Common Contributors to Tooth Loss
Posted on Sep 11, 2023 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Our natural teeth seem hard and solid, able to endure much over the span of a lifetime. However, as we all know, teeth can be knocked out due to accidents or injury and lost due to becoming overly decayed, fractured, infected and – the leading cause – periodontal (gum) disease.
Your gum tissues serve as protection for the tooth structures you cannot see – the tooth roots and bone and tissues supporting the roots. And, teeth need these bone structures to stay healthy and vice versa; the bone structures beneath the gums need the presence of the roots to stay healthy.
The jaw bones are kept healthy by tooth roots that provide stimulation to the bone as well as nourishment that runs through the tooth’s interior.
When a tooth is removed, so is the stimulation and nourishment to that area of the jaw bone. Without it, the bone begins to shrink. As it declines in height, adjacent teeth are more vulnerable to loss. Statistics show that teeth adjacent to areas where natural teeth are missing will be the most likely to be lost next.
According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), 69% of adults between ages 35 – 44 have lost at least one permanent tooth. By age 50, Americans are missing an average of 12 teeth. For adults between the ages of 65 – 74, 26% are missing all of their natural teeth. That’s over one-fourth of the adult population over age 65.
Because of the strength and seemingly rock-solid presence of teeth, it may be assumed they’ll last for a lifetime. And, they can. Natural teeth can and should last a lifetime with proper maintenance and care. However, certain things can contribute to tooth loss; some of these may not be well known.
GUM DISEASE – Signs and symptoms of gum disease are:
• Red, swollen or tender gums
• Seeing blood in the sink when brushing
• Receded gums
• Loose or separating teeth
• Pus pockets on gum tissues
• Sores in the mouth
• Persistent bad breath
When these indications exist, it is important to seek periodontal treatment as soon as possible. Gum disease only worsens without treatment, requiring more time and expense to rid this serious, even deadly, inflammatory disease.
NOT FLOSSING – While tooth brushing helps to keep oral bacteria levels in the mouth to manageable levels, daily flossing is also recommended as a preventative way to keep cavities and gum disease at bay. Still, 70% of the American adult population do not floss daily. Even worse, about a third of Americans admit to never flossing (39% of men and 27% of women who do not).
SMOKING – According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), a smoker has twice the risk for gum disease compared with that of a nonsmoker. (https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/diseases/periodontal-gum-disease.html)
AGING – With age, the body becomes less efficient in maintaining itself. Due to hormone changes and being less hydrated, joints wear down, skin loses subtlety and muscle mass and strength declines. The same is true with teeth, especially as gum tissues dry out. This means their tight, protective grip around the base of teeth loosens and pockets can easily for between teeth. All these factors contributor to higher risks of gum disease and tooth loss.
ORAL DRYNESS – The tissues inside the mouth need to be kept moist. Saliva flow is designed to do this. However, with age, the flow of saliva is less plentiful. Just as the skin and hair get drier with age, the mouth endures this same consequence. When saliva flow is less efficient at rinsing bacteria from the oral cavity (inside of the mouth), bacteria grow at a more rapid rate. This means bacteria accumulation occurs more frequently than twice-a-day brushing can control.
MEDICATIONS – The average adult in the 65-79 age group has over 27 prescriptions filled each year. (https://www.statista.com/statistics/315476/prescriptions-in-us-per-capita-by-age-group/). Many meds have the side effect of oral dryness or increased bleeding, including some herbal supplements. For example, Ginkgo Biloba and Vitamin E can act as blood thinners. When combined with aspirin, the combination may cause difficulties in blood clotting.
To halt the potential for tooth loss if you are already missing teeth, dental implants are recommended. They actually protect the health of neighboring teeth. In addition to helping the supportive bone structures retain bone mass, teeth supported by implants do not rely on the support of crowned (or ‘capped’) teeth on both sides. This means the integrity of adjacent teeth is preserved.
Dental implants come in over 40 different types designed to accommodate various challenges and preferences. This is one reason (of many) that a periodontist is an ideal choice for the diagnosis and placement of your implants. Our speciality understands the complete spectrum of implant systems. While some implant systems may be ideal for your needs, others may not. And, the choice of which will achieve your goals is not limited to just those types a non-specialist knows how to place.
For example, some dental implants provide you with a non-removable (“fixed”) option while others may involve removable teeth. Additionally, the proper selection of your dental implants may greatly save you in treatment fees.
For example, the All-On-4 dental implant system needs only 4 implants per arch, and can be placed in shallow bone. The treatment fees are less since the number of implants is low and the need for bone regeneration for severe bone loss may not be required. For these reasons, a periodontist may be able to help you achieve your tooth replacement goals within a budget you can manage.
Our Western NC periodontal dental office features some of the industry’s most advanced technology, which helps to optimize success rates, shorten treatment time, and enhance comfort. This includes 3-D Cone Beam imaging, which is ideal for diagnoses and treatment planning. These amazing images provide a clear view of the upper and lower jaw (including nerve canals) in a process that is quick, painless and at minimal radiation levels.
We also have a computerized Dental Implant Placement system for pre-surgical positioning of dental implants. Using a 3D model of the patient’s jaw, a template is developed for the most conservative treatment process needed, even for complex cases. This minimizes disruption of gum tissues and targets implant placement at ideal depths and angles.
Because we make patient comfort one of our highest priorities, 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. It is administered by a Medical Doctor (MD) who is a board certified Anesthesiologist.
If you have lost teeth (or struggle with a denture or partial) and are considering dental implants, begin with a consultation appointment. Call 828-274-9440. New patients are always welcome.
Amazing Technology In Treating Gum Disease
Posted on May 09, 2023 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Recently, an episode of the CBS News’ television program “60 Minutes” provided an in-depth update on the development of prosthetic limbs. Now “robotic” in description, advancements are making it possible for people with spinal cord injuries and amputations to control prosthetic limbs with their minds, including grasping objects.
What is miraculous, however, is how these advanced prosthetics can also restore a sense of touch to their brains. The decades-long project is due in most part to the Defense Department.
Technology today is remarkable. Advancements are moving forward at an impressively accelerating pace. We are witnesses to the the repair and rejuvenation of bodily parts in almost a “good as new” state. This is also true in the area of dental technology.
A periodontist is often a “behind the scenes” dental specialist, working with general dentists and various other dental specialists. While periodontists may be in the background, they stay busy. In addition to treating all stages of gum disease, these specialists have advanced skills in the placement of dental implants.
It is estimated that over 47% of American adults have some level of periodontal (gum) disease. This disease is the nation’s number one cause of adult tooth loss. However, gum health needs to be seen by the general population as a vital player in one’s overall health.
The destruction of periodontal disease is not just confined to the mouth. It spreads. Gum disease destroys bone structures below the gums. These structures are the upper and lower jaw bones, which support natural tooth roots.
The jaw bones are actually kept healthy by the presence of tooth roots. These roots provide stimulation to the bone as well as nourishment that feeds through the tooth’s interior.
By holding their roots securely, the jaw bones provide natural teeth with a sturdy foundation. This enables the ability to bite and chew comfortably and dependably.
However, when a natural tooth is lost, so is the stimulation and nourishment to that area of the jaw bone. Without it, the bone begins to shrink. As it declines in mass, the adjacent teeth are more vulnerable to loss. Statistics show that teeth adjacent to areas where natural teeth are missing will be the most likely to be lost next. This creates somewhat of a domino effect.
Dental implants were designed to recreate the presence of natural teeth both above and below the gum line. Because teeth attached to dental implants are supported by the jaw bones, the study foundation as was had by natural teeth is restored, along with the ability to bite and chew without movement or embarrassment when dentures (or partials) slip.
In addition to tooth loss, gum disease is a serious health threat. Although people are often aware of the issues that come with wearing dentures and partial, many are not familiar with the health problems associated with gum disease bacteria.
This infectious bacteria of gum disease are capable of causing inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. Systemic inflammation is the now-known epicenter of a number of major health problems, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, impotency and more.
Whether the patient’s need is the restoration of gum health or the replacement of missing teeth, the advanced skills of a periodontist can be highly advantageous. Through their unique understanding, they can help to minimize treatment time and complexity of treatment.
In our Asheville NC periodontal dental office, we feature some of the most advanced imaging and computerized technology available in the industry. These include:
LANAP Protocol Using PerioLase MVP-7: Efficiently and effectively treats periodontitis (advanced gum disease) with laser technology. It causes very little discomfort and has a quick recovery time. This has also been found to stimulate bone regrowth in damaged areas.
Dental Radiology With 3-D Cone Beam Technology: This imaging is ideal for diagnosis and treatment planning. The imaging covers the entire dentition area with clear views of the mandible and maxilla (upper and lower jaw).
CareStream Cone Beam Computer Tomography Imaging: This computerized tomography provides imaging in exceptional detail and range.
CS 3600 intraoral scanner: Patients no longer have to endure having impressions made with bulky, gloopy trays held in their mouths! This quickly and comfortably scans the mouth’s interior for digital impressions using a small, handheld scanner. It can also reach difficult–to–access areas in the patient’s mouth with improved patient comfort.
Simplant Dental Software for Computerized Dental Implant Placement: This system helps in pre-surgical positioning of dental implants on the computer, using a 3D model of the patient’s jaw. This aids in the selection of the implant type that ensures a precision fit.
Intraoral Camera Technology: This provides outstanding quality of images within the mouth. These images are sent to screen for a clear, crisp view so we can confer with patients on specific treatment issues.
Computer Imaging In Treatment Suites: Treatment suites are equipped with computers for convenient image sharing with patients.
Advanced Sterilization: Our custom sterilization unit adheres to (or exceeds) CDC guidelines for instrument processing protocols, particularly in the cleaning of instruments.
Fully-Equipped Surgical Suites: Relax during treatment while surrounded by beautiful mountain views of Asheville.
My staff and I also take great pride in providing patients with optimal comfort, along with an environment of respect. Some adults comes to us embarrassed by the condition of their oral health or missing teeth. Here, we strive to make patients feel they are not only in the right hands, but they are in the right place.
Comfort is supported by our sedation options. These include oral and I.V. sedation. Also referred to as “twilight sleep” or “sleep dentistry,” these sedatives are administered by skilled professionals who utilize advanced safety monitoring equipment.
I believe that the rampant number of people who have gum disease in the U.S. is largely in part due to being unaware of the symptoms. Some are easily ignored or “brushed off” as normal.
This is why it is important to be familiar with the signs and symptoms, which include:
• Red, swollen or tender gums or other pain in your mouth
• Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or when eating certain foods
• Gums that are receding (pulling away from the teeth) or make the appear teeth longer than normal
• Loose or separating teeth
• Pus between your gums and teeth
• Sores in your mouth
• Persistent bad breath
• A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
• A change in the fit of partial dentures
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.
Nothing To Fear To Accomplish Healthy Smile Here
Posted on Apr 16, 2023 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
As a dental specialist, I find that many people are unfamiliar with exactly what a periodontist does. Yet, when they are recommended to see me (typically by their general dentist), it is because they need specialized care that falls under our unique set of skills.
A periodontist has advanced skills to help patients with a variety of needs that involve the gum tissues. These include:
– Treatment of all stages of gum disease (gingivitis, pregnancy gingivitis, periodontal disease, periodontitis)
– Reshaping gum tissues for esthetic enhancement (crown lengthening, gingivectomy for ‘gummy smiles’, repairing areas of gum recession)
– Diagnosis and placement of dental implants
– Treatment of lesions or cysts in oral tissues
Let’s begin with gum disease.
Because the majority of care I provide has to do with the treatment of all stages of periodontal disease, it may be helpful to understand how this develops. Although many people delay or avoid regular dental care (mistakenly thinking “if nothing hurts, then nothing must be wrong”), I have a close-up view of its destructive nature. Its formation creates cavities, periodontal (gum) disease, and leads to eventual tooth loss.
Even people who are committed to a regimen of thorough at-home oral hygiene (twice-daily brushing, daily flossing), can be doing an insufficient job of removing the daily buildup of plaque. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that accumulates in the mouth. When not thoroughly removed, it can harden into a mass that attaches to the base of, or in-between, teeth.
In the form of tartar, this cement-hard mass of bacteria cannot be brushed or flossed away. Once tartar forms, it can only be removed by a dentist or hygienist using special tools. Without removal, it will continue to amass and attack gum tissues, working its way beneath the gum line.
Below the gums lie the support system for natural teeth, consisting of tissues, ligaments and bone. When the bacteria reach an uncontrollable level, they become infectious. As these infectious bacteria accumulate further, symptoms of gum disease become more apparent, such as tender or swollen gums or seeing blood in the sink when brushing teeth. Breath odor may be bad on a regular basis.
As symptoms worsen, the gums become red with infectious and loosen their grip around the base of teeth. The gums may become spongy and pus pockets may form. Breath odor at this point is persistently putrid. Eventually, the structures that support teeth are compromised and teeth may loosen. Gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the U.S.
Research has found that certain strains of oral bacteria from gum disease create reactions in the body that can trigger systemic inflammation. Thus far, research findings have shown a correlation between periodontal disease bacteria and some cancers (including pancreatic and lung), Alzheimer’s disease, pre-term babies, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and erectile dysfunction (ED).
As if all that weren’t bad enough, one study suggests that gum disease relates to a reduction in one’s quality of life: “Periodontal disease has been linked to lower quality of life.” “Quality of life encompasses several domains, including psychological functioning and social relationships among others. Oral health-related quality of life has been shown to be reduced in patients with periodontal disease.” (https://www.hindawi.com/journals/prm/2017/5491923/)
While estimates show about 75 percent of American adults have some degree of dental fear or anxiety, over 47 percent have some level of periodontal disease. As a periodontist, both are alarming numbers. Nearly half our nation is walking around with a potentially life-threatening disease in their mouths.
Treating this may sound like it would be pretty intimidating. However, Although there are many treatments offered and at various levels, our main goal is to provide patients with comfortable and positive experiences at every visit. One way we accomplish this is through the advanced technology featured here in our Western North Carolina periodontal dental office. We feature some of the most advanced in dentistry, much of which is not available in dental offices elsewhere. Some of these features include:
LANAP With PerioLase MVP 7: Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure is an advanced protocol that efficiently and effectively treats advanced gum disease with the added advantages of a dental laser. This offers a non-surgical alternative for patients with moderate to severe periodontal disease. LANAP treatment leaves very little discomfort and has a quick recovery time. It has also been found to stimulate bone regrowth in damaged areas.
3D Cone Beam Imaging: Ideal for diagnoses and treatment planning, these images provide a clear view of the upper and lower jaw, used for: intricate review of endodontics; periodontics; orthodontics; implantology: TMJ; and prosthodontics, as well as dental and maxillofacial surgery. Because cone beam radiographs show sagittal, axial, and coronal planes, locating and tracking nerve canals optimizes implant placement. The process is quick, painless and at minimal levels of radiation.
CareStream Cone Beam Computer Tomography Imaging: This enhanced tomography works with 3D imaging for exceptional detail and range.
CS 3600 Intraoral Scanner: Rather than make impressions with bulky, goopy trays, this scanner quickly and comfortably captures digital impressions accurately and easily for creating precision models or appliances (crowns, inlays, onlays, bridges, orthodontic appliances and aligners, custom abutments). The scanner can also reach difficult–to–access areas in the patient’s mouth for superior results with improved patient comfort.
Computerized Dental Implant Placement: This advanced system for pre-surgical positioning of dental implants uses a 3D model of the patient’s jaw. Once the implant type is selected, a template is developed for optimal treatment success, even for complex cases.
In addition, we offer a unique environment for comfort. We understand how dental fear or anxiety can cause people to delay or avoid having dental treatment, sometimes for decades. We believe that every patient deserves respect, a gentle touch and knowing they are in a “lecture free” zone. For those who have high fear levels, 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. It is administered by a doctor of anesthesiology for optimal comfort and safety. In our Asheville office, 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.
I hope I’ve given you a helpful and positive picture of what a periodontist does and how he/she can help you with some challenging needs; all the while keeping you comfortable, minimizing treatment time, and shortening treatment time.
Although most of our patients are referred to us by other dentists and dental specialists, a referral is not required for accepting a new patient. Call 828-274-9440 if you feel we can make recommendations for your specific needs or provide helpful information.
“Gray Tsunami” Brings New Numbers in Dementia, Alzheimer’s
Posted on Feb 11, 2023 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
The American Academy of Periodontology (perio.org), 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.”
As an Asheville periodontal specialist for over 25 years, my advanced skills help patients with a variety of needs that involve the gum tissues. These include:- Treatment of all stages of gum disease (gingivitis, pregnancy gingivitis, periodontal disease, periodontitis)
– Reshaping gum tissues for esthetic enhancement (crown lengthening, gingivectomy for ‘gummy smiles’, repairing areas of gum recession)
– Diagnosis and placement of dental implants
– Treatment of lesions or cysts in oral tissues
Why should you be concerned about the health of your gums?
Gum disease is an inflammatory disease that attacks gum tissues, teeth, and the structures that support them. It is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. As if that weren’t bad enough, research has shown that these potent bacteria are able to activate the development (or worsen the progress) of other diseases.
Past studies have shown oral bacteria from gum disease can be a contributing factor to heart disease, stroke, some cancers, diabetes, preterm babies, erectile dysfunction (ED), high blood pressure, and impotency. Studies have begun to closely study the links between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
In the U.S., the growing prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is an especially concerning issue as our aging population grows. If you are a “baby boomer” (born between the years 1946 – 1964), you make up a significant percentage of adults. Within 7 years, boomers” will comprise 21% of the population. By 2060, nearly 1 in 4 Americans will be 65 years and older, dubbed the “gray tsunami.” Seniors over the age of 85 will have tripled, with half a million adults having reached age 100-plus.
While the statistics of aging adults increase, these stats for ALL adults over the age of 30 should set off some alarms. Nearly half of the adult population has some level of gum disease, over 47%.
There is a misconception many have when it comes to the serious nature of gum disease. Too often, people perceive “if it doesn’t hurt, then nothing is wrong” when it comes to their oral health. Although symptoms of gum disease may include tender gums that bleed when brushing, gum disease can begin without any obvious signs.
This is true for many health problems. For instance, when cancer forms in the body, its initial presence isn’t obvious. This is why annual or periodic screenings are urged since treatment is typically minimal during early stages.
Early treatment, including that for gum disease, helps to resolve the problem without complex measures. This is why it is so important to have 6-month dental check-ups. These visits allow your dentist to catch gum disease early so treatment needs and expense can be minimal.
Yet gum disease is a hazard for your overall health as well. While gum disease forms in the mouth, that’s not necessarily where it remains without proper treatment. The bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream. It has been found to trigger serious reactions elsewhere in the body. Some of these lead to the formation of cancer (oral, throat, pancreatic, lung) and some activate conditions such as diabetes and arthritis.
Obviously, the health of your mouth is an important part of supporting a healthy body, especially in disease prevention. To illustrate the extent of gum disease’s damaging impact to health, research is tracking its correlation to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
In a recent study that included over 8,200 adults, an increased risk for developing dementia was found in those having severe gum disease and missing teeth. Participants in the study had an average age of 63 at the study’s onset.
In a follow-up after 18 years, those who had severe gingivitis in addition to tooth loss had a 22% higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Having no natural teeth was associated with a 26% increased risk.
Broken down, 14% of individuals with healthy gums and all their teeth at the start of the study developed dementia by the end of the study. For those with mild gum disease, 18% (623 out of 3,470) developed dementia. Twenty-two percent of participants with severe gum disease developed dementia. For those who had no remaining teeth, 23% developed dementia – nearly 17 cases for every 1,000 persons.
They found the bacteria present in periodontal disease can travel through the mucous membranes of the mouth to the brain, potentially causing brain damage.
In the study, participants were carefully assessed based on age, gender, education, cholesterol, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, smoking and body weight. (https://psychcentral.com/news/2020/07/30/gum-disease-may-be-linked-to-later-dementia/158497.html?MvBriefArticleId=25473)
Prior studies have led researchers to be more focused on tracking oral tissue related factors that may contribute to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, which is affecting a growing percentage of American adults (as well as those globally). Currently, 10% of adults age 65 and over have Alzheimer’s disease. For people ages 85 and older, this increases to 32 percent. In the U.S., it is the 6th leading cause of death. (https://www.alzheimers.net/resources/alzheimers-statistics/)
By the year 2025, the number of people 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to reach 7.1 million people, a 27 percent increase from the 5.6 million age 65 and older in 2019.
Let us help you minimize the risks associated with oral bacteria. If dental fear has kept you from having regular dental care, we will be happy to discuss our many comfort options in our comfortable Asheville office, including Oral and I.V. sedation (“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 (also known as ‘twilight sleep’) places the patient in a deeper sleep state and erases memory of the procedure. It is administered by a doctor of anesthesiology for optimal comfort and safety.
Here, our Western North Carolina periodontal dental office also features some of the most advanced technology in dentistry. Many of these are not available in other dental offices elsewhere. Some of these features include LANAP (Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure. This is an advanced protocol that efficiently and effectively treats advanced gum disease with the added advantages of a dental laser. We also have 3-D Cone Beam Imaging, computerized Tomography imaging and one of the latest in intraoral scanners.
Now, more than ever, we know that maintaining a healthy smile is important and achievable for every adult. If you suspect you have gum disease (gums that bleed when brushing, tender or swollen gums, gums that have reddened or receded from teeth), it is important to be seen by a periodontist. A periodontal specialist is the best way to restore any level of gum disease to help you regain a healthy smile.
Be committed to having excellent oral health as and make it a priority as an important part of your overall health. For a consultation to discuss how a periodontist can help you, call 828-274-9440.