Pregnancy & Your Gum Health
Posted on Jul 09, 2020 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Today’s American female has a long list of guidelines that enhance the potential to have a healthy, full-term baby. Even so, pre-term births in this country occur at a rather high rate for the advanced health care available to most.
According to data released in 2017 by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the U.S. preterm birth rate actually rose from 2015 -2016, from 9.6 percent of births to 9.8 percent.
There seems to be a rather close connection between gum disease and preterm babies, as unrelated as the two may seem. First, consider the risks cited by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). As far back as the year 2000, the Surgeon General warned that pregnant females who had gum disease had a far greater risk of a pre-term, low birth weight baby.
Research has shown that gum disease increases the risk for pre-term delivery (prior to 37 weeks) and low birth weight babies (less than 5.5 lbs.).
“Studies have found that expectant mothers with periodontal disease are up to seven times more likely to deliver premature, low birth weight babies.” (https://www.adha.org/resources-docs/7228_Oral_Health_Total.pdf)
One study showed the preterm birth rate for pregnant women with moderate to severe periodontal disease to be nearly 29%.
Estimates are that over half of pregnant women have some form of gingivitis (gum inflammation, an early stage of gum disease) or periodontitis (infectious, advanced gum disease). Nearly a third of pregnant females will acquire gum disease because of their higher vulnerability to inflammation.
Infections in the mother have been identified as increasing the risk for pregnancy complications. Due to varying hormone levels, nearly all females will develop gingivitis during their pregnancy.
Referred to as pregnancy gingivitis, symptoms include swollen, tender gums that bleed easily when brushing. The goal is to halt the inflammation before it progresses to a more infectious stage.
Most obstetricians now urge their pregnant patients (or those trying to conceive) to have a thorough periodontal examination. Even with no obvious signs, gum disease can still exist. It lies beneath the surface of the gum tissues and should be resolved before it worsens and is able to seep into the bloodstream.
Symptoms of gum disease include gums that bleed when brushing, swollen or tender gums, receded gums or gums that darken in color.
When periodontal disease is present, successful treatment has shown to lower the risk of preterm births. A periodontal specialist is trained to treat all levels of disease in a way that is safe for pregnant women (as well as all patients).
Pregnancy is not the sole risk factor for developing gum disease, of course. Most adults of both genders have at least one factor that heightens susceptibility to this oral infection. Among these are stress, poor diet with high sugar intake, smoking, obesity, age, and poor dental hygiene can all contribute to an increased potential for developing periodontal disease.
Other risk factors include clinching or grinding teeth, predisposition due to genetics, diseases such as diabetes or cancer, some medications, and changes in female estrogen levels (puberty, pregnancy, menopause).
Gum disease bacteria is obviously a potent threat to any individual. As the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss, oral bacteria of this disease have been linked to heart disease, stroke, some cancers, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure and impotency.
If you have symptoms associated with gum disease, schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience by calling 828-274-9440. Gum disease will only worsen without treatment.
We Are Seeing Patients Again With New Appointment Protocols
Posted on May 20, 2020 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Lately, when people see a hospital worker on television news, healthcare workers have on layers of garb that we’re unaccustomed to seeing. Hopefully, in time, all this protective layering won’t be needed. For now, it’s in line with proper precautions for the safety of both patients and staff.
We are seeing patients again!
As established periodontists in Asheville, it has been a pleasure for Dr. Boyland and I to be able to open our doors again for patient care. And, our schedule is full! Patients in need of treatment have been patiently (but anxiously) waiting to resume periodontal therapy and dental implant placement.
However, our reopening brings some new protocols in addition to our already-stringent infection-control measures. Some new steps that patients may notice now in the flow of the appointment, from the check-in process to check-out. Too, patients will see us attired in more layers than before.
As a heads up, our doctors and staff are wearing protective equipment (N95 masks, gowns, face shields, etc.). This protective gear does not interfere with patient communication nor the exceptional care we have always provided.
Other than our “new look,” however, patients will also go through a few new steps, which include:
- Once patients arrive for scheduled appointments, they are asked to call our main number (828-274-9440) from their vehicles. Our receptionist will provide the patient with a pre-appointment questionnaire.
- After we retrieve the completed form, a staff member will escort the patient into the office. (For now, only appointed patients are allowed unless accompanying a child or disabled patient.)
- Once inside, patients will have their temperature taken and a staff member will escort them to a treatment suite.
- After care is completed, a staff member will walk the patient to our check-out desk.
In addition, patients can have the peace of mind that our Asheville periodontal office has always adhered to the highest standards of infection control in dentistry. Typical steps that have always been in place include are the sterilization process used on the instruments used in patient care (such as probes).
These pieces are heat sterilized at high temperatures for up to 40 minutes, killing bacteria, viruses and infectious micro-organisms. Once sterile, the instruments are carefully packaged until ready to unwrap for use in the treatment room.
Even the water used (for rinsing or as a spray to manage air particles) comes through water lines that undergo a special “flushing” process. This cleansing process dislodges and eliminates biofilm that can occur when minuscule particles attach to the interior of these lines. Thus, the water sprayed in your mouth during certain procedures is delivered so bacteria levels are at such a low point they are virtually non-existent.
After each patient is seen, treatment chairs, lighting, and any equipment the patient or staff come in contact with are thoroughly wiped down.
These steps have always been done to ensure the safety and well-being of our patients as well as our doctors and staff. Yet, now more than ever, we have a unique mindset in everything we do.
While the vast majority of patients seen feel very comfortable in our office and infection control steps being taken, we encourage questions or concerns so we can explain, reassure or even reschedule those who are still uneasy about close contact. Just call us at 828-274-9440. Our friendly front staff will be happy to assist you.
What’s most important is that you stay safe while keeping your oral health at its best. The progression from poor oral hygiene to gingivitis to full-blown periodontal disease is faster than many people realize.
Be sure to brush at least twice a day for at least minutes per brushing. Brush your tongue with your toothbrush once a day (especially towards the back where most bacteria hide out) and floss daily. Keep your mouth moist and limit sugar. Use an oral rinse that contains no alcohol as an added measure to minimize oral bacterial buildup.
Let’s all emerge from this odd time in our history with smiles that are healthy, accompanied by hugs!
The 1-2-3’s Of Dental Implants
Posted on Apr 29, 2020 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Over time, certain things are often referred to in catchphrases that simplify what is being described. For example, “Kleenex” is actually a brand name that refers to tissues. “Clorox” is commonly used as a generic for bleach, even though it’s a specific brand. And, “Uber” has become a way to describe a paid means of auto transportation, even if a taxi or Lyft is being used.
This is why the term “dental implant” may be confusing to some people. This implies the replacement of a missing tooth or teeth with a base that is implanted into the jaw bone. However, to be clear, a dental implant is not an entire structure. Let’s look at the various components of a complete dental implant system.
Although there are different types of implant systems (designed to accommodate specific needs), all work in in a similar fashion. The actual “implant” is a hollow, screw-like cylinder. This is the portion that is actually “implanted” in the jaw bone at a strategic angle and depth.
Once placed, the implant is covered over with gum tissue. For several months after, the implant goes through a process known as “osseointegration.” In this, the bone grows around the implanted portion, which secure it in place. This restores the foundation like that of natural teeth for dependable and comfortable biting and chewing stability.
This stage, often referred to as the “healing” process, typically takes several months. However, a denture or temporary can be worn comfortably so going without teeth is not a worry.
Once healing is complete, a post is secured inside the hollow core of the implant. This post will support your final replacement tooth or teeth. Most replacement teeth are made of porcelain, which provides the most durable of all materials used in dental restorations.
Porcelain is an ideal material for replacement teeth. It is less resistant to stains and provides an exceptionally natural look and feel, even reflecting light as a natural tooth.
A successful outcome in any Dental Implant treatment begins with the selection and placement process. A Periodontist has specialized training in the diagnosis and placement of all types of implant systems. This means the implant system recommended for you will be the type most suited to your individual needs and goals.
An important aspect of implant success also relies on the assessment of bone mass. When the upper or lower jaw has insufficient bone to support the implant being placed, there is a risk of failure. This can occur in implants placed too close to the sinus cavity (for upper implants) or a nerve that runs through the mandible (lower jaw).
Too, an implant requires careful selection and placement in order to adequately support the replacement teeth being attached. In some cases, as few as 4 – 6 implants can support a complete arch of teeth. This decision is best left in the hands of a periodontal specialist.
In cases of severe bone loss, a periodontist can also perform bone rebuilding procedures prior to implant placement. This is sometimes through bone grafting but most commonly the application of a bone-rebuilding material. Additionally, some implant systems, such as the “All On 4” utilize unique angles to provide support in minimal bone depth with no bone rebuilding necessary.
The best implant system for you can be determined after an examination. During this time, I can discuss options best for you and explain the process. Call 828-274-9440 to schedule an appointment. Or, ask to begin with a Consultation.
We also encourage you to share any concerns about comfort options or treatment fees. Many people avoid looking into dental implant treatment because they are afraid of the procedure or fear they cannot manage the fees. Rather than assume these are obstacles, share your concerns so we can address them head on!
Posted on Apr 14, 2020 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
As a periodontist, I treat all stages of periodontal (gum) disease. Over the years, I’ve helped patients save natural teeth and restoring their ability to enjoy healthy, confident smiles.
When people come close to losing their teeth or find themselves in need of replacing them with something more dependable than dentures or partials, I hear nearly every one express the same regrets: “I wish I’d taken better care of my teeth when I could.”
Signs of gum disease
Hindsight may be 20-20, but it’s never too late. I know patients can go from having gum disease and losing teeth because of it to having excellent oral health – and end up having a renewed commitment to their smiles.
In my dental specialty, I know it begins by helping patients to understand how the problem starts in the first place. When people know the HOW, they can implement measures to bypass the repercussions of gum disease.
I’ve found that most people actually have very little awareness of how the inside of their mouth looks. We smile with lips and front teeth that show very little (if any gums). So, it stands to reason that, if a smile looks good, it’s probably healthy.
Until dental offices began using intra-oral cameras, it was sometimes challenging to convince patients that they needed treatment for a condition that didn’t hurt. There were not obvious signs initially, so nothing is wrong – right?
Intra-oral cameras are able to give patients, while seated in the treatment chair, clear, enlarged views of specific areas in the mouth. When an individual has this firsthand view of spongy, receded gums, the decision to treat often go from IF to WHEN.
Although it helps to be able to show patients the signs of gum disease, these emerged signs are indications of long-standing periodontal disease. By the time these signs appear, the early stage of gum disease, gingivitis, is past. This is unfortunate, since early-stage gum disease can be halted with prompt measures.
Gingivitis causes the gums to become tender and swollen in some areas. You may see blood in the sink when brushing. These signs indicate that oral bacteria has accumulated in the mouth beyond the means of your immune system’s ability to manage it.
Twice daily brushing and flossing are important steps in keeping bacteria levels in the mouth under control. Brushing sweeps away built up bacteria on the surface of teeth, which is a sticky film known as plaque. Plaque, just over the course of a couple of days, can harden on teeth where build up is allowed to remain. This cement hard mass of bacteria is tartar, or also known as calculus.
The reason your mouth feels ‘fuzzy’ and you feel your breath is bad when it’s dry is because saliva has been depleted and oral bacteria is running rampant. Add sugary foods and beverages and acidic colas and you super-charge oral bacteria further.
Yet, try as we might, there are simply angles in the mouth that are difficult to reach with a toothbrush, manual or electric. Say you have an area of jumbled or crooked teeth. Even as you adjust the angle of the toothbrush differently to maneuver the bristles into these areas, it is often difficult to continually keep these areas clean.
This is where flossing comes in, and important step in daily, oral hygiene.
Flossing grabs those bits that are left behind. If not removed, these left-behind pieces begin to rot and add to bacteria levels in the mouth. Oral bacteria gets its strength in numbers. The more there are, the more rapidly they multiply.
If you looked at a stand of floss under a microscope AFTER flossing your teeth, you’d have a jolting view of exactly what you do NOT want crawling around and breeding in your mouth. These living and breeding organisms can be highly destructive as they amass.
As research has shown for many years, your overall health is intricately linked to your oral health. The bacteria of gum disease has been linked to a long list of serious health problems, including heart disease, stroke, arthritis, some cancers, diabetes, and preterm babies. Studies are underway to track gum disease bacteria to the path of Alzheimer’s disease.
Obviously, the small amount of time taken to floss daily – and to do it correctly – is worth the advantages of lowering the risk of developing cavities, gum disease and other diseases and conditions.
Yet, I still find myself trying to convince some people that daily flossing is an advantage. It DOES make a difference! According to the Delta Dental Oral Health and Well-Being Survey (http://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2014-archive/october/survey-finds-shortcomings-in-oral-health-habits): “Only four of 10 Americans floss at least once a day, and 20 percent never floss.”
Perhaps this is one reason why over 47 percent of American adults have some level of gum disease, which is also the leading cause of tooth loss. While brushing twice daily helps to remove oral bacteria buildup (a sticky film known as plaque) from tooth surfaces, bits of food caught between teeth aren’t easily dislodged by the bristles of a tooth brush.
Over recent years, a few studies have shown minimal benefit from flossing. Yet, upon closer scrutiny, flaws in the studies were quickly argued.
It has been noted that the flossing technique can be what makes the action less effective, rather than the act of flossing itself. For example, the American Dental Association recommends curving the floss along the sides of each tooth and firmly, but carefully, motioning it up and down. This moves the floss gently down to reach slightly below where the tooth connects with the gum tissues, getting at the ‘hiding’ spot for much oral bacteria accumulation.
Keeping oral bacteria levels under control takes a commitment, yet requires just minutes a day. For our patients, we help them develop an at-home care regimen to maintain a healthy mouth and fresh breath between regular dental check-ups.
Be aware of the signs and symptoms of periodontal disease. Knowing them will allow you to react quickly to minimize the extent of damage and treatment needed to rid it. They include:
- Tender or swollen gums
- Gum tissues that turn red
- Gums that are tender to the touch
- Gums that bleed easily
- Spitting out blood when brushing or flossing your teeth
- Frequent bad breath
- Pus pockets that form between teeth and gums
- Teeth that loosens or shift
- Painful chewing
- Gums that pull away from your teeth (recede), making your teeth look longer than normal
These are all warning signs that bacteria overload is occurring in your mouth. It is a disease, and will only worsen without treatment.
If you suspect you have any stage of gum disease, call 828-274-9440 to schedule a thorough periodontal examination.