How To Avoid Gum Disease & Cavities From Sugar This Holiday


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

Regardless of size and distancing limitations on 2020 holiday gatherings, you can bet that Americans will still consume the yummy indulgences associated with the season. After all, we all need comfort food these days. The holidays simply give us “justification” for eating the sugary, rich treats we’ve waited all year to enjoy. We release the guilt and know we’ll pay for it through our new year’s resolutions.

I’m the last person on earth who would preach abstinence when it comes to things like thick egg nog, sugar cookies and pecan pie. Like you, I wait all year to savor things like this. However, I’m also a periodontist and have a unique look at what this added sugar can do to teeth and gums.

Keep in mind that all food (as well as beverages other than plain water) cause an acidic surge into the mouth. This is sent in via saliva and is the first stage of the digestive process. This acid is so strong it can actually soften tooth enamel for 20-30 minutes, leaving you with a higher risk for tooth decay.

Sugar also super-charges oral bacteria, which are living, eating and breeding organisms. They thrive in colonies as they subsist on gum tissues. As bacteria levels grow, the gums become inflamed. This is the first stage of periodontal (gum) disease.

As gum disease worsens, the inflammation caused by these bacteria can lead to persistent bad breath, receded gums that expose sensitive tooth roots, and gums that darken in color. If untreated, pus pockets can eventually form at the base of some teeth and attack the tooth supporting structures beneath the gums.

Eventually, teeth will loosen and can require removal. Also known as periodontal disease, this is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Even without the holidays, Americans are the biggest sugar consumers on earth. Although the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends no more than 5% of daily sugar intake, or less than 25 grams, Americans consume 82 grams each day, on average. That translates into over 19 teaspoons of sugar per day and 66 pounds each year, per person.

When researchers from the University College London & London School of Hygiene studied public health records from around the world, they found that 92% of American adults have cavities. Compare this to Nigeria, a country with a diet very low in sugar, where only 2% of the population have had tooth decay. Also concerning were their findings that nearly 90% of America’s school age children have experienced tooth decay.

Childhood obesity is also out of control. The Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that the U.S. percentage of children with obesity “has more than tripled since the 1970s. Today, about one in five school-aged children (ages 6–19) has obesity.”  That’s nearly one-third of children who are overweight or obese. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm Obesity is when fat content of the body is over thirty percent of its overall mass.

According to the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), adults in the U.S. who are categorized as obese is at nearly 40 percent. Another 30 percent are categorized at overweight.

While sugar is not the only culprit, Americans have been lured into a lifestyle surrounded by sugary snacks and beverages. (After all, ads tell us that we need to grab a Snickers bar, not an apple, as an afternoon pick-me-up.)

You may be surprised to know that studies show that sugar is even addictive. It activates the same regions in the brain that react to cocaine.  (https://www.brainmdhealth.com/blog/what-do-sugar-and-cocaine-have-in-common/)

How does this apply to your smile? Research has shown that obese adults have a 6 times higher potential to develop periodontal (gum) disease. As a periodontal specialist, my goal is always to help patients achieve optimal oral health. In our Asheville periodontal dental office, we address the risks of periodontal disease with our patients without judgement of their weight, but rather how we can help them enjoy a healthier smile.

As difficult as losing weight can be, it is important to be aware of risk factors that can make you more susceptible to gum disease. Initial symptoms include gums that are tender, swollen, and may bleed when brushing. This stage, known as gingivitis, is actually reversible with prompt, thorough oral hygiene.

This holiday, try to reduce your intake of sugar and carbohydrates. This will help to lower your potential for damage by oral bacteria, reducing your risk for cavities and gum disease. Additionally, be committed to a thorough at-home routine of daily flossing, twice a day brushing and drinking plenty of water.

If you are experiencing symptoms of gum disease, however, it is important to be seen by a periodontist as soon as possible to halt further progression. A periodontist is a dental specialist who has advanced training in treating all stages of gum disease as well as in the placement of dental implants. The earlier the treatment, the less involved treatment requirements will be. Gum disease will not improve without professional care.

Call 828-274-9440 to schedule an initial examination or begin with a consultation.

Understanding Dental Implants & Their Benefits


Posted on Nov 03, 2020 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

When you lose a natural tooth, even one that isn’t visible when you smile, its absence causes a reaction that takes place below the gum line. Many people are unaware of what occurs – at first. When it becomes obvious, it leads to problems that are not only bothersome, they are detrimental to your overall health.

The absence of a tooth root in the upper or lower jaw bone is a loss of stimulation the bone mass where it was once positioned. These roots provide stimulation and nourishment that enables the bone to maintain a healthy mass. Without the presence of tooth roots, the bone begins to “melt away.” The term for this process is known as resorption.

Resorption begins shortly after the tooth root is removed. Once it begins, 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 rate of loss accelerates.

As the bone shrinks in height, the natural tooth roots adjacent to the area of missing teeth are vulnerable to movement and root damage. On average, the teeth most likely to be lost are the ones next to areas of tooth loss.

For the support of remaining natural teeth, it’s important to replace missing teeth as soon as possible so adjacent teeth can retain their proper positions. It is even more important to replace missing teeth before bone loss begins. And, it’s HOW you replace them that’s most important.

Because dental implants replace the tooth above the gum line AND the root portion below it, the bone is able to retain its mass. Dental implants are designed to restore the look, feel and chewing stability like that of natural teeth.

As the advantages of dental implants become more familiar for natural tooth replacement, there are still some misconceptions among the general population. The following will hopefully clear up some of the confusion.

First, Dental Implants are a term that describes 3 components. The “implanted” portion is placed in your jaw bone where a tooth root was once held. The “implant” is not what holds the tooth. It serves to anchor an attached tooth (or bridge of two or more teeth).

Made from titanium, this metal bonds to living bone successfully. As a matter of fact, dental implants have one of the highest success rates of any implant-in-bone procedures.

The implanted portion becomes anchored in the jaw bone through a process known as ‘osseo-integration.’ Once the implant has been secured by the bone, a post is inserted into the center of the implant. This post is known as an abutment.

The replacement tooth (or teeth) is usually made of porcelain. This is the portion that you see and looks just like a natural tooth. This is known as a restoration or crown. It is attached securely to this post.

Porcelain is commonly used to create the restorations because they provide the most durable material possible and have the look and feel of a natural tooth. Porcelain has a luminosity of natural teeth and even reflects light as a natural tooth would. Porcelain is also very resistant to staining.

When missing more than one tooth in one area, an implant is not always necessary to replace each one. As mentioned prior, one implant can often hold two or a bridge of teeth. Several strategically-placed implants may also be used support a full arch of teeth.

When people can chew properly and eat a healthy diet, their overall health is better. And, without the fear of embarrassing slips or clicks (often associated with denture wear), being socially active can continue to be a positive part of a happy life.

Dental implants restore the ability to eat with stability, chew comfortably, laugh and speak with confidence. Dental implants do not decay and will never need root canals. And, with proper care, they’ll last your lifetime.

There are many types of implants, each designed to accommodate specific needs. Many dental implants are chosen and placed by a Periodontist. This is a dental specialist who has extensive and specialized training in the diagnosis and placement of all types of dental implants. He or she can select the one that will work best for you.

Proper placement and support in caring for implants is an important part of a successful outcome. Dental Implants CAN fail. This is why a periodontal specialist can be an asset to your investment.

If infection sets in and reaches the implanted portion, the implant may need to be removed so treatment can resolve the problem. Your periodontist can assess gum health prior to placement and monitor your healing process to help minimize this risk.

There are other threats to dental implant success. Clenching or grinding teeth can also contribute to implant failure. Smoking complicates and delays the healing process and is also a known contributor to implant failure. Again, a periodontist can oversee your care to optimize your ability to enjoy a lifetime of confident smiles.

Call 828-274-9440 to arrange a consultation. During this time, we can discuss treatment that can achieve your needs and goals as well as the process and anticipated costs. If dental fear is a concern, I’ll also explain sedation options. We offer both oral sedation and IV sedation, if a “twilight sleep” state is preferred. Here, you’ll find your comfort is always a priority.

Contour Of Gums Affect Smile’s Appearance & Tooth Health


Posted on Oct 21, 2020 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

A periodontal specialist is your dental ‘expert’ in diagnosing and treating all stages of periodontal (gum) disease and in the selection and placement of dental implants.

Bringing an advanced level of expertise to these areas, that often need complex treatment, provides patients with a higher potential for outcomes with ideal comfort in minimal treatment time.

A particular skill that a periodontist also has is in the reshaping of the gums that surround teeth. There are several reasons that gum re-contouring is advantageous, including enhancing the appearance of a smile and even saving a tooth from removal.

The gum tissues are designed to provide a tight seal around the base of teeth where to block out bacterial entry to the sensitive tooth root area. When oral bacteria is able to penetrate beneath the gum line, these bacteria can cause inflammation to tender gums and attack the structures that support natural teeth. Obviously, it’s important to ensure the gums are healthy so the grip they have around teeth is snug.

In addition to the effect of bacteria that can loosen gum tissue, gums can pull away from the base of teeth due to the aging process. As we get older, our tissues are less supple and drier. Too, when people use a hard-bristle tooth brush or are over-zealous in brushing (using a ‘scrubbing’ motion), it can wear away precious gum tissues. Although this action is often done in an effort to do a “really good job” when brushing teeth, it is actually detrimental in the long run. (Use a circular motion on the front and back of teeth and a swirling motion along the tops.)

A procedure known as a gingivectomy can reposition or graft gum tissues over the area of recession to restore a healthy seal and protect the tooth structures below the surface.

Another advantage a periodontist can provide can help to save a natural tooth. When a tooth breaks near the gum line, a crown lengthening procedure may be advised. In this, a periodontist may be able to expose enough of the tooth structure for the placement of a crown.

In addition to protecting and saving teeth, gum contouring is also performed to create a more beautiful smile. This, too, is through a gingivectomy. It is ideal when there are different heights of gum tissues framing the teeth most visible in a smile. This tends to create a jumbled looking smile, when when the teeth are straight.

To illustrate this, imagine walking into a room that has 4 windows. While the windows are of a similar size, the balance of the room’s appearance would be ‘off’ it each window had a different curtain height. Let’s say one window had a large valance above it that rose to the ceiling, another had a small ruffle at the top of the window, another had no panel at all, and the other had a 6-inch flat panel.

Having a similar arch of gums over each tooth is an important part of a smile’s appearance. It creates a balance that complements teeth.

A gingivectomy is also performed for people who wish to correct a “gummy smile.” This is when too much gum tissue is visible above all upper teeth in a full smile. A periodontist can use his or her specialized skills to reshape the tissues to provide a more balanced smile line. In our office, we utilize a dental laser. This provides a precision line of contouring gum tissues and seals as it goes. This means that there is minimal bleeding and healing time is reduced.

This procedure is typically combined with the placement of crowns to protect the exposed sections of the teeth. The results are a natural look, a healthy smile, and a smile that is shared often!

Another procedure that greatly enhances the look of a smile is crown lengthening. This is recommended when the gum tissues that arch one or several teeth is at a different level than surrounding teeth. With this uneven alignment of gum tissue, it can create a jumbled look in spite of having attractive, healthy teeth.

In our Asheville periodontal dental office, we use highly advanced technology and techniques, along with specialized skills that provide our patients with optimal comfort, reduced treatment time, and exceptional outcomes for every periodontal need.

For patients who feel these procedures may out of reach financially, payment plan are available that allow for easy, monthly payments while enjoying the benefits of a healthy, beautiful smile.

In many ways, a periodontist can enhance the health and appearance of your smile. If you would like to discuss your smile during a consultation appointment, call 828-274-9440 or tap here to begin.

 

Save Money & Time At The Dentist! Practice Effective Home Care.


Posted on Sep 22, 2020 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

If you could prevent a deadly disease by devoting 5 or so minutes a day to a few at-home basics, you’d probably be all in. Of course, we know that ample sleep, daily exercise and a healthy diet is beneficial to our health. What some people don’t know is the intricate connection between oral health and overall health.

Adults are becoming more aware of how the health in their mouths impacts the risk of developing serious, and even deadly, diseases. To begin, periodontal (gum) disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. The challenges associated with dentures and partials can cause a lifetime of frustrations, costs and psychological woes.

As devastating as tooth loss can be to one’s overall health, it is now known that the bacteria of gum disease can become blood borne. Research has shown this infectious bacteria can trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body, correlating to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, some cancers, diabetes, arthritis, impotency, preterm babies and more.

It is wise to have regular dental check-ups without fail. These 6-month visits can remove built-up plaque from teeth, tend to gum inflammation, and catch small problems before they become big ones. However, what you do in-between these visits can have a major impact on your oral health.

Below are some tips to make your oral care at home more effective …

• Your Toothbrush – Plaque is a buildup of oral bacteria that coats teeth and gums. If not removed daily, it forms a hardened mass of calculus (or tartar) attached to teeth. Calculus cannot be brushed or flossed away (and is what your hygienist is scraping off teeth during cleanings).
– An electric toothbrush can help in the prevention of tooth loss. Studies have shown that electric brushing promotes better gum health and slower progression of gum disease. It is also said to reduce tooth loss by 20 percent. Many of the newer models include timers to indicate the time needed for each quadrant of your mouth. This is your teeth divided into 4 sections. Some also warn when using too much pressure.
– If you prefer a manual toothbrush, stay away from stiffer bristles, which can be damaging to tooth enamel. Also, avoid pressing down firmly or using a scrubbing, ‘back & forth’ motion. Hard bristle toothbrushes can also damage tender gum tissues. Use a circular motion over both sides of each tooth and along the tops with gentle pressure. (Hint: if your bristle are flayed out after a couple of months, you’re pressing down too hard.)
– Whether using a manual or electric tooth brush, it is necessary to brush twice a day for effective results. In order to thoroughly remove the sticky film of plaque from teeth, brush at least two minutes each time.
– After each brushing, brush your tongue with your toothbrush. The tongue has grooves and pores where oral bacteria breed and thrive. Brushing the tongue will uproot these organisms and help to significantly reduce the bacteria level in your mouth.

• Your Dental Floss – Another way to improve gum health, lower cavity risk, and prevent tooth loss is through flossing. It is estimated that only 31 percent of American adults floss on a daily basis. Because brushing cannot dislodge all food particles caught between teeth, daily flossing should be a part of oral hygiene routines.
– Proper flossing is easy for those who are in the habit of it and takes less than a minute. However, the key word here is “proper.” Flossing is best done with about 18 inches of floss. We recommend unwaxed but people with tight teeth find waxed helps them avoid having to ‘pop’ in-between teeth, which can cut into tender gum tissues. Wrap both ends of the floss around the forefingers. Use the thumbs and middle fingers to help maneuver the floss.
– Go slowly as you move the floss back and forth to get in-between and scrape down each tooth’s side several times. Move the floss just slightly below the line where teeth meet gum tissues to dislodge bacteria at the base of teeth. Adjust the floss so you have a clean section after flossing every 3-4 teeth. Be sure to scrape the backs of molars (or the farthest back teeth) on top and bottom.
– For those who have problems with manual dexterity or find the maneuver awkward, water flossers are effective alternatives (shown to be just as effective as manual flossing) and easy to use. A water flosser pulsates a stream of water between teeth that is forceful enough to dislodge trapped food bits but without harming teeth or gums. They are affordable, easy to purchase online or in many stores, and easy to use.

• Your Oral Moisture – Having ‘dry mouth,’ the frequent state of oral dryness, can cause bad breath and lead to higher risks of cavities and gum disease. Saliva is your mouth’s natural rinsing agent that helps cleanse oral bacteria from the mouth. This keeps bacteria to a minimum and their ability to cause problems at lower risk.
– When saliva flow is insufficient, however, bacteria ‘hang around’ in the mouth longer and multiply rapidly. Periodic dry mouth can occur from consuming alcoholic beverages, caffeine and is a normal part of the aging process. Certain medications can also cause oral dryness. These include antihistamines and some prescribed for depression and urinary incontinence. Medical conditions, including acid reflux, sinus infections, diabetes and bronchitis can also cause dry mouth. A bad cold, snoring or just being in the habit of breathing through the mouth are drying as well.
– And the worst culprit of all for dry mouth? Smoking.
– Drink lots of water throughout the day. (Sports drinks and colas don’t count.) If you take medications that have drying side effects, use an oral rinse that replenishes saliva. There are several available over-the-counter.

• Your Diet – What you eat and drink can easily undo all the good you’ve done in your oral home care routine that day. And, you may not even know some of these consumables are putting your smile at risk. These include:
     Sugar & Carbs: The American population over-indulges in sweets and carbohydrates to an often unhealthy extent. The obesity rate in the U.S. (nearly 40% of adults) makes it pretty clear this isn’t occurring from eating green beans and grilled fish. The problem for your smile is how oral bacteria are super-charged by the foods we should be avoiding or enjoying on a limited basis. Our diets now are boosting the reproductive ability of oral bacteria. And, since many of these foods stick to teeth, the potential for damage is much higher.
     Caffeine: Caffeine has a drying effect on oral tissues. A dry mouth means less saliva flow, which gives oral bacteria less opportunity to be rinsed from the mouth efficiently. Caffeinated beverages include coffee, tea, colas, and many energy drinks. While not caffeinated, alcoholic beverages are also drying to oral tissues. Remember, oral bacteria is the source of the majority of problems in the mouth.
     Wine (and other alcoholic beverages): While wine is said to be good for you, how it is consumed creates a particular problem when it comes to your smile. Anytime you eat or drink, your mouth experiences an acid attack, which is a normal part of the digestive process. However, this acid is so potent that it can soften tooth enamel, leaving teeth vulnerable to decay for about 30 minutes. As most people do, sipping wine over a period of time simply draws out this acid bath. Add to that the acidity of wine and your smile gets a one-two punch for a higher risk of decay.
     Citrus & acidic foods and beverages: The acidity in citrus (oranges, lemons, grapefruit, etc.) can erode tooth enamel, leaving them more susceptible to decay. And, it’s not just tart-tasting fruits that bring this risk. Foods with vinegar (pickles, salad dressings, etc.) and tomatoes or tomato-based foods (red pasta sauce, catsup, etc.) have an acidic effect on tooth enamel that heightens the risk of decay.
     Snacking: As mentioned above, every time you eat or drink, an acid attack begins in the mouth. This means that when you sip your soda or nibble on a cookie, an acid attack kicks in. When your mouth is experiencing frequent acid attacks during the day, it’s easy to see why the damage can cause such high risks to tooth enamel and gum tissues.

Be aware of the recommendations above to do a better job at having a clean mouth. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of periodontal disease, however, don’t delay. You should be seen at your earliest convenience for treatment since this disease will only worsen over time.

Signs of gum disease include tender gums that bleed easily when brushing, gums that darken in color to red (versus a healthy pink), frequent bad breath, and gums that pull away from teeth (receded gums) and expose darker, root areas of the tooth.

As a periodontist, I specialize in gum tissues (as well as dental implants). Our environment optimizes patient outcomes and comfort throughout treatment. Call (828) 274-9440 to schedule an examination or begin with a consultation appointment.

 

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