Be In-The-Know To Avoid Cavities, Gum Disease


Posted on Apr 02, 2020 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

During this highly unusual time, people are relying on the internet for communication (work and social), information, and entertainment. Computers, tablets and smart phones are keeping us connected as we ‘shelter in place’ until this global pandemic is under control.

A lot of Americans are using their “stuck inside” time to expand their minds. Whether it’s to enjoy an audio book, watch PBS specials, or learn how to do something on YouTube, using the time positively is helping people avoid getting mired down in worry and anxiety.

As a periodontal specialist in Asheville, NC, I hope adults will use some of their time to become more aware of the hazards of gum disease. The damage that periodontal disease (‘perio’) can have far reaching consequences, affecting the health inside and mouth and overall health, as I’ll explain.

People are often surprised to hear that they have developed gum disease since it is often without obvious symptoms in early stages. Once it’s fully underway, however, many people ignore the warning signs or assume they’ll “go away”.

In my dental specialty, I believe that by keeping Americans informed of how the progression of gum disease occurs could help to greatly reduce the extent of this disease, which plaques over 47 percent of adults.

Let’s begin by looking at the process of gum disease:

•  Oral Bacteria: The mouth is a warm, dark and moist environment — perfect for harboring bacteria. The mouth is the first point of contact for a large extent of the bacteria that enters the body. Bacteria is on food, utensils, lip gloss and even your tooth brush. All mouths have bacteria, some of it are beneficial. Although bacteria in the mouth are perfectly ‘normal’, the problem begins when too much bacteria accumulate.

•  Plaque: Without proper brushing, flossing, saliva flow and diet, oral bacteria can reproduce rapidly. For an example of just how quickly these bacteria accumulate, run your tongue over your teeth after brushing in the morning. They should feel slick and clean. Then, before brushing at bedtime, run your tongue over your teeth again. The accumulation of oral bacteria over the mere course of a day has likely formed a sticky film on teeth. This is known as plaque. This film is actually a coating of bacteria.

•  Tartar (or Calculus): In just 48 hours, unremoved plaque can harden into tartar. These ‘chunks’ are colonies of oral bacteria and typically attach to the base of teeth near the gum line. These cement-hard masses can no longer be brushed or flossed away. They must be removed by a dentist or hygienist with special tools. If allowed to remain, like plaque, tartar will continue to multiply as these bacterial colonies feed on tooth enamel and tender gum tissues.

•  Gingivitis: This is the first stage of gum disease. At this level, gum tissues are under attack and become sore. They may bleed easily when brushing and you may experience an aching sensation in some areas. Breath odor is stronger, even soon after brushing. At this point, with proper measures, you can restore your gums to a healthy state. However, the window of opportunity to combat gingivitis is brief.

•  Periodontal (Gum) Disease: At this stage, the gums are inflamed and tender. They begin to darken in color and the seal of gum tissues surrounding teeth begins to loosen. The breath is persistently bad. As this stage of gum disease worsens, it can lead to severe health risks elsewhere in the body.

•  Periodontitis: This is the advanced stage of gum disease. The gums are so tender that eating becomes difficult. Breath odor is putrid, as it reflects the rotting state in your mouth. The gum tissues are highly inflamed. Pus pockets may form on the gums near the base of teeth. Eventually, teeth will loosen as the gum tissues and bone structures that support them are destroyed. Tooth removal at this stage is not uncommon.

To no surprise, gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. Yet, it’s one of the most preventable diseases with simple measures.

An even more concerning aspect of gum disease is its ability to enter the bloodstream. Once bloodborne, these infectious bacteria can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. Gum disease bacteria has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, stoke, memory loss, preterm babies, impotency, some cancers and even Alzheimer’s disease.

This is why we want you to be aware of the importance of having a healthy mouth. We realize there are financial obstacles for some people. However, most dental and specialty offices offer payment plans, many are interest free with no down payment required.

Some people avoid dental visits because they have anxiety or fears. Dental fear is fairly common, even in America where dental care is so advanced (in most practices). If deep fear or anxiety has prevented you from regular dental visits or having much-need treatment, finding a dentist who is experienced in caring for fearful patients is easier today.

Using advanced technology, such as laser dentistry, cone beam imaging, and other features, we are able to diagnose problems more precisely, which helps to minimize treatment. Many options enhance patient comfort and speed healing time.

For many fearful patients, we also offer oral or IV sedation (“twilight sleep”). We are fully equipped for the safety and comfort of administering sedatives for our patients for treatment in our office. Here, patients know us for our gentle touch and respectful, attentive care for each individual.

Occasionally, I hear a patient relay their impression of tooth loss being “just part of growing older.” That is far from the truth. The human body does ‘break down’ here and there but keeping your teeth for a lifetime is a reasonable expectation with proper measures.

Having healthy gums that support teeth can be achieved with an involved relationship with a dentist and a committed oral hygiene routine at home. With proper care, you can easily enjoy a smile of natural teeth all your life.

Twice daily brushing (at least two minutes per time), daily flossing, drinking ample water and limiting sweets and caffeine are simple ways to keep your mouth healthy between regular dental check-ups and cleanings. And, those 6-month check-ups are important. At this time, any tartar that has accumulated can be removed and signs of early gum disease can be noted.

Losing teeth due to gum disease leads to expensive and lifelong upkeep with crown-&-bridge, partials, full denture or dental implants. These tooth replacement needs can be avoided.

If you are experiencing symptoms of gum disease, call 828-274-9440. If fear is an obstacle to having a healthy, confident smile, begin with a consultation to discuss your needs.

 

Are Dentures Or Partials Causing Your Face To ‘Melt’?


Posted on Feb 12, 2020 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Occasionally, I’ll unexpectedly walk by a mirror and notice an old man looking at me, only to realize “that’s ME!”

As we age, hopefully most people don’t “feel” their actual age, although the person in the mirror isn’t quite the image we want to have. Most of us “see” ourselves as looking ten or so years younger (and probably 10 or so pounds lighter!).

Aging gracefully is a positive part of our lives. At any age, as long as we look and feel like we’ve taken pretty good care of ourselves, each birthday should cause more smiles than not. However, for people who are long-time denture or partial wearers, the signs and challenges of aging are more obvious.

Wearing a full denture or a partial denture appears, visually, to replace missing teeth. While the gum based that supports these replacement teeth “plumps up” the face when they are in place, this fullness can be deceiving.

What is really taking place – that you can’t see – is the loss of bone mass, or resorption.

Resorption describes a melting away of bone. For the upper or lower jaw, the areas where natural tooth roots no longer exist experience this almost immediately after they are removed.

Resorption occurs when tooth roots are no longer providing stimulation and nourishment to the bones that support them. This causes the bone “ridge” that holds the denture or partial to flatten out.

Bone loss begins almost immediately after teeth are removed. The pressure on the ridge while wearing dentures or partials actually accelerates the rate of bone loss. For people who sleep in their dentures, this increases the process even more.

In addition to appearance changes, bone loss is the reason that dentures slip or rub. This is because the denture was conformed to the ridge when it was first made. As the ridge flattens, the denture no longer ‘hugs’ the surface it was designed for.

As resorption continues, changes in facial appearance are occurring as wel. The best way to detect bone loss is to remove your ‘appliance’ and look in the mirror. However, even with the denture in place, certain facial changes may be obvious.

Jowls form on the sides of face as facial muscles detach from the declining bone mass. Deep wrinkles form around the lips and the corners of the mouth turn down, even in a smile.

As resorption worsens, the mouth seems to collapse into the face. The chin becomes more pointed and the nose and chin move closer together. This appearance is referred to as a “granny look,” aging one’s appearance far beyond their actual years.

How do you avoid a ‘melting face’?

One of the many advantages of dental implants is their ability to halt bone loss. The implanted portion restores stimulation to the jaw bone and provides a natural biting and chewing stability.

As a periodontist, an area of this advanced dental specialty is the diagnosis and placement of dental implants. Because there are many different types of implant systems, having a specialist select and place the one best for you will enhance your overall outcome.

In our Asheville periodontal office, we also offer oral and IV sedation (twilight sleep). These are administered by a board certified Anesthesiologist. This is a medical doctor (MD) who ensures safety and comfort are priorities throughout your procedure.

With dental implants, you can improve your appearance and health. Learn more about the lifelong benefits of dental implants by visiting our web site or calling 828-274-9440.

 

Osteoporosis Meds May Cause Permanent Damage To Jaw Bone


Posted on Jan 18, 2020 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Many physicians who prescribe bisphosphonates for osteoporosis have relied on the drug makers’ stance of low risk for side effects. This has often left patients unfamiliar with the risks when they are scheduled for dental procedures.

Bisphosphonates include Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva, Reclast, Binosto, Prolia, Zometa and Xgeva. The most prescribed is Fosomax and ranks as one of the top 25 most prescribed drugs on the market.

The complication with bisphosphonates is a risk for jaw osteonecrosis. In simple terms, this is death of the jaw bone.

Jaw osteonecrosis occurs when the bone fails to heal after a surgery, even a minor procedure such as a tooth extraction. It results from obstruction of blood supply, which is caused by the drug’s potential interference with the bone’s ability to repair itself.

Common symptoms of jaw osteonecrosis are pain, swelling or infection of the gums and jaw, gums that don’t heal, and loose teeth. However, its onset can also occur without obvious symptoms.

In addition to treating osteoporosis, bisphosphonates are used to treat cancer that has spread to the bone. In these cases, bisphosphonates are given intravenously and in higher doses. This creates an even greater risk of osteonecrosis of the jaw than for individuals on oral doses.

Jaw osteonecrosis risk seems to increase with the amount of time biphosphonates are taken. However, researchers have determined that bisphosphonates can create a risk for necrosis with even short-term use of the oral medications for osteoporosis.

The most commonly prescribed bisphosphonate, Fosamax, was approved by the FDA in 1995. By 2003, reports began surfacing that linked bisphosphonates with jaw osteonecrosis.

In a study of over 200 participants who took Fosamax for varying durations, 4 percent acquired osteonecrosis. This finding was in contrast to the drug makers’ claims that bisphosphonate use only posed a noticeable risk for those who took the medication intravenously, such as cancer patients.

Not only did the study show that short-term usage can place the patient at risk, the drug can maintain a 10-year half-life in bone tissue. The risk for jaw necrosis is highest with procedures that directly expose the jaw bone, such as tooth extractions and dental implant placement.

Many people are often surprised by the wide range of medications that affect their oral health. For example, Coumadin, a commonly prescribed blood thinner, can cause more bleeding during certain procedures.

Antidepressants and high blood pressure medications can cause elevated levels of plaque and signs of gingivitis. Too, gingival enlargement, a condition that causes the gums to swell and grow over teeth, can lead to severe periodontal infection. Calcium channel blockers used to control high blood pressure can also contribute to this gum tissue overgrowth.

Many cough drops, medications in syrup form and antacids contain sugars that often leave a sticky residue on teeth, making them more susceptible to decay. Certain antibiotics and ibuprofen can cause lesions or ulcers in the mouth.

Oral contraceptives and blood pressure medications have been linked to mouth sores and inflammation. Tetracycline, typically used for treating acne, can discolor teeth as well as supporting bone.

While you may assume that herbal supplements don’t apply, they can actually have serious side effects for some dental patients. For example, Ginkgo Biloba and Vitamin E can act as blood thinners. When combined with aspirin, the combination may cause difficulties in blood clotting. For patients undergoing surgical procedures, this can be a serious problem.

Taking high dosages of vitamins before undergoing anesthesia can also put you at risk. For instance, high doses of Vitamin C can weaken the efficiency of anesthesia. On the flip side, supplements such as Kava Kava or St. John’s Wort can accentuate anesthesia’s effectiveness.

This is why it is important to make us aware of all the drugs you take, including over-the-counter supplements. The goal is to provide a successful outcome for each periodontal procedure or dental implant placement. Being familiar with your overall health enhances the potential for positive oral health.

If you have questions regarding the medications you are taking in regard to oral risks, call our Asheville periodontal office at 828-274-9440 prior to your appointment. And, at each visit, keep us updated on your medications.

The Value Of Dental Implants Goes On & On.


Posted on Jan 08, 2020 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Many people have a list of favorite holiday movies. One that stand out for me is “Christmas Vacation,” where Clark Griswold attempts to create the perfect Christmas for a hoard of family members who have descended upon his home.

In the movie, Clark learns that, instead of his company’s annual Christmas bonus, he’s received a certificate for “Jelly of the Month” club. Cousin Eddie famously comments, “It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

Laughs aside, this always reminds me of how much we spend, all year long, on things that really add very little to our lives. People invest in new cars, clothes, jewelry, and fancy electronics – many purchases based on ads indicating these items will bring us great pleasure.

Yet, year after year, Americans struggle to pay January credit card bills laden with holiday purchases. And, we begin a new year not as fulfilled as we thought. I’d like to make a suggestion: your smile!

Is there anything that would give you as much pleasure as a healthy, confident smile?

Life’s best moments are things like laughing with close friends, dining out in our favorite restaurant, close conversations with loved ones, and the bite of a red apple picked right off the tree.

As a Periodontist, I see how difficult life can be for patients with dentures and partial dentures. To witness the transformation of an individual who has replaced “slippery” dentures with dental implants has been a particular joy throughout my career.

Over the past three decades, there have been remarkable advancements in implant dentistry. It has easily become the preferred replacement for missing, natural teeth. Today, there are implant types that offer exceptional choices to fulfill nearly any need when it comes to replacing teeth with dependable stability and a natural look and feel.

While I share the excitement of our implant patients when they “see” their appealing, confident smiles after treatment completion, as a periodontist, I know it is the foundation beneath the gums that is the true benefit of dental implants.

Like natural teeth, implants are held by the upper or lower jaws. The jaw bones actually thrive on the presence of tooth roots for stimulation to keep the bone healthy. Without tooth roots, the bone goes through a process known as resorption. Resorption causes bones to lose height and width, almost like they are melting.

Dental implants are able to mimic the stimulation they need to prevent the process of resorption.

Bone loss contributes to a number of problems. Once resorption sets in, the teeth adjacent to the area of bone loss are affected. Bone loss that neighbors areas of resorption weakens tooth root stability. When a natural tooth is lost, statistics show the next to be lost will most likely be an adjacent tooth.

Bone loss can even be seen in some people. It causes the appearance of  a collapsed mouth (referred to as a “granny look”) where the nose is unusually close to the chin. It is also the reason that dentures and partials begin to move or “slip.” This can cause uncomfortable rubbing on gum tissues.

When a denture is first made, it is shaped to fit the unique contours of your gum ridge (the gum-covered arch that once held your natural tooth roots). As bone loss continues, the once-secure fit loosens and cause sore spots on tender gum tissues while chewing. Denture pastes or adhesives can help, but eventually even relines are of little help.

For many, another appealing advantage of dental implants is that they are a lifelong investment. Dental implants, properly selected and placed, are designed to last a lifetime with proper maintenance.

Adults are also seeing dental implants as a wiser option than crown-&-bridge combinations. Unlike dental implants, crowns and bridges can require repairs or replacements over time. Too, crowning natural teeth for the sole purpose of supporting a bridge forever compromises the health of otherwise natural teeth.

Dental implants do not rely on adjacent teeth for support since they are anchored in the jaw bone. This restores the same, sturdy foundation as natural tooth roots. An added bonus is how the implanted portion recreates the presence of a tooth root, halting the process of resorption.

If you are missing natural teeth, consider the advanced skills of a periodontist to consult with on dental implants. For a private, no obligation consultation to discuss your specific goals or concerns, call 828-274-9440 for an appointment.

If fear of dentistry is an obstacle for you, we can also discuss our sedation options. Our office is known for providing respectful, gentle care and oral and IV sedation are available as needed, administered safely and to the highest standards. Feel free to mention your concerns during your consultation.

 

Recent Posts

Categories

Archives