Know How Oral Bacteria Form & Cause Damage
Posted on Nov 07, 2023 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Often, once people understand how something breaks down, they are able to watch for telltale signs or take preventive measures. For example, when the grooves in a vehicle’s tires become more shallow, it’s obvious they need to make arrangements for new tires.
This is true, also, for your oral health. Knowing concerning oral signs and symptoms can help you prevent cavities, periodontal (gum) disease and tooth loss.
Oral bacteria exists in every mouth; some of it is “good” bacteria. The good bacteria are even helpful to the digestive system. However, harmful bacteria can run rampant if not kept under control.
The average mouth houses around 20 billion (that’s billion with a “b”), consisting of about 700 different types. Bacteria breed very quickly. The numbers can grow amazingly fast and their buildup produces a bacterial film that coats the teeth and gums. This is known as plaque.
Plaque is the sticky coating in your mouth, most obvious when you first wake up. When plaque is not removed regularly (through thorough brushing), the bacteria attack tooth enamel. Results include bad breath, yellowed teeth, cavities and tender gums.
Plaque formation actually begins as you chew carbohydrates, which seems to be prevalent in most of the foods we eat in today’s diet. As carbohydrates blend with saliva and existing bacteria in the mouth, an acid is created.
Plaque that is allowed to remain on teeth for about 48 hours hardens. This is known as tartar, which is a mass of bacteria that forms between and at the base of teeth.
Once in this hardened form, removal can only occur with special tools used by your dentist or dental hygienist. This is what your hygienist is scraping off during cleanings. Without tartar being removed, it causes the gums to swell, feel tender and may bleed when brushing. This is typically the initial stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis.
However, for people who brush twice a day and still have tartar formation between dental hygiene appointments, there are factors that may be contributing. Some of these are not common knowledge, which is important to know in your prevention goals. These include:
Having “dry mouth”: There are a number of reasons that some people suffer with a drier mouth than others. Unfortunately, those who have insufficient saliva flow (which continually helps to cleanse the mouth) are more susceptible to tooth decay from plaque and tartar.
Saliva protects teeth and gums by helping to manage the growth of harmful bacteria while maintaining a neutral pH in the mouth. This slows microbial growth and keeps bacteria from sticking to teeth.
Other contributors to dry mouth include aging, caffeine (including coffee, tea, sodas, and chocolate), smoking, and a wide range of medications (such as antidepressants, decongestants and diuretics).
Poor oral hygiene: Since the pandemic, normal routines have been uprooted for many people as they have adjusted their “ready for the day” tasks to more casual timetables. Unfortunately, this seems to have left the habitual brushing and flossing times to days where oral hygiene has dropped out of the twice-a-day routine.
A March 2023 poll (conducted on behalf of CeraVe) included 2,000 men between the ages of 18 – 42. They found that only 54% brush their teeth daily (with one-third admitting to only once a day when they do brush). To no surprise, a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reveals that nearly 26% of ages 20 – 44 have untreated dental caries.
Frequent snacking: Every time you eat or drink, an acid attack begins in the mouth. This acid flows in with saliva to begin the initial stage of digestion. However, this acid is very potent, enough to even soften tooth enamel. So, every time you take a bite of a cookie, acid flows into the mouth and remains there for about 20-30 minutes. When the mouth endures frequent acid attacks from snacking between meals, the damage to precious tooth enamel will catch up to you in the form of cavities.
In addition to the harm that oral bacteria can cause teeth, the gum tissues – essentially the protective coating to the vital structures that support teeth – endure the rigors of bacterial overload. Eventually, this catches up to most people in the form of:
• Gingivitis – As the initial stage of gum disease, inflammation is triggered by plaque buildup at the gum line. When daily brushing and flossing fail to thoroughly remove plaque, toxins form that cause irritation to the gum tissues. Once symptoms emerge, they may include seeing blood in the sink when brushing or having sore, swollen gums.
• Periodontitis – As the disease advances, the bone structures and fibers that support teeth are damaged by the destruction of infectious oral bacteria. At this stage, pockets form below the gum line, filling with bacteria-laden plaque.
• Advanced Periodontitis – In the advanced stage of gum disease, fibers and bone supporting natural teeth are destroyed. This can cause teeth to shift or loosen, requiring aggressive treatment to prevent tooth loss. Eventually, some teeth may require removal.
Proactive measures NOW can help you avoid costly repairs to teeth, tooth replacement or the treatment process to rid periodontal disease. Start now with:
– Brush twice daily, floss every day and maintain regular dental check-ups. Thorough at-home oral care and regular dental check-ups can help you avoid problems from occurring in the first place.
– Delay brushing after eating or drinking. Wait 20-30 minutes to allow the acid attack in your mouth to subside. Remember, this acid can soften tooth enamel. The abrasiveness of a tooth brush or tooth paste can wear away precious tooth enamel.
– Swish with water. Enjoy a cup of coffee or glass of wine but try to alter these with a glass of water, allowing it to wash over teeth before swallowing. Or, swish with water.
– Eat sweets only with meals. Rather than forgo a sweet indulgence as a snack, enjoy your favorites as dessert following your meal since your mouth is already enduring an acid attack. This merely prolongs an acid attack rather than trigger a new one.
A healthy mouth is important for your overall health, as research has shown. We now know that the inflammatory bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease are able to enter the bloodstream through tears in weakened gum tissues. Numerous studies have found this bacteria can trigger harmful reactions.
For example, the bacteria can cause inflammation that sets into motion risks factors connected to arthritis and diabetes. Some cancers have also been correlated to this bacteria. Heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure have been as well. Alzheimer’s is also being studied along these lines.
While there is no clear pathway to verify gum disease bacteria are the “cause” of these serious conditions, research has continually shown they are linked, which can greatly increase one’s potential for having these problems develop (or worsen).
If you haven’t been fully committed to your oral health, there is no better time to begin than the present. Start with a thorough periodontal examination by calling 828-274-9440.
If dental fears have caused you to delay or avoid regular dental care, consider beginning with a consultation. This occurs in a comfortable, private room that is removed from the clinical side of the office. Too, many treatments can include oral or IV sedation (sleep dentistry, or “twilight sleep”).
And, if budget constraints are an obstacle, we offer several payment plans. Most are interest-free with no down payment required (for qualified individuals). Feel free to ask about these during your consultation.
Missing Teeth? HOW You Replace Them Will Make the Biggest Difference.
Posted on Oct 23, 2023 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
I remember a time when people assumed they would lose their natural teeth as they aged. Wearing full dentures in one’s senior years was almost an expectation. However, today’s adults are less accepting of “false teeth.”
Over time, adults have learned that the removal of a natural tooth has lasting repercussions. Although the tooth may have been removed because of decay or a break, the long list of problems and associated expenses are generally far greater than what was anticipated. I’ll explain.
When a natural tooth is removed, its absence causes a reaction that begins below the gum line. Without the presence of tooth roots, the bone begins to “melt.” This process is known as resorption.
The absence of a tooth root in the upper or lower jaw bone removes stimulation to the bone mass where it was once positioned. Along with the stimulation, natural tooth roots channel nourishment needed for maintaining a healthy mass.
Resorption begins shortly after the tooth root is removed. Once it starts, it continues at an ever-increasing pace. For example, the first year after a tooth root is missing, the loss of bone may be minimal. With each passing year, the pace of loss accelerates. For people who sleep with their dentures, the 24/7 pressure on the gum ridge speeds up the pace even more.
As the bone shrinks in height, the natural tooth roots adjacent to the area of missing teeth are subject to movement and root damage. On average, the next teeth you’re most likely to lose are the ones bordering areas of missing teeth.
Obviously, it is important to replace lost teeth before bone loss begins. For the support of remaining natural teeth, it’s also important to replace missing teeth as soon as possible so adjacent teeth can retain their proper positions. Yet, merely replacing the presence of a tooth above the gum line leaves the underlying risk factors in place. Over time, problems arise for most individuals.
There are many reasons we recommend dental implants for tooth replacement, whether for one, several or a full mouth of missing teeth. Dental implants recreate stimulation to the jaw bone, thereby halting the pace of bone loss. When bone mass is maintained, neighboring teeth have a reduced risk for being lost as well.
Because dental implants are held in the jaw bone, they are able to restore a natural biting strength with dependable stability. Having the ability to bite and chew efficiently and enjoy a diet of foods you love enhances eating pleasure and proper digestion. It’s no surprise that people who wear dentures have more gastrointestinal problems than those who have their natural teeth.
Another advantage to dental implants is their longevity. When dental implants are properly selected, placed and maintained, they should last your lifetime. This is why it’s so important to have your implant treatment through a Periodontist.
A periodontal specialist has advanced training to properly diagnose and place the most appropriate dental implant system for your needs and goals. As an Asheville periodontist with over 30 years of experience in dental implants, I have a reputation for treatment that provides the most successful outcome based on each patient’s unique needs – and by the most conservative means possible. Thus, the patient avoids having more time and expense involved than is necessary.
We are also known for providing a high level of patient comfort through the administration of IV sedation (twilight sleep) with our on-site Board Certified Anesthesiologist. Additionally, diagnosis and treatment planning is backed by images from our on-site 3D Cone Beam imaging.
Our Western NC periodontal office is fully prepared for the placement of dental implants. We tend to our patients in an efficient and effective manner so treatment occurs in minimal time and to an exceptional level of comfort.
We receive many patients who have been referred by their physician, dentist, and past/present patients, often because of our advanced skills and the respectful environment we provide. Here, each patient is treated with the same respect, compassion and gentle hands that we would want for ourselves and our loved ones. We take great pride in knowing our patients experience the finest periodontal and implant care in the Southeastern U.S.
A periodontist is a dental specialist who is trained to understand the intricate concepts involved in selecting the proper type of implant and skilled at placing implants at proper depths and angles. A periodontist is also able to optimize patient comfort during treatment and throughout the healing phase.
In addition to this advanced training, our office offers some of the most advanced technology available. This aids in the diagnosis and treatment planning of dental implants, providing patients with optimized comfort and outcomes. This technology, combined with our advanced skill level, creates a comfortable, efficient experience that helps you enjoy a lifetime of confident smiles.
Dental implants are also designed to last a lifetime. I can think of very few things that provide this kind of value. With proper selection and maintenance, they will never need replacing or repair, making them an excellent investment.
If you are considering dental implants, increase your potential for a successful outcome by asking a Periodontist to join your dentist in team treatment. Most general dentists have close relationships with periodontal specialists for implant placement, gum reshaping and in the treatment of gum disease.
If you have lost natural teeth or are facing the potential of tooth removal, call 828-274-9440 to schedule a consultation. This will occur in a private, comfortable consultation room conveniently located in our Asheville periodontal dental office. During this time, we’ll discuss the implant systems that may work best for your needs and preferences. I’ll explain the treatment involved, sedation options and estimated fees.
Don’t Allow Dental Fear or Anxiety To Ruin Your Smile
Posted on Aug 23, 2023 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
It’s a proven fact that your oral health – the wellness of your teeth and gum tissues – is an influencing contributor to your overall health. For decades, researchers have studied the concerning risks, and alarming connections, between oral health and a number of serious diseases in the body.
The leading culprit in this scenario are the bacteria of advanced gum disease, known as periodontitis. Gum disease breeds bacteria that are inflammatory in makeup. Once they enter the bloodstream (through tears in disease oral tissues), studies have found these potent bacteria can trigger the onset of serious diseases, such as:
• Heart disease
• Alzheimer’s disease & Dementia
• Some cancers (including lung and pancreatic)
• Pre-term babies
• High blood pressure
• Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
As research continues, more and more findings are bringing to light just how connected the mouth is to the efficient operation of the immune system. During the Covid pandemic, it was well publicized that those most vulnerable to the virus were those who were immune compromised.
One study, conducted between February and July 2020, analyzed two groups of 568 total patients with severe COVID-19 complications (death, ICU admissions or assisted ventilation). Periodontal conditions in the two groups were analyzed. Of the patients studied, those with periodontitis were three times more likely to experience COVID‐19 complications including death, ICU admission, and the need for assisted ventilation.
For years, the cost of dentistry has been credited for preventing millions of American adults from having regular dental care. This was recently studied in a nationally representative survey of 5,682 adults. In this, researchers looked at knowledge, attitudes, experiences, and behaviors related to oral health.
Results from the survey show that lack of insurance is a leading reason for avoiding dental care or delaying recommended care (often until something becomes so painful that the individual is forced into a dentist’s chair seeking relief).
The study showed that 16% of adults without dental insurance admitted that they had not seen a dentist in more than five years compared to just 5% of adults with dental insurance. Forty percent of adults without dental insurance reported cost was the reason they hadn’t visited the dentist in the past two years, compared to 14% of adults with dental insurance.
Yet, excruciating pain from a dental problem can be the impetus for setting aside the cost. The same is true for people who have fear or anxiety associated with dental care.
About 36% of people in the U.S. have a fear of dental treatment, with 12% having an intense fear, known as dentophobia. Dental phobics are people who avoid going to the dentist at all. Dental fear is more common in females than males, with an estimated 3% of men and almost 5% of women having dentophobia.
Reasons for these fears include:
– Fear the anesthetic will not work or be sufficient to fully numb the pain
– Blood makes some people feel afraid or panicky about bleeding during a dental procedure.
– People may fear choking or gagging and not being able to breathe or swallow.
– For individuals who have had a poor experience with a dentist in the past, they may associate negative feelings with their dentist.
– Feeling pain from the procedure or recovery
– Some people are highly fearful of needles.
– The noise from drills and dental instruments used by a dentist or dental hygienist can create high levels of anxiety for some people.
– The same is true when it comes to certain smells that arise during dental treatment.
New Study Links Periodontitis and COVID‐19 Complications
At our Asheville NC periodontal dental office, we take patient comfort very seriously, and that goes for all patients at every appointment. We find that many patients have developed severe gum disease or had tooth loss because they were afraid of going to a dentist. This prevents people from having regular dental care, which allows small problems to become worse ones.
Many with dental fear or dentophobia avoid going to the dentist for years. And, these feelings may be more common than you know. When dental anxiety, dental fear and dentophobia are combined, it affects an estimated 70% of American adults. This unfortunate statistic is a likely reason for the high percentage of adults who suffer with some level of periodontal (gum) disease – over 47%.
As a Periodontist, my staff and I work diligently to pamper patients from the moment they enter. For certain procedures as well as for patients who prefer the addition of sedatives, we offer oral sedation as well as 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 places the patient in a deeper sleep state, also erasing memory of the procedure. It is administered by a doctor of anesthesiology, overseen by Dr. Brad Stone, a Medical Doctor (MD) and a board certified Anesthesiologist & Pediatric Anesthesiologist.
With both sedation options, patients are closely monitored with advanced safety equipment throughout treatment.
If fear has caused you or someone you know to avoid dental visits, please arrange a consultation with us. In our Western NC periodontal dental office, you’ll find a warm, respectful atmosphere where your concerns are understood. During this time, we can discuss comfort options that may be best for your individual needs along with estimated costs.
Six Reasons To Have Your Dental Implants Placed By A Periodontist
Posted on Jul 12, 2023 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
A periodontist is a dental specialist who is often in the background of various dental procedures. Yet, we are in the forefront when it comes to specialized skills that support specific treatment needs.
Most patients are referred to our Asheville periodontal dental office by general dentists and dental specialists to provide certain aspects of dental treatment, which may involve our skills in cosmetic dentistry, dental implants, and treating all stages of gum disease.
A periodontist has advanced training to properly diagnose and treat all stages of periodontal (gum) disease (including gingivitis and periodontitis) as well as placement of dental implants. In addition, periodontists are particularly skilled in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures to repair gum-related disparities such as a “gummy smile” or varying gum arches that “jumble” a smile line.
A periodontist receives an additional 3 years of training after 4 years of undergraduate school and 4 years of dental school. This long, rigorous pursuit of the periodontal specialty requires the individual to be highly committed to the advanced care he or she will provide. It is our goal to help people achieve good oral health, a confident smile they love to share, and prevent tooth loss that can result from diseases of the gums.
Dental implants are now seen as the preferred option for tooth replacement. They come in over 40 different types designed to accommodate various challenges and preferences. But, why should you have your dental implants chosen and placed by a periodontist? After all, some dentists perform this in addition to their general dentistry services.
Below are 6 reasons our dental implant patients have particular advantages…
(1). 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.
(2). Rather than be limited to just one or two dental implant systems that were taught in a “crash course” by the implant manufacturers, our speciality understands the complete spectrum of implant systems. Some may be ideal for your needs while others may not. Some provide you with a non-removable (“fixed”) option while others may involve removable teeth. Our specialized skills give you the best choices you should have.
(3). 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.
(4). In our Western NC periodontal dental office, our advanced technology includes 3-D Cone Beam Imaging. This is ideal for diagnoses and treatment planning through images that provide a clear view of the upper and lower jaw (including nerve canals), with rotations that show sagittal, axial, and coronal planes. The imaging process is quick, painless and at minimal radiation levels.
(5). Another feature is our Computerized Dental Implant Placement system. This advanced technology is designed for pre-surgical positioning of dental implants that 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. This minimizes disruption of gum tissues and targets implant placement at ideal depths and angles. Thus, treatment success rates are higher with faster (and more comfortable) healing time.
(6). Optimal comfort for our patients has always been a priority. For many, a desired level of comfort and relaxation includes sedation options. Here, 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. IV 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.
With both sedation options, patients are closely monitored with advanced safety equipment throughout treatment.
If you are considering dental implants, you may wish to begin with a consultation appointment. During this time, we can explain the vast difference in comfort, treatment time, and success available through our specialized skills and extensive technology.
Call 828-274-9440 to schedule. New patients are always welcome and a referral is not always required.