What You May Be Doing To Increase Potential For Gum Disease


Posted on Apr 11, 2024 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

There’s a saying: “We don’t know what we don’t know.”

That applies to so much in life. With all good intentions, adults go about their days feeling they are doing what is right. However, we occasionally learn that what we thought was right is to our detriment.

For example, decades ago, people felt that rigorous scrubbing of teeth with a hard toothbrush and baking soda was a good way to clean your teeth. We now know that the hard bristles and abrasive substances can wear down tooth enamel and scrub away tender gum tissues.

And, there are ways that we actually – and unconsciously – add to the risks for developing periodontal disease.

Over the years, research has continuously shown that the bacteria of periodontal disease can have a number of harmful effects – in the mouth and further. Because these inflammatory bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body, research has shown that they can activate or worsen a number of serious health problems. These include:
– heart disease
– stroke
– Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
– arthritis
– diabetes
– preterm babies
– erectile dysfunction (ED)
– some cancers (including lung and pancreatic)
– obesity

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

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

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

Bacterial overload can leave the body’s natural defense response, white blood cells, unable to conquer the infection. Thus, bacteria overload in the mouth triggers an inflammatory reaction begins, which is the beginning of gum disease.

Below are things that can increase the risk for gum disease, some of which you may not realize are contributors:

Aging: Studies have indicated that the incidence of periodontal disease increases as we get older. Over 70% of adults who are aged 65 and older have some form of gum disease.

Some Existing Health Problems: People who have diseases such as cancer or heart problems already have weaker immune systems. When the bacteria of gum disease enter the bloodstream through tears in oral tissues, harmful clotting factors and proteins can occur elsewhere in the body. Research has linked gum disease bacteria with heart disease, diabetes, stroke, preterm babies, and memory loss.

Dry Mouth: Smoking, certain medications, drinking alcohol and aging all contribute to a dry mouth. The saliva in your mouth plays an important part in removing food particles and bacteria. When insufficient saliva cannot cleanse the mouth adequately, bacteria buildup results.

Stress: It has been proven that people who endure long-term stress have a greater risk for developing diseases such as cancer, hypertension and even gum disease. Stress takes a toll on the body’s entire operation, weakening its ability to fight infection.

Medications: The side effects of some drugs can dry out oral tissues and even weaken the density of bones, opening the door for gum disease. Like your physician, your dentist should have an up-to-date list of all medications you take, including herbal supplements.

Grinding Teeth: When you grind and clench your teeth during sleep, the teeth wear down and connective oral tissues are weakened. When the tissues surrounding your teeth are vulnerable, your entire jaw bone area is exposed to certain infections, which can lead to gum disease.

Genetics: Because of genetics, you can be predisposed to develop gum disease. Research indicates that 30% of the population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease.

Gender: Periodontal disease occurs more in men than women (56% vs. 38%).

Smoking: Smoking dries out the tissues in the mouth, increasing one’s susceptibility to calculus. Research shows that smokers lose more teeth than nonsmokers and typically require longer healing times after treatment with results that are less predictable.

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

Dr. William Claiborne,
Biltmore Periodontics

In our Asheville periodontal dental office, we feature some of the most advanced technology in the industry. The patient benefits from these through diagnoses that are exact, more conservative treatment, and having reduced healing time. This also can mean there is less discomfort.

One of the features we provide is the LANAP Protocol Using Periolase MVP-7. LANAP (an acronym for Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure) is amazing technology that more efficiently and effectively treats periodontitis (advanced gum disease) with the PerioLase® MVP-7™ laser. As a minimally invasive (non-surgical) treatment for moderate to severe periodontal disease, LANAP has even been found to stimulate bone regrowth in damaged areas.

If you are experiencing symptoms of gum disease, call 828-274-9440. In our state-of-the-art Asheville periodontal dental office, our patients are treated with respect, compassion and a gentle touch. New patients are always welcome.

If dental fear has kept you from having regular dental care and you’re experiencing symptoms of gum disease, consider starting with a consultation. During this time, we can discuss comfort options, including oral and IV sedation (“twilight sleep”). Referrals are not required.

Avoid Dental Implant Failure


Posted on Apr 04, 2024 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

There are reasons to go to an expert for certain things. For example, I’d never try to do electrical work around my house on my own; I’d call an electrician.

When it comes to dental implants, there are also reasons to seek out an “expert.” In this article, I’ll explain why it’s best to have your dental implants selected and placed by a periodontist.

First, let’s look at the structure of an implant. Serving as a replacement for a missing tooth, the implanted portion is a titanium screw that is positioned into the jawbone. Over the course of 3-6 months, the jawbone grows around the implant, securing it in place. It can now support an artificial tooth or crown.

Dental implants have many benefits when it comes to restoring biting/chewing/speaking function and smiling appearance, including:

  • enhancing the appearance of a smile
  • improving biting and chewing function
  • stabilizing surrounding teeth and jaw tissue
  • halting the process of bone loss, known as resorption
  • an increased quality of life for many people

Dental implants have an excellent success rate – 90-95%. However, there are instances where a dental implant can fail.

Dental implant complications can occur from infections, gum recession, and nerve and tissue damage. There is also a higher risk of implant failure for individuals who smoke or have diabetes, gum disease, have radiation therapy to the jaw area or take certain medications.

A periodontal specialist has advanced training and skills in the diagnosis and placement of all types of dental implants. This means that this dental specialist can determine which implant system will work best for your individual needs. For example, a person who has lost a great deal of bone mass may only be a candidate of certain implant types or may need a sinus lift prior to placement. A periodontist can make these determinations so your potential for implant success is higher.

One of the most common causes for implants failure is due to an infection at the implant site. Because a periodontist specializes in the care of gum tissues in the mouth, he or she can take measures to treat the infection at early stage to resolve the problem. However, in some cases, treating the infection may require implant removal in order to reach the infected bone tissue.

Using advanced skills, a periodontist can also assess your gum health prior to implant placement. He or she can pretreat any periodontal diseases so the implant has a healthy foundation. When the gum tissues around the implant are inflamed or have receded, the implant is at risk for entry of bacteria into the area where it is implanted.

After the implant is placed, it should fuse with the bone. A complication that prevents this may require the dental surgeon may remove it. Fortunately, after the implanted area is restored to a healthy state, the implant procedure can be redone.

Another benefit in using a periodontal specialist for implant placement is in their in-depth understanding of the nerves and tissues surrounding the jaw bones. There is a risk for failure when a dental implant is placed too close to a nerve. For example, there is a nerve that runs horizontally through the lower jaw. If the implant is placed in close proximity, it can cause numbness, tingling, or pain.

Nerve or tissue damages can result in:

    • numbness on the side of the implant, including the lower lip and chin
    • persistent pain or discomfort
    • tingling, tickling, or burning sensations in the gums and skin

While precision placement (depth, position and angle) is a bonus of a periodontist’s skills for implant patients, our Asheville periodontal dental patients have the benefits of advanced technology. Our Computerized Dental Implant Placement system is designed for pre-surgical positioning of dental implants that uses a 3D model of the patient’s jaw.

Once the implant type is selected, a template is developed for optimal treatment success, even for complex cases. This minimizes disruption of gum tissues and targets implant placement at ideal depths and angles. Thus, treatment success rates are higher with faster (and more comfortable) healing time.

An example of this precision placement guidance in with upper dental implants. With declined bone mass of the upper jaw (typically from years of missing tooth roots), the sinus cavities can hover too close to the position(s) where implants are to be placed. In these cases, we can perform a sinus lift.

Should the dental implant protrude into the sinus cavity, the sinuses can become inflamed, causing:

  • pain, tenderness, or swelling around the cheeks, eyes or forehead
  • nasal blockage, often with green or yellow mucus
  • a reduced sense of smell
  • headaches
  • toothache
  • persistent bad breath

Of course, like a natural tooth, excessive force or impact can cause a dental implant to crack or become loose. For example, for people who grind or forcefully clench their teeth (“bruxing”) during sleep may need to wear a bite guard to prevent damage to the implant as well as their natural teeth.

In some instances, it can take up to 5 years for implant-related problems or infections to become apparent to the patient. Any issues that arise around the site of the dental implant should be examined and addressed without delay.

We want your dental implant(s) to last your lifetime and bring you as much eating and laughing pleasure as they are known to give. The best way to ensure the success of a dental implant is to follow the aftercare advice your periodontist and dentist provide.

As with a person’s natural teeth, an implant and the tissues surrounding it require regular cleaning. Daily flossing in the area at least once per day is needed after the gums have healed. Some patients prefer interdental brushes to access areas that are more difficult to reach.

Regular dental check-ups and appointments for cleanings should occur at least twice a year to ensure the longterm success of your implants. Once a quarter may be advised for some individuals who have higher risks for plaque development.

Optimal comfort for our Western Carolina patients has always been a priority. For many, a desired level of comfort and relaxation includes sedation options. Here, we offer several sedation options, including oral and IV sedation (“twilight sleep”). These are administered safely by an anesthesiologist who uses advanced safety equipment throughout your treatment.

If you are considering dental implants, you may wish to begin with a consultation appointment. During this time, we can explain the vast difference in comfort, treatment time, and success available through our specialized skills and extensive technology.

Call 828-274-9440 to schedule. New patients are always welcome.

How A Periodontist Can Help Cancer Patients


Posted on Mar 18, 2024 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
For those who learn they have cancer, regardless of the type, it is a frightening diagnosis. While survival rates have been positively increasing over the years, it is a dreaded disease that requires challenging treatment regimens, even for those who have early stage cancer diagnoses.
Thanks to extensive research and advances in treatment options (including high-tech imaging that catches many cancers in their early stages) the survival statistics are climbing at a steady pace. In 2022, 69% of survivors have lived over 5 years since their diagnosis; 47% have lived over 10 years since their diagnosis; and 18% of survivors have lived over 20.
Encouraging, also, is that the number of cancer survivors is projected to increase by 24.4% by 2032.
Treatment for cancer can be very compromising to the immune system. One of the ways to support the immune system is by having excellent periodontal health. Having a healthy mouth can lower the demands on the immune system. Here’s why…
The mouth is home to millions of bacteria; some bacteria are good and some are bad. When the bad bacteria are well-managed (through proper brushing, flossing and regular dental check-ups), the gums remain healthy and protective to the structures below.
When bad bacteria over-accumulate, the immune system becomes strained as it attempts to combat their rapid reproduction. The bacteria become infectious, destroying healthy tissues. This leads to the loosening of gum tissues that snugly wrap the base of each tooth. Thus, bacteria are able to penetrate below the surface of the gums.
Here, bacteria attack the structures that support teeth, including bone. This destruction can cause teeth to loosen, leading to the need for removal in some cases.
Yet, it is not just the immune system that is challenged by the bacteria. Even for those in good overall states, having gum disease increases the risks for many health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, arthritis, diabetes, dementia and even certain cancers.
In a study by Harvard scientists from data that included almost 150,000 adults with a follow-up after 28 years, those with a history of periodontal disease were 43% more likely to develop esophageal cancer and 52% more likely to develop stomach cancer. The risk was even higher in those with gum disease severe enough to cause tooth loss (periodontitis).
Although the exact mechanism connecting gum disease and some cancers is still uncertain, studies continually show correlations. This can be in the form of triggering the onset or worsening those in development.
In one study from the late 1990s until 2012, study participants with severe gum disease showed a 24% higher risk of developing cancer. For edentulous patients (those who have no remaining natural teeth), there was an even higher risk.
As a periodontist, I have a firsthand view of how destructive the infectious bacteria of gum disease can be. Ridding any level of this can reduce the demands on the immune system. As such, we often care for cancer patients to relieve the problems in the mouth that some medications and radiation can cause (such as tissue infections and sores, pain or swelling in the mouth, and sensitivity to hot and cold). This is often done using a dental laser. Laser therapy is very comfortable and is safe for cancer patients and the process can expedite healing greatly.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to address, specifically, oral and oropharyngeal cancers since April is National Oral Cancer Awareness month. While some other cancers seem to be more present in the public eye, awareness of oral and neck/throat cancers needs to be greater. Oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers occur most often in the following sites:
• tongue
• tonsils and oropharynx (the part of the throat behind the mouth)
• gums, floor of the mouth, and other parts of the mouth
The rest are found in the lips, the minor salivary glands (which often occur in the roof of the mouth), and other sites.
The American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates for oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers in the U.S. are for 2024:
   – About 58,450 new cases of oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer
   – About 12,230 deaths from oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer
The average age of people diagnosed with these cancers is 64, but they can occur in young people. Just over 20% (1 in 5) of cases occur in people younger than 55.
Adult males are at the highest risk for oral cancer, with black males being the most susceptible. The risk also increases with age, especially after age 50. Although the risk typically peaks between the ages of 60 – 70, males between ages 50 – 59 tend to have the highest numbers.
It is important to be aware of the warning signs of oral cancer, including:
• A sore, irritation, lump or thick patch in the mouth, lip, or throat
• White or red patch inside the mouth
• Feeling something is stuck in the throat
• Difficulty chewing or swallowing
• Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
• Numbness in the tongue or other areas of the mouth
• Unexplained swelling of the jaw
• Pain in an ear without hearing loss
While these symptoms do not always indicate oral cancer, any that do not clear up on their own within 2 weeks should be examined without delay.
This dental exam is painless. Many patients, if not told, are not aware that the dentist is performing it. During this, the dentist does a visual examination of oral tissues, checking the lips and inside of the mouth (including under the tongue). The dentist will also check the roof and floor of your mouth.
If suspicious areas are noted during the exam, the dentist will order a biopsy. In this, a small sample of tissue from the area of concern is removed and examined under a microscope. This will determine whether further tests are needed.
Unfortunately, the CDC reports that about 35% of adults over the age of 18 did not have a dental visit in 2019. This leaves those who are vulnerable or developing oral cancer at higher risk of it advancing. Those regular dental checkups go beyond the cleaning of teeth and lowering the risk of oral cancers adds greatly to the need to be committed to these appointments.
If you are experiencing symptoms of gum disease, please know that this disease will only worsen without treatment. If you have any of those listed below, please contact our Asheville periodontal dental office as soon as possible to schedule an examination.
Watch for:
Swollen or puffy gums
Bright red, dark red or dark purple gums
Gums that feel tender when touched
Gums that bleed easily
Seeing pink in the sink or toothbrush after brushing
Spitting out blood when brushing or flossing teeth
Bad breath that won’t go away
If fear has kept you from having regular dental care, our Western periodontal dental office offers both oral and I.V. sedation (twilight sleep). Feel free to call 828-274-9440 to arrange a consultation appointment to discuss any concerns you have regarding treatment or payment plans.
Sources:

Dental Fear Can Be Detrimental To More Than Your Smile


Posted on Feb 15, 2024 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

There are varying figures on the prevalence of dental fear in the U.S. However, there is no argument that it exists and affects a rather substantial number of adults.

A 2018 study shared by Dental Products Report listed the results of a study of things that keep adults from going to the dentist. Over 60% of the 18,000 polled admitted to having dental fear. Four percent shared they had never gone to a dentist as a result.

https://www.dentalproductsreport.com/view/study-finds-more-60-percent-people-suffer-dental-fear

Another study by the Cleveland Clinic stated that about 36% of people in the U.S. have a fear of dental treatment, with 12% having an extreme fear (known as “dental phobia”). 

While traumatic experiences in the past (often as a child) cause some people to be fearful of dental visits, others are not aware of why or how their fears began.

The Cleveland Clinic cites the top reasons that cause people to avoid or delay dental care are:

• Fear that the anesthetic won’t be sufficient or fear of the side effects (such as numb lips) after treatment

• Fear of bleeding during a dental procedure

• Fear gagging, choking or not being able to breathe or swallow during treatment

• Fear of dentist (often due to a bad experience in the past)

• Fear of pain

• Fear of needles

• The noise made by drills or other instruments used by the dentist or hygienist

• The smells of antiseptics or other chemicals used in a dental office

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22594-dentophobia-fear-of-dentists

Having the jitters at the dental office is not all that difficult to understand. During these visits, patients are positioned on their backs on a narrow recliner with a bright light shining in their faces. Add to that having to maintain an open mouth (which is full of sensitive nerves) without really knowing what is being done. It’s not surprising that there are some uneasy feelings.

Fear or anxiety are normal reactions of the brain’s “fight or flight” response. For instance, some people have an intense fear of spiders or heights. Their reactions are automatic. Yet, in many cases of dental fear, some learn to override these reactions once they develop a sense of trust in being treated gently and respectfully.

In addition to avoiding care due to fear, some of the oral health problems we see occur from:

– Insufficient oral hygiene
– Avoiding regular dental check-ups and cleanings
– Ignoring symptoms of gum disease, such as seeing blood in the sink when brushing
– Brushing too rigorously or using abrasive substances to brush
– Age-related problems, such as oral dryness
– Oral dryness due to snoring or sinus problems
– Eating a high-carb diet or snacking frequently
– Smoking (including cigarettes, vaping, marijuana, and chew)
– Regular alcohol consumption

Certainly, some people are merely more susceptible to dental decay and bacterial buildup in the mouth. It can be due to genetics or some illnesses and diseases. Yet, the majority of reasons for having oral problems can be dealt with through proper at-home care and having regular dental exams.

When dental care is delayed or avoided due to fear, small problems that could have been prevented (or easily resolved) become big problems. Big problems require more extensive procedures, more expense and more time in treatment. When dental needs become more significant, fearful patients are actually adding to their reasons to dread the dentist.

Too, when regular dental check-ups and cleanings are avoided, the result can lead to periodontal (gum) disease, which is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. Periodontal disease occurs when an over-accumulation of oral bacteria become infectious. As it penetrates gum tissues, it also attacks the bone structures underneath the gums. This disease requires treatment that is more extensive. 

Additionally, tooth loss can create an entirely new set of procedural needs and costs.

For the individual who has high anxiety or fear associated with dental visits, how are they supposed to set aside these obstacles in order to receive the dental care they need? Obviously, problems in the mouth can easily exacerbate when the signs and symptoms of gum disease are back-burnered.

At our Asheville periodontal dental office, we believe that an informed patient is a healthier patient. Understanding what the problems are and what we are doing to attend to them often helps to keep the patient involved with their oral health. It also tends to help the patient relax. 

As a periodontist, I feel it’s important for every adult to know the signs and symptoms of gum disease:

Gums that bleed easily

Red, swollen, tender gums

Persistent bad breath

Gums that pull away from the teeth (recede)

Changes in the way teeth fit together when biting

Changes in the fit of partial dentures

Permanent teeth that loosen or separate

When any of these emerge, prompt treatment can minimize treatment time and costs. However, ignoring the warning signs merely allows the disease to progress further – requiring more time in treatment and greater expense.

In addition to the related problems of cavities, bad breath and tooth loss, the inflammatory bacteria of gum disease can impact overall health. Years of studies have found frightening correlations between oral bacteria and the worsening or development of serious diseases.

Research has found that the oral bacteria of gum disease (which affects over 47% of the nation’s adult population) can enter the bloodstream. Once bloodborne, this bacteria has been found to trigger inflammation that has been associated with a wide range of serious health problems. Research has shown links between these infectious bacteria to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, some cancers, preterm babies, erectile dysfunction (ED) and even Alzheimer’s disease.

I am very proud of the relationship of trust my team and I have with our patients. They know our goal is to never cause them discomfort. Although we cannot always guarantee they’ll have no discomfort at all, we take extra steps to provide optimal comfort at every visit. 

In addition to this commitment, we offer oral sedation and I.V. sedation (also referred to as “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 sleep state, also erasing memory of the procedure. It is administered by a doctor of anesthesiology, overseen by Dr. Brad Stone, a Medical Doctor (MD) and a board certified Anesthesiologist & Pediatric Anesthesiologist.

https://www.biltmoreperiodontics.com/comprehensive-care-team/

With both sedation options, patients are closely monitored with advanced safety equipment throughout treatment.

If fear has prevented you from a healthy smile, schedule a consultation in our Western NC periodontal dental office. During this time, we can discuss comfort options that may be best for your individual needs. Call 828-274-9440.

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