What You Eat & Drink May Be Compromising Your Oral Health
Posted on Mar 05, 2020 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Everyone would like to have healthy bodies and brains. We all know that the best way to enjoy a full, active life is to eat a nutritionally balanced diet, get regular exercise, have periodic screenings and checkups, and stay socially involved.
Yet, in our attempts to live as we should, things like improper movements while exercising or an overloaded social calendar can actually backfire on us, having negative results. Sometimes, it’s what we don’t know in our quest for bettering our lives that can lead to damaging consequences.
Take, for example, your diet. Do you squeeze lemon in your water? Do you relax with a glass of wine each evening? Are you a chocolate lover who has switched to dark as a healthier choice?
Although these are all good for you in some ways, when it comes to your teeth and gums, they can cause problems over time. Knowing what can occur may save you much in costly dental treatment in the future.
There are a number of foods and beverages that contribute to periodontal (gum) disease, cavities, and tooth loss. Some may even surprise you, which include:
Caffeine: Caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, colas, and many energy drinks can have a drying effect on oral tissues. Having “dry mouth” means there is insufficient saliva flow. This leaves the mouth without its natural ‘rinsing’ agent, which is what helps to flush out bacteria to maintain manageable levels. Without this, oral bacteria have an environment where they can rapidly breed and thrive. Since bacteria accumulation is the origin of most oral problems, this heightens the risks for your oral health.
Wine: Although wine (especially red) is believed to be a healthy drink, it is the way it is consumed that makes it a particular problem for teeth and gums. Whenever you eat or drink something, an acid attack begins in the mouth. While this is an initial part of digestion, this acid is highly potent; so much that it can soften tooth enamel for up to 30 minutes after. This makes teeth more prone to decay. Because most people drink wine in sips over time, this merely extends the acid surge period. When wine’s acidity combines with digestive acids in the mouth, you place teeth at a doubly higher risk for decay. (This also applies to any alcoholic beverage, especially drinks with sweetened mixers.)
Citrus & Acidic Foods & Beverages: The acidity in citrus (such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruit) can be tough on tooth enamel and tender gum tissues. This also includes tomatoes and tomato-based foods such as spaghetti sauce, catsup, salsa, etc. that can have a highly acidic effect.
Sugar & Carbohydrates: Globally, Americans are the leading nation for sugar consumption. We also love our carbs, which essentially break down as sugar in the mouth. Oral bacteria love these foods, too, because they supercharge their ability to reproduce. Because many sweet and carb-laden foods stick to teeth longer, their ability to cause damage is even greater.
Snacking: As mentioned earlier, eating or drinking triggers an acid attack in the mouth. This means for every sip of cola or granola bar bite, an acidic bombardment occurs in the mouth for approximately 30 minutes. When the mouth endures these frequent acid attacks, the damage to precious tooth enamel will catch up to you in the form of cavities.
Research has shown that the health of teeth and gum tissues is intricately connected to your overall health. Serious diseases have been linked to the bacteria of gum disease. These include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, some cancers, preterm babies, impotency, and Alzheimer’s disease. These bacteria, once in the bloodstream, trigger serious reactions that are obviously harmful far beyond the mouth.
Start by reading these tips on maintaining a healthy mouth…
• When snacking, eat what you wish in a brief amount of time rather than pace eating over an extended time.
• Be conscious of what alcohol you drink. Try to limit your drinks to 1 or 2 a day and omit sweet mixers. Between each drink, take gulps of plain water and let it linger in the mouth for a few seconds before swallowing. Or, swish in the bathroom between each drink. This helps dilute oral acids and rinse them from the mouth before they can damage tooth enamel.
• Brush at least twice a day and floss daily. By removing bacteria that has accumulated in the mouth, you’ll help to decrease the risk for gum disease and cavities. Although many people feel wine is a healthy drink, remember – it is highly acidic. When this acidity mixes with oral acids, your mouth is bombarded with a potent assault strong enough to soften tooth enamel.
• Limit sugar and snacking. If you like a sweet treat during the day, choose an apple or wait until a meal and have the treat while an acid attack is already underway. This will help you avoid triggering a new one.
Having a healthy mouth will help you to smile more confidently and give your overall health a leg up by minimizing bacteria that originate in the mouth.
If you have signs of gum disease (tender, bleeding gums and frequent bad breath), you should see a periodontal specialist as soon as possible. Gum disease does not improve without treatment and is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.
Call 828-274-9440 to schedule an appointment.
Aging Adults Need Extra Measures To Prevent Gum Disease, Tooth Loss
Posted on Feb 17, 2020 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Whether visiting a primary care physician, ophthalmologist (eye doctor), dermatologist, or orthopedist, adults in the over-50 category often hear the same comment from their doctor.
“You’re getting older so…”
As we age, the body begins to succumb to wear and tear. The skin sags, bones weaken, joints ache, hearing dulls, and eyesight wanes. More precautions and measures are advised to keep the body operating comfortably and efficiently as we age.
The same is true for your teeth and gums.
Although people tend to react to an odd spot on the skin or blurry vision, things like having a frequent ‘dry mouth’ or gum recession are often brushed off as temporary or just a normal part of growing older.
Yet, the hazards of ignoring the signs and symptoms associated with gum disease and tooth loss should never be taken lightly. Research shows that your OVERALL health is dependent upon a healthy mouth and proper function in biting and chewing.
Here are some typical oral challenges experienced by seniors:
• Having a dry mouth: The tissues inside the mouth need to be kept moist. Saliva flow is designed to do this. However, with age, the flow of saliva is less plentiful. Just as the skin and hair get drier with age, the mouth endures this same consequence. When saliva flow is less efficient at rinsing bacteria from the oral cavity (inside of the mouth), bacteria grow at a more rapid rate. This means bacteria accumulation occurs more frequently than twice-a-day brushing can control.
We advise drinking plenty of filtered water throughout the day, minimizing caffeinated drinks that are drying to oral tissues (coffee, tea, colas), and using an oral rinse twice a day that is formulated to replenish oral moisture. Alcohol and smoking are especially drying to oral tissues. Be especially committed to maintaining adequate oral moisture if you smoke or drink.
• Less efficiency with 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 becomes less capable when the rigors of aging are involved.
We advise using an electric toothbrush 2-3 times a day. Flossing can be done using an electric water flosser. However, we still recommend manual (string) flossing where you can reach. Keep in mind that crowding of natural teeth (which tends to worsen with age) creates particular challenges for reaching nooks where bacteria hide and breed. Use extra time to ensure you are reaching those areas when you brush and floss.
• Medications that interfere with oral health: The average 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 your health may dictate taking these drugs, it is wise to be aware that some can be detrimental to your oral health.
For example, Coumadin, a commonly prescribed blood thinner, can cause more bleeding during certain procedures. Too, many meds have the side effect of oral dryness. Some prescribed for osteoporosis, bisphosphonates (known by Fosamax, etc.) have been linked with jaw osteonecrosis. The risk for jaw necrosis, or death of the jaw bone, is highest with procedures that directly expose the jaw bone, such as tooth extractions and dental implant placement.
Some herbal supplements can also cause side effects for some dental patients. For example, Ginkgo Biloba and Vitamin E can act as blood thinners. When combined with aspirin, the combination may cause difficulties in blood clotting. Be sure to provide a complete list of ALL medications you take (including vitamins and herbal supplements) at each appointment. This enables us to tailor your treatment to your specific needs.
• Hormonal changes: Post menopausal females are at higher risk for gum disease and subsequent tooth loss due to declining estrogen levels. Thus, these women have greater risk for bone loss or osteoporosis as well as inflamed gum tissues around the teeth (called periodontitis). When there is bone loss of the jaw, it can result in tooth loss. Receding gums are a sign of this bone loss since more of the tooth surface is exposed to the causes of tooth decay.
Why are your teeth and gums so important as you age?
As a periodontist in Asheville for over 30 years, I’m still surprised by the number of people who assume that losing natural teeth is to be expected with age. Yet, I see many patients who have kept the majority of their natural teeth well into their 80’s and 90’s.
Although dental implants are excellent replacements for missing teeth, there is nothing as good as the teeth God gave you. They’re referred to as “permanent” teeth for a reason; they were intended to be just that. Regardless of the replacement method, the ability of 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.
Too, 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.
If your gum health needs improvement or there are signs of gum disease, we can structure a program that restores healthy gums and helps you maintain your oral health between visits.
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
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.
With proper measures, you can enjoy healthy gums and natural teeth throughout your lifetime. Call 828-274-9440 to schedule a periodontal examination or ask for a consultation to get to know us. New smiles are always welcome!
Obesity Increases Risk Of Gum Disease.
Posted on Nov 20, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Imagine one-third of your body being made up of maple syrup.
Sounds pretty absurd, doesn’t it? Yet, for Americans who are categorically obese, this imagery is actually a good description.
Obesity is when fat makes up over thirty percent of body 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. That’s two-thirds of adults in the U.S. who have too much fat makeup.
And it’s not just adults over the age of 20 who have this problem. Sadly, nearly 30 percent of children are overweight or obese as well.
In North Carolina, over 63 percent of adults are either overweight or obese, according to a study by the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study. (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/oby.20451)
The problems associated with being overweight and obese are many, and can be deadly. Obesity seems to trigger a predisposition to a variety of serious health conditions and diseases. These include increased risk of stroke, certain cancers, coronary artery disease, and type 2 diabetes.
In addition to the added and unnecessary load that strains the back, knees and ankles, the challenges continue. Obesity decreases lifespan, up to an estimated 20 percent of people who are severely obese. (https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsr043743)
As 2019 holiday indulgences (often sugary and carb-laden) are before us, many of us also follow the season with with the traditional new year’s resolution of “lose weight” at the top of the list. Along with improved health and greater confidence in overall appearance, we’d like to add another reason to reach your goal.
Chronic inflammation is a known side effect obesity. Why does this matter to a Periodontist? Obesity is also known to exacerbate other inflammatory disorders, including periodontitis (advanced gum disease). To be clear, periodontal disease is also the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.
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. Although discussing the risks of periodontal disease with obese patients can be a sensitive issue, this is without judgement of why they are overweight but rather how we can help them enjoy a healthier smile.
Most of us know – losing weight is not a process that is either easy or quick. Add to this that research has shown that factors such as sleep quality and what we eat (as much as how much we eat) can cause the brain to make the challenges of weight loss even greater.
For one, studies have shown that sugar can be addictive. Sugar consumption even activates the same regions in the brain that react to cocaine. For individuals who admit to having a “sweet tooth,” trying to stay within the recommended 6 teaspoons per day limit can be a battle when we are truly “addicted.” (https://www.brainmdhealth.com/blog/what-do-sugar-and-cocaine-have-in-common/)
Insufficient sleep also complicates the brain’s ability to regulate hunger hormones, known as ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin stimulates the appetite while leptin sends signals of feeling full. When the body is sleep-deprived, the level of ghrelin rises while leptin levels decrease. This leads to an increase in hunger.
The National Sleep Foundation states that “people who don’t get enough sleep eat twice as much fat and more than 300 extra calories the next day, compared with those who sleep for eight hours.” (https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/the-connection-between-sleep-and-overeating)
As difficult as losing weight can be, it is important to be aware of risk factors that can make you more suspectible 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.
As gum disease worsens, however, the inflammation of oral 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 and the base of some teeth and tooth loosening can require removal.
Armed with this information, we want to help all patients, with overweight or obese adults especially, to take added precautions to maintain good oral health, both at home and through regular dental check-ups.
Avoiding periodontal disease is particularly important since its infectious bacteria have been linked to serious health problems. These include heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, some cancers, preterm babies, impotency, and Alzheimer’s disease.
If you are experiencing symptoms of gum disease, however, it is vital 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.
A Dry Mouth Can Have Many Causes And Lead To A Number Of Oral Health Problems
Posted on Jun 21, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Our lips and teeth – our smile – is a stage curtain to what is actually going on inside the mouth. As an Asheville periodontist, I have a daily view of the hazards that exist beyond the veil.
Oral bacteria is the root source of most problems that occur in the mouth. Their presence is normal, of course. The mouth (or “oral cavity”) is designed to be able to manage a certain level of oral bacteria. It is the over-accumulation of this bacteria that is the origination source of many problems.
Although certain foods, such as a garlicky shrimp or onion-laden hot dogs, can create “stand-offish” bad breath, this breath odor is temporary. The bad breath that is truly offensive and occurs on a more consistent basis comes from an overload of oral bacteria.
The reason we’re advised to brush at least twice a day and floss our teeth daily is to remove accumulated oral bacteria from the mouth. When not removed on a regular basis, the bacteria form a sticky film that coats the teeth and gums. This film is known as plaque.
Keep in mind that bacteria are living, eating, and reproducing organisms. Because they eat, they also create waste – in our mouths! Although that in itself should be reason enough to be committed to brushing and flossing, without pain, people assume that all is well.
Yet, an over-accumulation of oral bacteria can lead to far worse than bad breath. Because oral bacteria critters eat, they look to the gum tissues. As they amass, they can create an inflammation that extends beneath the gum line. The infection they trigger can reach down into the structures that support natural teeth.
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 it has been linked to a wide array of conditions and diseases elsewhere in the body.
The oral bacteria of advanced-stage gum disease has been associated with some cancers, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, and impotency. As research continues, more and more health problems are being correlated to this bacteria.
The saliva in the mouth is designed to move bacteria out. Twice daily brushing and flossing help. However, certain contributing factors complicate the ability to keep oral bacteria levels to manageable levels. These include:
• Colas/Sodas: Not only is the acidity level in these drinks harmful to tooth enamel, it can make oral tissue to dry out. Downing these beverages because you feel you are replenishing moisture is the last thing they do; refreshing they are not. Drink plain, filtered water instead. It’s much better for your mouth and hydrating to the entire body.
• Coffee/Tea: Like colas, these drinks contain acid added to caffeine. Even green tea often contains caffeine. Caffeine has a drying effect on oral tissues and therefore depletes the helpful rinsing benefits or saliva.
• Alcohol (including beer and wine): Mixed drinks, “shots,” wine and even beer are all drying to oral tissues. Add the acidity and sugar levels that exist in wine or mixers and these drinks pack a double-whammy to oral tissues. If you imbibe, alter your drink with a glass of water in-between to neutralize acids and wash sugars from the mouth.
• Smoking (cigarettes, cigars, vaping, cannabis): People who have smoked for years often have dry skin that has an aged appearance far beyond their actual years. The same is occurring inside the mouth. The smoke of cigarettes and cigars is laden with toxic chemicals; true for e-cigs as well. Vaping doesn’t keep your mouth much safer than cigarettes. Even marijuana has been found to have a negative impact on oral tissues.
• Aging: Through aging, our skin, cartilage, and tissues are less supple. Our bodies simply dry out more and more with each decade. Although there’s nothing we can do to halt the aging process, we can take measures to minimize the damage to our oral health. We recommend drinking plenty of water throughout the day, using an oral rinse designed to replenish moisture in the mouth, and limit sugar and caffeine.
As a periodontist, I also urge people to be familiar with the signs and symptoms of periodontal disease, which begins with gingivitis. In this early-stage of gum disease, the gums may feel tender and swollen in one area. You may notice some bleeding when brushing your teeth. Your breath may feel less-than-fresh more often. However, some people experience no symptoms at all at this early stage.
If not treated, gingivitis can progress to periodontal disease, where symptoms are more obvious. The gum tissues are sore and bleed easily when brushing. Your breath will be bad more frequently. The gum tissues may swell in some areas and turn red.
As gum disease advances, the gums can begin to pull away from their tight grip around the base of some teeth, exposing darker, more sensitive areas of the tooth’s root. The gums will ache often and pus pockets may form at the base of some teeth. The breath is foul, even after brushing. And, tooth brushing is very uncomfortable with blood in the sink each time.
Eventually, the disease will have penetrated the supportive bone and ligaments that support teeth. In advanced cases, the teeth will begin to move and some may require removal.
All of this devastation to the mouth can be avoided, however. When people respond to early signs of gum disease by seeing a periodontal specialist, they can avoid the time and expense required. In addition to preventing the loss of natural teeth,
Enjoy beautiful, relaxing views from our surgical suite.
research now shows that serious health problems far beyond the body can be avoided as well.
If you have delayed or avoided dental care, begin with a consultation to learn about your options to have a healthy smile that is worry-free. Regardless of your love of coffee, your smoking habit, or your age, we can develop a program that allows you to have good oral health.
Begin by calling 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 putting patient comfort at the top of the list!