Simple Ways To Keep A Healthy Smile Throughout The Coming Year
Posted on Dec 27, 2022 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
With a new year just ahead, I wanted to remind the smiles in our beautiful Western NC area about ways to have and keep a healthy one!
Nearly every problem that begins in the mouth is due to bacterial overload. Our mouths are constantly being supplied with sustenance for these organisms. Bacteria are able to thrive through the food that enters, especially sugars, and other bacteria-laden items put into the mouth. As bacteria thrive, they are able to reproduce very rapidly.
Insufficient care can lead to a build-up of bacteria, known as plaque. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on teeth when oral bacteria are not removed on a regular basis. In just 48 hours, plaque can harden into a mass that attaches to the base of teeth.
This hardened form of bacteria is known as tartar or calculus. Unlike plaque, tartar cannot be brushed or flossed away. And, once formed, it will continue to amass further.
As oral bacteria reproduce and accumulate, tooth enamel is attacked. The tight seal of gum tissues that surround the base of teeth become inflamed and loosen. This allows for the penetration of running-wild bacteria beneath the gum line. Once this infectious bacteria reaches this point, dental treatment (often ‘planing and root scaling’) is necessary to halt its continued development and restore healthy gums.
If untreated, the stages of gum disease worsen. Eventually, the infectious bacteria of gum disease are able to enter the bloodstream through weakened oral tissues.
Periodontal (gum) disease symptoms include sore gums that bleed when brushing, frequent bad breath, gums that pull away from the base around teeth, and gums that darken in color. As it worsens, pus pockets may form on the gums at the base of some teeth. In advanced stages, gum disease causes teeth to loosen and eventually require removal.
Gum disease often progresses because people are unaware that bleeding or receding gums is actually a symptom. Insufficient brushing, failing to floss and not having regular dental cleanings form a path that begin the process.
Gum disease is an inflammation that attacks teeth, oral tissues and the bone structures that support tooth roots. As the gums pull away from the teeth, darker portions of the tooth are exposed. These are tooth roots sections, now exposed without the protective layer of gum tissue over these areas, leaving teeth vulnerable to bacterial attack.
While the darkersegments of teeth detract from the appearance of a smile, they are also highly sensitive. Drinking hot coffee, eating ice cream or brushing across these areas can send a quick jolt of pain. In addition to periodontal disease, common causes for gum recession can include:
• Rigorous tooth brushing: Using a tooth brush with hard bristles or being too zealous when brushing can wear down enamel as well as gum tissue. Also, abrasive substances such as baking soda are too gritty for teeth and can wear down gum tissues.
• Smoking: A dry mouth is when saliva flow is insufficient to effectively wash bacteria from the mouth. The chemicals in tobacco are terribly drying to oral tissues, which creates an ideal environment for the formation of plaque. Plaque is a build up of oral bacteria that destroys gum tissue and contributes to recession.
• Grinding & clenching teeth: When you clench or grind your teeth during sleep, the force that is placed on teeth can be so strong that they begin to tilt out of position. As this continues, the gums eventually pull away from teeth.
• Hormonal changes: Pregnancy, menopause and puberty can cause changes in hormone levels. These hormonal fluctuations can cause gums to feel tender and be more vulnerable to recession.
• Misaligned teeth: When not properly aligned, teeth endure added force to bite and chew. This can also place added strain to the TMJ (jaw joints), gums and bone that supports tooth roots. This can lead to gum recession.
To avoid the expense and treatment time of gum disease, commit now to thorough oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups and cleanings. Your at-home oral hygiene regimen should include:
– Twice daily brushing with a soft bristle tooth brush and use a fluoridated tooth paste. Brush for at least two minutes each time. Floss daily. Be sure not to pop the floss between teeth to avoid damaging tender gums. Move the floss in a back-&-forth motion between teeth to ease it down so you can scrape the sides of each tooth.
– Use a tongue scrapper daily or brush your tongue with your tooth brush at the end of each brushing. This helps to dislodge bacteria that is embedded in the grooves of the tongue.
– Keep the mouth moist by drinking plenty of water during the day. This will help keep saliva flow at ample levels. Saliva is designed to move oral bacteria from the mouth on a consistent basis. Avoid foods and beverages that are drying to oral tissues such as caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods. Also, try to minimize the amount of sugar and carbohydrates you consume. These foods amplify the reproduction of oral bacteria.
– Smokers should consider using an oral rinse that replenishes moisture in the mouth. The chemicals in cigarette smoke are very drying to oral tissues. Some oral rinses are specifically designed to replenish oral moisture.
A periodontist is a dentist who has specialized skills in the diagnosis and treatment of all levels of periodontal disease. This specialist can also recontour the shape of gums and place dental implants for optimal results.
In our Asheville periodontal dental office, we feature some of the most advanced technology in dentistry, much of which is not available in other dental offices elsewhere in the Western Carolina region. These features are designed to help maximize comfort, shorten treatment time, speed healing and pinpoint areas of need for the most conservative treatment possible.
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 periodontal 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 or anxiety have prevented you from 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 monitored by medical personnel who use advanced safety equipment throughout treatment.
Call 828-274-9440 for more information or to schedule an exam appointment.
Dental Implants – Proper Implant System & Precision Placement
Posted on Dec 13, 2022 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
A periodontist specializes in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants, in addition to the treatment of all stages of periodontal disease.
In our Asheville periodontal dental office, many general dentists refer patients to us for dental implants. With our specialized skills and advanced technology, we can diagnose and place the implanted portion for optimal comfort and success in treatment outcome.
We are also able to offer patients a wider variety of choices when it comes to implant systems.
There are many types of dental implants. Various systems are designed to support one replacement tooth (the “restoration”), a bridge of two or more teeth, or a full denture supported by several strategically-placed implants. Understanding the unique advantages of all systems enables us to choose the best type for the patient’s individual needs and goals.
For example, the All On 4 dental implant system is designed to support non-removable teeth on just 4 implants (per arch). With its specially-designed implanted portions, these longer implants can fully distribute biting and chewing forces.
The All-On-4 option is an ideal choice for people who have lost bone mass due to lengthy periods of tooth loss. Because All On Four can be placed in minimal bone, many patients are able to avoid the need for bone rebuilding procedures prior to traditional implant placement.
However, it is not just in selection of the implant that a periodontist offers, it is in the placement skills. For a dental implant to serve as a lasting tooth replacement system, it must be positioned in the jaw bone to specific depths and angles. An implant that is mis-positioned can function less efficiently and lead to the need for removal.
Patient comfort can also be enhanced through the specialized care of a periodontist.
Because a periodontal specialist is uniquely skilled in the care of gum tissues, he or she is able to provide a conservative approach to the placement process. Through respectful treatment of oral tissues (in both placement and exposure for restorations), less disruption to the gums allows for faster healing and higher comfort levels.
In our Western NC periodontal dental office, we also feature some of the most advanced technology in dentistry; many options which are not readily available in other dental offices in our region. These computerized images offer advantages to patients in helping to minimize treatment needs.
Some features include:
Computerized Dental Implant Placement – This advanced system for pre-surgical positioning of dental implants uses a 3D model of the patient’s jaw. Once the implant type is selected, a template is developed for optimal treatment success, even for complex cases.
3-D Cone Beam Imaging – Ideal for diagnoses and treatment planning, these images provide a clear view of the upper and lower jaw, used for: intricate review of tooth roots; periodontics; orthodontics; dental implants: TMJ; and prosthodontics, as well as dental and maxillofacial surgery. Because cone beam radiographs show sagittal, axial, and coronal planes, locating and tracking nerve canals optimizes implant placement. The process is quick, painless and at minimal levels of radiation.
CareStream Cone Beam Computer Tomography Imaging – This enhanced tomography works with 3D imaging for exceptional detail and range.
LANAP With PerioLase MVP 7 (Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure) – Is an advanced protocol that efficiently and effectively treats advanced gum disease with the added advantages of a dental laser. This offers a non-surgical alternative for patients with moderate to severe periodontal disease. LANAP treatment leaves very little discomfort and has a quick recovery time. It has also been found to stimulate bone regrowth in damaged areas.
CS 3600 Intraoral Scanner – Rather than make impressions with bulky, goopy trays, this scanner quickly and comfortably captures digital impressions accurately and easily for creating precision models or appliances (crowns, inlays, onlays, bridges, orthodontic appliances and aligners, custom abutments). The scanner can also reach difficult–to–access areas in the patient’s mouth for superior results with improved patient comfort.
When it comes to comfort, we are able to offer patients the highest level of relaxation through I.V. sedation (“twilight sleep”). Also available is oral sedation, which is in pill form for enhanced relaxation. While both options have an amnesiac effect, I.V. sedation places the patient in a deeper sedative state. It is administered by a doctor of anesthesiology for optimal comfort and safety. With both, patients are closely monitored with advanced safety equipment throughout treatment.
We know that dental fear is often the foundation of tooth loss, causing many adults to delay or avoid dental care for years. Here, our entire team are sincerely committed to patients in a compassionate and respectful manner.
After placement and restoration, it is important for dental implant patients to be highly committed to maintaining good oral hygiene. Although Dental Implants themselves do not experience decay, the gum tissues and bone supporting the implants are as susceptible to oral bacteria as before. When oral bacteria infection (gum disease) penetrates to the implant site positions, the only way to treat the infection may involve removal of the implant.
For a lifetime of confident smiles with your implants, we will work with your general dentist to help you maintain ideal oral health. This may involve instructions for thorough oral hygiene at home and dental check-ups scheduled for every four months rather than twice a year. During these visits, the condition of your gums will be assessed and a hygienist will remove accumulated oral bacteria to reduce risk to your implants.
Dental implants are designed to last a lifetime and are the closest thing to the natural teeth you once had. Too, the restored ability to bite, chew, speak and laugh without worry can be a tremendous boost to one’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
If you are considering dental implants to replace missing teeth, we invite you to begin with a consultation appointment. This will take place in a private room where we can discuss your needs and concerns. From there, you can determine what pace is best for you.
Call 828-274-9440 to schedule, or tap here for more contact information.
Good Oral Health Could Protect Your Heart (Especially for Men!)
Posted on Dec 06, 2022 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) on the health of Americans, it is estimated that over 47% of adults have some form of gum disease. Although we all aspire to have a smile that is appealing, it is what lies beneath the teeth and gums that can wreak havoc on one’s overall health. Yes, OVERALL health.
Although the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss is periodontal (gum) disease, the infectious bacteria of periodontitis (advanced gum disease) is associated with a wide range of serious (and even deadly) health problems.
For instance, the American Academy of Periodontology (www.perio.org) has cited studies that show that gum disease is associated with heart disease. Due to its ability to trigger inflammation beyond the mouth, periodontal disease may exacerbate existing heart conditions.
For this reason, cardiologists are often advising their patients to be evaluated by a periodontist prior to heart surgery.
For decades, researchers have probed the link between gum disease and cardiovascular health. People with gum disease have two to three times the risk of having a heart attack, stroke or other serious cardiovascular event.
For patients at risk for infective endocarditis, we often work with their cardiologist when antibiotics are required prior to dental procedures. Your cardiologist will determine if your heart condition requires use of antibiotics prior to dental treatment.
Acting as a contributing factor to heart disease is highly serious. Yet, the risks associated with gum disease don’t stop there. Research has shown this potent oral bacteria can set a path of destruction into motion. It has been linked to some cancers, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, impotency, and even Alzheimer’s.
Men, especially, need to know that they should be committed to having healthy teeth and gums. Research has found that periodontal disease is higher in men (56.4%) than in women (38.4%) – an 18% difference. https://www.perio.org/consumer/gum-disease-and-men
And the unfavorable statistics for men don’t stop with gum health. For men, research reveals a connection with gum disease and impotence.
Men with gum disease showed a higher risk of developing impotence due to inflammation associated with periodontal disease. This inflammation has been known to damage to blood vessels, which can lead to impotency. Men younger than 30 or older than 70 are especially at risk.
A separate study found that men with a history of gum disease are 14% more likely at risk for cancer than men with healthy gums. Specifically, men with periodontal disease are 49% more likely than women to develop kidney cancer, 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and 30% more likely to develop blood cancers.
Regardless of gender, over time an inadequate daily oral hygiene leads to an overload of bacteria in the mouth. For people who have habits such as smoking, unhealthy diets, and alcohol consumption, their vulnerability is even greater.
This is also true for people as they age. Aging contributes to a reduced ability to produce saliva, the mouth’s oral rinsing agent. When saliva flow fails to rinse away bacteria at sufficient levels, the accumulation runs rampant.
Oral bacteria are living, eating, and reproducing organisms. They thrive on rotting food particles caught between teeth. They attack gum tissues and tooth enamel. Eventually, they can work their way down tooth roots and attack the bones and tendons that support teeth.
Initially, there can be very few signs of periodontal (gum) disease. Signs that emerge are typically frequent bad breath along with swollen, tender and red gums that bleed when you brush.
Once present, gum disease does not resolve on its own; it will worsen without specific treatment. As the bacteria grow in number, the gum tissues become weaker and are able to penetrate the bloodstream. This is how the inflammatory reactions are possible, able to trigger or worsen health problems far beyond the mouth.
Twice-daily brushing and daily flossing takes mere minutes and is inexpensive to do. Seeing a dentist every 6 months for oral exams and cleanings saves an individual far more by preventing problems than they cost. Still, too many adults fail to devote the investment to this necessary part of a healthy lifestyle.
An estimated 65% of adults ages 18 – 64 see a dentist only once a year. Approximately 55% of adults brush their teeth twice a day, which is too little. https://www.reference.com/health/many-times-day-people-brush-teeth-34d1104798029b7a
As an Asheville periodontal specialist, I have an up-close view of the damaging affects of insufficient oral hygiene. It often results in tooth loss, which is (contrary to many perceptions) NOT a natural part of the aging process. Having natural teeth for a lifetime is more than achievable and has even been shown to add to one’s lifespan (by up to ten years).
If you haven’t been fully committed to your oral health, there is no better time to begin than the present. Start the new year with a thorough periodontal examination. Call 828-274-9440.
If dental fears have caused you to delay or avoid having regular dental care, consider beginning with a consultation. This occurs in a comfortable, private consultation room that is removed from the clinical side of the office. Too, many treatments can include oral or I.V. sedation (sleep dentistry, or “twilight sleep”).
And, if financial constraints are an obstacle in receiving treatment, we offer several payment plans. Most are interest-free with no down payment required (for qualified individuals). Feel free to ask about these during your consultation.
As a periodontist for over 30 years, the smiles of Western North Carolina residents are very special to me. Let’s make 2023 the year your smile is an asset to a healthy YOU!