My Blog

Posts for: August, 2011

By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
August 21, 2011
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   nutrition   sugar  

You probably know that tooth decay results when the bacteria in your mouth release acids after consuming sugars. After you eat sugars, particularly the type of sugar known as sucrose, increased acid in your mouth begins to dissolve the enamel and dentin in your teeth, and you end up with cavities.

What are the Types of Sugars?
Modern diets include several types of sugars. Most of these are fermented by oral bacteria, producing acids that are harmful to teeth.

  • Sucrose (commonly known as sugar)
  • Glucose (released from starch consumption)
  • Lactose (milk sugar) — Less acid is produced from this type of sugar
  • Fructose (found naturally in fruit and also added to many processed foods)
  • Maltose

Recommended intake of “free sugars” is no more than 10 teaspoons per day. Note that a can of soda contains over 6 teaspoons! Soft drinks are the largest source of sugar consumption in the U.S. In 2003, for example, Americans drank an average of 52 gallons of soft drinks. Average per capita consumption of all sugars in the U.S. was 141.5 pounds (64.3 kg) one of the highest levels in the world.

Sugar substitute xylitol (which is chemically similar to sugar but does not cause decay) can be part of a preventive program to reduce or control tooth decay. Chewing gum sweetened with xylitol stimulates saliva flow and helps protect against decay.

Sugars Released from Starches
Starches are foods like rice, potatoes, or bread. When you eat refined starches, such as white bread and rice, enzymes in your saliva release glucose. However, these foods have a lower potential to produce decay than foods with added sugars. When sugars are added to starchy foods, as in baked products and breakfast cereals, the potential for decay increases.

Less refined starches such as whole grains require more chewing and stimulate secretion of saliva, which protects from harmful acids.

The Case for Fruit
Fresh fruit has not been shown to produce cavities, so it makes sense to eat them instead of sugary desserts and snacks. Dried fruit is more of a problem because the drying process releases free sugars.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about diet and oral health. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Nutrition & Oral Health.”


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
August 14, 2011
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral cancer   oral health  

Oral cancer is on the rise in the United States, yet few people are familiar with the disease and its risk factors. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) estimates that 35,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease each year. The good news is that prevention and early detection can greatly reduce your risk of developing oral cancer.

Risk Factors for Oral Cancer Include:

  • Tobacco: Smoking and using chewing tobacco have been shown to increase the risk of developing oral cancer.
  • HPV virus: The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the same virus linked to cervical cancer and genital warts. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF), many young people and women are being diagnosed with oral cancer as a result of exposure to the HPV virus.
  • Age: Although it occurs more frequently in people over the age of 40, the incidence is increasing in younger people.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Oral cancer is six times more common in those who drink alcohol excessively.
  • Diet: People who consume lots of red and processed meat and fried foods are at greater risk.

Symptoms: Alert our office if you notice a change in your mouth such as a sore that doesn't heal or bleeds easily; a lump, thickening, crust or erosion; pain or tenderness; or a change in the way your teeth are positioned. Our office can administer an easy, painless test that detects abnormal cells.

Other symptoms may include unexplained bleeding or numbness in the mouth, difficulty chewing, swallowing or speaking, hoarseness, chronic sore throat or changes in your voice.

Importance of Dental Screenings: In its early stages, oral cancer can often go unnoticed, but visiting our office regularly can ensure that any cancerous cells are detected and treated early. Our office will check your tongue and the area under your tongue, as well as your lips and palate and the back of your mouth.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions that you may have regarding oral cancer. Read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer: This Article May Save Your Life.”


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
August 07, 2011
Category: Oral Health
Tags: toothache   tooth pain  

When it comes to tooth pain, it is important to identify two things: what is causing your pain and what can be done about it. In some instances you can handle it yourself at home; however, for others, you should contact us so that we can diagnose and treat the problem. See how much you really know about tooth pain by taking our true/false test.

  1. It is perfectly normal to experience tooth sensitivity to hot and cold foods for a few days after dental treatment.
    True or False
  2. If you experience sharp pain when biting down on foods, you should hold off on contacting us to see if the pain gets better on it own.
    True or False
  3. Tooth pain is caused by a reaction of nerves inside the tooth's enamel with the severity of the pain dependant upon the type and degree of the stimulus.
    True or False
  4. Generally speaking, pain is a protective response that ranges from minor to severe as a way of informing the body that something is wrong.
    True or False
  5. If a tooth's root surface is sensitive, you should use a firm toothbrush to ensure that you are keeping the area clean by thoroughly removing dental bacterial plaque.
    True or False
  6. Lingering pain after eating hot or cold foods and liquids probably means that the pulp within your tooth is probably damaged or inflamed as a result of deep tooth decay or injury from a physical trauma.
    True or False
  7. Regarding tooth sensitivity, you should only contact us if the pain persists for several months because this is not likely to be anything serious.
    True or False
  8. If a tooth's pulp becomes damaged or dies, you will need a root canal.
    True or False
  9. With tooth pain, knowing how long to wait before you contact us can save physical, financial and emotional stress.
    True or False
  10. People often confuse tooth and sinus pain because they both can feel the same — a dull ache with pressure in the upper teeth and sinus area on one or both sides of the face.
    True or False

Answers: 1) True. 2) False. You should contact us asap for an examination before the pain worsens. 3) False. The nerves are located in the tooth's pulp chamber. 4) True. 5) False. Use a soft bristled toothbrush not a firm one. 6) True. 7) False. While tooth sensitivity generally does not signal a serious issue, if it persist for days or worsens, contact us. 8) True. 9) False. Early interception is best. 10) True.

To learn more, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Pain? Don't Wait!” Or contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions.