Postponing Dental Care Can Be Expensive


Posted on Sep 29, 2021 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Most of us have seen the movie, “Gone With The Wind,” It’s pretty hard to forget the last line of Scarlet O’Hara: “I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

Procrastination is something we all do, some more than others. We all tend to “back burner” things we don’t want to do. As a periodontal dental specialist, I’m guilty of this on occasion.

However, I see a number of patients who have developed periodontal (gum) disease because they delayed or postponed dental care; care that would have easily helped them avoid the problems associated with it.

The reason 6-month dental check-ups are so beneficial is in their ability to give patients a twice-a-year clean slate in oral wellness. During this time, the dentist and hygienist can examine the mouth for signs of abnormal wear, bite alignment, and point out areas that need extra attention in oral hygiene routines at home. (This is especially true for people who have crowded or crooked teeth, as bacteria can easily accumulate in these tight angles.)

This dental appointment also allows the hygienist to remove plaque or tartar that has formed since the patient’s last check-up. Both are accumulations of oral bacteria, which will continue to reproduce rapidly without regular removal.

Plaque starts the process. It is the sticky film you probably feel on teeth when you first wake up. This film is actually a layer of bacteria that has rapidly reproduced during the night. (If you snore or breathe through your mouth during sleep, oral dryness can accelerate the rate of reproduction even more.)

Although it is more obvious on teeth, the film of plaque also coats the gum tissues and tongue. If not thoroughly removed within 48 hours, these bacteria amass to such a level that the plaque hardens. This is known as tartar.

Tartar typically forms between teeth and at the base of teeth. This is why daily flossing is helpful. It scrapes off plaque in areas the toothbrush may not reach, or may not be cleaning sufficiently.

Once tartar forms, however, it can no longer be removed by brushing and flossing. This is what the hygienist is picking at and scraping off teeth during dental cleanings. If not removed, these bacterial colonies continue to grow. And bacteria breed at an amazingly fast pace.

Just how quickly can these oral bacteria amass?

According to information shared by RDH Magazine: (https://www.rdhmag.com/infection-control/water-safety/article/16404976/oral-bacteria-how-many-how-fast)

“some species of oral bacteria can double their numbers every 20 minutes under ideal conditions in a Petri dish.”

This means that one million bacteria can grow to 14 million within an hour. Accumulated bacteria can even be seen in the mouth as a white coating on the tongue. The back of the tongue is typically whiter in color since tooth brushing doesn’t reach there and dislodge embedded bacteria. (This is why it’s important to brush your tongue every day when toothbrushing, or use a tongue scraper.)

Tartar holds such a high number of bacteria that these organisms can cause damage to teeth. They bore into tooth enamel and eat away at oral tissues.

Bacteria are ramped up by foods we eat. They especially love lingering food particles caught between teeth and foods containing sugar. (This is yet another reason to floss daily.)

Initially, gum disease causes tender gums that may be swollen. They may bleed when brushing, which is typically noticed when spitting. Symptoms may also include frequent bad breath, gums that are more red in color than a healthy pink, and soreness when brushing or flossing.

Keep in mind, this is just the beginning. This stage is known as Gingivitis and is just a prelude of what’s to come. If prompt measures are taken as soon as these symptoms arise, Gingivitis may be overcome without  requiring dental treatment. Thorough brushing (twice a day, at least), daily flossing, and keeping the mouth moist with plain water may be effective in overcoming Gingivitis.

If not resolved, Gingivitis can progress to periodontal disease. During this level of gum disease, breath odor is persistently bad. The gums bleed easily when brushing and are more red in color. Gums are sore and tender. As the disease worsens, the gums become spongy and pus pockets may form at the base of teeth.

Eventually, the bone tissues and gums become so damaged by periodontal bacteria that some teeth may loosen. This stage is periodontitis and is an infectious disease that can cause devastation far beyond the mouth.

Periodontal disease is the nation’s number one cause of adult tooth loss.

These potent bacteria can enter the bloodstream, creating inflammatory reactions that can activate or worsen a number of serious health problems. These include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, some cancers, impotency, erectile dysfunction, and Alzheimer’s disease.

That’s a pretty serious list. As research continues to study the far-reaching effects of these infectious bacteria, the list seems to lengthen more.

Have you been putting off dental care? Treating advanced gum disease and replacing teeth are both pretty involved procedures.

In many cases, I’ve found patients avoid or delay dental care due to feeling it is too expensive or having fear associated with dental visits. Yet, the price (in time and money) from not properly caring for oral health is steep in many ways.

The devastation caused by these bacteria can be easily avoided with simple measures at home and 6-month dental visits. An at-home dental care regimen should only require about 5 minutes per day. A dental check-up usually takes about an hour.

If you are very uncomfortable during dental cleanings, tell your hygienist. He or she may be able to provide a pre-treatment rinse or a topical swab for more sensitive areas. (Just know that until your gums get into healthier shape, it is the inflammation caused by oral bacteria that makes them more sensitive.)

The obstacles that typically prevent patients from receiving the care they need are:

Cost: Most dental practices offer payment plans that are interest-free with no down payment required. If you don’t have dental insurance, ask about any discounts they may offer or consider using a credit card.

Dental fear: In our Asheville periodontal dental office, we offer both oral and I.V. sedation (“twilight sleep”), if desired. We understand that many adults have anxiety or fear when it comes to dental treatment. Our entire staff is committed to providing all patients with a gentle touch, a respectful environment, and compassionate care.

Embarrassment or feeling a smile is “hopeless”: We see many adults who have “bombed out” mouths. This can happen for a number of reasons. Here, we are a “judgement-free” perio office and treat every patient as we would want our loved ones treated. And, no smile is hopeless. We have a great many patients who are testaments to that!

For patients who have lost natural teeth, for whatever reason, a periodontist has advanced skills in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants. Once your gums are restored to a healthy state, we can discuss that tooth replacement option, if you like.

As with most things in life, delaying care is a sure recipe to get deeper in the problem. Be committed to your daily oral care routine and keeping regular dental appointments. If you are having symptoms associated with any stage of gum disease, however, I am a dental specialist in treating even advanced levels.

Call 828-274-9440. A referral is not needed.

 

 

 

 

Dental Implants Not ‘One Size Fits All’


Posted on Sep 21, 2021 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

A periodontist specializes in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants, in addition to the treatment of all stages of periodontal disease.

For people who are considering dental implants to replace teeth, this level of expertise provides greater reassurance of successful treatment outcomes. A periodontist can also offer patients with a wider choice of implant systems.

How can patients have more dental implant options through a periodontist?

When general dental offices offer dental implants, some general dentists offer implant selection and placement along with the restoration of the implant. (“Restoration” refers to the replacement crown that is attached to the implanted portion.)

Although generalists complete training in dental implants, most courses are offered by particular implant manufacturers. This means that the course focuses on the systems available through this one maker, which may or may not include the one most appropriate for your individual needs.

This is why most generalists refer the placement portion to a periodontal specialist. For their patient, this can mean a higher level of success, especially for complex needs.

For example, a patient who is missing a lot of bone mass (due to missing natural teeth for many years) benefits from the specialized skills of our Asheville periodontal office. A periodontist can incorporate bone rebuilding procedures into treatment to a proper depth. This specialist can help to restore bone that has occurred in the mandible (lower jaw) or maxilla (upper jaw), which may also require a sinus lift.

Another example is a patient who has lost teeth due to periodontal (gum) disease. Because a periodontist combines advanced skills in treating gum disease as well as in dental implants, these patients have an added advantage when it comes to treatment success.

For many reasons, dental implants have become the preferred tooth replacement option. There are over 40 different implant systems, each designed to accommodate various challenges and preferences. Some of the more common types include:


Traditional Dental Implants: In this process, dental implant treatments is done in a couple of stages. In the first stage, placement of each implant is performed. This involves small incisions in pre-selected placement points. In our Asheville periodontal dental office, these points are determined through computerized imaging, taking the guesswork out of the depth and angle of each implant placed. Once the implant is in proper position, the gum tissue is closed over the implant sites.

Several implants can often hold a full arch of teeth

The second stage involves a “healing period” of 3 – 6 months. During this phase, the bone grows around the implant(s) to secure each in place. The patient’s denture or partial denture can be comfortably worn during this time. This process is known as osseointegration, which describes the jaw bone growing around the implanted portion. This is what secures the implant so it provides stable, dependable biting and chewing strength.

After osseointegration is complete, the implant sites are uncovered and a post is positioned in the implant’s interior. Onto the posts, replacement teeth are attached. Once the final teeth are secured, patients can enjoy their confident smile along with the biting and chewing comfort like that of natural teeth.


Non-Removable Teeth Attached To Implants: In the past, the more affordable ‘full arch’ systems were typically those designed to support removable teeth. (An ‘arch’ is a full arrangement of all upper or all lower teeth.) However, some people feel removable teeth are too similar to the denture they wish to replace. Although firmly secured, the chore of having to remove teeth to clean them is a task many people want to eliminate.

A number of affordable implant systems are now available, designed to provide non-removable options that are more affordable. For example, the All On 4 dental implant system is made to support non-removable teeth on just 4 implants. With the implanted portions placed at unique angles, these longer implants can fully distribute biting and chewing forces.
 Another advantage of All On Four is their ability to be placed in minimal bone.

This is good news for people who are long-time denture wearers and were told they have too little bone to support implants. Or, they may have been advised to have bone grafts to rebuild the bone to an adequate height. This adds time and expense to implant treatment. Often, the All On 4 design is able to overcome this obstacle.


‘Same-Day’ Dental Implants: Advancements in dental implant systems and technology have evolved into implant placement and teeth attachment that can be accomplished in a single day. Some implant designs can position implants in the jaw bone in a way that they are able to support replacement teeth immediately.

With the replacement teeth created prior, the teeth may be attached without delay.
 In some cases, a previously-made denture or partial can be reconfigured to attach to newly placed implants. However, mounting replacement teeth to a just-placed implant isn’t wise for certain situations. This option should be diagnosed and performed by an experienced, skilled and highly-trained dental specialist in order to achieve a successful outcome. While “same-day” procedures can sound appealing, choose care where your individual needs are a priority.


Modern implant dentistry is successful, safe, dependable and can provide nearly immediate benefits. Our office enjoys a reputation for being on the cutting edge of implant dentistry’s techniques, technology and materials. This assures our patients of care that minimizes discomfort and treatment time while optimizing their final results.

Dental implants are designed to last a lifetime, making them an excellent investment. They are the closest thing to the natural teeth you once had, restoring the ability to bite, chew, speak and laugh confidently.

Over the years, I have been a witness to the transformations many implant patients undergo after treatment. They seem to smile and laugh more, become more social, and focus on their oral and overall health to a greater extent.

The type of dental implant best suited for you can be determined after an examination and review of x-rays (we use Cone-Beam digital imaging). Call 828-274-9440 to begin with a private, no obligation consultation to discuss your best options.

Please know that, if cost is a concern, payment plans can help you enjoy your beautifully restored smile while making easy monthly payments. Too, in many cases, an implant is not needed to replace each missing tooth. Often, when several teeth are missing in one area, one or two implants can support a “bridge” of several teeth. This curtails the treatment costs by reducing the number of implants needed.

If dental fear or anxiety is a concern, please mention this during our consultation. In our Asheville office, our entire team strives to provide a respectful, compassionate environment. We offer oral and I.V. sedation (twilight sleep) for nearly any procedure as well as a gentle touch at every visit.

How The Contours of Your Gums Can Enhance Smile’s Appearance


Posted on Aug 10, 2021 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

I remember the home of a beloved Great Aunt, whom I visited often growing up. One of the things that made her home so “homey” were the displays of bric-a-brac. As a youngster, I didn’t term her arrangements of china tea sets and Hummel figurines as bric-a-brac (they were “knick knacks,” to me). However, I found myself being drawn to her displays on shelves, in curios, and on tables moreso as I grew older.

To me, what was impressive about these groupings was how balanced they were. The china tea pots were centered, surrounded by carefully spaced cups and saucers. Hummel children were in playful arrays to appear as a happenstance assembly of friends.

As a Periodontist, I am now far more appreciative of how my Aunt kept such proper balance to these displays. Everything seemed so coordinated, harmonized.

As a specialist in the treatment of all stages of periodontal (gum) disease and the placement of dental implants, I am also the expert when it comes to the contours of gum tissues surrounding teeth. The gums are important to the health of your teeth as well as the appearance of a smile.

When it comes to protecting teeth, think of the gum tissues as a protective blanket. The gums cover over the under-structures of the mouth’s interior (oral cavity). If you’ll look at the base of each tooth, you’ll see that the gum tissues snugly wrap the base of each tooth. This protective seal is what prevents bacterial penetration below the gum line.

When gum tissues loosen their grip around teeth, the leading cause is gum disease. Gum disease weakens oral tissues and causes them to become inflamed. As the gums loosen, bacteria is able to work their way into the structures that support natural teeth (including bone).

When bacteria reach this level of oral structures, ridding it involves a more involved procedure than what a mere dental cleaning can combat. As it progresses, the gums become spongy and pus pockets form. Teeth loosen and may need removal. Gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Yet, gum tissues not only serve as a protective element of your mouth. The appearance of a smile can be greatly affected by the shape and amount of gum tissues exposed when smiling.

Balance is an element of beauty, according to studies. We are drawn to it. According to Penn State’s “Science in Our World: Certainty and Controversy”,

“Studies show that symmetrical faces are preferred and more attractive to others than people who have asymmetrical faces. Similarly shaped eyes and eyebrows, sides of the nose mouth can all fall into the symmetrical category.”

They shared findings of one study, performed over the course of two decades, that had men and women rank the attractiveness of people in photos. The study revealed:

“Men and women both overwhelmingly chose the most symmetric face. This test was an observational study, so it was only as clear and truthful as the participants of the study were. There wouldn’t really be a way to make this sort of study an experimental test, so as far as attraction goes, studies must rely on the opinions of the participants. However, the majority of the participants chose the most symmetrical faces as the most attractive ones, so it is easily said that it is true, symmetry equals attractiveness.”

http://www.livescience.com/7023-rules-attraction-game-love.html

Although “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” symmetry seems to be a component of what humans define as beautiful and what we’re drawn to (although inner beauty is an important factor in what keeps us connected to an individual).

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 are at a similar level. The amount of gum arches are in a complimentary line to teeth, rather than an amount that draws the eye. Too much gum tissue showing is referred to as a “gummy smile.”

A gummy smile is not an unattractive feature. Having one does, however, alter the appearance of a smile based on balance. For example, a diastema is a wide space between the two front teeth. It is often a hereditary trait. Although it is not unattractive feature, the eye seems drawn to that one spot rather than seeing the smile, as a whole, as a complement to other facial features. The individual may have beautiful lips or eyes, but the gap between the teeth is what is noticed as being “off.”

Quite frankly, some people are perfectly comfortable with having a gummy smile or a diastema. For them, it’s part of their personality or signature look. After all, what would Lauren Hutton, the famous model of the 70’s, have been without her diastema?

For other people, these features cause shyness, insecurity or a feeling of awkwardness. Some people try to smile with lips only. Others try to conceal a full smile with a hand. “Holding back” on a smile is a shame, especially since smiling is a proven asset to our frame of mind.

The act of smiling causes the brain to release chemicals known as endorphins. These trigger somewhat of a natural high, creating a happier mood. This has been shown to be true even when faking a smile.

Additionally, people who smile often are deemed happier, more confident and even younger. In smiling, the facial muscles pull upward and smooth out the skin to give the face a bit of a lift. Free of charge!

Another distortion in a balanced smile can be an uneven line of gum tissues, where there is more gum showing on some teeth than others. This up-and-down line of gum tissues creates a jumbled look. Again, the appeal of balance is disrupted.

In these cases, a crown lengthening procedure is often advised. This is a simple procedure that alters the height of the gum tissues prior to placement of a crown (‘cap’). Not only does this provide a more flattering smile line, it protects the teeth involved while enhancing the tooth’s shape.

Another issue that impacts both appearance and the health of a tooth is gum recession. When the gums recede from the base of teeth, more sensitive and vulnerable areas of the tooth’s root are exposed. Exposure can lead to sensitivity and higher risk for bacterial penetration.

The procedure for most gum recontouring is known as a Gingivectomy. In this, our Asheville Periodontal dental office uses a dental laser. Gingivectomy is the most common procedure performed with a laser, which is used to precisely contour gingiva (gum tissue) for restorative, cosmetic, and periodontal needs.

The laser promotes rapid healing and reduces discomfort post-operatively with periodontal packing or sutures rarely needed. In the hands of a skilled periodontal specialist, laser technology also minimizes penetration depths. For minor procedures, lasers can sometimes require little or no anesthetic.

For more involved gum contouring, our Asheville periodontal office offers both oral and I.V. 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 places the patient in a deeper sleep state, also erasing memory of the procedure. It is administered by a doctor of anesthesiology for optimal comfort and safety. In our office, this is overseen by Dr. Brad Stone, a Medical Doctor (MD) who is a board certified Anesthesiologist & Pediatric Anesthesiologist.

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

The health and appearance of your smile are important. It is proven that good oral health is a supportive component to your overall health. It is also shown that the appearance of a smile can add positively to an individual’s perception of “self”.

If you’re interested in improvements in the health and appearance of your smile, let’s discuss the possibilities during a consultation appointment. Call 828-274-9440. A referral is not always needed.

 

Why You’re Losing Teeth (and how to halt the process)


Posted on Jul 29, 2021 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

The inevitable. Murphy’s law. Sooner or later.

It is to no surprise that life throws us occasional curves, some being out of the blue and others being somewhat predictable. As an Asheville Periodontal Specialist, one that comes to mind is the path to losing teeth.

Losing natural teeth is a challenge to both oral and overall health. And, there’s nothing that will definitively replace natural teeth once they’re extracted (although dental implants come pretty close!). Keeping natural teeth and gums healthy is the best way to support your health as you age.

According to a 2017 article published by Dentistry Today that shared recent study findings:

“people who had lost 5 or more teeth by the age of 65 years were more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis, all of which could severely limit life expectancy. Many of these illnesses previously have been linked to a person’s quality of life and socioeconomic status. The study concludes that the number of teeth in aging humans can affect longevity and life expectancy.”

https://www.dentistrytoday.com/news/industrynews/item/1632-life-expectancy-linked-to-number-of-teeth

Of course, no one wants to lose a natural tooth. Yet, many people assume that tooth loss is simply a natural part of the aging process. It’s not.

Through the years, certainly, accidents, injuries, decay, gum disease and deep fractures in teeth can result in loss of teeth. Regardless of how committed some people are to their oral hygiene regimen at home and regular dental check-ups, unexpected occurrences can lead to the need for an extraction.

However, the people who are committed to their oral health are far less likely to endure the undesirable outcome of tooth removal. The measures are simple and take very little time.

• Brush your teeth at least twice a day, for a minimum of two minutes each time.

• Floss daily.

• Avoid snacking and limit sugar.

• Drink plenty of water.

• See your dentist twice a year for exams and cleanings.

• Don’t smoke.

Although smoking cessation is a tough task for most people, the other items listed above require just minutes a day and cost very little. What they help you accomplish is PREVENTION. Rather than have problems treated, many instances surrounding tooth loss could have been prevented.

It is far less costly and time consuming to be attentive to your oral health than deal with the repercussions of insufficient oral upkeep. Losing a tooth will require a lifelong commitment, regardless of how it is replaced. And, replacing teeth is absolutely necessary.

When a tooth is lost, whether it can be seen in a smile or not, it no longer supports the surrounding teeth. The tooth above (or below) can elongate. Neighboring teeth can tilt or turn since they lack the bolstering affect provided by the now-missing tooth.

These factors can lead to chipped, fractured or broken teeth. They can also be an issue in bite misalignment. A misaligned bite can cause stress or strain on the temporomandibular joints (TMJ). The results can be frequent headaches, sore jaw joints, ear ringing, dizziness, and difficulty opening the mouth fully.

Another problem lies in the absence of the missing tooth’s roots. When these roots are missing, there is a lack of stimulation and nourishment to the jaw bone in this area. Without this, the bone begins to shrink, or resorb. Bone mass decline affects the stability of the adjacent teeth. It is known that the next tooth to be lost will most likely be one bordering a missing one.

The path to tooth loss, other than accident or injury, is actually a pretty predictable one. For people who take their oral hygiene lightly, it’s not a matter of “if” but “when”. Bacteria buildup in the mouth should be removed regularly, which is why twice-daily brushing is advised. If not thoroughly removed, their growth runs rampant.

Saliva flow helps in moving some bacteria out of the oral cavity. However, as people age, saliva flow decreases. Add to that the many elements that are drying to oral tissues: caffeine (including coffee, tea and colas), many medications, snoring, and some health conditions.

Oral bacteria that accumulate in the mouth for more than 48 hours first create a sticky film that coats the teeth and gums. This is plaque. If not removed through brushing and flossing, plaque transforms into hardened masses on the base of (or between) some teeth. This is tartar, which can no longer be brushed or flossed away.

As tartar spreads, the gums become inflamed. This causes gingivitis – the first stage of gum disease. Gingivitis causes the gums to become tender, swell, and sometimes bleed when brushing. Breath odor can become frequently bad.

If not resolved quickly, gingivitis can progress into full-blown gum disease. At this stage, the gums are red, inflamed, tender, bleed easily and breath odor is bad, even shortly after brushing.

As gum disease worsens, gums loosen their strong seal around the base of teeth. This allows entry of these infectious bacteria below the gum line. The structures that support natural teeth (including bone) are attacked, which can cause some teeth to loosen.

The advanced stage of gum disease is periodontitis. This means that gum tissues are red, spongy, have pockets of pus, bleed even when eating, and breath odor is putrid. To add insult to injury, this devastation doesn’t remain only in the mouth. Through tears in diseased gum tissues, the inflammatory bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream.

This bacteria has been linked to serious, even life-threatening, health problems, as severe as stroke, heart disease, some cancers and Alzheimer’s disease. It can cause inflammatory triggers that worsen diabetes and prostatitis and cause preterm births.

Obviously, it’s important to keep your teeth and gums healthy. And, if tooth loss does occur, consider replacing it/them with dental implants. As an Asheville periodontist, one of my areas of advanced skill is in dental implant diagnosis and placement.

Dental implants are the closest thing to the look, feel and function of natural teeth. They restore dependable biting and chewing, without the need to be removed for cleaning. Best of all, confidence in smiling and laughing returns.

We frequently see Western NC adults who feared they would lose teeth due to periodontal disease and/or had already lost one or more natural teeth. Through our advanced skills and computerized technology, we are often able to fully restore people to excellent oral health and halt the progression of tooth loss.

If you have avoided seeing a dentist because of fear or anxiety, please know that we provide our patients with an environment of respect and comfort. We offer I.V. sedation (‘twilight sleep’) as well as oral sedation to create a totally relaxed state throughout treatment.

If cost is a concern, we also have payment plans that can help you achieve the smile you desire while making monthly payments that fit your budget.

Why allow tooth loss to happen? It CAN and SHOULD be prevented and we can help you regardless of your current oral condition. Call 828-274-9440 to request a consultation appointment. This will take place in a private consultation room where your questions will be answered thoroughly.

 

 

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