Men – Take On The Challenges In Oral Health Upkeep.


Posted on May 05, 2024 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

If you’re a male, or have ones in your life you love, the following information will be good-to-know. This is filled with reasons why you (or they) should make oral health a priority.

Let’s begin with the hazards of gum disease. According to a survey by the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), only 66% of males brush their teeth twice or more a day (compared with 86% of females).

Flossing stats weren’t much better, but that proved to be the case with both sexes. Only 49% in the survey said they were daily flossers with 1 out of 3 with the misconception that seeing blood in the sink when brushing is normal (it’s not).

Periodontal (gum) disease is the result of an over-accumulation of oral bacteria. It begins with Gingivitis.

Gingivitis is caused by the toxins in plaque. Plaque is the sticky layer of bacteria that coats teeth and gums. When not removed (through regular brushing and flossing), it can harden into a form known as tartar (that can no longer be brushed away).

Gingivitis is typically treated with a professional cleaning and thorough at-home care. Some cases may require root planing and deep scaling procedures to rid the gum tissue of debris pockets (pus-filled bulges on gum tissues). This procedure reaches bacteria that has penetrated beneath the gum line.

The next stage of gum disease is known as chronic periodontal disease. The most common form of gum disease, this is characterized by inflammation beneath the gum line with damage to gums and bone tissue. At this level, treatment includes scaling and root planing along with antimicrobial treatments. In some stages, surgical procedures are also necessary for pocket reduction. Some cases require tissue grafts to strengthen the bone and improve the appearance of the smile.

As gum disease worsens, it moves to periodontitis, a more aggressive stage of gum disease. Periodontitis has similar symptoms to those listed above but tends to progress at a faster pace. Because this stage of gum disease is more difficult to combat, treatment is the same treatment needed for chronic periodontal disease along with surgical intervention. A combined treatment of scaling, root planing, antimicrobial, and surgical procedures may save oral tissue and bone.

Periodontal disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss, affecting over 47% of adults ages 30 and over. Research has found that gum disease is higher in men (over 56%) than in women (38%).

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) notes that men are typically less likely to sufficiently maintain their oral health. Oral health should be especially concerning for men since they have some challenging odds against them as far as health statistics go. These include:

• Men have higher rates of periodontal (gum) disease, tooth loss, and oral infections. Because statistics show that men typically have poorer dental habits than women, they tend to have more dental health problems. Men can’t blame this on biological predisposition as the statistic is based upon lifestyle choices (such as not brushing, etc).

Men tend to have higher blood pressure, putting them at an increased risk for heart disease later in life. Medications that treat these conditions can cause dry mouth, which ups the risks to their oral health.

• Elderly men typically have fewer teeth than women of the same age, and need dentures more than women. Although research shows a correlation between tooth loss and body mass index, elderly men having few teeth is the result of poor dental habits and attention to dental health accumulated over time.

• Oral cavity and oropharyngeal (throat) cancers are twice as common in men than in women. It is suspected that this is due to men being more likely to have a history of tobacco and alcohol use.

HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers occur more often in men. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U. S. HPV can lead to certain types of cancer and is thought to cause 70% of oropharyngeal cancers in the U.S. The development of oropharyngeal cancer due to HPV is about three times less prominent in females than in men of the same age.

While a healthy smile is important to both genders, older adults should pay particular attention to having a good oral health. By CDC estimates, approximately 13% of adults ages 65 – 74 have no teeth. For people ages 75 and older, that number jumps to 26% (over one-fourth!).

Too, ALL ADULTS should be concerned with the overall health repercussions related to the inflammatory bacteria of gum disease. Able to enter the bloodstream through tears in diseased oral tissues, these bacteria can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. This has been associated with the development or worsening of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, diabetes, arthritis, erectile dysfunction, elevated PSA levels, and respiratory diseases.

Also applicable to all adults, the Journal of Periodontology shared nine risk factors for tooth loss due to periodontal (gum) disease, including …
 • Being over age 35
 • Being male
 • Not having professional dental care
 • Not brushing teeth
 • Smoking
 • Being diabetic
 • Having high blood pressure
 • Having rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

Treating gum disease before it becomes severe can be done comfortably and affordably. In our Asheville periodontal dental office, we use cutting-edge technology that often minimizes treatment needs, lessens healing time, and optimizes comfort.

If dental fears have caused you to delay or avoid having regular dental care, consider beginning with a consultation. As a periodontist, I know many individuals like that this occurs in a comfortable, private consultation room. We can discuss the use of oral or I.V. sedation (sleep dentistry, or “twilight sleep”) during procedures. These are administered safely with patients monitored with advanced safety equipment throughout treatment.

If financial constraints are an obstacle in receiving treatment, we offer several payment plans. Most are interest-free with no down payment required (for qualified individuals).

Call 828-274-9440 to begin with a private consultation to discuss your best options. New patients are welcome and a referral is not needed.

Sources:
https://www.perio.org/consumer/gum-disease-and-men
https://www.perio.org/consumer/gender-differences
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4544688/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20116657/
https://www.cancer.org/cancer/oral-cavity-and-oropharyngeal-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/risk-
https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/hiv-aids-and-stds/dental-care-hpv-and-men#

 

Healthy Gums Advantageous To A Healthier YOU!


Posted on Apr 22, 2024 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Periodontal (gum) disease and subsequent tooth loss has damaging effects to an individual, far beyond the mouth. When this was suspected decades ago, it prompted national agencies to track the oral health of the U.S. population. Using this extensive data, studies have revealed some interesting statistics, including how various age groups fare when it comes to oral wellness.

The following is mostly information pulled from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) “Oral Health In America” report. Released in December 2021, the findings were the culmination of years of research assembled by more than 400 contributors.

On a positive note, the percentage of Americans who have experienced tooth loss has declined since the 1970’s. As of 2016, complete tooth loss has fallen by more than 75% for adults between the ages of 65 – 75 years. Unfortunately, there is not good news when it comes to tooth decay – for nearly any adult age group.

For adults between the ages of 20 – 64, cavities have affected 90% and gum disease exists for nearly 50% of adults aged 45 – 64 years. This should be a concern for every American. This is because research has determined that the bacteria of periodontitis (advanced gum disease) can trigger or worsen a long list of serious health problems.

The list includes:
• Stroke
• Coronary Artery Disease
• Arthritis
• Diabetes
• Preterm & low birth weight babies
• Some Cancers (including oral and pancreatic)
• Alzheimer’s disease
• Impotency, Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
• Prostatitis (elevated PSA levels)

In addition to poor oral hygiene routines at home and avoiding regular dental cleanings and exams, high-risk behaviors (such as use of tobacco, opioids, and alcohol) accentuate the risks of gum disease.

Although gum disease can begin without obvious signs or symptoms, the most commonly noticed 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

While the report found that there are stark differences in adult groups who had less access to having regular oral health care, disparities also stem from underlying economic, demographic, and societal inequities.

Below are some of the oral health variations pertaining to certain groups.


ADOLESCENTS
During the past 20 years, the percentage of adolescents (ages 12 − 19) having at least one molar with a sealant applied has nearly tripled, from 18% to 48%. That’s a good thing. Even so, there has been no decline in untreated tooth decay in adolescents since the last surgeon general’s report twenty years ago.

High caries (cavities in teeth) experienced in early childhood is the strongest indicator of caries problems that will be experienced in adolescence and adulthood. This means that when the factors contributing to developing cavities in childhood persist, the incidence of caries affecting permanent teeth will continue to increase during adolescence. Likewise, misalignment of teeth that exist or develop during adolescence can substantially impact eating, speech, gum health, and even psycho-social development. (Imagine a teen with teeth so mispositioned that they are ridiculed by peers.)


OLDER AMERICANS
There is good news for our older population (Americans over the age of 65). Their overall oral health has significantly improved over the past two decades with fewer teeth being extracted. Additionally, the proportion of the population with edentulism (no remaining natural teeth) is at an all-time low.

The not-so-great news… tooth loss remains a problem for older adults. Today, 1 in 6 Americans have no remaining natural teeth. At this rate, by the year 2030 (just 6 years from now), the 65-&-over age group without teeth will increase to 1 in 5.

For adults over the age of 75, the challenges are even greater. Over 54% have fewer than 21 remaining teeth with the number increasing to 80% for those living in poverty. With age also comes the increased prevalence of systemic diseases that may impact the mouth, making older adults more susceptible to oral health issues. (This includes heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, etc.)

Fortunately, things are moving in a positive direction for older adults, with more keeping their teeth than any previous generation. This has largely been the result of having increased attention on the benefits of prevention and improvements in treatments for gum disease and cavities, along with a decrease in the rate of smoking. (About 8 of every 100 adults – 8.3% – of adults 65 years and older were reported to smoke in 2023.)


WOMEN
Women have unique oral health concerns due to changing hormone levels based on menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause. These fluctuations can raise the risk of oral problems that effect teeth or gums. Health issues, such as diabetes, can also affect the oral health of females.


To keep your teeth healthy, it is important to remove dental plaque. This is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria that coats teeth and gums. Plaque buildup can cause tooth decay and gum disease.

Even teeth that already have fillings are at risk for tooth decay. Plaque can build up underneath a chipped filling and cause new decay. And if there are areas in your mouth where your gums have pulled away from the teeth (known as receded gums or gum recession), the exposed tooth roots can decay as well.

It’s important – for all ages – to be committed to their oral hygiene time at the sink, at least twice a day. Devoting these minutes to the care of your teeth and gums will pay off in future years, helping to minimize costs for dental repairs and time in treatment. And, when early ages get into the habit of an oral care routine at home, they are more likely to carry that into adulthood.

Here are some easy brushing tips:

• Use fluoride toothpaste, which is an ingredient of many products. Fluoride protects teeth from cavities, helping to strengthen the tooth’s hard outer surface – the enamel.
• Angle the bristles toward the gumline so they can sweep away bacteria between the gums and teeth.
• Brush gently using small, circular motions. Do not scrub hard back and forth, which can wear down tender gum tissues and wear away tooth enamel.
• Brush all sides of each tooth and the tops (where debris and bacteria can hide within grooves).
• Brush your tongue, especially towards the back where the majority of bacteria embed. Swish well with water at least twice afterwards.

Cleaning between teeth to remove plaque is also part of a good oral hygiene routine. If plaque is not removed, some of it can harden below the gum line and irritate the gums. The gums become red, swollen, and may bleed easily. These are signs of gingivitis. Gingivitis caused by plaque buildup is a mild form of gum disease, and you can usually reverse it with daily brushing and flossing.

If plaque stays on your teeth for too long, it can harden. This hardened plaque is called calculus, or tartar. The only way to remove tartar is to have your teeth cleaned by a dentist or dental hygienist. If the tartar is not removed, the gingivitis can get worse and lead to more severe gum (periodontal) disease. In advanced stages, gum disease causes sore, bleeding gums; painful chewing problems; loose teeth; and even tooth loss.

Here are some additional ways to keep a healthy smile with practical measures.

  • Floss to remove plaque, and food particles, from between your teeth.
  •  Visit the dentist for routine check-ups and professional cleaning. If you are at a high risk for tooth decay (for example, if you have a dry mouth because of medicines you take), your dentist or dental hygienist may give you a fluoride treatment, such as a varnish or foam during the office visit.
  • Drink fluoridated water. Drinking water with the right amount of fluoride protects your teeth throughout the day.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking increases your chance of gum disease. If you smoke and want to quit, there are many resources to help you: FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, CDC’s Quit Smoking website, and the BeTobaccoFree.gov website.
  • If you are planning to become pregnant, have a dental checkup. Because of hormonal changes, pregnant women may develop gingivitis and experience gums that are swollen and bleed easily. During pregnancy, it is especially important to practice good oral hygiene to maintain the health of your gums.
  • Eat a diet that is low in sweets and sugary drinks.

A periodontal specialist is your best advocate in restoring or maintaining healthy gums. In addition to the skills in treating all stages of gum disease (from gingivitis to periodontitis), a periodontist specializes in the selection and placement of dental implants.

If you have signs or symptoms that may be indicative of gum disease, please know this disease will only worsen without treatment. Call 828-274-9440 to schedule an appointment or ask to begin with a consultation.

If dental fear is a concern, we can discuss oral or IV sedation options. These are administered safely with skilled staff members who use advanced safety equipment throughout your care.

Additionally, if you’ve delayed care due to cost, we office several payment plans that many patients find helpful. These plans can break costs into monthly payments, often with no down payment required.

Sources:

https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/news-events/nidcr-news/2023/report-reveals-striking-differences-oral-health-care-across-us

https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/oral-hygiene

https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/research/oralhealthinamerica/section-2b-summary

https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/research/oralhealthinamerica/section-3b-summary

https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/research/oralhealthinamerica/section-3a-summary

https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/oral-health

https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/

https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/adult_data/cig_smoking/index.htm

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.
Sources:

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