Recent Posts



Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Depression, Anxiety Linked to Periodontal Disease

Posted on Dec 21, 2023 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

If you care about your health, this will be an important article to read. But be forewarned, there are a lot of little details that will eventually connect like puzzle pieces and (hopefully) end up providing a clear picture of what’s going on inside of you.

It’s a simple fact that all bodies have bacteria. While bacteria, over years past, have been looked upon as “bad guys,” science has now determined that some of these bacteria are actually important to healthy operation of the body.

Let’s begin with microbiome. These are like tiny liquid clusters of bacteria, fungi and viruses. These little cesspools are actually beneficial to digestive and skin health. But, in the mouth, which houses over 700 species of bacteria, weeding the bad from the good depends on maintaining a healthy body, which includes a healthy mouth.

Years ago, oral health recommendations were to brush twice a day, floss daily topped off by swishing with a mouthwash to kill lingering bacteria. There has been some pullback on the use of mouthwashes, however.

While they can be beneficial for those who have oral challenges (such as smokers or people who are undergoing chemotherapy), killing off the bulk of bacteria in the mouth also kills off the good bacteria. Although it’s not being said to NOT use mouthwashes, once a day is ample. Twice a day may be too much.

But, let’s go back to the bad bacteria. Research has found that certain oral bacteria can spurn the development of depression and anxiety. The team analyzed the relationship between salivary and tongue microbiomes to anxiety and depression. Findings showed that certain bacteria had a higher presence in people who had anxiety or depression.

As far as triggering mental disorders, the involvement of gum disease bacteria isn’t found in a clearcut path. The direct pathogens are still not determined. However, it has long been know that the inflammatory bacteria of periodontal disease is able to enter the bloodstream through diseased tissues. This means that the brain, which is fed by blood vessels, can be subject to the reactions these bacteria can cause in other areas of the body.

For example, the inflammatory nature of gum disease bacteria has long been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and arthritis, along with others. It has been found that these bacteria can either trigger or worsen certain reactions that cause serious diseases. This makes the mouth a rather important part of having a healthy body.

It is also known that periodontal infection can accelerate cognitive impairments. Thus, funding is being devoted to support more in-depth investigations into just how it’s connected.

Findings thus far have been so concerning that the National Institute on Aging is supporting this research to the tune of $1.85 million through a grant to the University of Alabama Birmingham.

Their studies will focus on determining how periodontitis (severe gum disease) impacts primary immune cells in the brain and how they may activate the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s.

The concerns surrounding Alzheimer’s are becoming continually more dire, with an estimated 13 million being effected by 2050 in the U.S. alone. Since nearly half of American adults over the age of 30 have some level of periodontal disease, the risks for mental health needs, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, should make oral wellness a top priority.

Begin by knowing the signs and symptoms of gum disease, which are:

• Red, swollen or tender gums

• Seeing blood in the sink when brushing 

• Receded gums

• Loose or separating teeth

• Pus pockets on gum tissues

• Sores in the mouth

• Persistent bad breath

If you have any of these, know that these problems will only worsen without treatment. As a matter of fact, gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Begin with a thorough exam in our Asheville periodontal dental office. We offer advanced technology that helps to minimize the course of treatment and treatment time. Additionally, we offer oral and IV sedation (“twilight sleep”) for optimal comfort.

Call 828-274-9440.



What Gum Disease Bacteria Does To You That May Surprise You.

Posted on Dec 15, 2023 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

As we round the corner of another year, making oral hygiene a priority seems a distant thought in the midst of holiday preparations and activities of the season. But, it should be at all times in our lives, for many reasons.

Over the years, research has continuously shown that the bacteria of periodontal disease can have a number of harmful effects – in the mouth AND elsewhere.

This is because these inflammatory bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. Studies show that these bacteria can activate or worsen a number of serious health problems.

People easily understand that a mouthful of bacteria can cause bad breath and gums that may be tender and redden in color. This makes sense, since an area with a skin cut can redden and swell if it doesn’t heal properly. Yet, because gum tissues are concealed behind cheeks and lips, it is easier to ignore problems that may be clear that something is wrong if more exposed.

To be clear, bacteria in our bodies is not always a bad thing. For example, certain bacteria in the gut actually enhance the process of digestion and help to keep the digestive system operating efficiently.

However, some bacteria are bad. These ignite when too much bacteria invade the body, causing the immune system to become overburdened. Bacterial overload can leave the body’s natural defense response, white blood cells, unable to conquer the infection. So, when a cut becomes infected, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to give the immune system added reinforcements.

And, when bacteria overload occurs in the mouth, an inflammatory reaction begins. This is the beginning of gum disease.

Signs of gum disease include bleeding or sore gums, persistent bad breath, receded gums, and/or gums that are red rather than a healthy pink. These are warning signs since gum disease will only worsen without treatment.

As gum disease progresses, gums begin to pull away from the base of teeth, gums become very tender and bleed easily when brushing, pus pockets form on gums and teeth may shift or loosen.

Unfortunately, gum disease is ignored too often by adults in the U.S. The CDC estimates that over 47% of Americans have some level of gum disease, which is also the leading cause of tooth loss.

A periodontist is a specialist in the treatment of all stages of gum disease and in the placement of dental implants.  He or she is the expert who can help to restore a bacteria-burdened “oral cavity” to a healthy state.

In addition to a healthy smile, the health of your gums can impact your overall health. By keeping the bacteria of advanced gum disease, known as periodontitis, you lower your risks of a long list of serious health problems that have been shown connected to gum disease bacteria. These include:

• Heart Disease & Stroke – 
According to research, having advanced gum disease makes you twice as likely to develop heart disease. This is due to clot-causing proteins that occur from oral bacteria that can clog arteries, including the carotid artery that supplies the brain with blood.

• Dementia & Alzheimer’s disease
 – Studies have shown that tooth loss from oral bacteria is a risk factor for memory loss and early stage Alzheimer’s disease. Apparently, oral infection cause inflammation triggers that can lead to the destruction of brain cells.

• Cancer – 
Researchers found that males with gum disease are 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, nearly 50% more likely to develop kidney cancer and 30% more likely to have blood cancers.

• Diabetes
 – Because people with diabetes are more susceptible to infections, with 95% of whom also have periodontal disease.

• Erectile Dysfunction – 
Men with periodontal disease are 7 times more likely to have erectile dysfunction (ED).

• Premature Birth – Nearly 13% of U.S. babies are born premature, which can lead to breathing issues and infections. Infection in the mother’s body, which includes infection from periodontal disease, can create inflammatory reactions that are related to premature and low birth weight babies.

• Infertility – 
Research has found that gum disease can complicate attempts for a female to become pregnant.

• Respiratory Problems – 
When bloodborne bacteria from gum disease reaches the lungs, people with respiratory problems are at higher risk of pneumonia and acute bronchitis (COPD).

It has been said that the mouth is the gateway to the body. Whether it’s the holidays or vacation time or just a busy schedule, your oral health should be a commitment. It takes just minutes a day to brush your teeth thoroughly (at least 2 minutes each time), twice daily, floss daily and swish after meals.

Drink plenty of water, especially after consuming caffeinated beverages or alcohol (including wine). If you smoke, begin with a periodontal exam and ask our hygienist for at-home care instructions.

Call 828-274-9440 if you have questions about your gums or if you are experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms of gum disease. Also, visit our website to learn more about our sedation options (including “twilight sleep”) and advanced technology, which often reduces treatment time while enhancing comfort.





Achieve Smile Goals With A Periodontist

Posted on Dec 11, 2023 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

If you’re like me, I’m usually looking at the end of each year feeling like there are several things I wanted to accomplish for the year, but kept putting them off until I ran out of time.

For some people, their oral health and appearance goals are on this list, with some who keep moving the goals to the next year and the next. These goals may include:

• Improving the appearance of a smile

• Having a “cleaner” mouth with fresh breath, etc.

• Replacing missing teeth

• Getting past fear or anxiety of dental visits

If you have one of these on your list, you may be surprised that a periodontal specialist can play a major role in helping you achieve your goals. And, because of the advanced skill level of a periodontist, your comfort, time in treatment and overall results can make the process easier for you.

Many general dentists and other dental specialists refer their patients to a for their specific skills. A periodontist is a dental specialist who is the expert in caring for the gum tissues in your mouth and in the placement of dental implants.

The majority of patients arrive because of periodontal (gum) disease. Common symptoms are red, swollen and tender gums. It often causes gum that bleed easily (often noticed when brushing teeth) and persistent bad breath.

Gum disease (sometimes referred to as ‘perio’ disease) only worsens without treatment. It is the leading cause of adult tooth loss. Additionally, it has been linked to the development or worsening of a long list of serious health problems elsewhere in the body.

Because the inflammatory bacteria disease can enter the bloodstream through diseased gums, their presence can activate conditions that are seemingly unrelated to oral health. Yet, the connection is severe. These health problems include stroke, heart attack, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, preterm babies, some cancers, arthritis, diabetes, and erectile dysfunction (ED).

In our Asheville periodontal dental office, we are able to treat all stages of gum disease to restore your oral health and minimize the risk of tooth loss. For those who have developed gum disease because they’ve been afraid of dental visits, we offer oral and IV sedation (“twilight sleep”).

Sedation is administered safely by a doctor in anesthesia who uses advanced safety equipment. Our priority is always patient comfort with their safety equally so.

Too, our advanced technology is able to minimize treatment time with amazing results. For example, LANAP (Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure) combined with PERIOLASE MVP-7 is designed to efficiently and effectively treat periodontitis (advanced gum disease) with the advantages of a dental laser. This offers non-surgical treatment for patients with moderate to severe periodontal disease. LANAP treatment minimizes discomfort and has a quick recovery time. It has also been found to stimulate bone regrowth in damaged areas.

When tooth loss has occurred (whether from gum disease, an accident, or due to genetics), our NW NC dental specialty office also works with a number of dentists in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants.

With over 40 different implant systems, the one suited best for you depends on factors that an experienced dentist must take into consideration. For example, the number of implants you need and how much jaw bone mass exists.

For individuals who have lost a great deal of bone, specific implant types may be recommended. Some, like the “All On 4” implant system, uses specially designed implants which are placed at specific angles.

Bone loss can also be overcome by incorporating a bone rebuilding process into treatment. This is done prior to implant placement and does not require a bone graft. In many cases, we can apply a bone rebuilding material that restores ample bone mass.

The same is true when the sinus cavity will be too close to the proximity. This can be remedied through a “sinus lift.” We provide complete services of these procedures as well as dental implant placement – all performed with advanced skills and technology, such as our Cone Beam 3D imaging.

These images are ideal in diagnosis and treatment planning by giving a clear view of the mandible and maxilla (upper and lower jaw). Cone beam radiographs provide images in sagittal, axial, and coronal planes. This makes it possible to locate and trace the mandibular nerve canal for pre-surgical planning for an ideal implant position. Patients are exposed to only minute levels of radiation through a process that is fast and comfortable.

When the enhanced appearance of a smile is being sought, a periodontist also plays a part in helping to create a balanced smile line. In the procedure known as “crown lengthening,” the arch of gum tissues over teeth visible in a smile can be repositioned. This is done in a procedure known as a gingivectomy.

A gingivectomy is also performed to repair a “gummy smile.” This is when too much gum tissue shows above the teeth most visible in a smile. While the condition is not detrimental to oral health, some individuals seek to have it corrected by a periodontist.

Get the coming year started with your smile goals achieved! Call our Asheville periodontal dental office to schedule a consultation. Our friendly staff can help you arrange this private time together by calling 828-274-9440.