Scared? Afraid? Simple Steps To Get Past Dental Fears.
Posted on Apr 30, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
If you’re one of those people who have no dread of going to see a dentist, be glad. For the large percentage of adults who do experience anxiety or fear associated with dental visits, they are actually in the majority.
In the U.S., an estimated 70 percent of adults have some level of dental fear, unfortunately. About 5-10 percent of them can be categorized as “dental phobics.” These individuals have such an intense fear of dental visits that the mere thoughts of walking into an office causes reactions such as sweating or more rapid breathing.
As a periodontist, I’m a frequent witness to just how severe dental fears can be. Some people cry, some keep a white-knuckled grip on the arms of a dental chair (once they finally talk themselves into one), and some ask to be put to sleep for things as minor as dental cleanings.
The periodontal specialty provides patients with a dental professional who has advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of gum disease. It also covers the diagnosis and placement of dental implants, which are the “ideal” tooth replacement. In this field, I’ve seen the repercussions of both due to dental fear.
By not receiving regular dental cleanings and exams, the risks for developing gum disease rise significantly. And, since gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss, it plays a key role in one’s potential to lose natural teeth.
Dental fear leads to a vicious cycle of poor oral health and tooth loss. When people are too afraid to see a dentist for regular care and fail to have small problems repaired while treatment needs (and costs) are still minimal, the process is ongoing. As gum health declines, the risks for tooth loss increases.
No one wants to end up in dentures. While TV commercials for denture adhesives or same-day denture clinics try to come across as upbeat, life wearing a denture is anything but. Long-time denture wearers struggle to bite, chew, and even speak without worrisome, uncomfortable slips or rubbing against tender gum tissues.
Too, the uncertainty of a denture can make some people uneasy when dining out or in other social settings. It’s not unusual for denture wearers to decline invitations when food is a key centerpiece of the gathering. This is sad. It is also detrimental to one’s health. Social involvement is an important part of our overall well-being.
If you are among those who avoid dental care because of uncontrollable jitters or downright “scared” feelings, below are several steps you may wish to consider to help you move past them:
• Begin by writing down what you believe caused your fears in the first place. Was it a painful procedure? Was it a rough dentist who ignored your obvious discomfort? If you know what sparked your fear in the first place and can look-it-in-the-eye in actual words, you can begin to deal with them. This may help you bring them out of the shadows and into the light where you can begin to conquer them.
• Close your eyes and imagine your life with a healthy smile — one that makes you feel good about being close to others. Imagine conversations having fresh breath and smiling with confidence. Imagine getting compliments on your smile! Think about how you may interact more confidently with others with a smile you’re proud to share.
• If you haven’t seen a dentist on a regular basis, you may need to begin with a periodontal examination. You can do an internet search (Periodontist) in your area and get to know them through their web sites. Read the doctor’s bio and become familiar with what he or she offers in terms of technology and comfort options. When a periodontist keeps current on the techniques and technology surrounding this specialty, patient comfort is typically a leading factor among these features.
• Visit the periodontist’s office after hours. Yes, go there when they are closed so you’ll feel less intimated. Sit in the parking lot and imagine where you’d park for your visit, once scheduled. Walk up to the entrance and become familiar with the look of the entryway. This way, when your appointment is made, you’ll feel more comfortable making your way in the door.
• Call the office and be comfortable sharing your concerns. Don’t feel shy about saying, “I have a lot of dental fear and would like to begin by meeting the doctor.” Most offices have these conversations with new callers more often than you realize. As mentioned prior, dental fear and anxiety are fairly common. Most offices offer an initial consultation so you can get to know the doctor before scheduling an exam. Ask about where this consult will be held. The periodontist should have a private room available for this, where it is not part of the clinical side of the practice.
• The day of your appointment, call the office and ask about anticipated waiting time for your appointment. Most offices run on-time and your wait should be less than 15 minutes. However, unforeseen emergencies do arise that may disrupt an on-time schedule. If delayed, consider rescheduling. Having a lengthy wait time may add to your anxiety and it may be best to arrange another visit.
• When you go, take a book, newspaper, or favorite magazine for your wait time. Don’t assume that the periodontist has a selection you’ll be interested in. Some people like to work a crossword or ‘Jumble’ during their brief wait here.
• When meeting the doctor or staff, know that it is important to be straight-forward about your fear level. Don’t gloss over it. Being upfront will help the doctor tailor your care to address your fears or concerns at an appropriate level.
• Ask the doctor about comfort options, including sedation. Both oral and IV sedation (twilight sleep) should be available. Feel free to ask questions about how they are administered, recovery time, and safety monitoring measures. Your safety is as important as your comfort.
• Finally, listen to your gut. Did you feel the doctor truly ‘heard’ your concerns? Did you feel the staff was attentive? Did you feel confident in the appearance of the practice? Sometimes, the most important measure of comfort is what that “little voice” inside is telling us. If you don’t feel good about moving forward, consider a consult at another periodontal office. You should leave your consult feeling positive about moving forward.
One of the most satisfying parts of my specialty is watching a once-fearful patient transform into one with a healthy, confident smile! And, the foundation of that is a relationship of trust between the doctor and the patient.
If you are ready to get past your dental fears so you can have the smile you desire, begin by calling our Asheville periodontal office and speaking with our friendly staff at: 828-274-9440. Or, start with the steps listed above and move at a pace that feels best for you.
For Dental Implants, Begin With A Specialist For Optimal Results.
Posted on Apr 10, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
If you are considering dental implants to replace teeth or an appliance (dentures or partials), having your treatment BEGIN WITH a Periodontist offers many advantages to achieving a successful, overall result.
A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the he placement of dental implants as well as the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease. Periodontists are experts in the treatment of oral inflammation of the gum tissues, which make up much of the foundation for an implant.
A periodontist is familiar with the latest techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease and trained in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures. To specialize in periodontology, he or she must undergo an additional 11 years, on average, to complete the educational, clinical and specialty requirements after high school.
Essentially, a periodontist becomes a dentist and continues on in education and training to further expand his or her realm of knowledge and skills. While some general dentists offer dental implant diagnosis and placement in their dental office, having a specially-trained periodontist can help you enjoy an optimal outcome based on a unique understanding of the supporting gums, bones, and appropriate implant types and placement.
For example, a dentist who offers dental implant services may actually have completed a brief weekend course hosted by a particular implant system company. The dentist, while ‘taught’ to place the particular implant type, is essentially instructed in what the hosting company teaches as far as diagnosis and placement of their system alone.
Yet, every mouth is different. An implant designed by one company may not be appropriate for the number of implants you actually need, nor the bone structures you have, or the number of teeth being supported. There are a number of factors that must be taken into consideration for a successful result.
A periodontist uses specialized training that covers all types of implant systems to carefully select the type of implant that is most appropriate for unique needs. From this, a treatment plan will be developed for the number of implants needed and ideal positioning in regards to existing bone structures and surrounding gum tissues.
If finding the “cheapest” price for your implant is the priority in your decision, the involvement of a periodontist will probably not be less expensive than what you’ll find advertised online. You’ll find bargains that sound too good to be true (which often are).
However, your choice in dental implant treatment should factor in the risks of failure. Some people are unaware that dental implants can “fail.” While insufficient at-home care can be a contributing factor to the need for implant removal, an implant that is placed at an improper depth and angle, or one that is too big or small to support the attached restorations (replacement teeth) is also a cause.
As a Periodontist in Asheville, I’ve had to remove a number of implants that were poorly selected or placed over the years. I feel badly for these patients, knowing they have to go through the entire process again, and make the investment all over again. In our practice, we take every step to “do it right the first time” so implant selection and placement is the very best for each patient.
At Biltmore Periodontics, we offer oral sedation for added relaxation. We also have a Board Certified Anesthesiologist on our team. Dr. Brad Stone is a medical doctor providing sedation and anesthesia for optimal comfort and relaxation. Here, our patients know us for making comfort and safety high priorities. (https://www.biltmoreperiodontics.com/comprehensive-care-team/) IV sedation provides patients with a “twilight sleep” state with a quick recovery. Too, it typically erases all memory of the procedure afterwards.
It may be tempting to consider a “cheap” dental implant offer or a “one-stop clinic” for your treatment. However, your overall comfort and long-term success should be the guiding force in your decisions in tooth replacement.
Begin with a consultation appointment. Call 828-274-9440. During this time, we can discuss the implant type that may work best for you and the process involved. We will also be happy to address anticipated fees and payment options, if desired.
Dental implants, when properly chosen, placed, and cared for, are designed to last your lifetime. In the proper hands, your new smile will be an everyday joy, every day of your life!
How To Make Flossing An Easy Part Of Your Oral Care Routine
Posted on Mar 06, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
You can imagine that dental offices hear just about every excuse known to man as to why people “forget” to brush or don’t floss or don’t go to the dentist or don’t proceed with recommended treatment or don’t ….. It’s endless.
While many patients know their excuses are not really justified reasons, we adults can rationalize just about anything when it comes down to it. We know what may seem unjustified can be true reality for others.
We learn – starting from childhood – how to rationalize certain viewpoints. Some of us justify grabbing something sweet rather than healthy for a “quick pick-me-up.” Some don’t make the bed in the morning because it’s just going to get messed up at night. Some don’t go to the dentist until something hurts because they feel that’s the first sign that something is wrong.
OK, we all know, deep down, that there are things we shouldn’t avoid. No one WANTS to go to a dentist twice a year but also know it’s part of the process for a confident smile and way to avoid cavities and periodontal (gum) disease.
It’s clear that it’s not just these 6-month check-ups and cleanings alone that lower our risks of needing dental repairs and treatment, things that occur that were essentially preventable with daily care. What I’d like to address is the daily care you give to your oral health, and flossing, in particular.
In our Asheville periodontal dental office, we pride ourselves on not “lecturing” our patients. Our goal is to provide sufficient information to each individual, helping him or her understand the HOW & WHY of recommendations.
For instance, here is HOW to brush thoroughly and effectively twice a day. Here is WHY it can save you time and money by preventing or minimizing dental procedures that may be needed in the future.
Brushing one’s teeth effectively and regularly is easily instructed. We advise at least twice a day, using a soft to medium bristle tooth brush and fluoride tooth paste. Using a swirling motion, each individual should spend at least two minutes per brushing, going over all sides and tops of teeth.
And then there’s flossing. This is where the patient starts to twitch and squirm in the discussion. Flossing is a complicated, difficult maneuver in the minds of some people. Yet, for those who floss on a daily basis, it’s a simple technique that takes less than a minute.
The action of flossing helps to dislodge food particles that become trapped between teeth. For older adults who have shrinking gum tissues (a normal part of the aging process), food bits can also become wedged in the tight openings beneath the area where teeth meet one another.
Flossing is a particular need for people who have crowded, crooked teeth. These jumbled angles and nooks offer ideal havens for oral bacteria accumulation. Too, people in orthodontic treatment (braces) are particularly vulnerable to oral bacteria buildup because of the food trapping potential of wires and brackets.
Food that is not removed from the mouth after several hours begins to rot. Rotting particles are sustenance for oral bacteria. This gives them sustenance that helps them reproduce and thrive. As oral bacteria accumulate in the mouth, they begin attacking tooth enamel and gum tissues.
A tooth brush is often unable to dislodge food caught between teeth. This is why the use of floss is beneficial. However, manual floss can be a challenge to some individuals. Some people don’t like the tight feel around their fingers. Some people have large hands and find it difficult to reach certain areas in the mouth. Others have dexterity issues that leave them unable to floss.
Our goal is to create an ideal program for each patient that is customized to their needs and goals. For example, people with large or arthritic hands can STILL floss, simply by using a water flosser.
A water flosser pulsates a stream of water between teeth that is forceful enough to dislodge trapped food bits but without harming teeth or gums. Water flossers are affordable, easy to purchase online or in most stores, and easy to use.
Best of all, most water flossers have been shown to be just as effective as manual flossing. And, because they typically sit out in clear view of the sink where tooth brushing occurs, water flossers help to remind the individual that it’s a part of their at-home oral hygiene routine.
There is always an excuse to avoid doing something we know, deep down, we should be doing. I don’t like taking the trash out at night but know it’s simply part of keeping our home clean and pleasant. Yet, certain tasks are well worth the small steps we take each day to keep things in good shape.
A healthy, confident smile is worth the daily upkeep of regular brushing and flossing. You can also enhance your potential for a healthy mouth by drinking plenty of water throughout the day, limiting sugar and caffeine (which is drying to oral tissues), and avoiding snacking (or select what you snack on wisely).
For patients who have lost natural teeth or have developed periodontal disease due to insufficient oral hygiene care, their regret is a powerful warning to others. We frequently hear, “If I could go back, I’d have taken better care of my teeth.” Let us help you to avoid ever having to say that.
Begin with an examination. We’ll assess the health of your gums and the condition of your teeth. If you have signs of gum disease, we have advanced training and skills to treat all stages of gum disease. We also utilize state-of-the-art technology designed to enhance treatment outcomes and optimize patient comfort.
For individuals who have lost teeth, a periodontist also specializes in the diagnosis and placement of all types of dental implants. Dental implants recreate the strength and stability of natural teeth. Additionally, implants help to halt bone loss to the jaw bone. This enhances your ability to keep neighboring natural teeth, versus a crown-&-bridge or partial denture.
And please remember, research has shown numerous links to the oral bacteria of gum disease and serious health problems. These potent bacteria have been found to activate systemic inflammation in the body, contributing to higher risks of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, some cancers, preterm babies, and impotency.
For an appointment, call 828-274-9440. We’ll also be happy to answer your questions.
Dental Implants Overcome The Problems Of Missing Teeth.
Posted on Jan 28, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Advanced periodontal (gum) disease is the number one cause of adult tooth loss in the U.S., affecting nearly 48 percent of American adults. Although teeth play an important role in our overall health, there is a misconception with some adults that tooth loss is a natural part of the aging process.
Hopefully, this is changing.
In 1957-58, it was estimated that over 55 percent of adults over the age of 65 were totally edentulous (having no natural teeth). In 1971, a survey by the National Center For Health Statistics found that the percentage had dropped to 45. By the year 2024, it is estimated that only 10 percent of Americans between ages 65 – 74 will be without teeth.
Teeth are more than just what you use to smile, bite, and chew. They play an important role below the gumline as well.
Tooth roots provide nourishment and stimulation to the upper or lower jaw bone. This helps the bone to maintain its mass. Without tooth roots, the jaw bone begins to shrink in a process known as resorption. Dentures wearers often notice first signs of this when their once-snug ‘appliance’ begins to move or slip when chewing.
Here’s why that is occurring…
A denture, when first made, is designed to conform to the unique contours of an existing ‘ridge.’ This is the gum-covered arches in your mouth where natural teeth were once held. Without the stimulation of tooth roots to the bone, resorption causes the ridge to gradually flatten. As it loses height, the denture becomes “slippery” or “wobbly,” as patients often describe.
When dentures slip and rub sore spots on tender gums, denture wearers quickly learn which foods are too challenging for their unstable denture. They may use denture pastes or adhesives more frequently. Eventually, many switch to a diet of soft foods that dissolve easily in the mouth.
When a diet is deficient in the fiber and nutritional components of a healthy makeup, overall health suffers. Because the act of chewing and acids in saliva flow are the first stage of digestion, denture wearers are known to take more medications and have more gastro-intestinal problems than those who still have natural teeth.
Also at risk is social involvement, now shown to be an important part of being healthy. Because of fear of embarrassment, it’s fairly common for longtime denture wearers to avoid these gatherings, especially those centered around food. (And, try to think of many social activities that don’t – at some point – include food!)
One survey of over 20,000 dentists (by the Academy of General Dentistry) showed that having a tooth removed causes many patients to feel socially embarrassed and less likely to participate in functions that are psychologically beneficial.
Psychological issues related to tooth loss are also associated with feelings of depression and being less goal-oriented in the workplace.
The decline of bone mass can even be seen, contributing to changes in facial appearance. As bone height declines, deep wrinkles form around the mouth. Even when smiling, the corners of the mouth turn downward. Jowls form as facial muscles detach. The chin becomes pointed and the mouth appears to be collapsed into the face (often described as a ‘granny look’).
To see the extent of bone loss, a denture wearer should look in the mirror without the denture in place. Because a denture ‘plumps up’ the face, it can be deceiving as to just how much bone loss has been experienced.
For those who have already experienced tooth loss, I highly recommend dental implants for replacement. There are many types of implant systems, each designed to accommodate specific needs. A Periodontist, a dental specialist, has advanced training in the diagnosis and placement of all types of implants. The type that is best for you depends on many factors that a periodontal specialist takes into consideration.
There are even implant types that can be successful for people who have already experienced a great deal of resorption. In many cases, bone rebuilding procedures can restore the height of the jaw bone with a bone graft not needed,.
Dental implants restore the look, feel and function of natural teeth while boosting one’s ability to feel confident and eat comfortably. Another bonus? Dental implants do not rely on adjacent teeth for support as with partial dentures or crown-&-bridge combinations.
The implanted portion is held by the jaw bone, just as the natural tooth roots you once had. This helps to halt the process of bone loss. Dental implants are also designed to last a lifetime, making them a wise investment.
For those who feel they are “too old” for dental implants, I remind them that many of our implant patients are well into their 80’s or 90’s. Keep in mind that today’s adults are staying in the workplace longer, staying active in senior years, and living longer.
Since 1950, Americans added over 11 years to average life expectancy, to over age 79, according to 2013 statistics. Although females were once living an average of seven years longer than males, that gap has now narrowed to less than five.
When an adult, at any age, expresses frustration with feeling they are caught in a dental office’s revolving door, an examination typically reveals that they have some level of periodontal (gum) disease. Like most diseases that form in our bodies, gum disease begins silently. When symptoms do emerge, they include tender gums that bleed when brushing, persistent bad breath, and gums that pull away from teeth (known as gum recession).
Amazingly, so many adults have gum disease even though it is completely avoidable. Proper brushing and flossing, minimizing sugar intake, avoiding smoking, and having regular dental checkups can help curtail the cycle of dental problems.
First, you must establish a healthy foundation, which begins with healthy gums. The first step is to have a periodontal exam to determine your current gum condition. If signs of gum disease exists, we will explain the process needed to restore your gums to a healthy state. We will also make home care recommendations to help you maintain good gum health between dental checkups.
While adults are getting better at keeping their natural teeth, we still have a long way to go. I believe many adults would be more determined to keep their natural teeth if they had a better understanding of their value. Hopefully, this has helped your appreciation of what supports those pearly whites!
For more information, contact us at 828-274-9440 or tap here to being.