The Hazards of Vaping Now Include Bone Health
Posted on Jan 12, 2022 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
If you’ve switched to vaping (e-cigarettes) as a “safer” alternative to smoking cigarettes, you may have heard that researchers have found this to be a misleading claim, in many regards.
Based on a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, people who vape have higher risk of developing asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology also reports an increased risk of heart problems. Further, the American Lung Association warns that vaping causes a potentially higher cancer risk due to their dangerous mix of chemicals, including acrolein. (Acrolein is toxic to humans when inhaled, resulting in irritation to the upper respiratory tract.)
Now, another health risk has been revealed through research: bone health. In a study of over 5,500 adult users of e-cigs, it was noted that electronic cigarettes may be detrimental to bone health, even in young people. The study, published in the American Journal of Medicine Open, found that people who vape had a 46 percent greater rate of bone fractures.
To make matters worse, the study also found that people who vape in addition to smoking cigarettes have a greater fracture risk than those who are conventional smokers only.
A review in Bone Biology suggests there is negligible difference between vaping and cigarette use when it comes to bone health. It showed that nicotine exposure, regardless of the source, impairs the production of essential cells. Add to that the flavoring chemicals in e-liquids (often known as vaping juice), which are suspected to alter the body’s ability to form new bone.
How this occurs has to do with the inflammatory effects of the nicotine. To retain strength and mass, bones need a sufficient supply of minerals (such as calcium and phosphorus) and nutrients (such as vitamin D). In-depth research published by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that smoking interferes with how the bones absorb these essentials. The result is the body’s reduced ability to maintain skeletal strength.
What is frustrating is that vaping hit the market touting itself as a “safer” option than tobacco cigarettes. In 2019, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration took issue with these claims, especially those by the vape pen manufacturer Juul, who marketed its product as a “modified risk” tobacco product, although research did not exist to back its “safer” claim. To the contrary, as research digs deeper and deeper into the risks associated with vaping, data continually stacks up as anything but.
Certainly, there are other contributing factors to compromised bone health. These include:
• Heavy alcohol use
• Being inactive
• A diet low in nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D
• Excessive dieting
Age, menopause, and having a family history of osteoporosis also affect your risk. Too, people with medical conditions (such as hyperthyroidism or anorexia), or taking medications (such as long-term corticosteroids) have a higher risk of bone thinning.
As a dental specialist, the findings associated with bone health are particularly concerning because teeth are enamel-covered bones that protrude above the gum line. Teeth are anchored by bone sections below the gum (tooth roots) and embedded into more bone – the upper or lower jaw bones.
For those who want to quit smoking and have turned to vaping as an aid, the odds aren’t good for successful results. Researchers found that among Americans who’d recently quit smoking, those who were using e-cigarettes were just as likely to relapse in the next year as non-users were.
Findings of one study reported that not only does vaping fail to help former smokers abstain from traditional cigarettes, the risk of relapse was actually slightly higher.
In order to maintain good oral health, it is especially important for smokers and vapers to be committed to a thorough at-home oral care regimen. This includes twice daily brushing, daily flossing and drinking plain water throughout the day. To combat dry mouth, consider using an oral rinse that is specifically formulated to replenish moisture (available OTC).
This should be coupled with having regular dental checkups and cleanings, starting with an examination by a periodontal specialist. A periodontist is a dentist who has received advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of all stages of gum disease as well as in the placement of dental implants.
Symptoms of gum disease include tender gums that may bleed when brushing, swollen gums that turn red in color, receded gums, and persistent bad breath. As gum disease worsens, pus pockets can form on the gums at the base of teeth and the gum tissues become spongy. Teeth may loosen and may require removal.
Because the initial symptoms of gum disease are not always obvious, a periodontist can determine if gum disease does exist. If it does, he or she can discuss the most conservative treatment necessary to restore your gums to good health and then develop a program to help keep them so.
Our goal is to help each patient achieve a healthy smile for life. For patients who wish to achieve this, we work with each according to individual needs. Through a customized treatment plan, your oral health can be a positive part of your overall health. Call 828-274-9440 for an appointment.
Cracked & Broken Teeth A ‘Sign of the Times’
Posted on Jan 06, 2022 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
As a periodontist in Asheville NC for over 25 years, I’ve seen my fair share of teeth that have been removed or need removal. Most of these teeth, based on national statistics, are lost due to damage caused by periodontal (gum) disease.
Yet, in more recent years, I’m seeing people lose teeth due to broken or fractured teeth.
In my dental specialty, I have advanced skills in the treatment of gum disease as well as in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants. As the ideal option in tooth replacement, dental implants restore the stability and dependability of natural teeth.
So, it stands to reason that a lost tooth is best replaced by a dental implant. But, why are more and more individuals losing teeth due to fractured, cracked or split teeth?
It’s becoming more common to hear that dentists are treating more cracked teeth since the beginning of the pandemic. A recent survey shared by the American Dental Association (ADA) reported that over 70 percent of dentists surveyed (nearly 2300) saw an increase in patients who had experienced night-time clenching and grinding of teeth, or ‘bruxing’. These problems have typically been the result of bite misalignment, which interferes with the harmonious congruity of upper and lower teeth while eating or speaking.
When a tooth breaks or fractures below the gum line, it requires removal (in most cases) since the above-the-gum structure is generally insufficient to support a crown. As a periodontist, another area of the periodontal specialty is crown lengthening.
This procedure is often performed prior to the placement of crowns to correct the height of the gum arch that borders teeth. This is especially common for patients who have a ‘gummy smile,’ or too much gum area visible above upper teeth when in a full smile.
However, in cases where a tooth breaks, crown lengthening is sometimes performed to alter the surrounding gum tissues and expose enough tooth structure to support a crown. The benefit of this is the patient is able to avoid having the tooth removed and endure the many decisions (and costs) involved to replace it.
Pandemic stress, quarantine fatigue, mask burnout, a succession of variants, less social involvement, and general stress overload has become a global problem. Although stress is experienced by different people in different ways, it is not uncommon for it to be revealed through dental issues.
Many people hold stress and tension in their jaw muscles and jaw joints. This is why, during relaxation phases in a yoga class, it’s common for the instructor to encourage participants to relax their jaw muscles. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, stress is causing an unusually higher rate of oral health problems.
Based on the ADA survey, about 60 percent of responding dentists shared an increase in patients who clearly cite stress as the culprit for tooth damage. Thus, dentists have seen significant increases (up 63 percent) in chipped teeth, and about the same percentage of increases for cracked teeth and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder symptoms, which includes headaches and jaw pain.
If you are experiencing problems regarding stress held in the jaw joints, here are a few tips that may help lessen the load:
• Walk away from the computer an hour before bedtime.
• Relax with a warm shower or play soothing music.
• Relax your jaw joints by putting your lips together, teeth apart, and resting your tongue behind front teeth or the roof of the mouth.
• Ask your dentist about a custom-designed night guard to protect your teeth from night-time clenching or grinding.
If the worst has occurred – losing a natural tooth – the best way to replace it is with a dental implant.
Dental implants recreate stimulation to the jaw bone, thereby halting the pace of bone loss. When bone mass is maintained, neighboring teeth have a reduced risk for being lost as well. Because dental implants are held in the jaw bone, they are also able to restore a natural biting strength with dependable stability.
There are many advantages to having dental implants, including the longevity. When dental implants are properly selected, placed and maintained, they should last your lifetime. This is why it’s so important to have your implant treatment through a Periodontist.
A periodontal specialist has advanced training and skills in the diagnosis and placement of all types of dental implants. He or she can enhance your ability to enjoy this superior tooth replacement option for a lifetime of confident, healthy smiles.
In our beautiful Asheville periodontal dental office, we offer the most advanced technology in dentistry. Additionally, oral and IV sedation (‘twilight sleep’) are also available for optimal patient comfort.
To learn more, call 828-274-9440. If preferred, you can begin with a consultation appointment. New patients are always welcome and a referral is not needed.
Posted on Dec 23, 2021 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
When it comes to vaping (using e-cigs) health risks to the heart and lungs are what tend to be the focus. However, vaping poses a number of other health risks, one being to your smile.
Risks to your oral health makes perfect sense. Think about it – the damage from vaping would naturally begin at its entry point: your mouth.
Although e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, they are still delivery systems for nicotine. In addition to being addictive, studies show that the inhaled nicotine through vaping can alter the genetic makeup of your cells. This, in turn, stimulates the growth of cancerous cells in the body and increases your risk of developing cancer.
This can lead to tumor growth in the following types of cancer:
• Lung cancer
• Gastrointestinal cancer
• Pancreatic cancer
• Breast cancer
While much remains to be determined about the hazards surrounding this “alternative” delivery system to nicotine, more and more studies are showing unfavorable outcomes. When it comes to oral health, studies are culminating in a mountain of evidence that links e-cigarettes with poor oral health.
A study published earlier this year (iScience) showed that 43 percent of people using e-cigarettes had gum disease and oral infections. That figure jumped to 73 percent among smokers.
Nicotine (inhaled by any means) restricts blood flow to the tissues in the mouth. These tissues are moist by nature and designed to absorb moisture. Because of nicotine’s harmful contents, blood flow is restricted and oral tissues become dryer.
Today’s e-cig user is likely unaware of what’s in the fluid being inhaled. The vaping mist can contain propylene glycol, benzene, formaldehyde and other chemicals.
When the oral tissues repeatedly endure hazardous components, resulting issues can be inflammation, cavities, bone loss of the structures that support teeth, advanced gum disease (known as periodontitis), and oral cancer.
Because vaping is still a recent agent for nicotine, studies on the long-term effects are underway. Still, even without a long history of findings, early studies show concerning results.
When it comes to your oral health, studies indicate that vaping increases the risk of gum disease by causing gum inflammation and swelling. When these issues are combined with a dry mouth and higher levels of bacteria, the likelihood for developing gum disease shoots up significantly.
The common symptoms of gum disease for vapers include:
• Persistent bad breath
• Gums that bleed when brushing teeth
• Tender or swollen gums
• Loose or shifting teeth
• Receding gums
The effects of vaping on the teeth and gums can cause:
Dry mouth – Nicotine from e-cigarettes reduces the saliva in your mouth, your mouth’s rinsing agent. Too little saliva can lead to dry mouth, accumulated plaque (and subsequent development of tartar), increased bacteria, and tooth decay.
Receding gums – Nicotine restricts blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the teeth and gums. Without adequate blood flow, the gums fail to get sufficient oxygen and nutrients. This can cause the gum tissues to decline, which can lead to gum recession. This can result in tooth sensitivity, a higher risk of cavities and even tooth loss.
Bruxism and tooth damage – Nicotine acts as a muscle stimulant, which can lead to tooth grinding (bruxism) or worsen already-existing problems. Grinding or clenching can lead to tooth damage, such as chipped, fractured or broken teeth.
Oral health is a critical element of whole-body health. Two preliminary studies (presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference) linked gum disease with a higher rate of strokes caused by hardening of large arteries in the brain and with severe artery blockages.
A 2018 study in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension found that gum disease appears to worsen high blood pressure and interferes with medications to treat hypertension.
It is a misconception to believe that e-cigarettes are healthier than traditional cigarettes, or that vaping isn’t bad for your smile. If you’re a smoker or vaper, be highly committed to having regular dental cleanings and exams as well as your twice-daily oral hygiene routine at home.
If, however, signs of gum disease are already present, have a periodontal examination as soon as possible. Once underway, gum disease will only worsen without treatment. Call 828-274-9440 to schedule or to learn more. As an Asheville periodontist, I have advanced skills in treating all stages of periodontal (gum) disease and in the placement of dental implants.
Our Western NC periodontal dental office also places an emphasis on advanced technology and in comfort options, including oral and IV sedation (twilight sleep).
Cut Dental Costs With Simple Steps
Posted on Dec 15, 2021 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
In order to avoid costly repairs on our vehicles, we rotate our tires, have the oil changed periodically, and make sure certain fluids are at sufficient levels. This is why our annual inspections are so important; risks can be pointed out to keep us safely on the road.
The same is true with our family’s health. We stay proactive by eating healthy, staying active and having regular check-ups along with periodic screenings.
It simply makes sense to be committed to preventing problems or catch any that do arise at early stages. Research has shown that your oral health deserves the same commitment you give to maintaining a healthy body.
Studies have found a correlation between the bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease and serious problems elsewhere in the body. These include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, impotency and more.
Another reason to maintain a healthy smile is to save money. By devoting about 5 minutes per day to your oral hygiene routine, coupled with having dental exams and cleanings every six months, you can prevent many problems from occurring in the first place. The reward is a savings in time and expense that may be needed for repairs – repairs that may have been prevented from occurring in the first place.
Your twice-a-year dental check-ups are opportunities to remove tartar. Tartar is a cement-hard mass of oral bacteria that forms when plaque (the sticky film that coats teeth and gums) is not removed thoroughly attaches to teeth and can no longer be brushed or flossed away.
Both plaque and the hardened mass of tartar are the result of accumulated bacteria. Oral bacteria continually reproduce in the mouth, which provides a warm, dark and moist environment. As they thrive and reproduce, they attack gum tissues.
As they amass to levels beyond what the immune system, oral bacteria can lead to gingivitis (an early stage of gum disease). Unresolved, gingivitis can develop into periodontal disease, an infection. Eventually, periodontitis develops, which is an advanced level of gum disease. At this level, teeth often loosen and must be removed.
While gingivitis causes tender gums to bleed when brushing, periodontal disease symptoms are more severe, including persistent bad breath, sore gums that bleed easily, gums that darken in color, receded gums, and pus pockets that form between teeth.
As devastating as adult tooth loss can be, the potent bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream through tears in disease gum tissues. Research has shown the infectious bacteria of gum disease can activate or worsen the development of certain pathogens.
Obviously, oral bacteria is highly potent. However, it’s easy to control with twice daily brushing and daily flossing combined with regular dental checkups. For added protection, limit sugary snacks and either swish after eating or chew sugarless gum when brushing is inconvenient. Not only will you help to reduce your risk for cavities and gum problems, you’ll be able to enjoy fresher breath and smiling confidence.
It is also important to respond early to signs and symptoms of gum disease. As mentioned above, things like frequent bad breath or seeing blood in the sink when brushing are warning signs that something is wrong.
A periodontist is a dentist who has specialized skills in the diagnosis and treatment of all levels of periodontal disease. He or she can also recontour the shape of gums and place dental implants for optimal results.
If you have not seen a dentist on a regular basis, you may be experiencing symptoms that indicate gum disease. As you would respond to a warning sign with your overall health, so should you with your oral health.
Begin with a thorough examination to determine what your needs are and the best way to achieve and maintain good oral health. You’ll be supporting your overall health in addition to having a confident smile.
If dental fear has prevented you from having regular dental care, ask about sedation options. We offer both oral sedation and IV sedation (twilight sleep). Both are safely administered and you are closely monitoring throughout treatment.
You may wish to begin with a consultation. To schedule, call 828-274-9440.