Cut Dental Costs With Simple Steps
Posted on Dec 15, 2021 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
In order to avoid costly repairs on our vehicles, we rotate our tires, have the oil changed periodically, and make sure certain fluids are at sufficient levels. This is why our annual inspections are so important; risks can be pointed out to keep us safely on the road.
The same is true with our family’s health. We stay proactive by eating healthy, staying active and having regular check-ups along with periodic screenings.
It simply makes sense to be committed to preventing problems or catch any that do arise at early stages. Research has shown that your oral health deserves the same commitment you give to maintaining a healthy body.
Studies have found a correlation between the bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease and serious problems elsewhere in the body. These include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, impotency and more.
Another reason to maintain a healthy smile is to save money. By devoting about 5 minutes per day to your oral hygiene routine, coupled with having dental exams and cleanings every six months, you can prevent many problems from occurring in the first place. The reward is a savings in time and expense that may be needed for repairs – repairs that may have been prevented from occurring in the first place.
Your twice-a-year dental check-ups are opportunities to remove tartar. Tartar is a cement-hard mass of oral bacteria that forms when plaque (the sticky film that coats teeth and gums) is not removed thoroughly attaches to teeth and can no longer be brushed or flossed away.
Both plaque and the hardened mass of tartar are the result of accumulated bacteria. Oral bacteria continually reproduce in the mouth, which provides a warm, dark and moist environment. As they thrive and reproduce, they attack gum tissues.
As they amass to levels beyond what the immune system, oral bacteria can lead to gingivitis (an early stage of gum disease). Unresolved, gingivitis can develop into periodontal disease, an infection. Eventually, periodontitis develops, which is an advanced level of gum disease. At this level, teeth often loosen and must be removed.
While gingivitis causes tender gums to bleed when brushing, periodontal disease symptoms are more severe, including persistent bad breath, sore gums that bleed easily, gums that darken in color, receded gums, and pus pockets that form between teeth.
As devastating as adult tooth loss can be, the potent bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream through tears in disease gum tissues. Research has shown the infectious bacteria of gum disease can activate or worsen the development of certain pathogens.
Obviously, oral bacteria is highly potent. However, it’s easy to control with twice daily brushing and daily flossing combined with regular dental checkups. For added protection, limit sugary snacks and either swish after eating or chew sugarless gum when brushing is inconvenient. Not only will you help to reduce your risk for cavities and gum problems, you’ll be able to enjoy fresher breath and smiling confidence.
It is also important to respond early to signs and symptoms of gum disease. As mentioned above, things like frequent bad breath or seeing blood in the sink when brushing are warning signs that something is wrong.
A periodontist is a dentist who has specialized skills in the diagnosis and treatment of all levels of periodontal disease. He or she can also recontour the shape of gums and place dental implants for optimal results.
If you have not seen a dentist on a regular basis, you may be experiencing symptoms that indicate gum disease. As you would respond to a warning sign with your overall health, so should you with your oral health.
Begin with a thorough examination to determine what your needs are and the best way to achieve and maintain good oral health. You’ll be supporting your overall health in addition to having a confident smile.
If dental fear has prevented you from having regular dental care, ask about sedation options. We offer both oral sedation and IV sedation (twilight sleep). Both are safely administered and you are closely monitoring throughout treatment.
You may wish to begin with a consultation. To schedule, call 828-274-9440.
Dental Fear Can Lead To Gum Disease, Tooth Loss
Posted on Nov 23, 2021 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Fear is a natural reaction to things that may harm us; it’s a safety mechanism activated by the brain. Take snakes, for instance. Even harmless snakes tend to provoke an initial reaction that warns of impending danger.
Some fears are learned, however. Some people are afraid of dogs, usually stemming from a frightful encounter as children. The incident triggers something in the brain that reminds the individual, even into adulthood, that dogs are to be feared.
When it comes to the fear of dentistry, it often exists because of a traumatic incident in the patient’s past. Or, in some cases, it exists for unknown reasons. Too, certain smells, sounds or sights can trigger the “panicky” reaction some people have to dental visits.
As a periodontist in Asheville, I have a firsthand view of just what dental fear can do to oral health. Avoiding regular dental care is a sure recipe for cavities, periodontal (gum) disease, and eventual tooth loss.
Typically, adults who avoid dental visits feel they are doing an adequate job maintaining their oral wellness at home. In some minds, “I brush twice a day,” can be the justification to bypass recommended 6-month dental check-ups and cleanings.
Yet, even the best of at-home dental hygiene can be insufficient to the buildup of tartar.
Tartar is the hardened form of plaque, which is a sticky film of bacteria that accumulates in the mouth. In the form of tartar, this cement-hard mass of bacteria cannot be brushed or flossed away. It can only be removed by a dentist or hygienist using special tools.
While plaque can cause bad breath and a “furry” feeling mouth, tartar eats away at tender gum tissues and bores into tooth enamel. As it grows, it works its way below the gum line, creating inflammation in the gum tissues.
Early symptoms of gum disease, known as gingivitis, are tender or swollen gums. You may see blood in the sink when brushing teeth. Breath odor may be bad on a regular basis.
At this point, proper measures may be able to reverse the progression of these rapidly-reproducing bacteria. This requires thorough brushing (twice a day, at the very least), daily flossing, drinking lots of plain water, and using an oral rinse to control bacteria levels.
However, if tartar exists, it’s not going to go away. It will continue to amass and attack the gums and work its way into the tissues below. When the bacteria reach an uncontrollable level, they become infectious.
Think of gum disease bacteria as you would water in a pan on the stove. The heat will eventually cause bubbles to form on the bottom of the pan. This can be likened to gingivitis.
However, as the water heats more, bubbles start to move to the surface. This can symbolize the development of gum disease. The symptoms of gum disease include gums that turn red and bleed easily and persistent bad breath.
When advanced stage periodontal disease develops (periodontitis), imagine the water at full boil. Unfortunately, once aboil, the roil continues even after you remove the pan from the heat. This is known as systemic inflammation.
Gum disease is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss. Yet, the bacteria that destroy gums and the structures that support natural teeth don’t remain confined to the mouth. Through tears in diseased gum tissues, these infectious bacteria can enter the bloodstream.
Research has correlated oral bacteria to a long list of serious health problems. Some can be activated by the bacteria of periodontitis, some are worsened. These include heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, diabetes, preterm babies, erectile dysfunction (ED), some cancers (including pancreatic), and more.
Obviously, these bacteria are potent and a threat to overall health. For those who avoid dental care due to anxiety or fear, knowing all this is not necessarily going to change their resistance. We understand that it’s still difficult to overcome the challenges even knowing there are risks.
There are options, however, for even high fear dental patients.
In our office, we offer I.V. sedation (“twilight sleep”) as well as oral sedation. Oral sedation is in pill form and creates a totally relaxed feeling. It enables patients to recover quickly and offers an amnesiac effect.
I.V. sedation is a deeper level of sedative. This places patients in a sleep state and erases most or all memory of the procedure after. With both sedations, however, we apply numbing medications to the area being treated to create optimal comfort for patients. We want patients to be in total comfort throughout their treatment, regardless of the addition of sedation.
We also have a reputation for treating our patients with respect and a gentle touch. We are just as committed to comfort for patients who do not want to be sedated as we are for those who are. Our goal is to help each person achieve a healthy, confident smile.
One of the most satisfying parts of my specialty is helping a once-fearful patient achieve a healthy, confident smile and see dental care as a welcomed part of their health care commitment.
If you are ready to get past your dental fears so you can have the smile you desire, begin by calling our Asheville periodontal office at: 828-274-9440 and speaking with our friendly staff. You can begin with a consultation, if desired.
What’s Keeping You From The Dentist’s Office?
Posted on Oct 19, 2021 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
As an Periodontist in Asheville NC, I’ve treated many patients who, to no surprise, developed periodontal (gum) disease because of NOT going to a dentist on a regular basis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), nearly 65 percent of adults aged 18 and over had at least one dental visit in the past year (based on 2019).
Unfortunately, that leaves 35 percent of adults who did not.
The reason it is recommended to see a dentist for exams and cleanings TWICE A YEAR is because tartar, which is hardened plaque, can cause cavities and gum disease. One plaque hardens into tartar, it can no longer be brushed or flossed away. It must be removed by a dentist or hygienist using special tools.
Tartar is actually a mass of oral bacteria, which has attached itself to the base of (or in-between) teeth. Tartar (also referred to as calculus), is a colony of bacteria that thrive on oral tissues. Bacteria are living organisms and reproduce rapidly. And, the more there are, the more rapidly they amass.
So, what are the common excuses for avoiding regular dental care? See if you’ve been guilty of one or more:
COST – Some individuals feel dental cleanings and exams are expensive. Actually, there is a great deal of time and training that goes into your individualized care. In addition to the measures of sterilization and instruments, hygienists and dentists are highly-trained, educated, and must stay board certified. As for the investment, these visits are what help you avoid the need for a filling, gum disease, potential damage to teeth due to bite misalignment, and even catch oral cancer at early stages. If dental insurance is not possible, ask if payment plans are available. Many dental offices offer these, most of which are interest-free with no down payment required.
DENTAL FEAR – If fear or anxiety keeps you away from a dental chair, you are not alone. It is estimated that over 70 percent of American adults have some level of this. Sometimes the fear exists because of a traumatic experience in the past or feeling helpless in the chair. Some people react to certain smells and sounds. A few have no idea what prompted their fear, but know it is beyond their control. For these, we advise seeking dental care in a modernized office. Today’s advanced technology has greatly enhanced the level of comfort during care as well as reduced treatment time. Too, offices such as our Asheville periodontal dental office offer oral sedation as well as IV sedation (twilight sleep). These are administered by highly-skilled professionals who oversee the patient using advanced safety monitoring equipment. Ask for a consultation and tour before choosing the office that is reassuring to your unique needs.
DREAD OF BEING LECTURED – If it’s been years since you’ve seen a dentist, you may be expecting a lecture from the dentist or hygienist (or both!). My staff and I believe that is a sure way to deter someone from cultivating a positive attitude towards their dental relationship. We all want to feel respected and having a caregiver talk “down” to you is unfair, especially because no one knows the story behind your delay or avoidance. If you feel that’s going to be a problem, say so. Be upfront with “a lecture is not going to help me.” If you feel it’s a recurring problem, ask to have your records transferred to an office where you are treated more appropriately.
FEAR OF EMBARRASSMENT – Some adults feel awkward having their denture or partial removed at the dentist’s office. Some people fear they’ll gag during care, which can trigger coughing and even throwing up. Some feel their mouths are so “bombed out” that it’s embarrassing to have a dentist see how much damage has occurred. To reassure you, there is nothing we haven’t seen or experienced. Dentists have quite a lot thrown at us during dental school. As a specialist in periodontics, my additional training covered even more in-depth and complex damage or disease. DO NOT worry about your caregivers. They WANT you to rely on them to help you. Almost any dentist or specialist will tell you that our greatest joy comes from taking a patient from a “hopeless” mouth to a patient who has a healthy, confident smile!
TIME IN TREATMENT – Today’s advanced technology has greatly condensed the time needed to accurately diagnose and treatment plan almost any dental problem. Many treatments can be completed in just one or two visits. For those who have more extensive needs, dentists can sometimes combine several appointments into one long one. This is made much easier for the patient with the addition of oral sedation. Oral sedation creates a totally relaxed state so the patient can “doze” in and out of treatment. It has a quick recovery and sedated patients are carefully monitored for safety and comfort throughout treatment.
Regardless of WHY you’ve avoided the dentist, your smile is worth it! Having an appealing smile you feel joyful in sharing adds to your mood, enhances appearance and makes a positive impression to others.
If you’ve avoided dental care for years (or even decades), you may have signs or symptoms of periodontal disease. These include tender gums that may bleed when brushing, gums that recede from the base of some teeth, gums that turn red in color, and frequent bad breath. Gums are the foundation for teeth, so without healthy gums, your teeth will not be healthy, either.
Too, gum disease will only worsen without treatment. If you are a reader of my articles, you may have read the findings of research that correlates the bacteria of gum disease with serious health conditions. These include stroke, heart disease, preterm babies, some cancers, arthritis, diabetes, and erectile dysfunction.
Let us help you feel the positive aspects of achieving a healthy smile. Begin with a consultation by calling 828-274-9440.
Serious Disease Connections To Oral Health
Posted on Oct 12, 2021 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
As an Asheville periodontist, I have advanced skills in the diagnosis and treatment of all stages of periodontal (gum) disease. Over the years, I have closely followed the extensive amount of research that associates the health of the mouth with overall health. There are amazing connections between the bacteria of gum disease to severe (and even deadly) health problems far beyond the mouth.
Periodontal disease is an infection that destroys gum tissues and the structures that support teeth. As gum tissues are attacked and weakened, the bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream through tears in diseased tissues.
This infectious bacteria is capable of causing inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. Systemic inflammation is the now-known epicenter of a number of major health problems, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, impotency and more.
You may be interested to read about just some of the correlations between oral bacteria of gum disease and…
Dementia & Alzheimer’s disease: Gum disease occurs when infection of the oral tissues develops. It causes bleeding gums, putrid breath odor, loose teeth, and even tooth loss. Oral bacteria and the inflammatory molecules that develop can enter the bloodstream, making their way to the brain. Previous lab studies have suggested that this is a potential risk factor in the sequence of events that lead to dementia.
In data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), different age groups at baseline, with up to 26 years of follow-up, analyzed over 6,000 study participants. The researchers examined whether gum disease and infectious oral bacteria were linked to dementia and deaths.
Participants had received a dental exam for signs of gum disease as well as blood tests for antibodies against causative bacteria. The team analyzed antibodies against 19 oral bacteria for an association with the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, diagnosis of any kind of dementia, and death from Alzheimer’s. Of these 19, Porphyromonas gingivalis is the most common culprit of gum disease. In fact, a recent study suggests that plaques of beta-amyloid protein, a major hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, may be produced as a response to this infection.
Erectile Dysfunction: In the U.S., an estimated 18 percent of males have erectile dysfunction. Men over the age of 70 are more likely to have ED compared to 5 percent between ages 20 – 40.
Studies have shown an association between gum disease and pancreatic cancer. From analyzed data of five studies between 2009 – 2014, the studies covered 213,000 participants aged 20 to 80.
Each study found erectile dysfunction (ED) was more common among men being treated for chronic periodontitis, particularly for those younger than 40 and older than 59. After accounting for other health factors, erectile dysfunction was found to be 2.28 times more common for men who had advanced gum disease than for men without it.
Stroke: In one study of 265 stroke patients, researchers found that patients with gum disease had twice as many strokes due to thickening and hardening of brain arteries as patients without. Additionally, patients with gum disease were three times as likely to have a stroke involving blood vessels in the back of the brain, which controls vision, coordination and other functions.
In a separate study of over 1,100 patients who had not experienced a stroke, researchers noted that 10 percent had severely blocked brain arteries. They also found that patients with gum inflammation were twice as likely to have moderately severe narrowing of brain arteries.
Pre-Term Babies: The elevated hormone levels during pregnancy create a higher vulnerability to gum disease; the reason about half of pregnant females experience swollen, red and tender gums that bleed while brushing. Known as Pregnancy Gingivitis, the gums are more susceptible to inflammation, thus more sensitive to the bacteria of gum disease.
Studies have shown that gum disease increases the risk for preterm delivery (before 37 weeks) and low birth weight babies. Gum disease also increases the risk for poor obstetrical outcomes, late miscarriage and pre-eclampsia. For example, the preterm birth rate for women without periodontal disease is approximately 11 percent compared to nearly 29 percent for females with moderate to severe gum disease.
Through tears in gum tissues, oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream. Once this bacteria reaches placental membranes, it can trigger inflammation that can cause preeclampsia or labor.
Arthritis: For decades, it was perceived that RA (rheumatoid arthritis) patients had such a high risk of gum disease due to poor oral hygiene because of dexterity problems with using a toothbrush. However, more recent studies now show that gum disease is actually a risk factor for arthritis.
While genetic factors certainly contribute to greater RA susceptibility, the true source has been determined to be inflammatory reactions. This inflammation is triggered primarily by bacterial infections, with oral bacteria being a significant contributor to inflammatory arthritis.
They found that people with severe periodontal disease also had severe rheumatoid arthritis. Patients with the most plaque, bleeding and gum tissue breakdown had worse RA by all measures, including disease activity and inflammatory markers. Other studies have found that even with treatment, RA patients with periodontitis continue to have worse arthritis symptoms and are 50% less likely to be in remission.
The relationship between gum disease and arthritis isn’t seen only in adults. Kids with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) have inflammatory mouth bacteria not found in their healthy peers. Different types of bacteria seem to correspond to specific aspects of JIA. Some are associated with higher disease activity and others with a greater number of affected joints.
Pancreatic Cancer: Research reveals that the bacteria of gum disease may contribute to a higher risk of pancreatic cancer. Through a cancer prevention and screening study, the National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society studied oral samples. Their findings showed notably higher levels of two types of oral bacteria in study participants with pancreatic cancer. One bacteria was found to create a 50 percent increased risk for pancreatic cancer and a second bacteria led to a 59 percent greater likelihood.
The results indicated a significantly positive association between periodontal disease and the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Although I could go on and on citing studies and research findings, I think you get the picture. The need for good oral health is indisputable.
Signs and symptoms of gum disease are gums that bleed when brushing, frequent bad breath, tender gums that turn red in color, swollen gums, receded and sensitive gums. If you have any of these, please know that gum disease will only worsen without treatment. It is also the leading cause of adult tooth loss.
For an examination, or to begin with a consultation, call 828-274-9440.