The Value Of Dental Implants Goes On & On.
Posted on Jan 08, 2020 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Many people have a list of favorite holiday movies. One that stand out for me is “Christmas Vacation,” where Clark Griswold attempts to create the perfect Christmas for a hoard of family members who have descended upon his home.
In the movie, Clark learns that, instead of his company’s annual Christmas bonus, he’s received a certificate for “Jelly of the Month” club. Cousin Eddie famously comments, “It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”
Laughs aside, this always reminds me of how much we spend, all year long, on things that really add very little to our lives. People invest in new cars, clothes, jewelry, and fancy electronics – many purchases based on ads indicating these items will bring us great pleasure.
Yet, year after year, Americans struggle to pay January credit card bills laden with holiday purchases. And, we begin a new year not as fulfilled as we thought. I’d like to make a suggestion: your smile!
Is there anything that would give you as much pleasure as a healthy, confident smile?
Life’s best moments are things like laughing with close friends, dining out in our favorite restaurant, close conversations with loved ones, and the bite of a red apple picked right off the tree.
As a Periodontist, I see how difficult life can be for patients with dentures and partial dentures. To witness the transformation of an individual who has replaced “slippery” dentures with dental implants has been a particular joy throughout my career.
Over the past three decades, there have been remarkable advancements in implant dentistry. It has easily become the preferred replacement for missing, natural teeth. Today, there are implant types that offer exceptional choices to fulfill nearly any need when it comes to replacing teeth with dependable stability and a natural look and feel.
While I share the excitement of our implant patients when they “see” their appealing, confident smiles after treatment completion, as a periodontist, I know it is the foundation beneath the gums that is the true benefit of dental implants.
Like natural teeth, implants are held by the upper or lower jaws. The jaw bones actually thrive on the presence of tooth roots for stimulation to keep the bone healthy. Without tooth roots, the bone goes through a process known as resorption. Resorption causes bones to lose height and width, almost like they are melting.
Dental implants are able to mimic the stimulation they need to prevent the process of resorption.
Bone loss contributes to a number of problems. Once resorption sets in, the teeth adjacent to the area of bone loss are affected. Bone loss that neighbors areas of resorption weakens tooth root stability. When a natural tooth is lost, statistics show the next to be lost will most likely be an adjacent tooth.
Bone loss can even be seen in some people. It causes the appearance of a collapsed mouth (referred to as a “granny look”) where the nose is unusually close to the chin. It is also the reason that dentures and partials begin to move or “slip.” This can cause uncomfortable rubbing on gum tissues.
When a denture is first made, it is shaped to fit the unique contours of your gum ridge (the gum-covered arch that once held your natural tooth roots). As bone loss continues, the once-secure fit loosens and cause sore spots on tender gum tissues while chewing. Denture pastes or adhesives can help, but eventually even relines are of little help.
For many, another appealing advantage of dental implants is that they are a lifelong investment. Dental implants, properly selected and placed, are designed to last a lifetime with proper maintenance.
Adults are also seeing dental implants as a wiser option than crown-&-bridge combinations. Unlike dental implants, crowns and bridges can require repairs or replacements over time. Too, crowning natural teeth for the sole purpose of supporting a bridge forever compromises the health of otherwise natural teeth.
Dental implants do not rely on adjacent teeth for support since they are anchored in the jaw bone. This restores the same, sturdy foundation as natural tooth roots. An added bonus is how the implanted portion recreates the presence of a tooth root, halting the process of resorption.
If you are missing natural teeth, consider the advanced skills of a periodontist to consult with on dental implants. For a private, no obligation consultation to discuss your specific goals or concerns, call 828-274-9440 for an appointment.
If fear of dentistry is an obstacle for you, we can also discuss our sedation options. Our office is known for providing respectful, gentle care and oral and IV sedation are available as needed, administered safely and to the highest standards. Feel free to mention your concerns during your consultation.
Is Your Insurance Ruining Your Oral Health?
Posted on Nov 26, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
A necessary ‘evil.’
These days, insurance coverage seems to be an ever-expanding chunk out of paychecks. Even so, coverages seem to be getting more and more limited.
Yet, health insurance is an investment that provides peace of mind and reminds us that we need to do all we can to stay healthy – and NOT need it! Deductibles, uncovered items, and prescriptions can drain the wallet in spite of what is shelled out for monthly premiums.
Regardless of the insurance coverage you have, taking full advantage of its benefits is an annual goal. Some people have Health Savings Accounts (HSA) to give some padding for certain expenses not covered by insurances.
Because of out-of-pocket expenses, dental patients sometimes make decisions on accepting treatment based on what their insurance covers. This can be detrimental to the patient.
Dental insurance was developed to give people some help for basic annual expenses. For many, this includes twice-a-year dental exams and cleanings. Some policies include assistance for an annual crown or filling, and some coverage for periodontal (gum) therapy to treat gum disease.
Although adults may see these coverages as ample, they can be far from sufficient some years. For aging adults or people who have conditions such as diabetes or take medications that have an oral dryness side effect, basic insurance coverage can be far from what is in your best interest.
Keep in mind that insurance companies are for-profit businesses. What these companies deem coverage-worthy may be far from what is best for a patient’s long term oral health.
Think about this … As of Aug. 2, 2018, publicly traded health care companies amassed $47 billion in profit. (https://www.axios.com/health-care-industry-on-track-massive-q2-profits-1533226387-dacec8f8-c9f5-406c-a49e-1103e3316c64.html) That’s BILLION.
Sadly, insurance companies tend to serve as judge and jury for some people when it comes to treatment decisions. If an insurance company overrules what a dentist or dental specialist advises, it can leave the patient with an even more-complex situation.
They also use additional limiting terms such as “usual and customary.” This means that it is the insurance company that determines what is reimbursed for the treatment rather than the skill level and reputation of the provider.
Another dilemma for today’s insured patient has to do with the treatment recommended. For instance, when I consult with a patient who is missing teeth, I typically advise dental implants. My recommendation is based upon what will provide the patient with a lifelong solution for missing teeth as well as other benefits.
I look at a dental implant as the ideal in tooth replacement, since it is held in the jaw bone just as natural tooth roots. An implant restores the dependable foundation necessary for biting and chewing, enabling the patient to eat a healthy diet and chew foods comfortably, which supports the digestive system and overall health.
Dental implants are a more expensive option (initially) than crown-&-bridge combinations, dentures, or partials. They are designed to last a lifetime; often far beyond the span of time an average policy holder would stick with the insuring company.
As beneficial as they are to your overall health, dental implants are often deemed as ‘elective’ by insurance companies. This is where the patient must decide: “Is protecting my overall health and smiling confidence a priority to me or should I go with what my insurance coverage allows?”
What it comes down to is, essentially, how we perceive insurance coverage. While major medical insurance gives us peace of mind should we experience a health challenge that would otherwise drain us financially, dental insurance coverages are different.
Dental insurance, for the most part with most policies, is structured as a ‘support’ for helping those covered to maintain a healthy mouth. For people who already have good oral health and are able to tend to it sufficiently between checkups, this is fine. However, for most American adults, tooth repair, tooth loss and gum problems are a fact of life, particularly as we age.
For most of us, the decisions we make today will affect us in the years to come. When it comes to your oral health, don’t let your long-term oral wellness, the longevity of your teeth, the comfort of healthy eating, or the confidence of smiling and laughter be dictated by what insurance coverage allows.
When it comes to your smile, put your needs first.
If you trust your dentist and others involved to guide you towards good oral health and maintaining your smile, consider their recommendations and ask questions. Be an informed consumer. But, most importantly, make decisions that are in your best interest rather than that a for-profit insurance company deems is worthy for your smile.
If you don’t have regular dental care and would like recommendations, feel free to contact us at 828-274-9440. We work with exceptional general dentists in Western North Carolina and will be proud to connect you. Or, feel free to begin with a thorough periodontal exam here. We will make recommendations based upon your unique needs and goals.
Is Your Denture Increasing Your Risk For The Flu?
Posted on Nov 14, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
“Did you get your flu shot yet?”
Like every year, flu season is here. And part of the prevention measures many people take to avoid it are having their annual flu shot. Hopefully, this quick injection will help individuals to build up a resistance to getting it.
Even with this shot, however, a certain amount of people still get the flu. And, for people who have compromised immune systems, the flu can be a difficult illness to overcome. For some, it can lead to hospitalization and even death.
According to Harvard Health Publishing (https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/10-flu-myths): “in the United States alone, 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year because of the flu”.
Although we take precautions, such as washing hands and covering our mouths when we sneeze, germs are everywhere – especially in colder months when air circulates in more closed-in spaces.
When it comes to germs, an often overlooked source of germs are dentures and partials. Dentures, because of their gum-colored bases are porous, can be coated with a sticky bacteria known as biofilm. It has been found that this biofilm can harbor MRSA or bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics.
One study, published in the Journal of The American Dental Association, was conducted to determine methods to effectively kill bacteria in the material that make up the gum base of dentures and partials. The results, reported on by NBC News in 2012, revealed how truly serious these bacteria levels were. (https://www.nbcnews.com/healthmain/dirty-dentures-dangerous-mrsa-may-be-lurking-dentists-say-662637)
According to the report, dentures are “covered with thin layers of icky, sticky bacteria known as biofilms. Worse, some of the biofilm germs may be bad bugs such as MRSA, or drug-resistant staphylococcus aureus bacteria, which can lurk on the dentures until they’re breathed into the lungs, where experts fear they may cause nasty, hard-to-treat infections.”
The problems and risks don’t stop there. When bacteria in the mouth are breathed into the lungs, infections become much more difficult to treat. This is especially concerning due to the high number of denture and partial wearers who sleep in their appliances.
One study found that wearing dentures while sleeping doubles the risk of pneumonia in elderly adults. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4541085/) While sleeping in dentures obviously increases health risks, these icky organisms can create quite an obstacle to adults who have immune systems that are already compromised.
Just because we don’t see the actions of organisms that are housed inside our bodies, we must not forget that bacteria are there – living, eating and waste-producing. The tiny hide-outs of denture ‘pores’ give oral bacteria an ideal environment to thrive and reproduce.
With the additional frustrations of wearing dentures and partials, it’s no surprise that dental implants have become the preferred choice of today’s adult when it comes to replacing natural teeth.
Dental implants are held by the jaw bone, restoring a sturdy foundation for biting and chewing. They also recreate stimulation to the bone that supports them, thus halting the rate of bone loss that occurs from wearing dentures. And, dental implants are designed to last a lifetime, making them an excellent investment.
As a Periodontist, my specialty includes advanced training in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants. Over the years, I have been impressed with their track record, having one of the highest of all implant-in-bone success rates.
Why worry over the health risks associated with wearing dentures and partials? Dental implants are dependable, safe, lasting, and provide a natural look and feel. Call 828-274-9440 to schedule an appointment to determine if dental implants are right for you.
Missing Teeth Should Be Replaced For The GOOD Of Overall Well-Being.
Posted on Oct 22, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Sometimes, it’s what we can’t see that can do the most harm.
A surprising example of that is wearing dentures. While dentures and partial dentures do replace the presence of teeth, they actually have a detrimental effect on what lies beneath.
If you remove your denture, you can actually SEE what’s going on.
For people who have worn dentures or partials for ten years or more, the appliance has applied pressure to the bone ‘ridge’ that once supported natural teeth. And, without the stimulation of tooth roots in the bone, the jaw begins to decline in mass.
Without the denture in place to “fluff up” the shape of the mouth, a look in the mirror can reveal signs of bone loss. These include:
- Deep wrinkles around your mouth.
- The corners of your mouth turn downward, even in a smile.
- The mouth seems sunken in. Jowls have formed on the sides of the face.
- The chin seems more pointed than in your youth.
- The chin may also seem closer to the nose.
This decline in bone occurs when a tooth root is removed from the jaw bone. Without natural tooth roots to nourish and stimulate the root, the process of ‘resorption’ begins.
Additionally, resorption increases risks for tooth loss to neighboring natural teeth. As the jaw bone declines in an area to adjacent tooth roots, these teeth are more vulnerable to cavities, gum disease, and fractures.
It is a fact that when a tooth is lost, the one next to the one missing is most likely the next to be lost.
For people who opt to replace a tooth (or teeth) with a crown-&-bridge, they can also expect bone loss. Over time, this is visible by a gap that seen between the base of the bridge and the natural gum tissues.
As a periodontist, the most common complaint I hear from those who wear dentures or partials is having discomfort while eating. Many long-time denture and partial wearers experience sore spots on tender gum tissues. This occurs because their appliances move when chewing certain foods.
This movement is the result of the declined bone mass that supports the denture. This gum-covered ‘ridge’ where teeth were once held flattens as the jaw bone declines in height and mass. Because a denture or partial is made to contour to this ridge, it begins to slip as the bone shrinks. This is when people tend to use denture adhesives and pastes more frequently.
To avoid discomfort when eating, denture wearers begin to alter their food selections, opting for soft foods that dissolve quickly in the mouth without having to chew. In many cases, these choices lack the fiber, vitamins, minerals and protein needed for proper nutrition.
To no surprise, denture wearers are known to take more medications and have more gastrointestinal problems than non-denture wearers. Yet, the problems of “slippery” or “wobbly” dentures can affect social involvement as well.
Due to fear of embarrassing slips, denture wearers begin to decline social gatherings where food is the centerpiece. Social involvement is a healthy part of keeping our brains and bodies active, which is a positive part of aging.
It stands to reason that there is a need to replace more than the mere presence of teeth. This is why so many dentists and dental specialists now recommend dental implants. For decades now, they have been a dependable option to replace missing natural teeth.
There are many advantages to dental implants. From a health standpoint, I see their ability to halt bone loss as a leading benefit. Dental implants are placed in the jaw bone, recreating the stimulation of tooth roots. This helps to preserve the strength of the jaw bone while restoring biting strength and chewing stability.
I also like that dental implants are self-supporting since they use the jaw bone for support. They do not rely on having otherwise-healthy, natural teeth crowned for the mere purpose of supporting replacement teeth (as in crown-&-bridge combinations).
From a value perspective, dental implants are an excellent investment. With proper selection, placement and care, they are designed to last your lifetime. And, it’s an investment you’ll enjoy every day as you comfortably eat foods you love, smile and laugh without worry, and wake up with a smile!
There is much to know as to why keeping your natural teeth is so important. However, when tooth loss does occur, you can protect your health and well-being by replacing them with implants. With dental implants, you are able to avoid the long-term repercussions of bone loss.
When extreme bone loss has occurred, we can restore bone mass through several methods. One uses a bone-rebuilding material that generates new growth. For some patients who have lost bone due to gum disease, our Asheville periodontal dental office also offers LANAP technology (Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure). This advanced technology has been found to stimulate bone regrowth in damaged areas.
Ask about dental implants to restore a natural look and feel while you protect surrounding teeth and bone structure. As a periodontist with advanced training in the diagnosis and placement of all types of implant systems, I can recommend options that will work best for your individual situation.
Call 828-274-9440 to learn more or ask for a consultation to personally discuss your needs and preferences.