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.

Do Different Age Groups Perceive the Importance of Oral Health Differently?


Posted on Feb 09, 2024 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Just how important is your oral health?

Although Americans often focus on their smiles esthetically, it’s a far more important part of you than is often given due credit on a day-to-day basis. Yes, straight, white teeth help to enhance the appearance of a smile (as well as facial appearance), it’s what is typically not seen that has far greater importance.

About 50% of the world’s population over the age of 30 suffer from periodontitis. In the U.S., a developed country with excellent healthcare, a whopping 47% of adults over the age of 30 have some level of periodontal disease.

Because gum disease can begin without obvious symptoms, or be present without having pain, it is too easily ignored. This allows the disease to progress further.

The early stage, known as gingivitis, usually begins with swollen and tender gums that bleed easily when brushing teeth. As it worsens, the healthy pink hue of gums darken to more of a red color and breath odor is persistently bad. The gums begin to loosen their strong grip around the base of teeth, allowing infectious bacteria to reach bone structures that support tooth roots. In advanced stages (periodontitis), pus pockets form near the base of some teeth and gums become spongy in texture.

The bacteria of periodontal disease doesn’t just damage oral health. Through weakened oral tissues, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and trigger inflammatory reactions. These reactions can worsen some serious health conditions and even activate others.

Research has found correlations between these bacteria and heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, some cancers (including pancreatic), preterm babies, erectile dysfunction, and Alzheimer’s disease.

In a 2020 study, individuals with gum disease who contracted COVID-19 were 9 times more likely to die. And, the study showed that COVID patients who already had advanced gum disease were 3 times more likely to end up in intensive care or on a ventilator. Evidence shows that poor oral health can increase viral infection severity, and even fatality rates.

But, does age play a part in the commitment to oral health?

A report commissioned by Delta Dental Plans Association revealed some concerning information regarding age groups and perceptions of oral health. With over 1,000 online participants, 87% listed their priority for maintaining proper oral care was to save money or avoid unexpected expenses. Two-thirds of the group listed their commitment to at-home dental hygiene as the desire to avoid tooth decay and gum disease. Yet, only 79% of adults stated they brushed their teeth twice a day with only 33% admitting to flossing daily.

In reviewing age groups, the report found that baby boomers (those born between 1946 – 1964) understand there is a strong link between their oral and overall health, but are less aware than other generations about the connection between poor dental health and chronic diseases (such as arthritis and diabetes). Those listed in the Generation Z group (born between 1997 – 2012) showed less commitment to their oral health as the “boomers,” but are more focused on eco-friendly and nontraditional oral care products. Only 76% of Generation Z agreed that oral health is closely connected to overall health.

An article in RDH Today recently shared that one-third of millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) admit to only brushing once per day, and the average millennial has gone over two days without brushing at all. Yet, 28% of young adults admit that ““The appearance of my mouth and teeth affects my ability to interview for a job.”

The study also shared that 27% of millennials are uncomfortable going to the dentist compared to 23% of respondents 55 years and older, and 56% of millennials have simply made an excuse not to go to the dentist compared to the 36% of those 55 years and older.

While fear remains a factor in a percentage of adults, this deterrent has existed for years among all ages. The American Dental Association conducted a survey on millennials, the fear issue was not the leading problem. Cost and inconvenient time and location were cited as the top excuses for avoiding regular dental care.

Excuses aside, here are some reminders about the benefits of maintaining good oral health:

• Technology – Today’s imaging technology (such as our Cone Beam technology and IntraOral scanners), allow us to treatment plan for the most conservative treatment possible. These amazing features provide amazing detail so treatment can be performed with precision for optimal outcomes.

• Comfort – In addition to the conservative treatment made possible by advanced imaging technology, we offer enhanced comfort options, including oral and I.V. sedation. Also referred to as “twilight sleep” or “sleep dentistry,” these sedatives are administered by a doctor of anesthesia who utilizes advanced safety monitoring equipment.

• Savings of Time & Money – The reason for 6-month dental check-ups and dental cleanings is to remove tartar buildup before damage can occur. Your hygienist and dentist can look for signs of gum disease so measures can be taken before the disease explodes into the need for more costly treatment to resolve the problem. Since gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss, the associated expenses of replacing teeth can also be avoided by maintaining good oral health.

• Bolstering Overall Health – Although the Covid pandemic made us more aware of the benefits of vaccines and healthy habits such as hand-washing, it is our immune system that makes people more or less vulnerable. By investing in having healthy gums, the immune system is supported.

Be aware of the signs and symptoms of gum disease. These include:
Sore, swollen gums
Gums that bleed easily when brushing
Persistent bad breath
Gums that recede (pull away or loosen from the base of teeth)
Gums that turn red in color
Pus pockets that form at the base of some teeth
Teeth that loosen or shift

If you have any of these, you are urged to seek periodontal care as soon as possible. This disease will only worsen without treatment.

Call 828-274-9440 to schedule a consultation in our state-of-the-art Asheville periodontal dental office. A referral is not required.

 

Sources:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jcpe.13435https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/dental.htm

https://www.deltadental.com/content/dam/ddpa/us/en/state-of-america%27s-oral-health-and-wellness-report/DDPA_State%20of%20Oral%20Health%20Report_2023-Release_FINAL.pdfse-you

https://www.ada.org/-/media/project/ada-organization/ada/ada-org/files/resources/research/hpi/us-oral-health-well-being.pdf

https://www.todaysrdh.com/do-millennials-truly-have-worse-oral-health-than-their-parents/

https://nypost.com/2018/02/23/millennials-are-terrible-at-keeping-their-teeth-clean/

What Gum Disease Bacteria Does To You That May Surprise You.


Posted on Dec 15, 2023 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

As we round the corner of another year, making oral hygiene a priority seems a distant thought in the midst of holiday preparations and activities of the season. But, it should be at all times in our lives, for many reasons.

Over the years, research has continuously shown that the bacteria of periodontal disease can have a number of harmful effects – in the mouth AND elsewhere.

This is because these inflammatory bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. Studies show that these bacteria can activate or worsen a number of serious health problems.

People easily understand that a mouthful of bacteria can cause bad breath and gums that may be tender and redden in color. This makes sense, since an area with a skin cut can redden and swell if it doesn’t heal properly. Yet, because gum tissues are concealed behind cheeks and lips, it is easier to ignore problems that may be clear that something is wrong if more exposed.

To be clear, bacteria in our bodies is not always a bad thing. For example, certain bacteria in the gut actually enhance the process of digestion and help to keep the digestive system operating efficiently.

However, some bacteria are bad. These ignite when too much bacteria invade the body, causing the immune system to become overburdened. Bacterial overload can leave the body’s natural defense response, white blood cells, unable to conquer the infection. So, when a cut becomes infected, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to give the immune system added reinforcements.

And, when bacteria overload occurs in the mouth, an inflammatory reaction begins. This is the beginning of gum disease.

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.

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.

In addition to a healthy smile, the health of your gums can impact your overall health. By keeping the bacteria of advanced gum disease, known as periodontitis, you lower your risks of a long list of serious health problems that have been shown connected to gum disease bacteria. These include:

• Heart Disease & Stroke – 
According to research, having advanced gum disease makes you twice as likely to develop heart disease. This is due to clot-causing proteins that occur from oral bacteria that can clog arteries, including the carotid artery that supplies the brain with blood.

• Dementia & Alzheimer’s disease
 – Studies have shown that tooth loss from oral bacteria is a risk factor for memory loss and early stage Alzheimer’s disease. Apparently, oral infection cause inflammation triggers that can lead to the destruction of brain cells.

• Cancer – 
Researchers found that males with gum disease are 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, nearly 50% more likely to develop kidney cancer and 30% more likely to have blood cancers.

• Diabetes
 – Because people with diabetes are more susceptible to infections, with 95% of whom also have periodontal disease.

• Erectile Dysfunction – 
Men with periodontal disease are 7 times more likely to have erectile dysfunction (ED).

• Premature Birth – Nearly 13% of U.S. babies are born premature, which can lead to breathing issues and infections. Infection in the mother’s body, which includes infection from periodontal disease, can create inflammatory reactions that are related to premature and low birth weight babies.

• Infertility – 
Research has found that gum disease can complicate attempts for a female to become pregnant.

• Respiratory Problems – 
When bloodborne bacteria from gum disease reaches the lungs, people with respiratory problems are at higher risk of pneumonia and acute bronchitis (COPD).

It has been said that the mouth is the gateway to the body. Whether it’s the holidays or vacation time or just a busy schedule, your oral health should be a commitment. It takes just minutes a day to brush your teeth thoroughly (at least 2 minutes each time), twice daily, floss daily and swish after meals.

Drink plenty of water, especially after consuming caffeinated beverages or alcohol (including wine). If you smoke, begin with a periodontal exam and ask our hygienist for at-home care instructions.

Call 828-274-9440 if you have questions about your gums or if you are experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms of gum disease. Also, visit our website to learn more about our sedation options (including “twilight sleep”) and advanced technology, which often reduces treatment time while enhancing comfort.

 

 

 

 

A Periodontist Can Contour Gum Tissues For A More Beautiful Smile


Posted on Nov 23, 2023 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

During the holidays, my wife and I attend gatherings where we occasionally meet new people. A common question, as applies to most of us, is “What do you do?” When I reply that I’m a periodontist, it is often met with a look of not knowing what a periodontist is but not wanting to appear as if that’s the case.

I’d like to explain what “we” are and, from a smile enhancement basis, what we can provide. I typically find that when I say “periodontal plastic surgery” it comes across as far more familiar than “performing gingivectomies.”

A periodontist is a dental specialist who has an advanced level of understanding when it comes to diseases of the oral tissues, reshaping of gum tissues and in the selection and placement of dental implants.

The American Academy of Periodontology defines a Periodontist as:

“A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease, and in the placement of dental implants. Periodontists are also experts in the treatment of oral inflammation. Periodontists receive extensive training in these areas, including three additional years of education beyond dental school. They are familiar with the latest techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease, and are also trained in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures.”

https://www.perio.org/consumer/what-is-a-periodontist

To reach this specialty begins with educational requirements that are extensive. First, there is completion of 4 years of college (for an undergraduate degree) followed by another 4 years in dental school (for a doctorate). To specialize in Periodontics, he or she must further their education for another 3-4 years before completing the stringent requirements for specialty certification in periodontics.

The gums are rather under-rated when it comes to the tremendous role they play in both oral health and even your overall health.

Think of the gum tissues as a protective blanket in the mouth. The gums cover over the structures that support teeth and house the tissues and bone that are vital to our health. For instance, look at the base of each tooth. You’ll see that gum tissues snugly wrap around the base of each tooth. This protective seal is what prevents bacterial penetration beneath the gum line.

When oral bacteria amass to an extent that cannot be controlled by oral hygiene measures at home, they cause inflammation in the gums. In turn, the gums loosen their tight grip around teeth, which allows entry of the now-potent bacteria. These infectious bacteria have been linked to a number of problems related to a long list of serious health problems.

Oral bacteria has been found to trigger or worsen systemic conditions, including atherosclerotic vascular (heart) disease, pulmonary (respiratory) disease, diabetes, pregnancy-related complications (including preterm births), osteoporosis (bone loss), and kidney disease. A shared trait between gum disease and these medical conditions is that they are chronic conditions that take a long time to develop.

https://www.agd.org/docs/default-source/self-instruction-(gendent)/gendent_nd17_aafp_kane.pdf

It is important to be familiar with the signs and symptoms of periodontal (gum) disease, which include:

• Red, swollen or tender gums
• Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or when eating certain foods
• Gums that pull away from the teeth (recede) or make the teeth appear longer than normal
• Loose or separating teeth
• Pus pockets that form between gums and teeth
• Sores in your mouth
• Persistent bad breath
• A change in the way teeth fit together when biting
• A change in the fit of partial dentures

If you have any of these, you are urged to seek a thorough periodontal evaluation as soon as possible. This disease will only worsen without treatment. Gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Healthy gum tissues do more than serve in a protective role. The appearance of a smile can be greatly affected by the shape and amount of gum tissues exposed when smiling.

When a smile shows too much or too little gum tissue bordering the tops of teeth, it moves the “smile line” out of balance. For example, in a beautiful smile, the arches of gum tissues visible in a full smile flow at a similar height. These gum arches are in a complimentary line to teeth, rather than at varying levels over teeth. When the gum lime is not evenly balanced, it causes a smile to have a jumbled look.

Crown lengthening is performed to reposition the gum tissues to enhance the appearance of a smile. In addition to creating a more appealing look, crown lengthening is also performed to restore the tight seal of protection around teeth. While you enjoy the beauty of your new smile, crown lengthening gives your oral health a boost at the same time.

When the height of gum tissues that show above all teeth in a smile is too high, it is referred to as a “gummy smile.” A gummy smile is not detrimental to your oral health. However, having one does affect the appearance of a smile based on balance. For some people, it makes them “hold back” on a full smile.

This can be corrected with a gingivectomy. To begin, we numb the gum tissues and carefully trim the excess. As a Periodontist, I take specific measures to ensure a natural looking arch remains over the teeth while preserving the natural points that ‘dip’ between each tooth.

A gingivectomy is performed in our Asheville periodontal office with a dental laser. This provides patients with a number of advantages: (1) enhanced comfort; (2) precision lines; (3) minimal or no bleeding; and, (4) faster healing time.

In our Asheville NC periodontal office, we use the highly-advanced LANAP with PerioLase MVP 7 Laser-Assisted Attachment Procedure. This is an advanced protocol that efficiently and effectively treats advanced gum disease (periodontitis) with the added advantages of a dental laser. It is a non-surgical alternative for patients with moderate to severe periodontal disease, causes very little discomfort and has a quick recovery time. It has also been found to stimulate bone regrowth in damaged areas.

In some cases, the crown lengthening procedure can save a tooth from removal. Typically, when a tooth fractures or breaks at the gum line, it must be removed since there is not enough tooth structure to support a crown. However, a crown lengthening procedure may be able to expose more of the tooth’s structure, essentially saving the natural tooth.

For those who have avoided gum treatment due to dental fear, we offer several sedation options, including oral and IV sedation. 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 (also known as “twilight sleep”) places the patient in a deeper sleep state and erases memory of the procedure. Here, anesthesia is overseen by a medical doctor (MD) who is a board certified Anesthesiologist. With both sedation options, patients are closely monitored with advanced safety equipment throughout treatment.

We help patients understand that their fears and concerns are not unusual. The doctors and staff of our Asheville periodontal dental office respect each patient and provide gentle, compassionate care – at every appointment.

We believe you’ll find no better periodontal dental environment in western NC. Whatever your need for the treatment of gum disease, recontouring of gum tissues, or in the placement of dental implants, call 828-274-9440 to learn more or to schedule a consultation appointment. New patients are always welcome and a referral is not required.

Recent Posts

Categories

Archives