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Grow Older With A Confident Smile That Is An Asset To Your Well-Being

Posted on Jul 27, 2023 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Oliver Wendell Holmes, an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1902 – 1932, once said, “Old age is always fifteen years older than I am.” 

For people who’ve reached “a certain age,” it becomes clear that the advantages of aging (such as having more confidence and living life at a slower pace) are mixed with many challenges, mostly regarding health. 

From aching joints to loss of muscle strength to poor eyesight and hearing loss, the aging process comes with health challenges that seem to grow in number and severity with each passing year. Sadly, increased risk of tooth loss is also part of the process.

Depending on the retention of wisdom teeth, a full set of adult teeth should be 28 to 32. However, in a five-year study by the National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey, Americans ages 75 and over were missing over 22 natural teeth with over 26% having no remaining teeth (known as being edentulous).

While tooth loss is often perceived as a normal part of the aging process, it is not. Keeping one’s teeth throughout a lifetime is very possible. The health benefits of maintaining  natural teeth include, among many others, living a longer life.

Healthy teeth rely on a healthy foundation — your gums. Good oral health has been shown to reduce risks for serious health conditions (including heart disease, stroke, and some cancers) elsewhere in the body. In addition to lowering a number of health risks, keeping your natural teeth is necessary for proper biting, sufficient chewing, digestional health and nutritional intake.

It has also been shown that wearing dentures is a poor method of replacing natural teeth. Even though they recreate the appearance of teeth and restore function (to varying extents), dentures can actually contribute to long-term problems.

Natural tooth roots help to nourish and stimulate the jaw bones that are the supporting structures of teeth. Without them, the bones begin to shrink. Known as “resorption,” this process of bone mass decline can eventually lead to tooth loss. Once resorption begins,, it continues at an ever-increasing cases year after year.

Tooth loss also causes a domino effect of sorts. Statistics show that adjacent teeth beside an area of tooth loss have the highest risk of being the next to be lost.

And the problems associated with dentures continue. The gum-colored base of dentures is porous. This surface provides oral bacteria with tiny hideouts that are breeding grounds for high levels of bacteria. Denture wearers have higher incidences of respiratory problems, including susceptibility to pneumonia. Studies have shown that senior adults who also sleep in their dentures have even higher risks.

Wearing your dentures for prolonged periods of time (such as while you sleep) coupled with the aging process itself can lead to Denture Stomatitis. This condition causes redness, swelling and tenderness in the mouth. While it is most common among denture wearers, it can also occur from a broad spectrum of antibiotics.

Nearly 89% of adults ages 65 and older report they are currently taking any prescription medicine. More than half of adults 65 and older (54%) report taking four or more prescription drugs (compared to 32% of adults 50-64).

While a number of both prescribed and OTC medications include the side effect of oral dryness for any age, age-related reductions in salivary production are more severe for older adults, causing irritation to oral tissues.

Medications including antihistamines, blood pressure medications, decongestants, pain medications, diuretics and antidepressants typically cause dry mouth, which can create inflammation and higher susceptibility to infection.

The aging process causes the condition of “dry mouth.” Saliva plays an important role in maintaining good oral health. A healthy saliva flow makes it easy to talk, swallow, taste, and digest food. A reduction in saliva flow can increase plaque accumulation as well as the risk of developing periodontal disease. 

Referred to as gum disease, this bacteria accumulation can lead to tooth decay, mouth sores and oral infections. Inadequate saliva can contribute to bad breath, dry and cracked lips, cause the fit of dentures to become uncomfortable, and result in higher oral infection risk.

An emphasis on maintaining good oral health needs to be front and center for older adults along with their overall health care commitment. Fortunately, good oral health is easy to achieve. Twice-daily brushing, daily flossing and having 6-month dental exams and cleanings can help to minimize problems and address those that do occur at their earliest stages.

It is also important to keep your mouth moist. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Limit foods and beverages that are caffeinated, which are drying to oral tissues. These include coffee, tea, colas and chocolate as well as spicy foods. If you take medications that have drying side effects, use an oral rinse designed to replenish moisture. Also, chew sugarless gum to help promote saliva flow.

Your diet is an important part of a healthy mouth. Evaluate your food intake carefully. Begin by limiting carbs and sugar. While all foods trigger an acid attack in the mouth for nearly 30 minutes after eating, sugar and carbs super-charge the reproduction of oral bacteria.

When teeth are lost, adults encounter a complicated set of issues – and costly challenges that can reach far beyond the mouth. As a Periodontist, I’ve seen how simple measures can save people greatly in treatment time and expense AND prevent problems like gum disease, cavities and tooth loss.

According to Woody Allen, “You can live to be a hundred if you give up all things that make you want to live to be a hundred.” Your smile should be one of your best assets throughout your lifetime, complementing appearance and as an advantage to your overall health. Don’t let the detrimental impact of tooth loss and risks associated with gum disease make you look and feel old.

If you have begun to lose natural teeth, let us help you halt the process! We can also discuss replacing them with dental implants with our specialized skills in the diagnosis and placement of dental implant.

Call 828-274-9440 to schedule a consultation to discuss how you can regain your oral health for a lasting, healthy smile!


Six Reasons To Have Your Dental Implants Placed By A Periodontist

Posted on Jul 12, 2023 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

A periodontist is a dental specialist who is often in the background of various dental procedures. Yet, we are in the forefront when it comes to specialized skills that support specific treatment needs.

Most patients are referred to our Asheville periodontal dental office by general dentists and dental specialists to provide certain aspects of dental treatment, which may involve our skills in cosmetic dentistry, dental implants, and treating all stages of gum disease.

A periodontist has advanced training to properly diagnose and treat all stages of periodontal (gum) disease (including gingivitis and periodontitis) as well as placement of dental implants. In addition, periodontists are particularly skilled in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures to repair gum-related disparities such as a “gummy smile” or varying gum arches that “jumble” a smile line.

A periodontist receives an additional 3 years of training after 4 years of undergraduate school and 4 years of dental school. This long, rigorous pursuit of the periodontal specialty requires the individual to be highly committed to the advanced care he or she will provide. It is our goal to help people achieve good oral health, a confident smile they love to share, and prevent tooth loss that can result from diseases of the gums.

Dental implants are now seen as the preferred option for tooth replacement. They come in over 40 different types designed to accommodate various challenges and preferences. But, why should you have your dental implants chosen and placed by a periodontist? After all, some dentists perform this in addition to their general dentistry services.

Below are 6 reasons our dental implant patients have particular advantages…

(1). With specialized skills, a periodontist is especially respectful to oral tissues as sensitive layers that have an important role in the appearance of a smile and the health of teeth. Utilizing these skills, a periodontist can help to minimize incisions while effectively treating each area in the mouth.

(2). Rather than be limited to just one or two dental implant systems that were taught in a “crash course” by the implant manufacturers, our speciality understands the complete spectrum of implant systems. Some may be ideal for your needs while others may not. Some provide you with a non-removable (“fixed”) option while others may involve removable teeth. Our specialized skills give you the best choices you should have.

(3). Additionally, the proper selection of your dental implants may greatly save you in treatment fees. For example, the All-On-4 dental implant system needs only 4 implants per arch, and can be placed in shallow bone. The treatment fees are less since the number of implants is low and the need for bone regeneration for severe bone loss may not be required. For these reasons, a periodontist may be able to help you achieve your tooth replacement goals within a budget you can manage.

(4). In our Western NC periodontal dental office, our advanced technology includes 3-D Cone Beam Imaging. This is ideal for diagnoses and treatment planning through images that provide a clear view of the upper and lower jaw (including nerve canals), with rotations that show sagittal, axial, and coronal planes. The imaging process is quick, painless and at minimal radiation levels.

(5). Another feature is our Computerized Dental Implant Placement system. This advanced technology is designed for pre-surgical positioning of dental implants that 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. This minimizes disruption of gum tissues and targets implant placement at ideal depths and angles. Thus, treatment success rates are higher with faster (and more comfortable) healing time.

(6). Optimal comfort for our patients has always been a priority. For many, a desired level of comfort and relaxation includes sedation options. Here, we offer several sedation options, including oral and IV sedation.

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. IV sedation (also known as “twilight sleep”) places the patient in a deeper sleep state and erases memory of the procedure. It is administered by a Medical Doctor (MD) who is a board certified Anesthesiologist.

With both sedation options, patients are closely monitored with advanced safety equipment throughout treatment.

If you are considering dental implants, you may wish to begin with a consultation appointment. During this time, we can explain the vast difference in comfort, treatment time, and success available through our specialized skills and extensive technology.

Call 828-274-9440 to schedule. New patients are always welcome and a referral is not always required.

AI in Dentistry – A Good Thing.

Posted on Jul 05, 2023 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

I remember when microwave ovens first appeared on the market. My mom wouldn’t even go near one in operation. Now, we know how to use them and the good things that come from their use.

Shoot forward 50 years and, like it or not, AI (artificial intelligence) is here. Self driving cars and round vacuums that move along floors are no longer Jetson-like imaginings. They’re blending into our lives in ways that are beneficial and non-threatening.

Like the microwave oven easing its way into day-to-day living, it’s logical that some people fear AI as a bad thing. After all, movies made decades ago prompted a vision of robots meandering among the human race as a new, threatening species.

As an Asheville periodontist, I’ve already seen – and incorporated in use – the positive aspects of breakthrough technology. Understanding its detection capabilities and accuracy, I’m particularly excited about the potential AI brings to the medical and dental fields.

You may be surprised to know that dentists are already beginning to turn to AI technology to quickly and accurately detect and prevent periodontitis, decay, bone loss and other gum health issues.

For example, a medical technology company in Boston has developed an AI platform that can assess X-ray images to an extent of over 50 times what can be detected by dentists through visual reviews. This allows dentists to give more effective treatment recommendations for patients while supporting the potential to avoid (or minimize) existing problems from developing or worsening.

For patients, AI assessments can also be reassuring. For those who anticipate particular treatment needs – a root canal, for instance – these assessments can zero in on exact issues so treatment planning is as conservative and as minimal possible, while being fully effective for the particular need.

Not just in medical and dental offices, but we’ll likely see AI used mainstream in many sectors. It can optimize accuracy in organizational materials, financial and budget projections, construction, farming, etc. For those of us in the periodontal dental field, AI has a vast potential to greatly improve the oral – and overall – health of our population.

Gum disease affects over 47% of American adults. With the help of AI, we can identify a higher percentage of cavities in earliest development stages while cutting the rate of misdiagnosis in half (thus curtailing over-treatment, in some cases). AI analysis will also aid in early detection of abscesses, lesions and oral diseases. It can prove to be a remarkable asset in catching oral cancer, helping to increase its poor survival rate or minimize the severity of treatment.

Through decades of research and extensive studies, keeping good oral health has been shown to be a supporting factor in good overall health. By keeping the “bad” bacteria in the mouth to manageable levels, the immune system operates more efficiently. Too, risk of medical complications from diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses can be significantly decreased.

It is suspected that many people are unaware that they even have periodontal (gum) disease, mainly because gum disease often begins with no obvious symptoms of its presence. Then, once symptoms appear (such as seeing blood in the sink when brushing), people may shrug this off as normal, or merely a sign they are being thorough in their brushing technique.

Gum disease is a particular problem for our aging population. The normal aging process dries out our hair, skin, and yes, the mouth. When the mouth is dry and saliva flow is insufficient, bacteria accumulation is more likely. This, in turn, provides a more welcoming environment for bacteria growth.

Too, many medications on the market – both prescription and OTC – have a side effect or oral dryness. This is double trouble for seniors, who already have “dry mouth” to combat. However, for people who smoke and/or are consumers of caffeine, they fall into this risk group as well.

Caffeine is present in coffee, tea, most colas, and (darn!) even chocolate. It can be in high concentrations in things like energy drinks and “power” bars. Caffeine-fortified foods can surprisingly include marshmallows, some cereals (and breakfast bars), jelly beans, gummy bears and frozen waffles.

Although AI will be an added perk to diagnosing oral health problems, it is the dentist and the patient together who have much more important roles. While regular dental check-ups help to remove existing buildup on teeth (known as plaque, which can harden into tartar), at-home care is what helps to prevent problems between visits.

It is first important to know the signs and symptoms of the various stages of gum disease. Warning signs include:

• Red, swollen, or tender gums or other pain in your mouth
• Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard food
• Gums that recede or pull away from the base of teeth
• Loose or separating teeth
• Pockets of pus between gums and teeth
• Sores in the mouth
• Persistent bad breath
• A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
• A change in the fit of partial dentures

The dentist-patient relationship can never be replaced by AI. Once you find a dental office where you feel respected, comfortable, and have total confidence, technology itself is merely an add-on.

If you have not had regular dental care or feel you have symptoms of gum disease (as listed above), it is recommended that you renew your commitment to your smile and your overall health with a complete periodontal dental examination.

During this time, your periodontist will note any areas that are diseased or at risk of developing such. He or she will explain recommended treatment and discuss a comfortable pace for your individual needs. Payment plans can also be discussed after determining the type of treatment most appropriate for your care.

If dental fear or anxiety has kept you from regular dental care, our NW Carolina periodontal dental office has a reputation for helping adults overcome the obstacles it can pose. Please share your concerns prior to or during your examination appointment. We offer several comfort options (in addition to our reputation for a gentle touch) and can explain what may be best for your care. We offer oral and IV sedation (twilight sleep), which are administered safely and with advanced monitoring equipment.

Too, our vast array of advanced technology often helps to minimize treatment while optimizing comfort. Please learn more about these features at: BiltmorePerio-Technology

We can’t stop progress, nor should we resist it. While most anything can be used with ill-will, I see AI in dentistry as a positive part of providing exceptional oral health to our patients – and our adult population!

But first, we must get you into the office. And that’s your decision. We don’t have technology to coax you in and hope you will take that step on your own before problems force you into a dental chair (which is often the case, unfortunately).

Call 828-274-9440 for an appointment or to have your initial questions answered.