Pregnant? Make Oral Health A Particular Priority!
Posted on Apr 23, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
With pregnancy, there seems to be a long list of do’s and don’ts for the mom-to-be. For instance, pregnant women are advised to avoid most drugs, alcohol, certain foods, and all smoking! Proper exercise, a balanced diet, and plenty of sleep help to keep both mother and baby healthy when it comes time for delivery.
Now, obstetricians are urging their pregnant patients (or those trying to become pregnant) to add a very important item to this list. They are advising particular devotion to achieving and maintaining good oral health.
The reason to keep a healthy mouth is based on decades of research and findings related to how infectious bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease can penetrate the bloodstream. Once bloodborne, the bacteria are able to activate inflammatory triggers elsewhere in the body.
A mother-to-be is especially vulnerable to gum disease due to hormonal changes during her pregnancy. Almost 50 percent develop pregnancy gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease that causes gums to become swollen, tender and bleed easily when brushing.
However, because of their susceptibility, the risk for full-blown gum disease is higher for pregnant females with nearly a third developing gum disease.
Research has shown that gum disease increases the risk for pre-term delivery (prior to 37 weeks) and babies of low birth weight (less than 5.5 lbs.). One study showed the preterm birth rate for females without gum disease to be approximately 11 percent compared to nearly 29 percent for pregnant women with moderate to severe periodontal disease.
It has also been shown that gum disease increases the likelihood for late-term miscarriage and pre-eclampsia. When oral bacteria reach placental membranes via the bloodstream, inflammatory reactions were found to trigger pre-eclampsia or early labor.
One study showed that pregnant women with higher blood levels of antibodies to oral bacteria also had higher incidences of preterm birth and babies of low birth weight. These elevated antibodies have been found in amniotic fluid and fetal cord blood samples of infants who were preterm or of low birth weight at birth.
When periodontal disease is present, however, successful treatment has shown to lower the risk of preterm births.
For all individuals, however, the bacteria of gum disease is coming to light as a major contributor to a number of serious health problems. It is the nation’s’ leading cause of adult tooth loss and has been linked to heart disease, stroke, some cancers, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure and impotency.
Once the infectious bacteria of gum disease enter the bloodstream (typically through tears in weakened gum tissues), it can trigger inflammatory reactions, many serious and some that can have deadly consequences.
It is important to know the signs and symptoms of gum disease. These include gums that bleed when brushing, frequent bad breath, swollen or tender gums, gums that pull away from the base of teeth, or gums that darken in color.
While any of these should prompt an individual to seek out periodontal treatment, pregnant women have a particular need to seek care. A periodontist has specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of all levels of gum disease – in a way that is safe for pregnant women (as well as all patients).
If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above (whether pregnant or not), you are urged to schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience. Call 828-274-9440 to arrange an examination to begin.
Oral Bacteria Research Shows Links To Pancreatic Cancer
Posted on Apr 15, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
According to a number of studies, the oral bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease has been linked to serious health problems, including some cancers. Apparently, the inflammation triggered by the infectious bacteria in the mouth are now suspected to be a contributing factor in the development of pancreatic cancer.
Because it is typically not diagnosed until at advanced stages, pancreatic cancer has a a long-standing reputation for its deadly track record. This year, over 50,000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Less than 10 percent will survive past the five year mark.
For years, researchers have been able to show that the infectious bacteria of periodontal disease are able to enter the bloodstream through tears in weakened tissues. Once bloodborne, these bacteria have been a trigger for inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. In addition to some cancers, research to-date has linked oral bacteria to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, impotency and erectile dysfunction.
In a long-term study to track oral bacteria-pancreatic cancer links, the DNA from saliva samples was analyzed from over 360 adults who eventually developed pancreatic cancer. Researchers compared these samples to the DNA in saliva of a similar number of adults who remained healthy.
Adjustments were made in both groups for considerations of age, race, sex and body mass as well as alcohol use, smoking and being diabetic. The participants who developed pancreatic cancer within two years after the DNA samples were taken were omitted to eliminate pre-existing factors that could influence statistical outcomes.
With findings from prior research, this study allowed researchers to hone in on two specific types of periodontal disease pathogens. Researchers noted that one pathogen was more prevalent in the saliva of participants who developed pancreatic cancer, noting a 59 percent greater risk of developing pancreatic cancer. The second pathogen was shown to increase this risk by 50 percent.
In early stages, the symptoms of gum disease include tender gums that bleed easily when brushing and frequent bad breath. As it worsens, the gums become sore and swollen, darken in color to red, and cause gum tissues to loosen their grip around the base of teeth. Eventually, teeth will loosen and may require removal. Because over 47 percent of American adults have some level of periodontal disease, it is no wonder that gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.
Hopefully, the general public will learn of extensive research results that show that periodontal disease bacteria is destructive and deadly. As findings from further studies continue to be revealed, it is important to be proactive when it comes to the symptoms of periodontal disease. Remember, gum disease will only worsen without treatment.
Call 828-274-9440 to begin with a thorough periodontal examination. As a periodontist, our Asheville periodontal office offers specialized treatment for all levels of gum disease. Through this, I will explain how we will determine the state of your current oral health and subsequent recommendations that will restore you to excellent oral wellness.
How To Make Flossing An Easy Part Of Your Oral Care Routine
Posted on Mar 06, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
You can imagine that dental offices hear just about every excuse known to man as to why people “forget” to brush or don’t floss or don’t go to the dentist or don’t proceed with recommended treatment or don’t ….. It’s endless.
While many patients know their excuses are not really justified reasons, we adults can rationalize just about anything when it comes down to it. We know what may seem unjustified can be true reality for others.
We learn – starting from childhood – how to rationalize certain viewpoints. Some of us justify grabbing something sweet rather than healthy for a “quick pick-me-up.” Some don’t make the bed in the morning because it’s just going to get messed up at night. Some don’t go to the dentist until something hurts because they feel that’s the first sign that something is wrong.
OK, we all know, deep down, that there are things we shouldn’t avoid. No one WANTS to go to a dentist twice a year but also know it’s part of the process for a confident smile and way to avoid cavities and periodontal (gum) disease.
It’s clear that it’s not just these 6-month check-ups and cleanings alone that lower our risks of needing dental repairs and treatment, things that occur that were essentially preventable with daily care. What I’d like to address is the daily care you give to your oral health, and flossing, in particular.
In our Asheville periodontal dental office, we pride ourselves on not “lecturing” our patients. Our goal is to provide sufficient information to each individual, helping him or her understand the HOW & WHY of recommendations.
For instance, here is HOW to brush thoroughly and effectively twice a day. Here is WHY it can save you time and money by preventing or minimizing dental procedures that may be needed in the future.
Brushing one’s teeth effectively and regularly is easily instructed. We advise at least twice a day, using a soft to medium bristle tooth brush and fluoride tooth paste. Using a swirling motion, each individual should spend at least two minutes per brushing, going over all sides and tops of teeth.
And then there’s flossing. This is where the patient starts to twitch and squirm in the discussion. Flossing is a complicated, difficult maneuver in the minds of some people. Yet, for those who floss on a daily basis, it’s a simple technique that takes less than a minute.
The action of flossing helps to dislodge food particles that become trapped between teeth. For older adults who have shrinking gum tissues (a normal part of the aging process), food bits can also become wedged in the tight openings beneath the area where teeth meet one another.
Flossing is a particular need for people who have crowded, crooked teeth. These jumbled angles and nooks offer ideal havens for oral bacteria accumulation. Too, people in orthodontic treatment (braces) are particularly vulnerable to oral bacteria buildup because of the food trapping potential of wires and brackets.
Food that is not removed from the mouth after several hours begins to rot. Rotting particles are sustenance for oral bacteria. This gives them sustenance that helps them reproduce and thrive. As oral bacteria accumulate in the mouth, they begin attacking tooth enamel and gum tissues.
A tooth brush is often unable to dislodge food caught between teeth. This is why the use of floss is beneficial. However, manual floss can be a challenge to some individuals. Some people don’t like the tight feel around their fingers. Some people have large hands and find it difficult to reach certain areas in the mouth. Others have dexterity issues that leave them unable to floss.
Our goal is to create an ideal program for each patient that is customized to their needs and goals. For example, people with large or arthritic hands can STILL floss, simply by using a water flosser.
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. Water flossers are affordable, easy to purchase online or in most stores, and easy to use.
Best of all, most water flossers have been shown to be just as effective as manual flossing. And, because they typically sit out in clear view of the sink where tooth brushing occurs, water flossers help to remind the individual that it’s a part of their at-home oral hygiene routine.
There is always an excuse to avoid doing something we know, deep down, we should be doing. I don’t like taking the trash out at night but know it’s simply part of keeping our home clean and pleasant. Yet, certain tasks are well worth the small steps we take each day to keep things in good shape.
A healthy, confident smile is worth the daily upkeep of regular brushing and flossing. You can also enhance your potential for a healthy mouth by drinking plenty of water throughout the day, limiting sugar and caffeine (which is drying to oral tissues), and avoiding snacking (or select what you snack on wisely).
For patients who have lost natural teeth or have developed periodontal disease due to insufficient oral hygiene care, their regret is a powerful warning to others. We frequently hear, “If I could go back, I’d have taken better care of my teeth.” Let us help you to avoid ever having to say that.
Begin with an examination. We’ll assess the health of your gums and the condition of your teeth. If you have signs of gum disease, we have advanced training and skills to treat all stages of gum disease. We also utilize state-of-the-art technology designed to enhance treatment outcomes and optimize patient comfort.
For individuals who have lost teeth, a periodontist also specializes in the diagnosis and placement of all types of dental implants. Dental implants recreate the strength and stability of natural teeth. Additionally, implants help to halt bone loss to the jaw bone. This enhances your ability to keep neighboring natural teeth, versus a crown-&-bridge or partial denture.
And please remember, research has shown numerous links to the oral bacteria of gum disease and serious health problems. These potent bacteria have been found to activate systemic inflammation in the body, contributing to higher risks of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, some cancers, preterm babies, and impotency.
For an appointment, call 828-274-9440. We’ll also be happy to answer your questions.
Don’t Let Misaligned Teeth Lead To Tooth Loss.
Posted on Feb 25, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
As a periodontist, I have specialized skills in treating all stages of gum disease (known as periodontal disease, or simply “perio” by some). I also have advanced training in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants.
Although my specialty does not cover the advanced training an orthodontist has in bite alignment, my dental education absolutely covered the benefits of having proper “occlusion.” It also covered the repercussions of NOT having a bite that is properly balanced.
Just as an orthodontist can spot telltale signs of gum inflammation, I (along with general dentists and most dental specialists) can see indications of teeth that are not working in unison — even at times when these teeth appear to be “straight.”
While the nation’s number one cause of adult tooth loss is gum disease, having a misaligned bite function (or “malocclusion”) can lead to tooth loss in ways you may not have realized.
For example, during chewing, the upper teeth and lower teeth are designed to work harmoniously together to grind food down for swallowing and digesting. When an upper tooth does not interact smoothly with one below it (or vice versa), a tooth can become chipped, broken or fractured.
When damage to a tooth occurs, it must be quickly repaired before oral bacteria can penetrate tooth structures. Without the protection of enamel, oral bacteria can cause tooth decay and gum disease.
A fracture in a tooth can expand over time, leading to a crack that loosens an entire segment of a tooth. These areas must also be repaired before the tooth is subjected to oral bacteria. This typically requires a crown (or “cap”) that is placed over the top portion of the tooth.
However, a crack in a tooth that extends into the gum tissues typically means the tooth must be removed. If a portion of the tooth breaks “just below” the gum tissue, the tooth can sometimes be saved by a procedure we do called a “crown lengthening.” This is often known as a gingivectomy and is performed to remove excess gum tissues.
A gingivectomy procedure exposes more of the natural tooth so a crown can be placed over the tooth to preserve its remaining structure. (For people who have a “gummy smile,” this is performed, also, to reduce the amount of gum tissue that arches over teeth most visible in a smile.)
Another hazard of bite misalignment relates to dental implants. The overall success rate of dental implants is very high, nearly 98 percent by some estimates (when properly selected, placed and maintained). However, when a newly-placed implant is subjected to the grinding forces of TMJ disorders, its risks for success are much lower.
People are often surprised to learn that they clench and/or grind their teeth at night – primarily due to bite misalignment. When a bite is “off,” the jaw joints can become strained and inflamed. During sleep, the upper and lower jaws go on a subconscious quest of sorts, searching to find a comfortable position that eliminates the strain.
The forces behind some clenching are enough to crack open a walnut. Imagine a newly placed implant that is dependent upon the jaw bones to “heal” it into this firm foundation. When the area of bone around an implant is subjected to night after night of disruption, the implant is against the odds of becoming fully embedded in supporting bone.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you use a screwdriver to firmly anchor a screw into a solid block of wood. However, every day, you use a pair of pliers to grasp the screw head and wriggle it back and forth. Obviously, it wouldn’t take long for the wood surrounding the length of the screw to wear down from the friction of the screw’s motion, even slight as it may seem. Eventually, the screw could be easily moved back and forth and would no longer serve as a dependable base of support.
It’s not unusual for more than one dental specialist to work with another to provide a patient with the combined skills needed in particular cases. I frequently work with other dental specialists and general dentists in a “team treatment” capacity in order to give patients optimal outcomes.
When we place an implant, our goal is for each patient to enjoy its benefits for the remainder of their life. Bite misalignment can jeopardize this. And, if you have all your natural teeth now, be sure to protect them by keeping your gums healthy and ensuring your bite is as well.
After all, every dental professional is on your team when it comes to enjoying confident smiles for a lifetime!
If you’ve noticed indications of gum disease (tender gums that bleed when brushing, for example) or have experienced tooth loss (or fear you are facing it), take charge of your smile now. Call 828-274-9440 to schedule a thorough examination.