks in a “fight or flight” response that causes us to react. Because we don’t know whether or not the snake is poisonous, the typical reaction is to quickly move away from danger.

Past trauma can also trigger reactions. Past experiences can sometimes cause people to react in ways they can’t control. For adults who have experienced a frightening or painful dental procedure, the fear it caused can become embedded (sometimes forever) in the subconscious.

Some things that cause us to flinch or freeze can occur from reasons we can’t even explain. Patients who are nervous or afraid when they first arrive often know what past episode triggered it. Some are unable to recall an unpleasant dental visit yet react to certain sights, smells or sounds.

Dental fear occurs in different people at different levels. It can activate reactions of more rapid heartbeat, sweating, heavier breathing, and muscle tension.

Here, at our Asheville periodontal office, most patients are relaxed from the moment they walk in and throughout treatment. Some are fine until they are seated in the treatment chair while others are nervous and uneasy the entire time.

Dental fear and anxiety are often the result of an unfortunate experience in a dentist’s office that made the person feel out of control and trapped. This tends to carry over so that perceived pain can be just as real as actual pain.

Experiencing uneasy feelings at dental visits is not uncommon. According to the Cleveland Clinic, between 9 – 15 percent of Americans say they avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear. (https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/11176-dental-phobia-in-adults)

They also cite the most common causes as:

  • Fear of pain
  • Fear of injection or that the injection won’t work
  • Fear of anesthetic side effects
  • Feelings of helplessness and loss of control
  • Embarrassment and feeling encroachment of personal space

 

Periodontal (gum) disease is the result of an accumulation of oral bacteria. It is also the leading cause of adult tooth loss. As a Periodontist, I find that most individuals have developed gum disease because they were too afraid of having regular dental care. Many avoid going to the dentist for years, only ‘giving in’ when something becomes so painful they can no longer delay treatment.

At Biltmore Periodontics, patient comfort is a priority at every visit. And, it is obvious from the moment you walk in our door. Our reception area is designed to pamper patients from the moment they enter. Patients are treated to a selection of gourmet coffees, cable television and WiFi connection. Seating is comfortable and our front office staff is attentive to the needs of each guest.

New patients begin in a private consultation room so we can discuss treatment needs and concerns in a living room style setting. During this time, I’ll answer your questions and explain treatment options, including sedation.

We offer oral sedation as well as I.V. sedation (twilight sleep) for most procedures, if desired. 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 doctor of anesthesiology for optimal comfort and safety. With both, patients are monitored with advanced safety equipment throughout treatment.

Our surgical suite offers a large window with beautiful mountain views. This is very soothing and relaxing for patients as they are attended to by gentle, compassionate hands.

Our entire staff provide a unified team, each bringing a sincere level of compassion and commitment to excellent care. While the doctors involved in your care are top-notch, I am always happy to hear so many patients tell me how our staff helps them to feel at ease and pampered.

It doesn’t take long for patients to realize our goal is to provide skilled care delivered with comfort. The more they experience this, the more relaxed they become and develop a sense of trust.

When patients trust us, many no longer need to feel anxious and “white-knuckled” in a dental chair. And, they see their dental care as a positive part of their overall health, which makes them more involved with their oral health – and smiling confidently!

Like everyone, fearful patients desire a healthy, confident smile. Once the obstacle of fear is removed, their ability to achieve that is greatly heightened.

If you or someone you know has fear that has prevented needed or desired dental care, schedule a consultation appointment. Call 828-274-9440 to learn more.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Linked To Periodontal Disease


Posted on Oct 02, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

As a periodontist, I specialize in the treatment of all stages of periodontal (gum) disease. Although this particular dental specialty is not as visible as a general dentist, we are very-involved members of the medical and dental community. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), over 47 percent of American adults have some level of gum disease.

Like the formation of cancer, many individuals are unaware when periodontal disease becomes active. When early symptoms appear (such as bleeding gums when brushing, bad breath and gum tenderness), many people shrug them off as temporary.

However, gum disease only progresses once underway. Eventually, gums become red in color and pus pockets form at the base of teeth. In advanced stages, teeth loosen and may require removal. Gum disease, to no surprise, is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

The potent bacteria of periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream through tears in weakened gum tissues. This allows it to travel throughout the body. Research has shown it is able to trigger a number of serious health problems, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, memory loss, and impotency.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a condition seemingly unrelated to gum disease, is a debilitating disease that destroys joints. It is disabling and painful. In most cases, RA emerges gradually, often beginning with morning stiffness along with weak and aching muscles. Joint pain follows, with joints feeling sore and stiff. RA is typically found in the fingers, wrists, elbows, hips, knees, ankles, toes, shoulder and neck.

As inflammation from RA increases, joints become swollen with symptoms including fever, disfiguring of hands and feet, numbness and tingling. There is no cure for RA and lifelong treatment is required. Treatment may consist of medications, physical therapy, or even surgery.

Yet, like RA, gum disease causes pain, swelling, and tenderness. As it worsens, the associated inflammation can lead to destruction of the bone that supports teeth along with surrounding tissues. And, the similarities go much deeper.

Both gum disease and RA share a genetic likeness in clinical makeup and structures. This has been particularly apparent in pathogens, which are agents in the body that lead to disease or illness. The pathological processes that occurs in both gum disease and RA are almost identical.

Too, the particular species of bacteria found in gum-diseased oral tissues and tissues that surround joints in those who suffer with RA. Equally concerning is, while both conditions clearly cause chronic inflammation in tissues connected to bone, researchers have found the two diseases share a similar inflammatory trigger.

In one study, a particular pathogen associated with periodontal disease was found to activate the same destructive process of rheumatoid arthritis. It has also been shown that, by treating periodontal disease in RA patients, RA symptoms often improve ( likely due to the system’s reduced burden of oral inflammation).

These findings reveal just how closely our oral health correlates

A relaxing and comfy environment.

to our overall health. This information should send up alarms that the presence of gum disease can greatly increase your risk for serious health conditions. Clearly, people who have RA should be particularly diligent when it comes to their oral health.

If you are experiencing symptoms of gum disease (as mentioned above), seek treatment at your earliest convenience. You can begin with a consultation appointment in our  comfortable Asheville periodontal office. A referral is not needed.

Call 828-274-9440 to learn more.

Know The Unseen Risks Of Wearing Dentures


Posted on Sep 19, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

As an Asheville periodontist, my goal is to provide each patient with the very best so they can enjoy a healthy, confident smile. For patients who have lost one or more natural teeth, some come to me because they want to avoid ending up having to wear a full or partial denture. For those who wear one and are unhappy with the feel and function, we are sought out as specialists in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants.

Denture wearers, especially those who have worn dentures for many years, can quickly become dissatisfied with the uncomfortable rubbing and difficulty eating foods they once enjoyed. Although their ‘appliance’ may have fit well when first made, changes in the fit, over time, are due to what is taking place below the gum tissues. These changes aren’t obvious, at first.

When first made, a denture is custom-designed to fit snugly to the unique contours of the gum ridge. This ‘ridge’ is the raised arch where natural teeth were once held. Over time, denture wearers begin to notice that the denture moves while chewing certain foods. This can rub sore spots on gums. As the denture loosens more, even using denture adhesives or pastes don’t help much.

Denture patients also learn that it can be painful for something as small as a sesame seed to become trapped between their denture and gums, piercing into tender gum tissues. Some people eventually switch to a diet of soft foods that dissolve easily to avoid rigorous chewing. Because of fear of embarrassing slips, others begin to decline social invitations when they are centered around food.

The problem for a denture wearer is what is happening underneath the gums. The looser fit is not because the denture has expanded – it’s the decline of the jaw bone. This occurs with the absence of tooth roots, which once provided nourishment and stimulation to the bone that supported them.

When natural tooth roots are removed, the jaw bone begins to shrink. This decline in bone mass also contributes to changes in facial appearance, such as deep wrinkling around the mouth and the formation of jowls.

The process of bone loss continues as the gum ridge your denture was contoured to flattens. Relines may temporarily adjust the denture to accommodate some of the change. However, as the jaw bone continues to decline, the denture continues to be difficult to keep in place.

The denture itself merely adds to the problem of bone loss. The pressure of wearing a denture actually accelerates the rate of bone loss. Since a number of denture wearers also sleep in their dentures, the 24/7 pressure speeds this rate even more.

Long-time denture wearers often complain that they are not able to chew, with some admitting they have to even remove their denture to eat. Fear of embarrassment is another common complaint. Speaking, laughing and even sneezing in the presence of others can create embarrassing moments that leave lasting impressions.

The solution to these problems – dental implants. Not only do implants restore the ability to bite and chew comfortably, they halt bone loss that is associated with dentures. Because they are held by the jaw bone, just as natural tooth roots once were, implants recreate the stimulation needed by the jaw bone to maintain its mass.

Does your denture bring to mind words like rocky, wobbly and slippery? If so, the problem will only worsen over time. When people choose dental implants to replace an ill-fitting denture, they can smile, laugh and chew with confidence.

Eating a healthy diet, socializing with friends and family, and feeling confident are essential to a healthy, happy life. Call our friendly Asheville periodontal dental office: 828-254-9440 to schedule an initial appointment. (A referral is not required). During this time, I’ll explain the type of implants that may be best for your needs as well as comfort options, including oral and IV sedation (“twilight sleep”). We are also happy to discuss estimated costs and payment options.

Using A Manual Or Electric Toothbrush Could Make A BIG Difference.


Posted on Sep 11, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

If you use an electric toothbrush, that can help in the prevention of tooth loss. However, it’s but one part of the steps needed for thorough oral hygiene at home.

Findings of an 11 year study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology tracked the oral health of over 2800 adults. Their use of electric toothbrushes was monitored to watch for periodontal disease, cavities, and the number of natural teeth.

Participants were examined in 2002 – 2006, with 18 percent being electric tooth brush users. Follow ups were conducted after six and 11 years. At the time of their 11 year follow up, 37 had converted to using electric toothbrushes.

The study showed electric brushing promoted better gum health and slower progression of gum disease. Electric tooth brushing also related to a reduction in tooth loss by 20 percent (compared to those who brush with manual toothbrushes). The study did not reveal measurable reduction in cavities, however.

Although more adults are using them, their long-term effectiveness has not been proven to be significant. It is suspected that this is due to technique more than the brushing tool itself. For manual brushers, a major hazard with manual brushes is one’s choice of bristles. Stiffer bristles can be very damaging.

If you use a hard bristle tooth brush, you may be damaging tooth enamel and gum tissues. People often feel they need to press down firmly as they brush and use a scrubbing, ‘back & forth’ motion. This action can wear down the protective shell of tooth enamel, leaving teeth more vulnerable to decay.

Another problem with using a hard bristle tooth brush is its ability to damage tender gum tissues. If the bristles on your toothbrush are fanned out after a couple of months, it’s because you are applying too much pressure when brushing.

The ideal technique for brushing teeth is applying gentle pressure on the brush in a swirling motion. By using a circular pattern over both sides of each tooth and along the tops, teeth are cleansed without wearing away gum tissues.

This is where electric toothbrushes can help greatly. Many of the newer models include timers to indicate the time needed for each quadrant of your mouth. This is your teeth divided into 4 sections. They also warn you when you are using too much pressure.

While tooth enamel is important, equally so are the health of your gum tissues. The gums provide a seal around the base of each tooth. This seal helps to prevent the entry of bacteria that can lead to periodontal (gum) disease, which the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

As devastating as tooth loss can be to one’s overall health, as we now know that the bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream. Research has shown this infectious bacteria can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body, correlating to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, some cancers, diabetes, arthritis, impotency, preterm babies and more.

Whether using a manual or electric tooth brush, it is necessary to brush twice a day for effective results. In order to thoroughly remove the sticky film of plaque from teeth, you should also brush at least two minutes each time.

Plaque is a buildup of oral bacteria that coats teeth and gums. If not removed daily, it forms a hardened mass of calculus (or tartar) that attaches to teeth. This is what you may feel your hygienist scraping off teeth during cleanings since it cannot be brushed or flossed away.

Another place for oral bacteria to thrive are the grooves in the tongue. These offer a dark, warm and moist environment for bacterial reproduction. To uproot these organisms (that reproduce rapidly), use your toothbrush to brush your tongue after brushing teeth. Be sure to reach the back of the tongue where the majority of oral bacteria are embedded. Swish with water several times after.

Another way to improve gum health, lower cavity risk, and prevent tooth loss is through flossing. It is estimated that only 31 percent of American adults floss on a daily basis. Because brushing cannot dislodge all food particles caught between teeth, daily flossing should be a part of oral hygiene routines.

Flossing removes trapped bits of food remain in the mouth, which feeds oral bacteria and helps them to quickly multiply. Proper flossing is easy for those who are in the habit of it and takes under a minute each day. For those who have problems with manual dexterity or find the maneuver awkward, water flossers are effective alternatives and easy to use.

Practice the recommended techniques mentioned above and you’ll not only do a better job at having a clean mouth, you’ll find your time at the sink requires less effort. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of periodontal disease, however, don’t delay. You should be seen at your earliest convenience for treatment since this disease will only worsen over time.

Signs of gum disease include tender gums that bleed easily when brushing, gums that darken in color to red (versus a healthy pink), frequent bad breath, and gums that pull away from teeth (receded gums) and expose darker root areas of the tooth.

If you’ve noticed any of these, please know that the condition will only worsen without treatment. As a periodontist, I specialize in gum tissues (as well as dental implants). Our environment optimizes patient outcomes and comfort throughout treatment.

Call 828-274-9440 to learn more.