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.
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.
Think “E-Cigs” Are A Safe Alternative? Read On…
Posted on Jan 16, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Smokeless cigarettes, or “e-cigs,” first appeared on the market in 2004. Since then, their popularity has exploded.
Dr. William Claiborne,
Unlike tobacco cigarettes, where nicotine is inhaled through smoke, e-cigarettes are electronic devices that often mimic the shape of a small cigarette. They are designed to heat a liquid and produce an aerosol, or mix of small particles in the air. The inhalation process is known as vaping.
Because these battery-operated devices deliver nicotine without some of the toxic chemicals in tobacco cigarettes, they are deemed as safer alternatives. Although both cigarettes and e-cigs are vehicles that deliver addictive nicotine, vaping wins when it comes to being the lesser of the two evils.
However, the vapor from e-cigarettes does contain toxic compounds, just at much lower levels than cigarette smoke. This is good news for people who are quitting smoking and vaping instead.
That doesn’t mean e-cigs are SAFE, however. They’re just safer than traditional cigarettes.
A particular concern is the appeal, and hence rapid growth, among teen users.
E-cig vapor, once inhaled, is absorbed by the body. For teens, it may be particularly harmful to developing brains and bodies. The vapor contains a chemical mix of nicotine, formaldehyde and other chemicals. A recent study that examined urine and saliva specimens from teen participants showed e-cig users had elevated levels of harmful compounds such as acrylonitrile, acrolein, propylene oxide, and crotonaldehyde.
For those who both smoked cigarettes and vaped, they had the highest levels of toxins and carcinogens (when compared to e-cig only users and non-smokers). (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/141/4/e20173557)
Flavorings such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to lung disease, are also a concern. (https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/Quick-Facts-on-the-Risks-of-E-cigarettes-for-Kids-Teens-and-Young-Adults.html)
And nicotine is nothing to take lightly as far as adolescent development goes. The Centers For Disease Control & Prevention warns that nicotine can harm the developing adolescent brain, which continues to develop until about age 25. Adolescence nicotine use can also harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control.
Using nicotine in adolescence may also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs.
With limited scientific evidence to develop public health policies, researchers are urging priority status be given to studying the effects of e-cigs aerosol mixtures on cells, tissues and the oral cavity (interior of the mouth). The problem has become such a concern that the National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research is studying the biological and physiological effects of their chemical components.
Rather than focusing on the effects of nicotine (those findings are well-known), this will examine how the high concentrations of aerosol mixes affect oral tissues. They will also monitor the tissues in the mouth, airway structures and lungs that absorb the vaporized chemicals in e-cigs. Hopefully, the findings will show the true effects of long-term exposure to these chemical mixtures.
Your smile is particularly vulnerable to e-cigs, just as it is to traditional cigarettes. Since oral tissues are moist by nature, the water vapor inhaled into the mouth is absorbed readily by gum tissues. Nicotine, consumed by any method, is known to have a drying effect on oral tissues. This decreases saliva that helps wash food particles and bacteria from the mouth.
Without sufficient saliva, bacteria rapidly reproduce, increasing the potential for tooth decay and gum disease. A dry mouth also leaves you fighting bad breath on a frequent basis.
Having a dry mouth can lead to a higher risk of periodontal (gum) disease. Initially, the condition causes the gums to become swollen, tender, red, and bleed easily when brushing. If not treated promptly, this early-stage of gum disease (known as gingivitis) can progress to periodontal disease.
In addition to attacking gum tissues and the bone that support teeth, gum disease can weaken gum tissues and allow entry of infectious bacteria into the bloodstream. Once bloodborne, the bacteria can cause inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. Research has shown it can increase one’s risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, preterm births, impotency, and some cancers.
Additionally, nicotine from any source has been shown to constrict blood vessels in the mouth so much that it compromises the ability of oral tissues to heal. This is why we caution patients to stop (or greatly decrease) smoking after an extraction or dental implant placement.
Don’t allow misconceptions of e-cigs being “a safe alternative to smoking” to put the health of your smile at risk. Smoking, in any form, places your oral – and overall – health at a disadvantage. If you do smoke, be especially committed to your regular check-ups and cleanings so we can help you maintain a healthy mouth.
If you’ve noticed signs of gum disease, please know this will not go away on its own. Gum disease will progress and can lead to tooth loss when not treated sufficiently. A periodontist is a specialist and your wisest choice in overcoming all levels of gum disease, and getting your smile back on track! Call 828-274-9440 for an examination appointment in our Asheville periodontal office.