Many Reasons To Repair Gum Recession
Posted on May 19, 2022 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
If you are occasionally experiencing sensitivity around one or more teeth, especially when eating ice-cream or drinking hot coffee, this is likely due to receded gums.
While using a sensitivity toothpaste can somewhat minimize these sensations (which can become painful jolts), the problem will remain. The source of sensitivity, most often, is because the highly-sensitive tooth’s root area has been exposed by the pulling away of gum tissues.
The gum tissues are designed to provide a tight seal around the base of each tooth, which blocks bacterial entry to the sensitive tooth root area. In addition to sensitivity, recession means oral bacteria can penetrate beneath the gum’s surface. Once beneath the surface, the accumulating presence of this bacteria can lead to inflammation of the gums.
Eventually, the infectious bacteria attack the structures that support natural teeth. This bacteria indicates the presence of periodontal (gum) disease. Signs and symptoms of gum disease in its first stage include:
• Gum tissues that turn red
• Gums that become tender or swollen
• Gums that bleed when brushing
• Persistent bad breath
Obviously, it’s important to ensure the gums are healthy so the grip they have around teeth is snug. It’s also important to be aware of the causes of gum recession. These are:
The aging process – As people age, their gums become drier. This causes them to shrink and be less capable of keeping a secure grip around the base of teeth.
Periodontal (gum) disease – As mentioned above, gum disease destroys oral tissues and the bone that supports natural tooth roots. A sign of periodontal disease is gum recession. Gum disease is also the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.
Poor dental hygiene – When twice-daily brushing, daily flossing, and keeping the mouth moist are insufficient to rid the mouth of bacteria, their accumulation can result in the sticky film you feel on teeth. This is plaque. In just a day or so, plaque can harden on teeth into tartar. This is a cement-hard bacterial colony that cannot be removed by brushing or flossing . It can only be removed during a professional tooth cleaning. If not removed, teeth, gums and the structures below the gum line can be damaged.
Brushing too hard – Brushing teeth rigorously doesn’t mean you are doing a good job. Using a scrubbing, back-&-forth motion can wear away tooth enamel and cause the gums to recede. Other damaging actions when brushing are or using a hard bristled toothbrush or abrasive substances, such as baking soda.
Hormones – Females experience fluctuations in estrogen levels during puberty, menstrual periods, pregnancy and menopause. During these times, the gums can be more sensitive and vulnerable to gum recession.
Tobacco use – In addition to the many health hazards smokers risk, they are more likely to develop plaque due to the oral drying effects of smoking. This dryness can lead to gum recession (not to mention brown teeth and bad breath).
Bite misalignment – When teeth don’t come together evenly, too much force can be exerted on the gums and surrounding bone, allowing gums to recede. Bite misalignment can also lead to grinding or clenching teeth. These harsh forces on teeth can cause the gums to loosen their grip.
If you have mild sensations of sensitivity, desensitizing toothpastes can help soothe the nerves by forming a protective barrier over teeth while blocking sensitivity signals. Although this type of toothpaste can be helpful, it should be used as a temporary aid.
The goal should be to repair recession and halt the problem from recurring. To do this, we begin by determining why the gum recession is occurring. The next step is to restore the gums to their proper positions.
The corrective procedure most often performed is a “gingivectomy” performed by a periodontal specialist. In addition to treating all stages of gum disease, a periodontist specializes in contouring gum tissues. Using advanced skills, a periodontist is able to create a natural look and restore your oral health.
A gingivectomy can reposition or graft gum tissues over the area of recession to restore a healthy seal and protect the tooth structures below the surface.
Another advantage of a gingivectomy is to help save a natural tooth. When a tooth breaks near the gum line, a “crown lengthening” procedure may be advised. In this, a periodontist may be able to expose enough of the tooth structure for the placement of a crown.
A crown lengthening procedure is an ideal accompaniment to many cosmetic dentistry treatments. When there are different heights of gum tissues framing the teeth most visible in a smile. This tends to create a jumbled looking smile, when when the teeth are straight.
Crown lengthening rebalances the height of gum tissues that arch the teeth to restore a smile that is balanced. From this, the eye is drawn to the smile as a whole rather than one or two teeth with varying heights of gum tissue.
A gingivectomy is also performed for individuals who wish to correct a “gummy smile.” This is when a smile shows too much gum tissue above upper teeth when smiling fully.
Gingivectomies are performed while the patient is comfortably numbed. For some people, sedation may be a preference for enhanced relaxation. Oral sedation is available in pill form, which allows patients to ‘doze’ through procedures. I.V. sedation, also known as “twilight sleep”, is available for patients who prefer a deeper level of sedation.
Both sedations are administered by fully trained team members who use advanced safety monitoring equipment. We believe your safety is as important as your comfort.
In our Asheville periodontal dental office, we also offer a wide array of technology. This often saves the patient time in treatment, enhances comfort, and speeds healing. For example, our dental laser can seal tissues as it contours it. This eliminates or greatly minimizes bleeding.
Pain is how the body indicates that something is wrong. When the gum tissues have receded, they are not going to repair on their own. Let’s discuss your particular needs, whether for improved oral health or to enhance the appearance of your smile (or both) during a consultation appointment.
Call 828-274-9440 to schedule a time.
There Are Good Reasons To Keep The Mouth Moist
Posted on May 11, 2022 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Having good oral health takes a commitment. It requires us to devote time each day for oral hygiene, at least twice per day. However, it’s in-between these brushings that can impact the good that we are doing at the sink.
Nearly everything that causes problems in the mouth has to do with oral bacteria that has gone beyond manageable levels. Although the mouth is home to some very “good” bacteria, an overload of “bad” bacteria is what becomes the origin of many problems.
The reason people are advised to brush at least twice a day and floss daily is to remove accumulated oral bacteria from the mouth. When not removed on a regular basis, a sticky film of bacteria form, which coats the teeth and gums. This film is known as plaque. Without sufficient and frequent removal of plaque, it begins to harden at the base of teeth.
This is tartar (or calculus), which is actually a hardened mass of oral bacteria. Tartar cannot be brushed or flossed away; it requires removal by a dental professional who uses special tools during dental cleanings to scrap tartar from tooth surfaces.
Your periodic dental cleanings are important. If tartar is allowed to further amass, the bacteria can become inflamed, attacking gum tissues. As bacteria continue to reproduce, they create an inflammation that extends beneath the gum line. The infection they trigger can reach down into the structures that support natural teeth, including tooth roots, tissues, ligaments and bone.
Periodontal disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss. The advanced stage of gum disease, known as periodontitis, creates a bacteria so potent that research has linked it to serious diseases elsewhere in the body. These include some cancers, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, and impotency.
To help control bacteria in the mouth, saliva serves as a rinse that removes food particles from the mouth. Combined with brushing and flossing, good saliva flow helps to keep bacteria levels under control.
When saliva flow is compromised, oral bacteria are able to reproduce and multiply quickly. As bacteria accumulate, a sticky film forms on teeth and gums from this buildup. As bacteria coat the interior of your mouth, bad breath begins. Then, the sequence of plaque, tartar and potential for gum disease (as mentioned above) begins.
Oral dryness is one of the biggest influences in developing gum disease. Even though poor oral hygiene is a key factor when it comes to bacteria overload, dry mouth is a common contributor because it has many causes.
A dry mouth can occur from:
• The aging process (affecting about 1 in every 5 adults)
• As a side effect of many medications (including prescription and OTC)
• Radiation therapy, especially for head and neck cancer
• Mouth-breathing, which may be due to nasal congestion or snoring
• Medical conditions, such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and Sjogren’s syndrome
In addition to your twice daily brushing and flossing routines, it is important to know how you can support saliva flow and avoid the risks created by a dry mouth. These include:
• Drink plenty of plain water throughout the day. Leave off the lemon wedge, which is hard on tooth enamel.
• Avoid (or limit) caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, tea and colas. If you drink these beverages, rinse your mouth after or alternate with gulps of water.
• Consider using an oral rinse designed to replenish moisture in the mouth (available OTC).
• Be aware of medications that have a side effect of oral dryness. Some of the worst are antihistamines, depression and incontinence medications, and some that control blood pressure. If you take one of these, ask your doctor about options that may be less drying to the mouth. Or, increase your water intake and use a daily rinse to replenish oral moisture.
• If you snore or breath through the mouth during sleep, oral tissues are dry during these hours. Consider adjusting your sleeping position or adding a side pillow. Your physician may also have some suggestions, including an oral appliance.
• Certain health conditions can cause dry mouth, including acid reflux, sinus infections, diabetes and bronchitis . A bad cold can also force people to breathe more through their mouth. For these conditions, be especially committed to your oral hygiene routine at home (brushing and flossing) and up your water intake.
• Alcohol (including beer and wine) are very drying to oral tissues. Wine and mixed drinks have high levels of acidity and sugar that adds extra challenges to oral tissues. You can help to dilute the severity of these by swishing with water between drinks. Or, keep a glass of water nearby for occasional gulps that wash over teeth before swallowing.
• Smoking (cigarettes, cigars, vaping) are all laden with toxic chemicals (including e-cigs). Be aware of the added risks and be highly committed to your at-home care and drinking plenty of water to keep your mouth clean and moist.
It is also important to know the signs and symptoms of periodontal (gum) disease. It begins with gingivitis, which causes the gums to become tender and swollen. When brushing, blood may be present in the sink when rinsing.
Gingivitis, at this stage, can be contained and resolved if quickly addressed. If not, the bacteria will continue to multiply. This creates inflammation in the gums. This means the inflammation has progressed to periodontal disease, which requires treatment since it is now below the gum line.
Beneath the gum line, the bacteria continue their attack on the structures that support natural teeth. This includes the bone structures surrounding tooth roots. At this point, the gums bleed easily and breath odor is persistently bad. The gums become red and swollen and may pull away from the base of some teeth (gum recession).
If the disease is not treated, it will worsen to the stage of periodontitis. This is an advanced level of gum disease that is highly infectious and destructive. Because it leaves the gum tissues in such a weakened state, the infection can easily penetrate the gums and enter the bloodstream.
Periodontitis causes the gums to turn spongy with a putrid breath odor. Pus pockets form on the gums and it may become painful to eat. Some teeth may loosen and eventually need removal.
Periodontal disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. Yet, it becomes even more destructive once in the bloodstream. Researchers have linked these bacteria to a wide range of serious health problems.
The bacteria of gum disease have been correlated to heart disease, stroke, some cancers, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, memory loss and even impotency. This is rather telling as to the potency of this harmful bacteria and the destructive nature.
As a periodontal specialist, I find that most cases of dry mouth are due to factors that can be easily controlled with simple changes. If you have delayed or avoided dental care, call 828-274-9440 to request a consultation, or begin with a thorough examination in our Asheville periodontal office.
We offer the latest techniques, technology, and skills while always making patient comfort a top priority.
April is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month
Posted on Apr 12, 2022 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
April is recognized as National Oral Cancer Month. It provides an annual opportunity for the medical and dental communities to remind the American population of the dire consequences that can be brought on by this cancer.
Oral cavity and oropharyngeal (which includes the base of the tongue and soft palate) cancers occur most often in the tongue, gums, floor of the mouth, tonsils, and other parts of the mouth and oropharynx. These cancers also occur in the lips and salivary glands (typically those in the roof of the mouth).
According to the American Cancer Society’s, recent statistics of oral and oropharyngeal (throat) cancers include:
• In 2022, an estimated 54,000 new cases will occur with about 11,230 deaths.
• The average age of people diagnosed with these cancers is 63, but over 20% (1 in 5) of cases occur in patients under the age of 55.
• These cancers are more than twice as common in men as in women and slightly more common in white people than black people. Overall, the lifetime risk of developing oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer is about 1 in 60 for men and 1 in 140 for women.
Although the death rate and new cases of oral cavity has risen only slightly over the past 20 years, there has been an increase specifically in oropharyngeal cancers associated with an human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in both men and women. These HPV-positive cancers tend to act differently than HPV-negative cancers.
A number of other factors can affect your risk for developing mouth and throat cancer. These include:
Tobacco and alcohol use – Tobacco use is one of the strongest risk factors for head and neck cancers, including oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer. The risk for these cancers is much higher in people who smoke than in people who don’t. Most people with these cancers have a history of smoking or other tobacco exposure, like chewing tobacco. The more you smoke, the greater your risk. Smoke from cigarettes, pipes, and cigars all increase your risk of getting these cancers. Some studies indicate that long-term exposure to secondhand smoke might increase the risk of these cancers.
Oral tobacco products (snuff, dip, spit, chew, or dissolvable tobacco) are linked with cancers of the cheek, gums, and inner surface of the lips. Using oral tobacco products for a long time is linked to a very high risk. These products also cause gum disease, destruction of the bone sockets around teeth, and tooth loss.
For people who continue to smoke and use oral tobacco products after cancer treatment, their risk of developing a second cancer in the mouth, throat, larynx (voice box), lung and other organs greatly increases.
Drinking alcohol increases the risk of developing oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers. Heavy drinkers have a higher risk than light drinkers. Smoking and drinking alcohol together multiplies the risk of these cancers. The risk of these cancers in people who drink and smoke heavily is about 30 times higher than the risk in people who don’t smoke or drink.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection – HPV is a group of more than 150 types of viruses called papillomaviruses. Some of these viruses cause a type of growth commonly called a papilloma or wart.
Infection with certain types of HPV can cause some forms of cancer, including cancers of the penis, cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, mouth, and throat. HPV type 16 (HPV16) is the type most often linked to cancer of the oropharynx, especially those in the tonsil and base of tongue.
The number of oropharyngeal cancers linked to HPV has risen greatly over the past few decades due to becoming more common in younger people who have a history of multiple sex partners (including oral sex). This is true for even those with no history of alcohol abuse or tobacco use.
Gender – Oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers are twice as common in men than in women. HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers are also seen more often in men.
Poor nutrition – Studies have found that a diet low in fruits and vegetables is linked with an increased risk of cancers of the oral cavity and oropharynx.
Being obese or overweight – Too much body weight appears to increase the risk of these cancers. It is advised that eating more plant-based foods, such as non-starchy vegetables and whole fruit, may help people lose weight as well as reduce their risk of oropharyngeal and laryngeal cancer.
Age – Because oral and oropharynx cancers can take many years to develop, they’re not common in young people. Most patients with these cancers are older than 55 when the cancers are first detected. HPV-linked cancers tend to be diagnosed in people younger than 50.
Sunlight – Cancers of the lip are more common in people who have outdoor jobs where they are exposed to sunlight for long periods of time.
Genetics – People with certain genes have a higher risk of mouth and middle throat cancer.
Signs and symptoms of mouth cancer may include:
• A lip or mouth sore that doesn’t heal within two weeks
• White or reddish patch on the inside of the mouth
• Loose teeth
• A growth or lump inside the mouth
• Mouth pain
• Ear pain
• Difficult or painful swallowing
Although oral cancer may first make itself known by a spot on the lips, inside of cheeks or on (or under) the tongue, oropharyngeal cancer can exist without symptoms. When symptoms do arise, they may be:
Mass felt in the neck or in the back of the throat
Difficulty or pain with swallowing
Throat pain or sore throat
A periodontist is a dental specialist who has advanced skills in treatment involving the gums, including gum disease, gum reshaping and in the placement of dental implants. This specialist can also detect suspicious areas that may be early warning signs of oral or oropharyngeal cancer. Through a painless process, the examination can determine is a biopsy is needed for a thorough testing process. The earlier the treatment, the less involved the process will be. Too, early treatment helps to increase survival rates.
As an Asheville NC periodontal specialist, please react promptly to any signs or symptoms associated with these cancers. And, with this knowledge, make it your goal to share this information with a smile you love.
ED Risks Higher With Presence of Gum Disease
Posted on Feb 25, 2022 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
For over two decades, medical researchers have closely focused on inflammation in the body and its power to activate health problems, heart and cardiovascular diseases in particular.
It has been determined that inflammation anywhere in the body can set off a series of biochemical changes in the bloodstream; those that are designed to help the body repair inflamed tissues. However, when inflammation becomes chronic, blood chemistry never returns to normal, and trouble ensues. Researchers have noted this significantly in its increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Think of chronic inflammation as a pan of water that is boiling on the stove. When the body is in proper control, the boiling process ceases when the stove is turned to “off.” In chronic inflammation, however, the water continues to boil even after the pan is removed from the stove top.
Chronic inflammation can exist in the mouth, set at a constant “boiling point” due to advanced gum disease (known as periodontitis). Common symptoms are puffy gums that turn red in color; inflamed, swollen, or bleeding gums; gums that loosen from the base of teeth; persistent bad breath; gums that become spongy and bleed easily; and, pus pockets that form on the gums at the base of teeth.
In addition to creating higher risks of heart disease and stroke, advanced gum disease has been shown to increase the risks for diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, some cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction (ED). Yes, even ED.
Below are findings of several recent studies showing that periodontitis to be a significant risk factor for erectile dysfunction. Rather telling is as gum disease worsens, so does erection impairment.
• Turkish investigators studied 162 men, age 30 to 40. Eighty-two of the participants had normal erection function and 80 who complained of ED. Some men in both groups had chronic periodontitis, but the condition was more than twice as prevalent in the ED group. Men with periodontitis who also presented with decayed or missing teeth showed the greatest level of ED.
• Chinese scientists examined data of several studies involving a total of 213,076 men. Compared with those who had good erection function, those with ED had three times the risk of periodontal disease.
• The University of Granada School of Dentistry found that men with severe gum disease are more than twice as likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction. This was true even after careful adjustments were made for other health issues that could distort the findings, including socioeconomic data. In the study, 80 men with clear indications of erectile dysfunction were given a periodontal examination. According to the researchers, 74 percent of the participants with ED also presented with chronic periodontitis. The researchers concluded that patients with chronic periodontitis were more likely to have erectile dysfunction independent of other confounders.
• Israeli researchers surveyed the erection function of 305 men, average age 40, and then examined their gums. Those with chronic periodontitis had the greatest risk of ED.
The connection is actually logical. Periodontal disease has emerged as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and cardiovascular disease raises risk for ED. These studies show that everything that raises the risk for cardiovascular disease (such as smoking, obesity, chronic stress, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and chronic sleep apnea) also raises the risk of ED.
This finding also makes biochemical sense. During sexual arousal, the body releases nitric oxide, which plays a key role in enabling erection. Chronic inflammations, including periodontal disease, impairs release of nitric oxide and contributes to ED.
Health risks such as our propensity for cancer or a decline in eyesight can occur regardless of lifestyle choices. However, it makes perfect sense to eliminate or greatly minimize risk factors, including periodontal disease. Research findings on ED’s association with infectious oral bacteria of gum disease will hopefully spurn more men to devote a higher level of commitment to care for their gums.
It takes mere minutes a day to maintain a healthy mouth and reduce the risks for developing gum disease.
These include brushing teeth for at least two minutes twice a day. Daily flossing will remove bacteria in the gums that may elude brushing. And, keeping the mouth moist will support saliva flow, the mouth’s natural rinsing agent.
If you feel your erections are worth the effort, then these measures will become higher priorities in your daily hygiene upkeep. It is also important to see a dentist regularly. If you don’t feel anything is wrong because “nothing hurts,” you are only cheating yourself.
Gum disease can exist without obvious symptoms. Catching it early and before it begins to “boil” will help you avoid costly and time-consuming treatment later. And, these steps may keep your sex life active.
If you are experiencing any of the signs of gum disease (as mentioned prior), please know that gum disease will only worsen without treatment. It is also the leading cause of adult tooth loss.
A periodontist is a dental specialist who treats all stages of gum disease. If it is found to exist, this periodontal specialist can help to resolve the problem and restore your smile to a healthy state in the most conservative way possible. He or she can then help you maintain good oral health, which will support your overall health.
For an examination, or to begin with a consultation, call 828-274-9440.