Cancer Risk And Gum Health
Posted on Feb 05, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
I know of no one who hasn’t lost someone dear to them – family member or close friend – to cancer. The disease, although now more survivable than ever thanks to advancements in early detection and treatment – remains a dreaded diagnosis.
Still, a cancer diagnosis often drags entire families through the battle. Treatment can be lengthy and time-consuming as well as financially and emotionally draining. Some diagnoses are considered ‘death sentences,’ with terribly low survival rates. For instance, pancreatic cancer’s 5-year survival rate, depending on the type, ranges between 3 – 9 percent. (https://www.pancan.org/facing-pancreatic-cancer/about-pancreatic-cancer/survival-rate/)
Decades of research has resulted in improved measures, and many cancers once thought dooming are now very treatable. Success rates are improving with most survivors going on to live normal, healthy, active lives.
Preventing cancer isn’t a simple matter. We know that a healthy lifestyle can help but isn’t a guarantee for avoiding it. Cancer can result from a number of triggers. For example, smoking is a known contributor to oral and lung cancer. The toxic chemicals delivered through cigarette smoke are proven activators in some cancer development.
As research has been able to go deeper into the cause-&-effect of various cancers, the health of periodontal tissues are coming to light as having an intricate role in your overall health, including your risk for developing some cancers.
Periodontal disease, often referred to as gum disease, runs rampant in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), over 47 percent of adults over the age of 30 have some level of gum disease. For adults over the age of 65, this figure increases to 70 percent.
This is a frightening statistic considering the devastation that infectious bacteria of periodontal disease can cause. While it is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss, research has also revealed links to increased risk of heart disease, stroke, arthritis, diabetes, preterm babies, high blood pressure, and erectile dysfunction (ED).
Yet, much progress is being made in tracking down activators of cancer in the body. For instance, research shared in a January 2018 article in Medical News Today revealed exciting progress along these lines. (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320634.php)
Researchers found that some gastrointestinal cancers, such as pancreatic cancer, share an enzyme. This enzyme, typically found in the mouth, serves as the “boosting” agent in the development of gum disease. They noted that the enzyme was also present in certain cancerous tumors.
In additional research shared by the AACR (American Association For Cancer Research), cited that previous research has revealed gum disease as a risk factor for breast, oral, and esophageal cancers. (https://www.aacrfoundation.org/Science/Pages/assessing-gum-disease-cancer-risk.aspx). The warn that women, especially, should be urged to maintain good periodontal disease to lower their risk of additional types of cancer.
One study showed that post-menopausal females were more susceptible to several cancers.
Between 1999 – 2003, researchers monitored cancer outcomes of female participants ages 54 to 86 through self-reported questionnaires onn periodontal disease. The study showed that: “a history of gum disease was associated with a 14 percent higher risk of developing any cancer”.
The greatest association was for cancer of the esophagus, which was more than 3 times more likely in women with periodontal disease than women who did not list having periodontal disease. Lung cancer, gallbladder cancer, melanoma, and breast cancer were also associated with higher risk.
Although women who smoked had higher risks for breast cancer, lung cancer, and gallbladder cancer, non-smokers with gum disease also had increased risks of these cancers.
Still not fully understood, it is suspected that gum disease bacteria are able to enter the bloodstream through diseased gum tissues. This allows them to reach other body sites and contribute to “carcinogenesis”, the process where normal cells are transformed into cancer cells, leading to the formation of cancer.
Because the study consisted of self-reported data, the study’s authors suspect the prevalence of periodontal disease may have been under-reported. This would make the percentages even higher. While further research is needed through more precise assessments of periodontal disease, these statistics are helpful in confirming the link between periodontal disease and cancer.
This study also reinforces previous findings that show our oral health is more closely related to our overall health than most are aware. As a periodontal specialist, I urge you to be aware of the signs and symptoms associated with all stages of gum disease. These include tender gums that bleed easily when brushing, gums that turn red in color, frequent bad breath, and gums that loosen their grip around teeth.
For more, you may find it helpful to visit the web site of the American Academy of Periodontology: www.perio.org.
A periodontist is a dental specialist with advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of all stages of gum disease. This advanced care is your wisest choice for tackling gum disease and having good oral health at any age. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 828-274-9440 or tap here to begin.
Start The New Year With A Smile That Enhances Your Life!
Posted on Dec 31, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
As we look at the new year, many of us are setting goals for positive changes in our lives. Whether we aim to lose weight, tackle an upcoming 10k run, or kick a bad habit, a new year resets our enthusiasm and motivation to improve.
And oft-overlooked area that many Americans should add to their “need to improve” list is caring for their oral health. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), over 47 percent of the adult population in the U.S. has some level of periodontal (gum) disease.
So, this year, I’d like you to relook at the list you’ve already made and consider adding “improve oral wellness” to it.
Although a clean, healthy mouth gives you a better-looking smile and fresher breath, there are even more important reasons to maintain excellent gum health. Not only is periodontal disease the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss, it has been linked serious health risks. This includes heart disease, high blood pressure, memory loss, arthritis, diabetes, preterm babies and impotency.
Gum disease can begin silently, with warning signs that are not obvious or may be easily ignored. It may be first noticed by sore spots on gum tissues. You may notice some blood in the sink when brushing teeth. Your mouth may feel sticky and you have bad breath more frequently.
When these signs are ignored, gum disease is allowed to progress further. The symptoms of gum disease are:
- Red, swollen or tender gums or other sore areas in your mouth
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Gums that recede or pull away from teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before
- Loose or separating teeth
- Pus pockets between your gums and teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- A change in the fit of partial dentures
You can also learn about the stages of gum disease on the web site of the American Academy of Periodontology: (https://www.perio.org/consumer/types-gum-disease.html).
Your mouth also sends off warning signs when something is wrong. For example, an ache coming from a tooth may indicate a cavity or crack. A sore spot in the mouth could be caused by a canker sore or warning sign of oral cancer.
Some periodontal needs can be managed by their general dentist. However, as signs of periodontal disease continue, periodontal treatment may require the skills of a specialist. Patients who have moderate or severe levels of periodontal disease, or patients with more complex cases, are often best managed through ‘team treatment’ between a general dentist and periodontal specialist.
The American Academy of Periodontology defines a periodontist as “a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease, and in the placement of dental implants. Periodontists are also experts in the treatment of oral inflammation. Periodontists receive extensive training in these areas, including three additional years of education beyond dental school. They are familiar with the latest techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease, and are also trained in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures.
“Periodontists often treat more problematic periodontal cases, such as those with severe gum disease or a complex medical history. Periodontists offer a wide range of treatments, such as scaling and root planing (in which the infected surface of the root is cleaned) or root surface debridement (in which damaged tissue is removed). They can also treat patients with severe gum problems using a range of surgical procedures.
“In addition, periodontists are specially trained in the placement, maintenance, and repair of dental implants.”
However, if you are experiencing signs of periodontal disease and do not have a regular dentist, please know that you do not have to be referred to our office for care. Once your mouth is restored to optimal health, we can suggest a general dentist for you if you do not have one.
Don’t delay seeking care when you notice the first warning sign. Early treatment may save you greatly in time and expense – and even help you avoid tooth loss! Once your mouth is restored to a healthy state, we’ll help you maintain it by recommending home care steps combined with periodic check-ups.
If your obstacle has been fear of dentistry, we have an excellent reputation for helping fearful dental patients overcome these. We also offer oral and I.V. sedation (twilight sleep) that help patients feel more relaxed during treatment.
Or, if you feel you can’t manage the expenses associated with dental care, we offer several payment plans. Through these, you can afford to achieve a healthy smile while making easy, monthly payments.
Begin with a consultation or ask for an initial periodontal exam by calling 828-274-9440. Let our specialized skills in periodontics help to restore your teeth and gums to excellent oral health and confident smiles!
A Dry Mouth Can Contribute To Gum Disease
Posted on Oct 03, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
An estimated 47 percent of American adults have some form of periodontal (gum) disease, which is the nation’s leading cause of tooth loss. Missing teeth lead to a long list of problems, from gastrointestinal to psychological. Some studies even indicate that the number of natural teeth a person has is indicative to their lifespan.
Some medications, age, and smoking along with certain foods and beverages can lead to oral dryness. A dry mouth enables oral bacteria to linger and multiply. The longer bacteria remain in the mouth, the faster they are able to reproduce.
A buildup of this bacteria creates a sticky film, known as plaque. While daily brushing and flossing curtail the accumulation of bacteria, an adequate flow of saliva helps to keep bacteria levels under control throughout the day.
Your saliva is more than just moisture in the mouth. It is the first stage of the digestive process and helps you to chew and speak. However, modern science is also looking to saliva to reveal a number of health problems.
Saliva tests can now use the type and quantity of oral bacteria to reveal if you are at greater risk for developing gum infections. Additionally, research is using saliva to reveal the early presence of breast cancer, oral cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, Sjogren’s syndrome, and indicate the presence of tumors in the body and where they are located.
There is an intricate connection between your oral health your overall health. For decades, researchers have studied the link between the bacteria of periodontal disease and heart disease, diabetes, stroke, arthritis, preterm babies, and some forms of cancer.
Obviously, maintaining good oral health is important. And, it’s clear that adequate saliva flow is a beneficial component in this effort. To combat dry mouth, it is recommended that you drink plenty of plain water throughout the day. Consider using an oral rinse especially formulated for dry mouth and be dedicated to your brushing and flossing routine at home.
Because your 6-month check-ups and cleanings are structured to remove build-up that has accumulated between visits, they appointments help you to minimize or eliminate damage to teeth and gums.
It is estimated that about 40 percent of Americans take at least one type of medicine that causes oral dryness. If you take medications that are drying to oral tissues, ask your doctor if there are alternatives without this side effect. Some medications that have a particularly drying effect include antihistamines, aspirin, asthma medications and ‘cough and cold’ syrups.
To check the level of tooth loss on a long list of prescription medications, use the link below. For example, this shows Stelara with only 1 case of tooth loss but Prednisone has 436 cases and Zometa has 1,571.
At each appointment, remember to update us on all the medications you take (both prescription and over-the-counter). We know your goal is to avoid gum disease and subsequent tooth loss. Knowing your medical and dental history and list of medications can help us be more proactive on your behalf.
If you have concerns about the health of your gums or have already experienced tooth loss, begin with a consultation. Call 828-274-9440 or tap here to begin.
Why You May Have A Metallic Taste In Your Mouth.
Posted on Sep 12, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Occasionally, a patient will mention that they have been having a metallic taste in their mouth. After several questions, I’m usually able to determine that the condition is related to a prescription they’re taking. As a matter of fact, the majority of people who notice a metallic taste experience this due to a medication’s side effect.
The most common medications to cause a metallic taste in the mouth are antibiotics, antihistamines, some OTC supplements, and medications that treat blood pressure, neurologic and cardiac conditions.
Pharmacy Times states that “more than 300 drugs are associated with metallic taste” and that “as many as 11 percent of elderly patients who take multiple medications experience taste problems.” (https://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2015/july2015/drug-induced-metallic-taste-no-irony)
This occurs when the body ingests and absorbs medications with iron, chromium, calcium, and zinc, which all cause a metallic taste in the mouth. The body absorbs these substances, which are released and excreted in the saliva, often resulting in a metallic taste. In addition to causing this taste, another common medication side effect is dry mouth, which can also cause a foul or metallic taste.
Dysgeusia is the medical term used to describe an abnormal or impaired sense of taste.
An excess of zinc in the body – or even lack of – can also cause taste changes. Malnutrition can lead to a zinc deficiency, slowing cell renewal that alters taste. Taking too much zinc (typically through supplements) can trigger dysgeusia that causes a metallic taste.
Another common source for a metallic taste are respiratory infections, including colds, sinus infections, and middle-ear infections. Anything that causes congestion and mucus may lead to having a foul or metallic taste in the mouth.
Pregnancy can also alter your sense of taste due to hormonal changes. Tasting metal in the mouth is not unusual. This usually occurs in the first trimester and subsides in the second.
Some people are surprised to learn that poor oral hygiene can cause a metallic taste in the mouth. When oral bacteria accumulate to the point of causing inflammation, a metallic taste may be detected in the mouth. This is why it is important to have dental check-ups every six months and be committed to a thorough, daily oral hygiene routine at home.
While chemotherapy is known to cause nausea, another common complaint of patients undergoing chemotherapy is having a metallic taste in the mouth. Just as certain components of oral medications can emerge in saliva, drugs administered intravenously can also emerge in the saliva, causing “metal mouth.”
Allergic reactions that trigger sinus reactions can lead to a metallic taste as well. Allergens most often associated with causing a metallic taste include tree pollen, tree nuts, and shellfish, according to Medical News Today. (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313744.php) Some people may have a metallic taste in their mouths for up to 2 days after eating pine nuts, which are commonly used in salads and pesto.
Too, a side effect of mercury poisoning is a metallic taste in the mouth. Although the neurological issues associated with mercury poisoning are more concerning, tasting metal in the mouth may serve as an early warning sign. By recognizing this as one of the indications of mercury toxicity, it may hopefully motivate people to seek medical evaluation.
Finally, liver or kidney disease can cause a metallic taste in the mouth. These conditions create a buildup of chemicals in the body, which are released into the saliva. For patients with severe kidney disease, the excess production of ammonia shows up in the saliva, causing a metallic taste in the mouth.
It’s amazing at how intricately and integrally connected each part of the body is to all other parts. Just as a skin rash may indicate an allergic reaction to something eaten, the mouth can be an indication point of things off-kilter in other areas.
If you suspect that your “metal mouth” is the result of a medication, it may subside (or lessen) after a few weeks. If not, it may be wise to have other areas checked. Your zinc levels, hormones, oral health, and other items may need to be evaluated to ensure all parts of your body are in proper balance.