How To Avoid Gum Disease & Cavities From Sugar This Holiday
Posted on Nov 12, 2020 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Regardless of size and distancing limitations on 2020 holiday gatherings, you can bet that Americans will still consume the yummy indulgences associated with the season. After all, we all need comfort food these days. The holidays simply give us “justification” for eating the sugary, rich treats we’ve waited all year to enjoy. We release the guilt and know we’ll pay for it through our new year’s resolutions.
I’m the last person on earth who would preach abstinence when it comes to things like thick egg nog, sugar cookies and pecan pie. Like you, I wait all year to savor things like this. However, I’m also a periodontist and have a unique look at what this added sugar can do to teeth and gums.
Keep in mind that all food (as well as beverages other than plain water) cause an acidic surge into the mouth. This is sent in via saliva and is the first stage of the digestive process. This acid is so strong it can actually soften tooth enamel for 20-30 minutes, leaving you with a higher risk for tooth decay.
Sugar also super-charges oral bacteria, which are living, eating and breeding organisms. They thrive in colonies as they subsist on gum tissues. As bacteria levels grow, the gums become inflamed. This is the first stage of periodontal (gum) disease.
As gum disease worsens, the inflammation caused by these bacteria can lead to persistent bad breath, receded gums that expose sensitive tooth roots, and gums that darken in color. If untreated, pus pockets can eventually form at the base of some teeth and attack the tooth supporting structures beneath the gums.
Eventually, teeth will loosen and can require removal. Also known as periodontal disease, this is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.
Even without the holidays, Americans are the biggest sugar consumers on earth. Although the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends no more than 5% of daily sugar intake, or less than 25 grams, Americans consume 82 grams each day, on average. That translates into over 19 teaspoons of sugar per day and 66 pounds each year, per person.
When researchers from the University College London & London School of Hygiene studied public health records from around the world, they found that 92% of American adults have cavities. Compare this to Nigeria, a country with a diet very low in sugar, where only 2% of the population have had tooth decay. Also concerning were their findings that nearly 90% of America’s school age children have experienced tooth decay.
Childhood obesity is also out of control. The Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that the U.S. percentage of children with obesity “has more than tripled since the 1970s. Today, about one in five school-aged children (ages 6–19) has obesity.” That’s nearly one-third of children who are overweight or obese. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm Obesity is when fat content of the body is over thirty percent of its overall mass.
According to the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), adults in the U.S. who are categorized as obese is at nearly 40 percent. Another 30 percent are categorized at overweight.
While sugar is not the only culprit, Americans have been lured into a lifestyle surrounded by sugary snacks and beverages. (After all, ads tell us that we need to grab a Snickers bar, not an apple, as an afternoon pick-me-up.)
You may be surprised to know that studies show that sugar is even addictive. It activates the same regions in the brain that react to cocaine. (https://www.brainmdhealth.com/blog/what-do-sugar-and-cocaine-have-in-common/)
How does this apply to your smile? Research has shown that obese adults have a 6 times higher potential to develop periodontal (gum) disease. As a periodontal specialist, my goal is always to help patients achieve optimal oral health. In our Asheville periodontal dental office, we address the risks of periodontal disease with our patients without judgement of their weight, but rather how we can help them enjoy a healthier smile.
As difficult as losing weight can be, it is important to be aware of risk factors that can make you more susceptible to gum disease. Initial symptoms include gums that are tender, swollen, and may bleed when brushing. This stage, known as gingivitis, is actually reversible with prompt, thorough oral hygiene.
This holiday, try to reduce your intake of sugar and carbohydrates. This will help to lower your potential for damage by oral bacteria, reducing your risk for cavities and gum disease. Additionally, be committed to a thorough at-home routine of daily flossing, twice a day brushing and drinking plenty of water.
If you are experiencing symptoms of gum disease, however, it is important to be seen by a periodontist as soon as possible to halt further progression. A periodontist is a dental specialist who has advanced training in treating all stages of gum disease as well as in the placement of dental implants. The earlier the treatment, the less involved treatment requirements will be. Gum disease will not improve without professional care.
Call 828-274-9440 to schedule an initial examination or begin with a consultation.
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.
Smoking, Vaping Lead To Gum Disease, Tooth Loss.
Posted on Sep 15, 2020 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
With all good intentions, adults occasionally trade one bad habit for another. For instance, a commitment to exercise more often for weight loss can easily backfire when justifying a thick smoothie as a daily reward.
This is what worries me about Vaping. Vaping, the use of e-cigarettes, hit the market around 2007. It is designed to deliver nicotine through a vapor. Although the vapor is generally not labeled as harmful (it’s not “safe”, either), its nicotine is no less harmful to the user as that delivered via cigarette smoke.
Unfortunately, many cigarette users switched to vaping based on the perception that “e-cigs” were a safer alternative. For those who wanted to wean themselves off of cigarettes through this switch, very few achieve that goal as a result.
A 2018 report by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concluded there was “evidence that e-cigarette use increases the frequency and intensity of cigarette smoking in the future.”
Teens have been most susceptible to the hazards of vaping. It is the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. youth. E-cigarette use among middle and high school students increased 900 percent during 2011-2015. According to the Surgeon General, 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students were using e-cigarettes in 2018.
Unfortunately, nicotine exposure can harm the brain as it develops, until about age 25. During adolescence, nicotine use can affect learning, memory and attention span as well as increase their risk for future drug addictions. (https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/documents/surgeon-generals-advisory-on-e-cigarette-use-among-youth-2018.pdf)
As a periodontist in Asheville, NC, my concern when it comes to oral health is what many cigarette smokers and vapers don’t realize when it comes to high risks to their smiles.
In our periodontal dental office, I’ve seen how significantly the habit of cigarette smoking can have on one’s smile. It’s no secret that smoking cigarettes can stain teeth and cause bad breath. However, nicotine in any form is a hazardous force in the mouth.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), smoking can cause the gums to recede from teeth, exposing vulnerable tooth root sections. This enables easier entry of oral bacteria into the structures that support tooth roots. Smoking can also delay healing following periodontal therapy, extractions or implant placement. The longer it takes oral tissues to heal, the greater the risks for infection to develop.
Additionally, smoking increases the risks of oral cancer, lesions inside the mouth, periodontal (gum) disease, enamel erosion and tooth loss. It greatly reduces saliva flow in the mouth, which is a tremendous aid in removing bacteria and food particles from the mouth, helping to control bacteria levels. The condition of “dry mouth” also causes bad breath.
Because of the vape’s moist presence in the mouth, the assumption with vaping over smoking cigarettes is the “benefit” of oral dryness. However, this is easily dispelled when looking at the true facts.
While there are more than 7,000 chemicals found in the smoke of tobacco products, (including nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, acetaldehyde and N-nitrosamines), nicotine is the primary addicting component. A study of some e-cigarette products found the vapor contains known carcinogens and toxic chemicals, as well as potentially toxic metal particles from the device itself.
The e-liquids delivered by these devices typically contain nicotine, propylene or polyethylene glycol, glycerin, and additives. Sound safe? Not at all.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), a smoker has twice the risk for gum disease compared with that of a nonsmoker. (https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/periodontal-gum-disease.html)
When a patient is diagnosed with advanced periodontal disease (periodontitis), they must make a commitment of time and expense to rid this inflammatory disease from their mouths. For those who ignore its presence or assume it will get better on its own, the disease will simply progress further.
Gum disease begins with sore gums that may bleed while brushing teeth. Or, it may cause no noticeable symptoms at all in early stages.
As it worsens, gum disease will cause frequent bad breath, tender gums that turn red, gum recession, and gums that bleed easily when brushing. Pus pockets may form on the gums. As it attacks the structures beneath the gum line, teeth may loosen or shift.
As the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss, it brings the hard decisions (and expense) for replacement. After all, you need teeth for eating and speaking. Do you go with dental implants? Or, do you take on the challenges that come with dentures and partials? As hard as the decisions of replacing teeth can be, gum disease can bring even more devastation with it.
Research has linked the bacteria of gum disease to serious health problems. These include heart disease, stroke, preterm babies, arthritis, diabetes, impotency, some cancers and even Alzheimer’s disease. These connections occur through the infectious bacteria of gum disease entering the bloodstream through tears in diseased gum tissues.
Once in the bloodstream, the bacteria can travel throughout the body and create inflammatory reactions. This “systemic inflammation” is able to trigger the onset of some diseases and conditions or even further the development of others.
Certainly, we all have the right to determine what is in our best interest as far as our own health goes. However, I believe that many individuals end up in our office with serious gum problems and facing tooth loss because of what they did not know. Having factual information allows us to make wise decisions for our health and well-being.
As a periodontist, I have advanced skills in the treatment of all stages of periodontal (gum) disease. My dental specialty also includes the diagnosis and placement of dental implants. Here, our patients can relax under Oral or IV sedation (“twilight sleep”) while having their smiles restored. We also create a customized care program that allows each person to maintain good oral health once their treatment is complete.
If you smoke or vape, don’t assume “that won’t happen to me.” The reason we wear seat belts in cars is because there are great risks when we do not. The risks for losing your teeth and having potent bacteria running rampant through your system is something you can take easy measures to prevent.
Experiencing symptoms associated with gum disease? We urge you to schedule an examination appointment as soon as possible. Call our beautiful, comfortable Asheville office at 828-274-9440. A referral is not necessary.
Gum Disease Connected To Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease
Posted on Aug 11, 2020 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
The statistics of periodontal (gum) disease are alarming. In the U.S., nearly half of the adult population has some level of gum disease.
There is a misconception among the general population when it comes to the serious nature of gum disease. Too often, people perceive “if it doesn’t hurt, then nothing is wrong” when it comes to their oral health. That’s far from the case. Although symptoms of gum disease may include tender gums that bleed when brushing, gum disease can begin without any obvious signs.
This shouldn’t be surprising. When cancer forms in the body, its initial presence isn’t obvious. The reason for screenings such as mammograms or colonoscopies are to catch mutant formations at their earliest stages.
Early treatment helps to resolve the problem with hopefully positive outcomes. This is why it is so important to have 6-month dental check-ups. These visits allow your dentist to catch gum disease early so treatment needs and expense can be minimal.
While gum disease forms in the mouth, that’s not necessarily where it remains without proper treatment. The bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream. It has been found to trigger serious reactions elsewhere in the body. Some of these lead to the formation of cancer (oral, throat, pancreatic, lung) and some activate conditions such as diabetes and arthritis.
Obviously, the health of your mouth is an important part of supporting a healthy body, especially in disease prevention. To illustrate the extent of gum disease’s damaging impact to health, research is tracking its correlation to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
In a recent study that included over 8,200 adults, an increased risk for developing dementia was found in those having severe gum disease and missing teeth. Participants in the study had an average age of 63 at the study’s onset.
In a follow-up after 18 years, those who had severe gingivitis in addition to tooth loss had a 22 percent higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Having no natural teeth was associated with a 26 percent increased risk.
Broken down, 14 percent of individuals with healthy gums and all their teeth at the start of the study developed dementia by the end of the study. For those with mild gum disease, 18 percent (623 out of 3,470) developed dementia. Twenty-two percent of participants with severe gum disease developed dementia. For those who had no remaining teeth, 23 percent developed dementia – nearly 17 cases for every 1,000 persons.
They found the bacteria present in periodontal disease can travel through the mucous membranes of the mouth to the brain, potentially causing brain damage.
In the study, participants were carefully assessed based on age, gender, education, cholesterol, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, smoking and body weight. Psych Central.com (https://psychcentral.com/news/2020/07/30/gum-disease-may-be-linked-to-later-dementia/158497.html?MvBriefArticleId=25473)
Prior studies have led researchers to continue tracking oral tissue related factors that may contribute to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, which is affecting a growing percentage of American adults (as well as those globally). Currently, 10 percent of adults age 65 and over have Alzheimer’s disease. For people ages 85 and older, this increases to 32 percent.
In the U.S., it is the 6th leading cause of death. (https://www.alzheimers.net/resources/alzheimers-statistics/) By the year 2025, the number of people 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to reach 7.1 million people, a 27 percent increase from the 5.6 million age 65 and older in 2019.
Maintaining a healthy smile – good gum health and healthy teeth – is important and achievable for every adult. If you suspect you have gum disease (gums that bleed when brushing, tender or swollen gums, gums that have reddened or receded from teeth), it is important to be seen by a periodontist. This dental specialist can restore your gums to a healthy state.
A periodontist is also a specialist in the diagnosis and placement of all types of dental implants. For adults who are missing natural teeth, dental implants are the closest thing to providing the look, feel and function of ‘real’ teeth. They restore the ability to bite and chew comfortably and dependably. Dental implants are also designed to last a lifetime, making them a wise investment.
Take charge of your health by overseeing your oral health as carefully as you do to other needs. For a consultation to discuss how a periodontist can help you, call 828-274-9440.
If dental fear has kept you from having regular dental care, we will be happy to discuss our many comfort options in our comfortable Asheville office, including Oral and I.V. sedation (“twilight sleep”).