Are YOU One Who Is More Likely To Have Gum Disease?
Posted on Dec 10, 2020 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
As a periodontist, I have a pretty unique view of the inside of a mouth.
In my specialty, we are particularly focused on the condition of the gum tissues in the mouth, or “periodontal” tissues. We are specially trained to treat all stages of gum disease and in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants.
A periodontal specialist is also trained in performing esthetic procedures that involve gum tissues, such as crown lengthening and correcting a “gummy smile”.
To clarify, a periodontist is a dentist who extends his or her education and skills further (typically 3 years past completing dental school) to specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease and other gum conditions.
1). THE NATURAL AGING PROCESS
Although we treat patients of all ages, there are certain segments of the population we see more often. For instance, a large segment of our patients are age 50 and older. In addition to having more susceptibility to have gum disease, many in this age group have lost teeth.
In a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) on data related to prevalence of periodontitis in the U.S.: over 47% of adults ages 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease. For adults 65 years and older, that number rises to over 70%.
This is because the aging process causes the body begins to succumb to wear and tear. The skin sags, bones weaken, joints ache, hearing dulls, and eyesight wanes. This means that more precautions and measures are needed to keep the teeth and gum tissues in good shape.
In addition to healthy gums, it’s important to keep your natural teeth as you age. Natural teeth to support neighboring teeth and provide stimulation to the jaw bone is unsurpassed.
Having the ability to comfortably and efficiently bite and chew is vital to having a healthy body. When dentures or partials compromise the ability to eat a diet of healthy foods – and chew food properly – gastrointestinal problems are common.
Although dental implants are excellent replacements for missing teeth, there is nothing as perfect as your “permanent” teeth.
There are a number of reasons why seniors face more oral challenges, including:
• A dry mouth: The tissues inside the mouth need to be kept moist. Saliva is designed to do this. However, with age, the flow of saliva becomes less plentiful. Just as the skin and hair get drier with age, the mouth undergoes this as well. When saliva flow is less efficient at rinsing bacteria from the oral cavity, bacteria grow at a more rapid rate. This allows bacteria accumulation to occur more frequently than twice-a-day brushing can control.
• Reduced ability to maintain at-home oral hygiene: Aging causes the fingers to be less nimble and stiffens joints. This is a particular challenge when it comes to brushing and flossing. Angling a toothbrush to reach all areas in the mouth and proper flossing maneuvers require manual dexterity that are more difficult due to the natural aging process.
• Medication side effects: The average American adult in the 65-79 age group has over 27 prescriptions filled each year. (https://www.statista.com/statistics/315476/prescriptions-in-us-per-capita-by-age-group/). Although you may need these medications, keep in mind that some can be detrimental to your oral health. This is why it’s important to provide a complete list of all medications you take (including vitamins and herbal supplements) at every dental appointment so your dentist can adjust care to your specific needs.
• Hormonal changes: Due to declining estrogen levels, post menopausal females have a higher risk for gum disease and subsequent tooth loss. This causes an increased risk of bone loss or osteoporosis as well as inflamed gum tissues around the teeth (called periodontitis). When there is a decline in jaw bone mass, it can result in tooth loss.
Bacteria overgrowth in the mouth is the cause of gum disease. Periodontal disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. Its bacteria can also enter the bloodstream, causing inflammatory reactions far beyond the mouth.
Advanced gum disease bacteria has been linked to a number of serious health problems. These include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, memory loss, some cancers, impotency and Alzheimer’s disease.
Obviously, maintaining healthy gums and keeping your natural teeth is important. If you’ve experienced tooth loss, we can replace them with dental implants. These are the closest thing to the natural teeth you had and will restore stability and dependable biting and chewing.
At any age, the goal is to keep bacteria levels in the mouth to the lowest level possible. When oral bacteria are allowed to accumulate, it can lead to Gingivitis. This is an early stage of gum disease. As it progresses, periodontal disease continually worsens. Eventually, it becomes periodontitis, which is an advanced level of gum disease.
Although gum disease can exist without obvious signs or symptoms, the most commonly noticed 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
2). ADULTS WITH DENTAL FEAR
Another large segment of our patients are those who have avoided dental care for years, often due to having dental fear.
One study, published by StudyFinds.org, shares recent findings of 2,000 adults in the U.S. regarding dental visits. Results show a whopping 62% of those surveyed stating they were too afraid to even visit a dentist’s office. (https://www.studyfinds.org/adults-too-scared-visit-dentist-teeth/)
If dental fears or anxiety have kept you from regular dental checkups for a year or more, it would be rare to NOT have some level of gum disease. Quite frankly, some people with high fear levels avoid seeing a dentist for decades. Those visits are vital in one’s ability to have healthy gums.
While twice daily brushing and daily flossing are necessary components for having good oral health, the routine alone isn’t enough to combat a number of additional factors that make one vulnerable to the disease.
For example, a study by Delta Dental revealed, only 7 out of 10 adults are brushing twice a day. This means that 30% aren’t brushing enough. (https://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2014-archive/october/survey-finds-shortcomings-in-oral-health-habits)
We also see a number of moms-to-be. For decades, the Surgeon General has warned that pregnant females who had gum disease had a far greater risk of a pre-term, low birth weight baby. Research has shown that gum disease increases the risk for pre-term delivery (prior to 37 weeks) and low birth weight babies (less than 5.5 lbs.).
“Studies have found that expectant mothers with periodontal disease are up to seven times more likely to deliver premature, low birth weight babies.” (https://www.adha.org/resources-docs/7228_Oral_Health_Total.pdf) One study showed the preterm birth rate for pregnant women with moderate to severe periodontal disease to be nearly 29%.
Estimates are that over half of pregnant women have some form of gingivitis (gum inflammation, an early stage of gum disease) or periodontitis (infectious, advanced gum disease). Nearly a third of pregnant females will acquire gum disease because of their higher vulnerability to inflammation.
When these indications exist, it is important to seek periodontal treatment as soon as possible. Gum disease only worsens without treatment, requiring more time and expense to rid this serious, even deadly, inflammatory disease.
4). ALL ADULTS
Regardless of age or health status, oral wellness has always been important to overall health. Without good gum health, there is a greater drain on the body’s immune system. This is now even more important than ever, due to COVID and the flu season upon us.
Remember, even a twice-daily brusher and daily flosser does not mean you will avoid gum disease. Avoiding regular dental check-ups is a sure recipe for needing treatment down the road that may have easily been prevented.
In our Asheville periodontal dental office, patients can begin with a consult in our private consultation room that’s removed from the clinical side of the practice. We are always happy to discuss oral health options with new patients. A referral is not needed.
Call 828-274-9440 to schedule.
Contour Of Gums Affect Smile’s Appearance & Tooth Health
Posted on Oct 21, 2020 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
A periodontal specialist is your dental ‘expert’ in diagnosing and treating all stages of periodontal (gum) disease and in the selection and placement of dental implants.
Bringing an advanced level of expertise to these areas, that often need complex treatment, provides patients with a higher potential for outcomes with ideal comfort in minimal treatment time.
A particular skill that a periodontist also has is in the reshaping of the gums that surround teeth. There are several reasons that gum re-contouring is advantageous, including enhancing the appearance of a smile and even saving a tooth from removal.
The gum tissues are designed to provide a tight seal around the base of teeth where to block out bacterial entry to the sensitive tooth root area. When oral bacteria is able to penetrate beneath the gum line, these bacteria can cause inflammation to tender gums and attack the structures that support natural teeth. Obviously, it’s important to ensure the gums are healthy so the grip they have around teeth is snug.
In addition to the effect of bacteria that can loosen gum tissue, gums can pull away from the base of teeth due to the aging process. As we get older, our tissues are less supple and drier. Too, when people use a hard-bristle tooth brush or are over-zealous in brushing (using a ‘scrubbing’ motion), it can wear away precious gum tissues. Although this action is often done in an effort to do a “really good job” when brushing teeth, it is actually detrimental in the long run. (Use a circular motion on the front and back of teeth and a swirling motion along the tops.)
A procedure known as 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 a periodontist can provide can help to 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.
In addition to protecting and saving teeth, gum contouring is also performed to create a more beautiful smile. This, too, is through a gingivectomy. It is ideal 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.
To illustrate this, imagine walking into a room that has 4 windows. While the windows are of a similar size, the balance of the room’s appearance would be ‘off’ it each window had a different curtain height. Let’s say one window had a large valance above it that rose to the ceiling, another had a small ruffle at the top of the window, another had no panel at all, and the other had a 6-inch flat panel.
Having a similar arch of gums over each tooth is an important part of a smile’s appearance. It creates a balance that complements teeth.
A gingivectomy is also performed for people who wish to correct a “gummy smile.” This is when too much gum tissue is visible above all upper teeth in a full smile. A periodontist can use his or her specialized skills to reshape the tissues to provide a more balanced smile line. In our office, we utilize a dental laser. This provides a precision line of contouring gum tissues and seals as it goes. This means that there is minimal bleeding and healing time is reduced.
This procedure is typically combined with the placement of crowns to protect the exposed sections of the teeth. The results are a natural look, a healthy smile, and a smile that is shared often!
Another procedure that greatly enhances the look of a smile is crown lengthening. This is recommended when the gum tissues that arch one or several teeth is at a different level than surrounding teeth. With this uneven alignment of gum tissue, it can create a jumbled look in spite of having attractive, healthy teeth.
In our Asheville periodontal dental office, we use highly advanced technology and techniques, along with specialized skills that provide our patients with optimal comfort, reduced treatment time, and exceptional outcomes for every periodontal need.
For patients who feel these procedures may out of reach financially, payment plan are available that allow for easy, monthly payments while enjoying the benefits of a healthy, beautiful smile.
In many ways, a periodontist can enhance the health and appearance of your smile. If you would like to discuss your smile during a consultation appointment, call 828-274-9440 or tap here to begin.
Amazing Dentistry In Our Asheville Periodontal Dental Office
Posted on Oct 06, 2020 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
A periodontist, for most individuals, isn’t a doctor that is a regular part of their dental care. We are often a “behind the scenes” specialist, working with general dentists and perhaps other dental specialists.
Like a cardiologist or a urologist, however, you’ll hopefully never need us. If you do, you may be surprised at our Asheville periodontal dental office’s advanced and multi-faceted features.
To define our role, a periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease, and in the placement of dental implants.
Periodontists receive extensive training, including three additional years of education beyond dental school. They are able to treat more problematic periodontal cases, such as people with severe gum disease or those having a complex medical history.
In addition, a periodontal specialist is trained in performing cosmetic procedures that involve gum tissues, such as correcting a “gummy smile”.
It is a busy specialty. It is estimated that over 47 percent of American adults have some level of periodontal disease (also known as “gum disease”). Because this disease can begin without obvious warning signs, many are unaware of its presence.
Gum disease begins with gingivitis, with some symptoms that may be easily ignored. However, when symptoms involve discomfort, the disease can be approaching more advanced levels.
This is why it is important to be familiar with the signs and symptoms, which include:
• Red, swollen or tender gums or other pain in your mouth
• Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or when eating certain foods
• Gums that are receding (pulling away from the teeth) or make the appear teeth longer than normal
• Loose or separating teeth
• Pus between your gums and teeth
• Sores in your mouth
• Persistent bad breath
• A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
• A change in the fit of partial dentures
If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to contact your dentist or periodontist without delay. Gum disease will only worsen without treatment. It is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.
For specialized needs, we offer an advanced care environment where patients are comfortable and experience a restoration of their smiles with the support of advanced technology. These features include:
• LANAP Protocol Using PerioLase MVP-7 – Efficiently and effectively treats periodontitis (advanced gum disease) with laser technology. It causes very little discomfort and has a quick recovery time. This has also been found to stimulate bone regrowth in damaged areas.
• Dental Radiology With 3-D Cone Beam Technology – This imaging is ideal for diagnosis and treatment planning. The imaging covers the entire dentition area with clear views of the mandible and maxilla (upper and lower jaw).
• CareStream Cone Beam Computer Tomography Imaging – This computerized tomography provides imaging in exceptional detail and range.
• CS 3600 intraoral scanner – Patients no longer have to endure having impressions made with bulky, glopy trays held in their mouths! This quickly and comfortably scans the mouth’s interior for digital impressions using a small, handheld scanner. It can also reach difficult–to–access areas in the patient’s mouth with improved patient comfort.
• Simplant Dental Software for Computerized Dental Implant Placement – This system helps in pre-surgical positioning of dental implants on the computer, using a 3D model of the patient’s jaw. This aids in the selection of the implant type that ensures a precision fit.
• Intraoral Camera Technology – This provides outstanding quality of images within the mouth. These images are sent to screen for a clear, crisp view so we can confer with patients on specific treatment issues.
• Computer Imaging In Treatment Suites – Treatment suites are equipped with computers for convenient image sharing with patients.
• Advanced Sterilization – Our custom sterilization unit adheres to (or exceeds) CDC guidelines for instrument processing protocols, particularly in the cleaning of instruments.
• Fully-Equipped Surgical Suites – Relax during treatment while surrounded by beautiful mountain views of Asheville.
Periodontal (gum) disease is the result of an accumulation of oral bacteria and the leading cause of adult tooth loss. Have you avoided seeing a dentist for years? You are not alone. An estimated 70 percent of adults admit to having some level of anxiety or fear associated with dental care.
Our office is structured to attend to your specific needs, gently and respectfully. We offer a private consultation room to discuss treatment in a comfortable setting versus communicating with patients while they are seated in a treatment chair.
For patients who desire a “sleep” state, we offer oral sedation as well as I.V. sedation (twilight sleep). 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.
I.V. sedation places the patient in a deeper sedative state (twilight sleep), also erasing memory of the procedure. It is administered by a doctor of anesthesiology for optimal comfort and safety.
With both, patients are monitored with advanced safety equipment throughout treatment.
Patients also find our entire staff to be a unified team, each bringing a sincere level of compassion and commitment to excellent care.
For people in need of gum recontouring, a periodontist is THE expert in the shaping of oral gum tissues. Here, Dr. Jennifer Boyland and I have advanced training to create gum tissue contours with a natural appearance. We are also able to ensure healthy seals around teeth to protect the structures beneath the gums from bacteria penetration.
Our specialty is ideal for those who have a “gummy smile.” This is when too much gum tissue shows above upper teeth most visible in a full smile. While this trait does not interfere with the ability to have and maintain a healthy smile, for many, it causes them to ‘hold back’ rather than smile fully. Some people cover their smiles with a hand or try to smile with lips only.
Gum re-contouring is also done in crown lengthening procedures. This evens out the amount of gum tissues that arch teeth for a beautiful, balanced smile line.
Having healthy gums is so important. As research continually shows, gum health is intricately connected to overall health. Oral bacteria of periodontal disease has been linked as a trigger for serious diseases, including heart disease, some cancers, stroke, memory loss, diabetes, and arthritis.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with periodontal disease, a referral is not required. Call 828-274-9440 and we will be happy to assist you.
How To Avoid Thinning Jaw Bones That Cause “Granny Look”
Posted on Sep 10, 2020 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Imagine your mouth begins to sink into your face. Deep wrinkles form around your mouth and the corners of the mouth begin to turn downward, even when you smile. Jowls form, allowing skin to seem to loosen and hang on both sides of the face. The chin becomes more pointed and the nose and chin get closer and closer.
This sounds pretty awful. It is like a disfigurement of the face. It’s not a horror movie, though. This is real, caused by one of the most preventable of all diseases afflicting American adults. It’s a disease that affects over 47 percent of all adults over the age of 30. For adults over the age of 65, the figure rises to over 70 percent. (https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/conditions/periodontal-disease.html)
Amazingly, this highly prevalent disease is simply periodontal disease. Often referred to as gum disease, some people also refer to it as “perio.” These are fairly familiar terms when it comes to what adults endure. Yet, it seems to be easily ignored, which merely allows it to progress further.
Before we get into the causes (and easy prevention measures) of gum disease, let’s examine how the dreaded changes in facial appearance are related to it.
Gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. Assumed to be a normal part of the aging process, it is anything but. Yes, older adults are more prone to acquiring gum disease due to a reduction in saliva and perhaps being less efficient at oral hygiene. But losing teeth can be prevented, and should be.
The problem with losing natural teeth has to do with their roots. It is the roots of a tooth that serve a much greater purpose than most people realize. While the appearance and function of dentures and partials (albeit reduced) can be replaced, they do nothing to replace what is lost beneath the gum line.
Simply put, the lack of tooth roots is the beginning of a “melting face.” This leads to bone loss and is known as resorption. Resorption is the shrinking of the bone structures that support teeth. As tooth roots are absent, the loss of bone mass can create a number of problems – both related to oral health and in facial appearance.
Tooth roots are a living part of your skeletal structure. Tooth roots are what provide nourishment and stimulation to the jaw bones. This helps the jaws to maintain a healthy mass. When tooth roots are removed, the bones slowly begin to shrink. Although most people don’t notice anything different for a while, bone loss begins almost immediately.
As described at the beginning of this article, there is a ‘look’ of bone loss, which causes changes in facial structures. This is because the bone mass is shrinking. As it shrinks, muscles detach and facial skin hangs looser.
Initially, you may only notice more wrinkles around the mouth. As it worsens, you may realize your chin seems to be more pointed. The extreme visual change of bone resorption is referred to as a ‘granny look.’ This causes people to appear far older than their actual age.
For those who wear a denture or partial, losing jaw bone mass also causes a change in the way the denture or partial fits. For example, a denture may fit fine the first year after teeth are removed and a denture is fitted. However, you’ll eventually notice slips when biting or chewing. This is because the bone under the “arch” that supports the denture or partial is declining in height.
The changing foundation for the denture allows it to “slip” or become “wobbly.” As bone loss continues, you may experience uncomfortable rubbing on tender gum tissues while eating. You may start to bypass foods that require rigorous chewing, opting for softer foods that dissolve quickly in the mouth. Outings with friends and family seem to be overshadowed by the fear of embarrassing slips.
Eventually, even frequent applications of denture pastes or adhesives are of little help. A reline may be recommended by your dentist to reshape your denture or partial to fit the reduced contours of the gum ridge (or “arch”). Continued bone loss will require yet another reline as the ridge flattens further.
Denture wearers are typically unaware that the pressure on the gums from wearing a denture accelerates the rate of bone loss. For those who sleep in their dentures, this means that pace of bone loss occurs 24/7.
Sleeping in a denture can also add to higher risks for the flu and pneumonia. A 3-year study of more than 500 adults was published by the Journal of International Oral Health. Of the 186 (of 453 denture wearers) who did not remove their dentures for sleeping, they had over twice the risk for pneumonia than those who did. Sleeping in dentures also led to higher levels of tongue and denture plaque, gun inflammation and other oral issues.
When it comes to replacing natural teeth, there are many reasons we recommend dental implants, a major advantage being their ability to halt bone loss. Because dental implants act as replacement tooth roots, they are able to restore stimulation to the jaw bones.
Additionally, dental implants use the same, sturdy foundation as natural teeth once had. This means you can bite and chew the foods you love (including that thick steak) without fearing embarrassment or uncomfortable rubbing against tender gum tissues.
Dental implants are also designed to last a lifetime, making them a wise investment.
A particular skill of the periodontal specialty is the advanced training in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants. This training allows the specialist to determine the best dental implant type for your needs. A periodontist can also enhance your outcome through proper placement.
If you are missing natural teeth or have become frustrated with a denture or partial, call 828-274-9440 for a consultation in our Asheville periodontal dental office. During this time, we can discuss the implant system that may be most appropriate for your needs. I’ll also be happy to explain the procedural process, comfort options, and easy payment plans.
For a smile that looks beautiful and functions to support good health, don’t let the detrimental effects of dentures lead to a “granny look”. Dental implants can help you enjoy a confident, worry-free smile through your lifetime.