Flu Season, Covid Worries Bring Dentures To A Worrisome Light
Posted on Nov 28, 2022 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
With the flu season now underway, 2022-23 seems especially concerning. The severity of flu for certain population segments is coupled with added concerns about increasing cases of the Covid virus. This has older adults, in particular, taking added precautions with mask wearing, limiting public outings, and ensuring vaccines are up to date.
When it comes to contributors to acquiring the flu, however, oral health is one that is often overlooked. Things like wearing dentures and having gum disease can create higher susceptibility to developing the flu (as well as other health problems) than many are aware.
Losing teeth in a lifetime happens. However, it is most prominent in adults as they age. Over a life span, teeth take an enormous brunt of wear and tear. More than 13% of adults between ages of 65 – 74 have lost all of their teeth with this percentage doubling after age 75. (https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/adult-oral-health/adult_older.htm)
Because older adults comprise a significant portion of the population, tooth loss is an especially troubling health concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the number of U.S. adults ages 65 and older is expected to reach nearly one-fourth of the overall population by the year 2060.
While replacing teeth can be done rather inexpensively through dentures, replacing the presence of teeth is very different from replacing their function. Dentures do very little to support the ability to bite confidently and chew thoroughly. Here’s why…
When dentures are first made, they are conformed to fit the specific curves and arches of the existing bone ridge where teeth were once held. Without natural tooth roots in the jaw bone (where natural teeth were once supported), the bone begins to shrink, or “resorb.”
As resorption progresses, the arch where teeth were held begins to flatten. Thus, the foundation of the denture becomes less and less. This results in dentures that slip when eating or rub uncomfortable sore spots on tender gums. At first, more-frequent applications of denture pastes help somewhat. Eventually, they are of little help.
Dentures are hardly supportive to good digestion or nutritional health. Long-time denture wearers often alter their food choices to accommodate their less-than-dependable ability to chew. Fresh fruits and vegetables are bypassed for softer, cooked versions. Pasta is chosen over protein-rich meats. Grains and seeded foods conjure up the fear of seeds being caught under the denture, piercing into tender gums.
In addition to lacking to meet nutritional needs, there are concerns surrounding the cleanliness of dentures. Their gum-colored base is made up of a porous material, capable of housing millions of bacterial organisms. It’s no wonder bad breath is a common problem for denture wearers.
According to RDH magazine, “research has isolated Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus mutans, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli, and hundreds of other garden-variety germs in acrylic dentures.” (https://www.rdhmag.com/patient-care/xerostomia/article/16407070/5-things-you-should-know-about-dentures)
Aging adults should also be aware that dentures can literally make you sick. In a study of 524 seniors (with an average age of 88), Japanese researchers noted higher incidences of pneumonia-associated events occurred among the 453 participants who were denture wearers. Nearly 41 percent wore their dentures during sleep and showed higher risk for pneumonia than those who removed their dentures at night. (https://www.rdhmag.com/infection-control/article/16404123/dentures-and-aspiration-pneumonia)
Certainly, having good oral health has proven to support good overall health. However, the appearance of a smile is also important. Because of the accelerated pace of bone loss from wearing dentures, facial changes begin to show through. At first, there may be deep wrinkles around the mouth. The corners of the mouth turn downward, even in a smile.
As bone loss continues, jowls form from the detachment of facial muscles. The chin takes on a pointed look and the mouth seems to collapse into the face. These changes tend to project a facial appearance that is far older than one’s actual years. For many people, looking old makes them feel old.
The choice of dentures, for most patients, is made because they provide the cheapest option to replace teeth. With all the arguments against dentures, we also understand the patient’s preference to save money. However, once you factor in all the health risks associated with dentures, dental implants stand out as being an important part of avoiding life-threatening illness. And, since dental implants are designed to last a lifetime, they are an excellent investment.
One way to enjoy the advantages of dental implants while keeping costs down is to secure a denture to dental implants. In this, only 6 or 8 dental implants are often sufficient to securely support a full denture.
This means that a “wobbly” or “slippery” denture can be firmly secured (even using the patient’s existing denture in some cases). This implant-supported denture halts resorption and restores biting and chewing strength.
The first step is to discuss options for tooth replacement that are appropriate for your specific needs and goals. As an Asheville periodontist, I know that many people are pleased to learn that dental implants are affordable through easy, monthly payment plans. Treatment can also include oral or I.V. sedation (twilight sleep).
Support your overall health by ensuring your oral health is at its best. Begin by scheduling a consultation appointment by calling 828-274-9440 or visit: https://www.biltmoreperiodontics.com/locationcontact-us/
And, visit our site’s technology page to learn the advantages of these features:
Boost Immune System By Investing In Gum Health
Posted on Nov 17, 2022 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
There is no argument that the price of about everything has gone up and up over the past couple of years. The challenges that most individuals face at this time have been significant for some people but felt by about all.
Yet, there are still reasons to “spend less now so we’re not spending more later.” This is true with things such as auto maintenance, home repairs and taking good care of our health. A signifiant part of maintaining good overall health is having good oral health. The key, however, is to make the investment while the costs are still low, and avoid the big expenses later to pay for repairs and more extensive treatment.
I’d like to point out the need to bolster our immunity system, brought front-&-center during the pandemic, is actually supported by your oral health. Although the Covid virus continues to be a threat, the experience has made populations more aware of the benefits of vaccines and healthy habits such as hand-washing. Still, it is in our immune system that makes people more or less vulnerable.
By investing in having healthy gums, the immune system is actually supported more than is largely known. I’ll explain.
The bacteria in the mouth, or “oral cavity,” is intricately connected to your overall health; so much so that “bad” oral bacteria can disrupt the healthy balance in the digestive system. This bacteria comes from oral plaque, which is a cesspool of sorts formed from bacteria accumulation.
As a layer of biofilm, plaque coats teeth and gums. It is the sticky coating you feel in your mouth when you wake up, during which time the bacteria has had an opportunity to amass during sleep. Plaque, mot removed, becomes tartar. This hardened mass of oral bacteria continues to grow, doing damage in the mouth and far beyond.
Researchers have tracked oral bacteria as it enters the bloodstream. This occurs through weakened gum tissues, allowing the bacteria to travel throughout the body. Studies have shown that the bacteria are able to activate or worsen the development of a number of serious health problems.
These include heart disease, stroke, arthritis, diabetes, preterm babies, some cancers, erectile dysfunction and dementia. Research is currently being conducted to further the connections suspected between periodontitis to Alzheimer’s disease.
How does oral bacteria become destructive? Gingivitis is the initial stage of gum disease. Symptoms typically include gums that are tender in spots and some bleeding when you brush. These are warning signs that signal an immediate need for attention.
Periodontal (gum) disease and (often) its subsequent tooth loss are, simply put, products of bacterial overload in the mouth. The mouth is constantly being supplied with sustenance for these organisms. Bacteria are able to thrive through food that enters, especially sugars, and other bacteria-laden items put into the mouth.
The bacteria that cause cavities that feeds on sugar from the foods and drinks you consume. This weakens tooth enamel due as bacteria convert sugar into acids. As bacteria thrive, they are able to reproduce very rapidly.
When bacteria levels become more than the immune system can tackle, infection can set in. Accumulation of bacteria can evolve into gum disease, which is an inflammation that attacks teeth, oral tissues and the bone structures that support tooth roots.
Gum disease symptoms are those more prominent than gingivitis. These include sore gums that bleed when brushing, persistent bad breath, gums that pull away from the base around teeth, gums that darken in color.
As it worsens to the stage known as periodontitis, pus pockets may form on the gums at the base of some teeth. In advanced stages, gum disease causes teeth to loosen and eventually require removal.
The reason that 6-month dental check-ups and dental cleanings is to remove tartar buildup before damage can occur. Your hygienist and dentist can look for signs of gum disease so measures can be taken before the disease explodes into the need for more costly treatment to resolve the problem. Since gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss, the associated expenses of replacing teeth can also be avoided by maintaining good oral health.
Prevention begins at home: Begin by twice daily brushing with a soft bristle tooth brush and use a fluoridated tooth paste. Brush for at least two minutes each time. Floss daily. Be sure not to pop the floss between teeth to avoid damaging tender gums. Move the floss in a back-&-forth motion between teeth to ease it down so you can scrape the sides of each tooth.
You can remove a tremendous amount of oral bacteria by using a tongue scrapper daily. Or, brush your tongue with your tooth brush at the end of each brushing. This helps to dislodge bacteria that is embedded in the grooves of the tongue.
Drink lots of water during the day. This will help keep saliva flow at ample levels. Saliva is designed to move oral bacteria from the mouth on a consistent basis. Oral dryness is the enemy. Avoid foods and beverages that are drying to oral tissues such as caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods. Also, try to minimize the amount of sugar and carbohydrates you consume. These foods amplify the reproduction of oral bacteria.
Oral dryness gives bacteria a favorable environment for reproduction. The chemicals in cigarette smoke are very drying to oral tissues. If you smoke, consider using an oral rinse that replenishes moisture in the mouth. Some oral rinses are specifically designed for moisture.
Lowering treatment costs begins with early care: If you have delayed or avoided regular dental care, it is recommended that you begin by having a periodontal examination. A periodontist is a dental specialist who can determine your precise level of gum disease and the most appropriate treatment to restore good oral health. We can detect all stages of gum disease and provide comfortable, thorough treatment to restore your gums to a health state.
If you have lost teeth due to periodontal disease, a periodontist also specializes in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants. This ideal method to replace teeth provides a lifetime solution, making them an excellent investment.
Call 828-274-9440 if you have questions about your gums or if you are experiencing any symptoms associated with gum disease. Also, visit our web site to learn more about our sedation options (including “twilight sleep”) and advanced technology, which often reduces treatment time while enhancing comfort.
The “Why” & “How” of Dental Implants
Posted on Nov 09, 2022 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), over one-fourth (26%) of American adults ages 65 and older have 8 or less natural teeth. The CDC equates this number (having 8 or fewer teeth) as “severe tooth loss” since it impacts an individual’s ability to thoroughly eat a healthy diet.
An even worse statistic shared by the CDC is 1 in 6 (17%) adults ages 65 and older have lost all of their teeth.
When it comes to losing natural teeth, they also share that the most vulnerable older adults are those who are poor, have less than a high school education, or are cigarette smokers.
Being totally edentulous (having lost all teeth) amongst the 65 or older age group has fortunately declined over the years. The CDC shared that the figure dropped by more than 30% from 1999–2004 (when it was 27%) to 17% in 2011–2016. At least American adults are moving in the right direction.
Tooth loss is a bigger deal than is assumed by a large segment of the population. When a natural tooth is removed, its absence causes a reaction that begins below the gum line. What occurs initially is typically not obvious. Yet, the repercussions of “resorption” can become quite the dilemma.
The absence of a tooth root in the upper or lower jaw bone is a loss of stimulation to the bone mass where it was once positioned. These roots provide both stimulation and nourishment that enables the bone to maintain a healthy mass. Without the presence of tooth roots, the bone begins to “melt away.” This process is known as resorption.
Think of the stimulation that tooth roots provide to how you might muscle atrophy. We all know that muscles, not used, will shrink in mass. When the jaw bones are lacking stimulation by the tooth roots they’re designed to hold, bone mass begins to shrink.
Resorption begins shortly after the tooth root is removed. Once it starts, it continues at an ever-increasing pace. For example, the first year after a tooth root is missing, the loss of bone may be minimal. With each passing year, the pace of loss accelerates.
As the bone shrinks in height, the natural tooth roots adjacent to the area of missing teeth are subject to movement and root damage. On average, the next teeth you’re most likely to lose are the ones bordering areas of missing teeth.
Obviously, it is important to replace lost teeth before bone loss begins. For the support of remaining natural teeth, it’s also important to replace missing teeth as soon as possible so adjacent teeth can retain their proper positions. 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. Through the sturdy foundation of the jaw bone, dental implants are able to restore the look, feel and chewing stability like that of natural teeth.
As a periodontist, I specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of all stages of periodontal (gum) disease. I also have advanced training and skills in the selection and placement of dental implants. In addition, periodontists are particularly skilled in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures.
Our Western NC periodontal dental office features some of the most advanced technology available. This cutting edge technology is beneficial in a number of ways, with much specifically helpful in optimal dental implant diagnosis and planning. This includes:
LANAP With PerioLase MVP 7 – Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure is an advanced protocol that efficiently and effectively treats advanced gum disease with the added advantages of a dental laser. For patients who are preparing for dental implant placement, resolving gum disease prior to treatment is mandatory. LANAP offers a non-surgical alternative for patients with moderate to severe periodontal disease with very little discomfort and a quick recovery time.
Cone Beam Imaging – These amazing 3D “x-rays’ are ideal for diagnosing and treatment planning. The highly-detailed images provide a clear view of the upper and lower jaw. Because cone beam radiographs show sagittal, axial, and coronal planes, locating and tracking nerve canals optimizes implant placement. The images are captured in a quick, painless process and at minimal levels of radiation.
CareStream Cone Beam Computer Tomography Imaging – This enhanced tomography works with 3D imaging for exceptional detail and range.
Computerized Dental Implant Placement – This system provides the futuristic ability to position dental implants before the process actually begins. Through computerized technology, the implants are selected and “ideally positioned” on a 3D model of the patient’s jaw. From this, a template is developed for optimal treatment success, even for complex cases.
CS 3600 Intraoral Scanner – Rather than make impressions with bulky, goopy trays, this scanner quickly and comfortably captures digital impressions accurately and easily. These are used to create precision models or appliances (dental implant crowns, bridges, or full arches). The scanner can also reach hard–to–access areas in the patient’s mouth for superior results with improved patient comfort.
Sedation – Our Asheville periodontal practice is known for its environment of comfort and respectful care. We understand that over 70 percent of the adult population have some level of dental fear or anxiety. For optimal comfort and relaxation, we offer several sedation options, including oral and IV sedation. With both sedation options, patients are closely monitored with advanced safety equipment throughout treatment.
• 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 (also known as ‘twilight sleep‘) places the patient in a deeper sleep state and erases memory of the procedure. It is administered by a Medical Doctor (MD) who is a board certified Anesthesiologist.
Ideal diagnosis is important, and can save the patient much in overall treatment costs. For example, when missing more than one tooth in one area, 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.
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. They have an extremely high success rate, higher than any implant-in-bone option. And, Dental Implants are designed to last a lifetime. With proper selection and maintenance, they will never need replacing or repair.
Dental implants come in many sizes and shapes, each system designed to accommodate various needs and preferences. This means your implant can be chosen to suit your long-term goals.
Proper placement and support in caring for implants is an important part of a successful outcome. However, dental implants can fail. This is why a periodontal specialist can be an asset to your investment. When dental implants are chosen and placed by a Periodontist, he or she can select the one that will work best for you now and throughout your lifetime.
In our Asheville periodontal dental office, we combine technology with our advanced skills and compassionate approach to care so you can enjoy a comfortable, efficient experience that allows you to have optimal success.
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.
Challenges of Aging to Oral Health
Posted on Oct 28, 2022 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Hopefully, the phrase “older and wiser” is one of truth. In all honesty, many adults “of a certain age” worry about being more forgetful, being less energetic and having less stamina. True or not, the aging process forges on for us all!
Aging, of course, comes with certain health challenges. However, these may bring seniors more determination to “age gracefully.” Today’s older adult seems to be more active and health-conscious than that of our ancestors. Aging adults now have greater knowledge of contributors to poor health. Most try to eat healthier, have periodic physicals and screenings, and include physical activity in daily regimens.
Over the years, all ages have had access to the findings of research reporting on how the health of the mouth plays a significant role in overall health. For example, the bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease are shown to potentially activate or worsen the development of a number of serious health problems.
For seniors, these health problems are especially challenging since a major one affected is that of the immune system. This is of high concern for seniors since their immune systems are typically operating at less-than-peak levels (often complicated by other health problems, such as arthritis or high blood pressure).
Over 70% of our immune response comes from the cells within the gut. The “good” bacteria in the gut is crucial to efficient digestion. Yet, it can be compromised due to the presence of gum disease bacteria.
We now know that the inflammatory nature of infectious oral bacteria can interfere with the healthy bacteria in the gut. This causes the gut (and well as other systems in the body) to function less efficiently. Research has correlated gum disease bacteria to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, some cancers, erectile dysfunction and even Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the Centers of Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), over 47% of American adults over age 30 have gum disease. It is estimated that 64% of adults ages 65 and older have either moderate or severe periodontitis.
Gum disease, an inflammatory disease, which can trigger inflammation elsewhere in the body. Studies have shown that by reducing the level of these bacteria, however, can improve other inflammation-based health conditions (such as arthritis, prostatitis, and psoriasis).
For instance, diabetes has a clear relationship with periodontal disease. Studies show that treating one condition positively impacts the other. By the same token, uncontrolled inflammation levels of one can worsen inflammation levels in the other.
Therefore, treating inflammation may help manage periodontal diseases and also help manage other chronic inflammatory conditions.
For seniors, oral dryness is one of the biggest influences in developing gum disease. Like the skin and joints, the body’s moisture and lubrication wanes with age. Although poor oral hygiene is a key factor when it comes to bacteria in the mouth, a dry mouth is a common contributor to bacterial growth.
In addition to aging, dry mouth is particularly challenging for seniors because it has many causes, including:
• A side effect of many medications (including prescription and OTC)
• Radiation therapy, especially for head and neck cancer
• Mouth-breathing, which may be due to nasal congestion or snoring
• Medical conditions, such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and Sjogren’s syndrome
While important for all ages, older adults should be especially committed to their oral hygiene, including twice daily brushing and daily flossing. In addition, you can support saliva flow by:
• Drinking plenty of plain water throughout the day
• Avoiding (or limiting) caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, tea and colas
• Using an oral rinse designed to replenish moisture in the mouth (available OTC)
• Being aware of medications that have an oral dryness side effect (increase your water intake and use a daily rinse to replenish oral moisture)
• Taking steps if you snore or breath through the mouth during sleep (ask your physician for suggestions)
• During a cold or sinus condition that increases mouth-breathing, be especially committed to your oral hygiene routine at home (brushing and flossing) and increase water intake
• Following each alcoholic drink (including beer and wine) with gulps of water as these are very drying to oral tissues
• Taking all steps mentioned above if you smoke cigarettes, “chew”, or vape
It is also important to know the signs and symptoms of periodontal (gum) disease. It begins with gingivitis, which causes the gums to become tender and swollen. When brushing, blood may be present in the sink when rinsing. Bad breath becomes persistent and the gums may turn red in color.
As an Asheville periodontist, I believe that the first step for adults who want to improve their oral health is by being informed patients. This generally leads to an individual who is committed to achieving and maintaining a healthy smile.
A good resource on maintaining good oral health is the web site of the American Academy of Periodontology: www.perio.org (go to Patient Resources). If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with gum disease as mentioned above, call our Asheville periodontal dental office at 828-274-9440. Gum disease will only worsen without treatment. (A referral is not necessary.)