What Can A Periodontist Do For You?


Posted on May 13, 2024 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

In meeting someone for the first time, a common question is “What do you do?” Telling them that I am a periodontist often gets followed by another question: “What does a periodontist do?” The long version, according to the American Academy of Periodontology, is:

“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.”

Choosing this dental specialty is achieved by an understanding that it will require many years of education. A periodontist begins by completing 4 years of college (undergraduate training) followed by another 4 years in dental school to earn a doctorate. The periodontal specialty then requires another 3-4 years before completing the stringent requirements for a specialty certification in periodontics.

What can all of this in-depth education and advanced skill level do for you?

Let’s begin with the diagnosis and treatment of all stages of periodontal (gum) disease. According to the Centers of Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), it is estimated that over 47% of Americans have some level of gum disease, which is also the leading cause of tooth loss. That’s nearly half of our population.

In addition to a healthy smile, the health of your gums can impact your overall health. By keeping the bacteria of advanced gum disease, known as periodontitis, you lower your risks of a long list of serious health problems that have been shown connected to gum disease bacteria. These include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, some cancers, preterm babies, and erectile dysfunction (ED).

A periodontal specialist is also a leading choice in the selection and placement of dental implants. With specialized skills, a periodontist is especially respectful to oral tissues as sensitive layers that have an important role in the appearance of a smile and the health of teeth. Utilizing these skills, a periodontist can help to minimize incisions while effectively treating each area in the mouth.

When it comes to the selection of the implant system best for you, our speciality also understands the complete spectrum of all implant types. Some implant systems offer a non-removable (“fixed”) option with others functioning with removable teeth.

Proper selection of your dental implants can also help to keep treatment fees to a minimum. This is because some implants can support more than one tooth and others are designed to support a full arch of replacement teeth. Because treatment fees are based on the number of implants required, your tooth replacement goals may be within a more manageable budget with fewer implants needed to accomplish your goals.

Reshaping gum tissues is also part of our specialized skills. The gum tissues are designed to provide a tight seal around the base of teeth and block bacterial entry to the sensitive tooth root area. When oral bacteria are able to penetrate beneath the gum line, they can cause inflammation to tender gums and attack the structures that support natural teeth.

In a procedure known as a gingivectomy, we are able to reposition or graft gum tissues over the area of recession to restore a healthy seal and protect the tooth structures below the surface.

In some cases, we are also able to save a natural tooth when the tooth breaks near the gum line. In a procedure known as  crown lengthening, a periodontist can sometimes expose enough of the tooth structure for the placement of a crown. By preventing the need for the tooth’s removal, the patient is able to avoid the extensive costs and potential upkeep of replacing it.

When it comes to a smile’s appearance, a periodontist is also the go-to. In smiles that have an uneven line of gum tissues, meaning that some teeth have more gum showing than others. This up-and-down line of gum tissue creates a jumbled look. Crown lengthening can alter the height of these tissues prior to placement of a crown (‘cap’) to provide a more flattering smile line.

Another benefit of the skills of gum recontouring  are the correction of a “gummy smile.” In this, the patient has too much gum tissue bordering the tops of teeth, making the smile line unbalanced. Using the gingivectomy procedure, a periodontist can lower the height of gum tissues, which is generally followed by placement of crowns.

Here, our Western North Carolina periodontal dental office features some of the most advanced technology in dentistry. Many of these features are not available in other dental offices elsewhere. Some of these include:

LANAP With PerioLase MVP 7 (Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure) – 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 has also been found to stimulate bone regrowth in damaged areas.

3-D Cone Beam Imaging – used for diagnoses and treatment planning, giving clear views of the upper and lower jaw, used for intricate review of sagittal, axial, and coronal planes, locating and tracking nerve canals optimizes implant placement.

CareStream Cone Beam Computer Tomography Imaging – provides enhanced tomography that interacts with 3D imaging for exceptional detail and range.

CS 3600 Intraoral Scanner – This scanner quickly and comfortably captures digital impressions without the need for bulky, goopy trays! Through this process, we are able to create 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 – allows for pre-surgical positioning of dental implants using 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.

Sedation Dentistry – When dental fear or anxiety causes people to delay or avoid having dental treatment, we offer oral or 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.

Through our extensive menu of treatments offered, it’s easy to see that our main goal is to provide patients with a comfortable and positive experience within our specialized skills. We believe this helps patients truly appreciate the advantages of a healthy smile and understand how our involvement can create a healthier, more confident individual.

I also feel it’s important that people are aware of the signs and symptoms of periodontal disease, which 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

If any of these are present, please know that the condition will only worsen without treatment. And, early treatment can minimize treatment needs and costs.

Call 828-274-9440 if you have questions or wish to arrange a consultation discuss your individual needs (or those of a smile you love!). Our Asheville periodontal dental office staff will be happy to help you!

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

What You May Be Doing To Increase Potential For Gum Disease


Posted on Apr 11, 2024 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

There’s a saying: “We don’t know what we don’t know.”

That applies to so much in life. With all good intentions, adults go about their days feeling they are doing what is right. However, we occasionally learn that what we thought was right is to our detriment.

For example, decades ago, people felt that rigorous scrubbing of teeth with a hard toothbrush and baking soda was a good way to clean your teeth. We now know that the hard bristles and abrasive substances can wear down tooth enamel and scrub away tender gum tissues.

And, there are ways that we actually – and unconsciously – add to the risks for developing periodontal disease.

Over the years, research has continuously shown that the bacteria of periodontal disease can have a number of harmful effects – in the mouth and further. Because these inflammatory bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body, research has shown that they can activate or worsen a number of serious health problems. These include:
– heart disease
– stroke
– Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
– arthritis
– diabetes
– preterm babies
– erectile dysfunction (ED)
– some cancers (including lung and pancreatic)
– obesity

Signs of gum disease include bleeding or sore gums, persistent bad breath, receded gums, and/or gums that are red rather than a healthy pink. These are warning signs since gum disease will only worsen without treatment.

As gum disease progresses, gums begin to pull away from the base of teeth, gums become very tender and bleed easily when brushing, pus pockets form on gums and teeth may shift or loosen.

Unfortunately, gum disease is ignored too often by adults in the U.S. The CDC estimates that over 47% of Americans have some level of gum disease, which is also the leading cause of tooth loss.

Bacterial overload can leave the body’s natural defense response, white blood cells, unable to conquer the infection. Thus, bacteria overload in the mouth triggers an inflammatory reaction begins, which is the beginning of gum disease.

Below are things that can increase the risk for gum disease, some of which you may not realize are contributors:

Aging: Studies have indicated that the incidence of periodontal disease increases as we get older. Over 70% of adults who are aged 65 and older have some form of gum disease.

Some Existing Health Problems: People who have diseases such as cancer or heart problems already have weaker immune systems. When the bacteria of gum disease enter the bloodstream through tears in oral tissues, harmful clotting factors and proteins can occur elsewhere in the body. Research has linked gum disease bacteria with heart disease, diabetes, stroke, preterm babies, and memory loss.

Dry Mouth: Smoking, certain medications, drinking alcohol and aging all contribute to a dry mouth. The saliva in your mouth plays an important part in removing food particles and bacteria. When insufficient saliva cannot cleanse the mouth adequately, bacteria buildup results.

Stress: It has been proven that people who endure long-term stress have a greater risk for developing diseases such as cancer, hypertension and even gum disease. Stress takes a toll on the body’s entire operation, weakening its ability to fight infection.

Medications: The side effects of some drugs can dry out oral tissues and even weaken the density of bones, opening the door for gum disease. Like your physician, your dentist should have an up-to-date list of all medications you take, including herbal supplements.

Grinding Teeth: When you grind and clench your teeth during sleep, the teeth wear down and connective oral tissues are weakened. When the tissues surrounding your teeth are vulnerable, your entire jaw bone area is exposed to certain infections, which can lead to gum disease.

Genetics: Because of genetics, you can be predisposed to develop gum disease. Research indicates that 30% of the population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease.

Gender: Periodontal disease occurs more in men than women (56% vs. 38%).

Smoking: Smoking dries out the tissues in the mouth, increasing one’s susceptibility to calculus. Research shows that smokers lose more teeth than nonsmokers and typically require longer healing times after treatment with results that are less predictable.

A periodontist is a specialist in the treatment of all stages of gum disease and in the placement of dental implants. He or she is the expert who can help to restore a bacteria-burdened “oral cavity” to a healthy state.

Dr. William Claiborne,
Biltmore Periodontics

In our Asheville periodontal dental office, we feature some of the most advanced technology in the industry. The patient benefits from these through diagnoses that are exact, more conservative treatment, and having reduced healing time. This also can mean there is less discomfort.

One of the features we provide is the LANAP Protocol Using Periolase MVP-7. LANAP (an acronym for Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure) is amazing technology that more efficiently and effectively treats periodontitis (advanced gum disease) with the PerioLase® MVP-7™ laser. As a minimally invasive (non-surgical) treatment for moderate to severe periodontal disease, LANAP has even been found to stimulate bone regrowth in damaged areas.

If you are experiencing symptoms of gum disease, call 828-274-9440. In our state-of-the-art Asheville periodontal dental office, our patients are treated with respect, compassion and a gentle touch. New patients are always welcome.

If dental fear has kept you from having regular dental care and you’re experiencing symptoms of gum disease, consider starting with a consultation. During this time, we can discuss comfort options, including oral and IV sedation (“twilight sleep”). Referrals are not required.

Reshaping Gum Tissues To Protect Oral Health & Enhance Smiling Appearance


Posted on Mar 21, 2024 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

When people think about the appearance of their smiles, it’s typically the teeth that are the focus. Everyone wants a smile that enhances appearance, instills self-confidence and gets compliments. Yet, the appearance of a smile involves more than just teeth. The “frame” of gum tissues that arch the teeth most visible in a smile have a lot to do with how a smile looks.

As a periodontal specialist in Asheville, NC, part of my specialty involves the treatment of all stages of periodontal (gum) disease, the placement of dental implants, and the contouring of gum tissues. Gum contouring is generally done for esthetic reasons but may also be advised for oral wellness.

Gums most often pull away from the base of teeth (or “recede”), exposing darker areas of the tooth. This darker area is part of the tooth’s root and highly vulnerable to damage. Recession also causes teeth to look longer and expose darker tooth root areas of the tooth. Being sensitive to hot or cold – causing a sudden jolt of pain – is often the final warning sign that the gums are not protecting tender root segments of the tooth.

Gum recession is commonly due to:

Gum disease, which destroys gums tissues, causing them to loosen their firm grip around the base of teeth. This enables oral bacteria to penetrate beneath the gum line, reaching vulnerable bone and tissues.

Over-vigorous toothbrushing can wear away precious gum tissues that surround the base of teeth. When using a back-&-forth scrubbing motion, or a hard toothbrush, gum tissues can be scrubbed off. Too, using abrasive substances to brush (such as baking soda) not only wear down gum tissues, they wear away tooth enamel.

• The aging process lessens hydration in the body. Because the gum tissues are moist layers that require continual hydration (supported by saliva), oral dryness can cause the gums to draw up as they become drier. Unfortunately, this creates more challenges in maintaining healthy teeth.

While gum recession is an oral health concern, it is a cosmetic issue as well. For an attractive smile, teeth should be arched by a balanced level and shape of gum tissues. When there is too much gum tissue showing above teeth or varying heights of gums arching teeth, the height and symmetry of gum tissues can be corrected by a periodontist.

For example, in a gummy smile, too much of the gum line is visible. This makes teeth look short and draws the eye to the gums rather than the teeth. Gum tissues should complement teeth with a balanced line of gum tissues. While a gummy smile is not generally problematic for one’s oral health, many people find it makes them “hold back” on smiling fully.

Before & After Of A Gummy Smile

The procedure to correct a gummy smile is a gingival lift, also known as a gum lift or gum contouring. This in-office procedure is performed to reduce and reshape highly visible gums.

In our Western NC periodontal dental office, we use a dental laser to perform a gingival lift. Our dental laser gives a precision line while only removing specific areas of the gums, leaving all surrounding tissue unharmed. This allows us to reshape the gums to create better balance in the smile.

A laser gingival lift also offers patients a more comfortable experience since it causes very little pain and therefore requires only topical anesthesia. In addition, laser treatments result in almost no bleeding and tissues tend to heal more quickly than after traditional surgery.

We also perform gum grafting that recovers areas where gum recession has occurred. This helps to protect the tooth roots and improves the appearance of the smile.

In gum grafting, we normally take a small area of tissue from the roof of the mouth and place it in the area of recession. When there is not sufficient tissue available, a graft may be from a donor source. The graft is attached to the natural gum tissue and gently sutured into the position where it corrects a smile’s appearance and reduces further recession and the potential for gum disease.

Several teeth may be involved in gum grafting when used to even out the gum line or reduce the risk of gum and bone collapse after a tooth has been lost. In these cases, cosmetic gum surgery is beneficial in reshaping excess gum and bone tissue. It also reduces sensitivity from exposed roots to hot or cold foods.

As a periodontist, I most commonly see gums that cover too much of the teeth as being due to genetics. When gums fail to cover sufficiently over the base of teeth, it’s typically the cause of recession, which can occur from several reasons (as listed prior). Regardless of why it has occurred, our goal is to provide the patient with the most healthy and esthetic outcome in a procedure that is comfortable, successful, and requires minimal healing time.

In our Asheville periodontal dental office, we offer some of the most advanced dental technology available. In addition to amazing imaging, such as Cone Beam 3D imaging, we provide Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure (or LANAP). This is a cutting-edge protocol to more efficiently and effectively treat periodontitis (advanced gum disease) with the PerioLase® MVP-7™ laser. Treatment is minimally invasive and helps to minimize both discomfort and recovery time. It has also been found to stimulate bone regrowth in damaged areas.

Additionally, our office offers both oral and I.V. sedation (“twilight sleep”) for complete relaxation during treatment. Sedation is administered safely by a doctor of anesthesia to provide optimal safety and comfort.

If finances have kept you from seeking out the care you need or the beautiful smile you desire, feel free to contact our friendly staff and arrange a consultation appointment. During this time, we can discuss the best options for you, cost estimates, and predicted treatment time.

We can also review several payment plans that make treatment affordable through extended, interest-free payment periods with no down payment required. These often help our patients enjoy their confident, new smiles while making easy monthly payments that are budget friendly.

Call 828-274-9440 to schedule.

How A Periodontist Can Help Cancer Patients


Posted on Mar 18, 2024 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
For those who learn they have cancer, regardless of the type, it is a frightening diagnosis. While survival rates have been positively increasing over the years, it is a dreaded disease that requires challenging treatment regimens, even for those who have early stage cancer diagnoses.
Thanks to extensive research and advances in treatment options (including high-tech imaging that catches many cancers in their early stages) the survival statistics are climbing at a steady pace. In 2022, 69% of survivors have lived over 5 years since their diagnosis; 47% have lived over 10 years since their diagnosis; and 18% of survivors have lived over 20.
Encouraging, also, is that the number of cancer survivors is projected to increase by 24.4% by 2032.
Treatment for cancer can be very compromising to the immune system. One of the ways to support the immune system is by having excellent periodontal health. Having a healthy mouth can lower the demands on the immune system. Here’s why…
The mouth is home to millions of bacteria; some bacteria are good and some are bad. When the bad bacteria are well-managed (through proper brushing, flossing and regular dental check-ups), the gums remain healthy and protective to the structures below.
When bad bacteria over-accumulate, the immune system becomes strained as it attempts to combat their rapid reproduction. The bacteria become infectious, destroying healthy tissues. This leads to the loosening of gum tissues that snugly wrap the base of each tooth. Thus, bacteria are able to penetrate below the surface of the gums.
Here, bacteria attack the structures that support teeth, including bone. This destruction can cause teeth to loosen, leading to the need for removal in some cases.
Yet, it is not just the immune system that is challenged by the bacteria. Even for those in good overall states, having gum disease increases the risks for many health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, arthritis, diabetes, dementia and even certain cancers.
In a study by Harvard scientists from data that included almost 150,000 adults with a follow-up after 28 years, those with a history of periodontal disease were 43% more likely to develop esophageal cancer and 52% more likely to develop stomach cancer. The risk was even higher in those with gum disease severe enough to cause tooth loss (periodontitis).
Although the exact mechanism connecting gum disease and some cancers is still uncertain, studies continually show correlations. This can be in the form of triggering the onset or worsening those in development.
In one study from the late 1990s until 2012, study participants with severe gum disease showed a 24% higher risk of developing cancer. For edentulous patients (those who have no remaining natural teeth), there was an even higher risk.
As a periodontist, I have a firsthand view of how destructive the infectious bacteria of gum disease can be. Ridding any level of this can reduce the demands on the immune system. As such, we often care for cancer patients to relieve the problems in the mouth that some medications and radiation can cause (such as tissue infections and sores, pain or swelling in the mouth, and sensitivity to hot and cold). This is often done using a dental laser. Laser therapy is very comfortable and is safe for cancer patients and the process can expedite healing greatly.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to address, specifically, oral and oropharyngeal cancers since April is National Oral Cancer Awareness month. While some other cancers seem to be more present in the public eye, awareness of oral and neck/throat cancers needs to be greater. Oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers occur most often in the following sites:
• tongue
• tonsils and oropharynx (the part of the throat behind the mouth)
• gums, floor of the mouth, and other parts of the mouth
The rest are found in the lips, the minor salivary glands (which often occur in the roof of the mouth), and other sites.
The American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates for oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers in the U.S. are for 2024:
   – About 58,450 new cases of oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer
   – About 12,230 deaths from oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer
The average age of people diagnosed with these cancers is 64, but they can occur in young people. Just over 20% (1 in 5) of cases occur in people younger than 55.
Adult males are at the highest risk for oral cancer, with black males being the most susceptible. The risk also increases with age, especially after age 50. Although the risk typically peaks between the ages of 60 – 70, males between ages 50 – 59 tend to have the highest numbers.
It is important to be aware of the warning signs of oral cancer, including:
• A sore, irritation, lump or thick patch in the mouth, lip, or throat
• White or red patch inside the mouth
• Feeling something is stuck in the throat
• Difficulty chewing or swallowing
• Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
• Numbness in the tongue or other areas of the mouth
• Unexplained swelling of the jaw
• Pain in an ear without hearing loss
While these symptoms do not always indicate oral cancer, any that do not clear up on their own within 2 weeks should be examined without delay.
This dental exam is painless. Many patients, if not told, are not aware that the dentist is performing it. During this, the dentist does a visual examination of oral tissues, checking the lips and inside of the mouth (including under the tongue). The dentist will also check the roof and floor of your mouth.
If suspicious areas are noted during the exam, the dentist will order a biopsy. In this, a small sample of tissue from the area of concern is removed and examined under a microscope. This will determine whether further tests are needed.
Unfortunately, the CDC reports that about 35% of adults over the age of 18 did not have a dental visit in 2019. This leaves those who are vulnerable or developing oral cancer at higher risk of it advancing. Those regular dental checkups go beyond the cleaning of teeth and lowering the risk of oral cancers adds greatly to the need to be committed to these appointments.
If you are experiencing symptoms of gum disease, please know that this disease will only worsen without treatment. If you have any of those listed below, please contact our Asheville periodontal dental office as soon as possible to schedule an examination.
Watch for:
Swollen or puffy gums
Bright red, dark red or dark purple gums
Gums that feel tender when touched
Gums that bleed easily
Seeing pink in the sink or toothbrush after brushing
Spitting out blood when brushing or flossing teeth
Bad breath that won’t go away
If fear has kept you from having regular dental care, our Western periodontal dental office offers both oral and I.V. sedation (twilight sleep). Feel free to call 828-274-9440 to arrange a consultation appointment to discuss any concerns you have regarding treatment or payment plans.
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