Afraid of the Dentist? Here’s How To Get Your Smile Back!
Posted on Oct 11, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Have you ever suddenly seen a snake out of the corner of your eye?
Immediately, the brain kicks in a “fight or flight” response that causes us to react. Because we don’t know whether or not the snake is poisonous, the typical reaction is to quickly move away from danger.
Past trauma can also trigger reactions. Past experiences can sometimes cause people to react in ways they can’t control. For adults who have experienced a frightening or painful dental procedure, the fear it caused can become embedded (sometimes forever) in the subconscious.
Some things that cause us to flinch or freeze can occur from reasons we can’t even explain. Patients who are nervous or afraid when they first arrive often know what past episode triggered it. Some are unable to recall an unpleasant dental visit yet react to certain sights, smells or sounds.
Dental fear occurs in different people at different levels. It can activate reactions of more rapid heartbeat, sweating, heavier breathing, and muscle tension.
Here, at our Asheville periodontal office, most patients are relaxed from the moment they walk in and throughout treatment. Some are fine until they are seated in the treatment chair while others are nervous and uneasy the entire time.
Dental fear and anxiety are often the result of an unfortunate experience in a dentist’s office that made the person feel out of control and trapped. This tends to carry over so that perceived pain can be just as real as actual pain.
Experiencing uneasy feelings at dental visits is not uncommon. According to the Cleveland Clinic, between 9 – 15 percent of Americans say they avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear. (https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/11176-dental-phobia-in-adults)
They also cite the most common causes as:
- Fear of pain
- Fear of injection or that the injection won’t work
- Fear of anesthetic side effects
- Feelings of helplessness and loss of control
- Embarrassment and feeling encroachment of personal space
Periodontal (gum) disease is the result of an accumulation of oral bacteria. It is also the leading cause of adult tooth loss. As a Periodontist, I find that most individuals have developed gum disease because they were too afraid of having regular dental care. Many avoid going to the dentist for years, only ‘giving in’ when something becomes so painful they can no longer delay treatment.
At Biltmore Periodontics, patient comfort is a priority at every visit. And, it is obvious from the moment you walk in our door. Our reception area is designed to pamper patients from the moment they enter. Patients are treated to a selection of gourmet coffees, cable television and WiFi connection. Seating is comfortable and our front office staff is attentive to the needs of each guest.
New patients begin in a private consultation room so we can discuss treatment needs and concerns in a living room style setting. During this time, I’ll answer your questions and explain treatment options, including sedation.
We offer oral sedation as well as I.V. sedation (twilight sleep) for most procedures, if desired. 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 sedative state, also erasing memory of the procedure. It is administered by a doctor of anesthesiology for optimal comfort and safety. With both, patients are monitored with advanced safety equipment throughout treatment.
Our surgical suite offers a large window with beautiful mountain views. This is very soothing and relaxing for patients as they are attended to by gentle, compassionate hands.
Our entire staff provide a unified team, each bringing a sincere level of compassion and commitment to excellent care. While the doctors involved in your care are top-notch, I am always happy to hear so many patients tell me how our staff helps them to feel at ease and pampered.
It doesn’t take long for patients to realize our goal is to provide skilled care delivered with comfort. The more they experience this, the more relaxed they become and develop a sense of trust.
When patients trust us, many no longer need to feel anxious and “white-knuckled” in a dental chair. And, they see their dental care as a positive part of their overall health, which makes them more involved with their oral health – and smiling confidently!
Like everyone, fearful patients desire a healthy, confident smile. Once the obstacle of fear is removed, their ability to achieve that is greatly heightened.
If you or someone you know has fear that has prevented needed or desired dental care, schedule a consultation appointment. Call 828-274-9440 to learn more.
Know The Unseen Risks Of Wearing Dentures
Posted on Sep 19, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
As an Asheville periodontist, my goal is to provide each patient with the very best so they can enjoy a healthy, confident smile. For patients who have lost one or more natural teeth, some come to me because they want to avoid ending up having to wear a full or partial denture. For those who wear one and are unhappy with the feel and function, we are sought out as specialists in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants.
Denture wearers, especially those who have worn dentures for many years, can quickly become dissatisfied with the uncomfortable rubbing and difficulty eating foods they once enjoyed. Although their ‘appliance’ may have fit well when first made, changes in the fit, over time, are due to what is taking place below the gum tissues. These changes aren’t obvious, at first.
When first made, a denture is custom-designed to fit snugly to the unique contours of the gum ridge. This ‘ridge’ is the raised arch where natural teeth were once held. Over time, denture wearers begin to notice that the denture moves while chewing certain foods. This can rub sore spots on gums. As the denture loosens more, even using denture adhesives or pastes don’t help much.
Denture patients also learn that it can be painful for something as small as a sesame seed to become trapped between their denture and gums, piercing into tender gum tissues. Some people eventually switch to a diet of soft foods that dissolve easily to avoid rigorous chewing. Because of fear of embarrassing slips, others begin to decline social invitations when they are centered around food.
The problem for a denture wearer is what is happening underneath the gums. The looser fit is not because the denture has expanded – it’s the decline of the jaw bone. This occurs with the absence of tooth roots, which once provided nourishment and stimulation to the bone that supported them.
When natural tooth roots are removed, the jaw bone begins to shrink. This decline in bone mass also contributes to changes in facial appearance, such as deep wrinkling around the mouth and the formation of jowls.
The process of bone loss continues as the gum ridge your denture was contoured to flattens. Relines may temporarily adjust the denture to accommodate some of the change. However, as the jaw bone continues to decline, the denture continues to be difficult to keep in place.
The denture itself merely adds to the problem of bone loss. The pressure of wearing a denture actually accelerates the rate of bone loss. Since a number of denture wearers also sleep in their dentures, the 24/7 pressure speeds this rate even more.
Long-time denture wearers often complain that they are not able to chew, with some admitting they have to even remove their denture to eat. Fear of embarrassment is another common complaint. Speaking, laughing and even sneezing in the presence of others can create embarrassing moments that leave lasting impressions.
The solution to these problems – dental implants. Not only do implants restore the ability to bite and chew comfortably, they halt bone loss that is associated with dentures. Because they are held by the jaw bone, just as natural tooth roots once were, implants recreate the stimulation needed by the jaw bone to maintain its mass.
Does your denture bring to mind words like rocky, wobbly and slippery? If so, the problem will only worsen over time. When people choose dental implants to replace an ill-fitting denture, they can smile, laugh and chew with confidence.
Eating a healthy diet, socializing with friends and family, and feeling confident are essential to a healthy, happy life. Call our friendly Asheville periodontal dental office: 828-254-9440 to schedule an initial appointment. (A referral is not required). During this time, I’ll explain the type of implants that may be best for your needs as well as comfort options, including oral and IV sedation (“twilight sleep”). We are also happy to discuss estimated costs and payment options.
Men Have Greater Risks For Dental Problems.
Posted on Aug 20, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Research has found that periodontal disease is higher in men (56.4 percent) than in women (38.4 percent). https://www.perio.org/consumer/gum-disease-and-men
The reason for this significantly higher number may be due to some findings revealed through some unsettling findings. According to a survey by the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), only 66 percent of males brush their teeth twice or more a day compared with 86 percent of females who do so.
This was revealed through a study of over 800 participants. Evaluation included a written questionnaire on dental knowledge and oral health habits. It also included an oral exam of each participant to detect signs of periodontal disease. (https://www.perio.org/consumer/gender-differences)
Flossing had even worse numbers, but that pertains to both sexes. Only 49 percent in the survey stated they floss on a daily basis. Only 1 out of 3 assumed that seeing blood in the sink when brushing is normal and were unaware it is a sign of periodontal (gum) disease.
While women were as twice as likely to see their dentist for regular dental check-ups, they were also more likely to follow through with recommended dental treatment than men. As a result, the study revealed women had better levels of gum health with less dental plaque, calculus, and bleeding.
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
• Being diabetic
• Having high blood pressure
• Having RA (rheumatoid arthritis)
Although age and gender are unchangeable, decisions to not brush your teeth or to smoke, for example, are something you can control. As of 2017, 18.6 percent of American men smoke, compared with 14.3 percent of women. (https://www.edrugstore.com/blog/current-health-news/men-smoke-more/) Because more males smoke cigarettes (or use tobacco in other forms), they are more likely to develop gum disease.
Why should you worry about gum disease? In addition to causing tooth loss, oral bacteria can enter then bloodstream through tears in diseased tissues in the mouth. Once in the bloodstream, this bacteria can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body.
The bacteria of gum disease has been linked to heart disease, stroke, memory loss, preterm babies, arthritis, diabetes, and even impotency. According to the American Academy of Periodontology (perio.org), men who fail to maintain good oral health are also at higher risk for:
PROSTATE PROBLEMS – Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is an enzyme created in the prostate that is normally secreted in very small amounts. However, when the prostate becomes inflamed, infected, or affected by cancer, PSA levels rise. Research has shown that men with indicators of periodontal disease such as red, swollen or tender gums as well as prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) have higher levels of PSA than men with only one of the conditions. This means that prostate health may be associated with periodontal health, and vice versa.
HEART DISEASE – Research indicates that periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease are associated; having periodontal disease may actually increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Both diseases are chronic inflammatory conditions, and researchers believe that inflammation is the connection between gum disease and heart disease. Since men are already more likely to develop heart disease than women, maintaining periodontal health is another way to reduce this risk.
IMPOTENCE – Men with periodontal disease, especially those younger than 30 or older than 70, are at increased risk of developing impotence, according to research. Researchers believe that inflammation may be the link between the two conditions; prolonged chronic inflammation (the same type of inflammation that is associated with periodontal disease) can damage blood vessels leading to impotence.
CANCER – Research has found that men with a history of gum disease are 14 percent more likely to develop cancer than men with healthy gums. Specifically, men with periodontal disease may be 49 percent more likely than women to develop kidney cancer, 54 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and 30 percent more likely to develop blood cancers.
If you aren’t concerned about losing teeth, these overall health risks should get your attention. Treating gum disease before it becomes severe can be done comfortably and affordably. In our Asheville periodontal dental office, we use the latest technology and offer I.V. sedation for those who desire a “twilight sleep” state during treatment.
Gum disease will only worsen without treatment. Call (828) 274-9440 if you have tender, sore gums or see blood in the sink when brushing. You need to be seen promptly.
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.