My Blog

Posts for: October, 2011

By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
October 30, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures

Thanks to technological advances, today there are more than 40 types of traditional or standard implants. A traditional dental implant actually replaces the root of a tooth, upon which a crown is built — the part you see in the mouth. There are 2 others types that are quite similar to standard implants. Mini implants are most like traditional implants except they are smaller in diameter. Micro-mini implants are an even smaller variation with an even narrower, more screw-like appearance. Micro-mini implants are also designed to be used on a temporary basis, thus can easily be removed. Together all of these types of implants provide us with a wide variety of options for permanently replacing missing teeth.

The following list details the types of implant restorations:

  • Single tooth replacements: As the name suggests, these implants are used to replace single teeth.
  • Multiple tooth replacements: Implants can be used to replace multiple teeth in a variety of ways. This includes acting as bridge supports to permanently replace missing teeth.
  • Combinations of fixed and removable bridgework: Dental implants can be used to support permanently fixed in teeth, bridgework or removable bridges or dentures. Their biggest advantage over dentures alone is that they stabilize the dentures and preserve the jawbone to which they attach, thus preventing the jawbone from melting away under the pressure of dentures.
  • Over-dentures: These restorations are now considered the new gold standard. In this application two or more standard implants (or multiple mini-implants) are used to attach and stabilize full dentures. Over-dentures are especially useful for tooth replacement in the lower jaw, where denture stability is often problematic.
  • Temporary Anchorage Devices (TADS): These special implants are a tool that orthodontists can use to obtain a stable, non-movable anchor for moving teeth more quickly and easily. They are small, easy to place and easy to remove once their job is done.
  • Temporary bridgework: In this case, mini-implants are used to support temporary bridgework. They are placed between permanent implants and later removed when the permanent implants have healed and teeth are permanently placed on them. Mini-implants ensure that a person is never without teeth during the process of teeth replacement.

To learn more on this topic, read the Dear Doctor article, “Dental Implants, Your Third Set Of Teeth.” Or if you prefer, you can contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
October 23, 2011
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health  

Your car comes with a maintenance manual that tells you when to get an oil change, rotate the tires, and perform other necessary tasks. By following the manual's directions you can keep your car running in good condition for many years. Too bad a manual doesn't come with your teeth and gums!

Such a manual would concentrate on a few basic tasks we call oral hygiene and teeth cleanings. Both tasks are mainly dedicated to removing dental plaque or biofilm from the surfaces of your teeth and the surrounding gums. Plaque is now referred to as a biofilm, a film composed of bacteria, that naturally forms in your mouth. Studies have shown that dental plaque causes periodontal disease (gum disease) and dental caries (tooth decay).

Tips for Daily Removal of Dental Plaque
The way you hold your toothbrush is crucial to your ability to remove plaque effectively. We recommend that you hold it in your fingertips as you would a pen or pencil. Use small motions and pressure. Brushing too hard can damage gum tissues. Use a soft bristled brush, hold it at about a 45 degree angle to the gum line and then use a gentle scrubbing motion. Studies have shown some electric toothbrushes to be more efficient at plaque removal than hand-held brushes; but in general how you use the brush is more important than what kind of brush it is.

To remove plaque deposits from the hard-to-reach areas between your teeth, floss at least once a day. Wrap the floss around each tooth surface and gently move it up and down for a few strokes, cleaning the sides of your teeth where they face each other.

You can use an antibacterial mouthrinse to get help reduce the bacterial plaque or biofilm that you missed in brushing and flossing.

The best way to make sure you are brushing correctly is to have a dental professional demonstrate for you. We would be happy to demonstrate the correct techniques in your own mouth so that you can see how it feels, and you can copy the methods we use.

Professional Maintenance Schedule
Your car needs to go into the shop from time to time for professional maintenance. Your teeth also need a regular schedule of maintenance from a professional dentist or hygienist. Over time, plaque that you do not manage to clean off your teeth accumulates and forms hard deposits called calculus or tartar. If left on your teeth these deposits cause inflammation of your gum tissues and can lead to infection, abscesses, and even tooth loss. During a professional cleaning a technique called scaling removes these substances. For more advanced forms of gum disease, root planing is used to remove deposits of calculus below the gum line.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about oral hygiene. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Hygiene Behavior.”


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
October 16, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures

While the first recorded attempts at dental implant were recorded around 600 AD during the Mayan civilization, today they have become a normal and integral tool that we use to replace teeth and restore full functionality to dental and oral health. In fact, many dentists now refer to dental implants as a person's third set of teeth, and they are the optimal choice for permanently replacing missing adult (permanent) teeth.

To help you visualize, think of your teeth as having two main parts: the crown or the part that can be seen above the gum tissues and the root, the portion that is suspended in the bone by the periodontal (gum) ligament that keeps the tooth in place. A dental implant is actually a root replacement, but unlike a tooth's root, it is anchored in the jawbone. However, an interesting fact is that the dental implants being used today actually fuse with or integrate in to the bone to become one. This process is called “osseo-integration.”

For the most part, dental implants are made from commercial-grade, pure titanium. This metal is “osteo-philic” or literally a bone loving metal that has been used for many years by both the medical and dental professions because it is not rejected by the body. For these reasons, these dental implants are very successful and can last for a lifetime.

Implant placement is a surgical process that requires prior planning involving collaborative efforts between the implant surgeon, dentist, and a laboratory technician. Periodontists, oral surgeons, or general dentists with advanced training in implantology and surgery normally “place” them. To learn more about dental implants and the entire process, read, “Dental Implants, Your Third Set Of Teeth.” Or if you prefer, you can contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
October 09, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures

When you begin a smile makeover in our office, you are embarking on an exciting partnership with my laboratory technician and me. You should be full of excitement and anticipation — if you have been dissatisfied with your current smile, and you have great expectations for the results of this project. You will really like what you see in your mirror.

Being completely satisfied with your new look depends upon successful communication — between you and me and also between my dental lab technician and me. As you might expect, your perceptions of how your teeth appear are different from a dentist's perceptions. My education leads me to think of factors that untrained individuals probably won't consider, such as crown (tooth) length, midlines (how the teeth line up with other facial features) and the distance from gum to lip.

It is helpful to be able to describe what you like and don't like about your current smile, and what changes you would like to see. Using visual aids is a good idea. Bring photos and magazine illustrations to show what you have in mind. (Remember that we cannot make you look exactly like a celebrity or anyone else. The pictures are guidelines.)

Things to think about:

  • The color, size, shape, alignment and spacing of your teeth.
  • How much of your teeth and gum tissues show when your lips are relaxed and when you smile.
  • Tooth color: bright “Hollywood” white or more natural looking off-white.

Your makeover is more likely to meet your expectations if you get an advanced view of the results. Computer imaging is one way to do this. Another is for us to make a mock-up of the proposed dental work in tooth-colored wax on models of your mouth.

Finally, a “Provisional Restoration” can be used as a test to make sure that what I envision is also what you, the patient, want to see. A provisional restoration, made from temporary materials, gives you a chance to test out the changes and make sure they work for you — that they not only look good, but they are also functional in terms of biting, chewing, speech, and gum health.

If the provisional restoration works, it is used as a blueprint to make durable and long lasting porcelains in the same design. We will take impressions of the provisional restoration and communicate the relevant information to a dental laboratory technician, who will make the final porcelain tooth replicas for your new smile.

Competent communication and a provisional restoration will put you on track to meet your expectations and obtain the most aesthetic and functional result in your Smile Makeover.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about Smile Makeovers. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Great Expectations — Perceptions in Smile Design.”


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
October 02, 2011
Category: Oral Health

We are often asked about the role the tongue plays with bad breath or halitosis, as it is known medically. The truth is that everyone will experience it at some point in life; however, there can be a number of reasons for its cause. Some of these include:

  • Consuming odorous foods and/or drinks such as coffee, onions and garlic. This is usually just a temporary condition that can be resolved by brushing and flossing your teeth and using mouthwash. Also consider chewing gum containing xylitol, a sugar-free gum that both promotes saliva flow and reduces tooth decay.
  • Diabetes, a disease caused by a faulty metabolism of sugar, as well as diseases of the liver and kidneys can also cause bad breath. Be sure to always let all your health care professionals know if you have any unusual symptoms or you been diagnosed with any of these or other illnesses.
  • Poor oral hygiene, which causes gingivitis (gum disease), is one of the most common reasons for bad breath. And if your gum disease is progressive, you could eventually lose your teeth.
  • If you use tobacco and regularly drink large amounts of alcohol, you are dramatically increasing the likelihood of having halitosis.
  • And lastly, if you do not drink enough water to maintain proper hydration, you can develop bad breath.

There are more than 600 types of bacteria found in the average mouth, many of which can cause bad breath. And the back of the tongue is where these bacteria typically produce Volatile Sulfur Compounds (VSC), the culprits responsible for the worst odors attributed to halitosis.

As for cleaning your tongue, there are two common methods. You can use your toothbrush to brush your tongue, or you can use a tongue-scraper. The latter can generally be purchased at a drug or discount store. The keys to remember are that a clean, healthy tongue should be pink in color and not have a yellow or brownish coating.