Protect Your Heart. Start With Your Smile!
Posted on Jul 17, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
According to a report on the health of Americans (published by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, or ‘CDC’), it is estimated that over 47 percent have some form of gum disease. Although we all aspire to have a smile that is appealing, it is what lies beneath the teeth and gums that can reek havoc on one’s overall health.
Signs of gum disease
Over time, inadequate daily oral hygiene enables an overload of bacteria in the mouth. For people who have habits such as smoking, unhealthy diets, and alcohol consumption, their vulnerability is even more susceptible to this bacterial buildup.
This is also true for people as they age. Aging contributes to a reduced ability to produce saliva, the mouth’s oral rinsing agent. When saliva flow fails to ‘wash away’ bacteria at sufficient levels, the accumulation runs rampant.
Oral bacteria are living, eating, and reproducing organisms. They thrive on rotting food particles caught between teeth. They attack gum tissues and tooth enamel. Eventually, they can work their way down tooth roots and attack the bones and tendons that support teeth.
What’s even scarier is the fact that these infectious critters can enter the bloodstream. This potent bacteria are now associated with a number of serious health conditions due to their ability to trigger systemic inflammation.
When the gum tissues can no longer combat the onslaught of bacteria, there can be very few signs of periodontal (gum) disease initially. Signs that emerge are typically frequent bad breath along with swollen, tender and beefy red gums that bleed when you brush. As they grow in number, the gum tissues become weaker and they can penetrate the bloodstream.
According to the American Academy of Periodontology (www.perio.org),
“Several studies have shown that periodontal disease is associated with heart disease. While a cause-and-effect relationship has not yet been proven, research has indicated that periodontal disease increases the risk of heart disease.
“Scientists believe that inflammation caused by periodontal disease may be responsible for the association.
“Periodontal disease can also exacerbate existing heart conditions. Patients at risk for infective endocarditis may require antibiotics prior to dental procedures. Your periodontist and cardiologist will be able to determine if your heart condition requires use of antibiotics prior to dental procedures.”
For this reason, cardiologists are more often advising their patients to be evaluated by a periodontist prior to heart surgery. As mentioned above, gums that bleed are a sign of gum disease. These oral bacteria, given an opportunity to enter the bloodstream, are able to travel anywhere, including the heart. They can reach the heart muscle and cause a severe infection.
For decades, researchers have probed the link between gum disease and cardiovascular health. People with gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) have two to three times the risk of having a heart attack, stroke or other serious cardiovascular event.
Acting as a contributing factor to heart disease is highly serious. Yet, the risks associated with gum disease don’t stop there. Research has shown this potent oral bacteria can set a path of destruction into motion. It has been linked to some cancers, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, impotency, and even Alzheimer’s.
Twice-daily brushing and daily flossing takes mere minutes and is inexpensive to do. Seeing a dentist every 6 months for oral exams and cleanings saves an individual far more by preventing problems than they cost. Yet, too many adults fail to devote the investment to this necessary part of a healthy lifestyle.
An estimated 65 percent of adults ages 18 – 64 see a dentist only once a year. Approximately 55 percent of adults brush their teeth twice a day, which is too little. (https://www.reference.com/health/many-times-day-people-brush-teeth-34d1104798029b7a) I believe it would be jolting to most adults to view dental floss under a microscope after their teeth have been flossed.
As an Asheville periodontal specialist, I have an up-close view of the damaging affects of insufficient oral hygiene. It often results in tooth loss, which is not a natural part of the aging process, as some people believe. Having your natural teeth for a lifetime is more than achievable and has even been shown to add to one’s lifespan (by up to ten years).
If you’ve failed to be fully committed to your oral health, there is no better time to begin than the present. Start with a thorough periodontal examination. Call 828-274-9440.
If dental fears have prevented you from having regular dental care, consider beginning with a consultation. This occurs in a comfortable, private consultation room that is removed from the clinical side of the office. This will be a friendly, informative conversation and you will not be asked to sit in a treatment chair during this visit.
Let’s protect you, top to bottom, beginning with your smile!
A Dry Mouth Can Have Many Causes And Lead To A Number Of Oral Health Problems
Posted on Jun 21, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Our lips and teeth – our smile – is a stage curtain to what is actually going on inside the mouth. As an Asheville periodontist, I have a daily view of the hazards that exist beyond the veil.
Oral bacteria is the root source of most problems that occur in the mouth. Their presence is normal, of course. The mouth (or “oral cavity”) is designed to be able to manage a certain level of oral bacteria. It is the over-accumulation of this bacteria that is the origination source of many problems.
Although certain foods, such as a garlicky shrimp or onion-laden hot dogs, can create “stand-offish” bad breath, this breath odor is temporary. The bad breath that is truly offensive and occurs on a more consistent basis comes from an overload of oral bacteria.
The reason we’re advised to brush at least twice a day and floss our teeth daily is to remove accumulated oral bacteria from the mouth. When not removed on a regular basis, the bacteria form a sticky film that coats the teeth and gums. This film is known as plaque.
Keep in mind that bacteria are living, eating, and reproducing organisms. Because they eat, they also create waste – in our mouths! Although that in itself should be reason enough to be committed to brushing and flossing, without pain, people assume that all is well.
Yet, an over-accumulation of oral bacteria can lead to far worse than bad breath. Because oral bacteria critters eat, they look to the gum tissues. As they amass, they can create an inflammation that extends beneath the gum line. The infection they trigger can reach down into the structures that support natural teeth.
Periodontal disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss. The advanced stage of gum disease, known as periodontitis, creates a bacteria so potent that it has been linked to a wide array of conditions and diseases elsewhere in the body.
The oral bacteria of advanced-stage gum disease has been associated with some cancers, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, and impotency. As research continues, more and more health problems are being correlated to this bacteria.
The saliva in the mouth is designed to move bacteria out. Twice daily brushing and flossing help. However, certain contributing factors complicate the ability to keep oral bacteria levels to manageable levels. These include:
• Colas/Sodas: Not only is the acidity level in these drinks harmful to tooth enamel, it can make oral tissue to dry out. Downing these beverages because you feel you are replenishing moisture is the last thing they do; refreshing they are not. Drink plain, filtered water instead. It’s much better for your mouth and hydrating to the entire body.
• Coffee/Tea: Like colas, these drinks contain acid added to caffeine. Even green tea often contains caffeine. Caffeine has a drying effect on oral tissues and therefore depletes the helpful rinsing benefits or saliva.
• Alcohol (including beer and wine): Mixed drinks, “shots,” wine and even beer are all drying to oral tissues. Add the acidity and sugar levels that exist in wine or mixers and these drinks pack a double-whammy to oral tissues. If you imbibe, alter your drink with a glass of water in-between to neutralize acids and wash sugars from the mouth.
• Smoking (cigarettes, cigars, vaping, cannabis): People who have smoked for years often have dry skin that has an aged appearance far beyond their actual years. The same is occurring inside the mouth. The smoke of cigarettes and cigars is laden with toxic chemicals; true for e-cigs as well. Vaping doesn’t keep your mouth much safer than cigarettes. Even marijuana has been found to have a negative impact on oral tissues.
• Aging: Through aging, our skin, cartilage, and tissues are less supple. Our bodies simply dry out more and more with each decade. Although there’s nothing we can do to halt the aging process, we can take measures to minimize the damage to our oral health. We recommend drinking plenty of water throughout the day, using an oral rinse designed to replenish moisture in the mouth, and limit sugar and caffeine.
As a periodontist, I also urge people to be familiar with the signs and symptoms of periodontal disease, which begins with gingivitis. In this early-stage of gum disease, the gums may feel tender and swollen in one area. You may notice some bleeding when brushing your teeth. Your breath may feel less-than-fresh more often. However, some people experience no symptoms at all at this early stage.
If not treated, gingivitis can progress to periodontal disease, where symptoms are more obvious. The gum tissues are sore and bleed easily when brushing. Your breath will be bad more frequently. The gum tissues may swell in some areas and turn red.
As gum disease advances, the gums can begin to pull away from their tight grip around the base of some teeth, exposing darker, more sensitive areas of the tooth’s root. The gums will ache often and pus pockets may form at the base of some teeth. The breath is foul, even after brushing. And, tooth brushing is very uncomfortable with blood in the sink each time.
Eventually, the disease will have penetrated the supportive bone and ligaments that support teeth. In advanced cases, the teeth will begin to move and some may require removal.
All of this devastation to the mouth can be avoided, however. When people respond to early signs of gum disease by seeing a periodontal specialist, they can avoid the time and expense required. In addition to preventing the loss of natural teeth,
Enjoy beautiful, relaxing views from our surgical suite.
research now shows that serious health problems far beyond the body can be avoided as well.
If you have delayed or avoided dental care, begin with a consultation to learn about your options to have a healthy smile that is worry-free. Regardless of your love of coffee, your smoking habit, or your age, we can develop a program that allows you to have good oral health.
Begin by calling 828-274-9440 to request a consultation, or begin with a thorough examination in our Asheville periodontal office. We offer the latest techniques, technology, and skills while always putting patient comfort at the top of the list!
Bad Breath? That May Be The Least Of Your Problems!
Posted on May 23, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
We’ve all run into people who have bad breath. Although a tuna salad lunch or onion-laden hot dog can cause folks to pull back from close-up conversations, these forms of bad breath are temporary.
The smelly breath odor that is more concerning is that which comes from the sticky film of bacteria that coats the mouth and emits sulfuric odors (likened to rotten eggs). This film, known as plaque, coats the teeth and gums when allowed to build up.
For example, the reason you wake up with not-so-fresh breath in the morning is the result of the mouth being closed all night while bacteria reproduces and accumulates. Without brushing and due to declined saliva flow (your mouth’s natural rinsing agent) during sleep, oral bacteria amass. Thus, you wake up with the sticky film and the breath that goes with it.
For those who are mouth-breathers during sleep or who snore, dry oral tissues allow for even more bacterial growth.
Once you brush and rinse thoroughly, however, you can expect your breath to become more pleasant. Persistent bad breath, however, may be the a side effect of medication, an illness, or periodontal (gum) disease.
As a periodontal specialist, I’m very much aware of the distinct odor produced by gum disease. Although it varies slightly from person to person, it has an offensive scent than that of typical bad breath.
The best way to determine gum disease as the true source is through a periodontal exam. In addition to persistent bad breath, periodontal disease symptoms include gum tenderness, gums that bleed when brushing, and gums that are red in color rather than a healthy pink. Early stage gum disease (gingivitis) may not cause any obvious symptoms, however.
Regardless of the source of unpleasant breath odor, it is imperative to have and maintain good oral health – for reasons that can impact your overall health. Through decades of research and studies, the bacteria of gum disease has been linked to serious health problems, including heart disease, stroke, arthritis, diabetes, impotency and some cancers.
For example, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and pneumonia are just two diseases that have a connection to gum disease. Researchers have found that RA sufferers have a higher incidence of periodontal (gum) disease compared to individuals with a healthy oral condition.
Studies have also shown that RA patients are nearly 8 times more likely to have gum disease. Although insufficient oral hygiene can certainly be a determining factor in acquiring gum disease, other parameters point to a deeper association between RA and gum disease.
Because both RA and gum disease both cause internal inflammation, a connection between the two are most prevalent when examining the joints and oral tissues. Oral tissues with the presence of periodontitis compared to tissues of RA-affected joints show a number of similarities. Research has also discovered a genetic link between the two.
And the health threats go further. One study published by Science Daily found that the bacteria present in the mouth can release toxins that can make their way into the brain. (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190123165002.htm)
Once there, they may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. While studies on this connection continue, other studies have found a clear path of triggers traced to the inflammatory reactions caused by the bacteria of gum disease.
Once periodontal disease is established in the mouth, its pathological byproducts can enter the bloodstream, lymph fluid, and bone structures. This can lead to the spread of infection and inflammation to all areas of the body. In this way, periodontal disease has been shown to be a cause of systemic disease.
While fresh breath and a gleaming smile are important, it’s clear that oral wellness plays a leading role in helping you avoid serious, and even deadly, health conditions.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of gum disease mentioned above or are past due for a dental exam, call our Asheville periodontal office at 828-274-7440. If desired, you can begin with a private consultation, where we will discuss your symptoms and health history. During this time, I’ll answer your questions, explain treatment options and discuss comfort methods.
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.