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Posts for: December, 2011

By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
December 25, 2011
Category: Oral Health
WhatDentalDeviceDoesTVHostVannaWhiteKeeponherNightstand

Here's an interesting tidbit of information on Wheel of Fortune host Vanna White: like many people, she grinds her teeth at night. In a detailed interview with Dear Doctor magazine, Vanna explained how she had to replace a filling in a back tooth several times because of her grinding habit. Eventually, she had her dentist make her a nightguard to protect her famous smile.

“I really try to sleep with it every night,” Vanna told the magazine. “I try to keep it on my nightstand so when I go to bed, I remember to put it in. Or I will put it by my toothbrush so I can put it in after brushing my teeth at night.”

The habit of teeth grinding or clenching is often associated with stress and/or sleep deprivation. It is referred to as “parafunctional” (“para” – outside, “function” – normal), meaning it can generate biting forces well outside the normal range — perhaps 10 times normal. This excessive force can affect many areas of the oral system. Teeth may become worn, chipped or loose; jaw joints or muscles can go into spasm; and some grinders (or “bruxers” as they are also called) may even experience discomfort of the head, ears, neck or back. Many times, a person with a grinding habit does not become aware of it until it is pointed out by a sleep partner or dental professional.

Like Vanna White's dentist, we often recommend a nightguard to those with nocturnal bruxing habits. It is made of a very thin, wear-resistant plastic that fits over the biting surfaces of the upper teeth only. The lower teeth are then free to glide or skate over the guard, which prevents them from biting into the upper teeth. Some people wear their guards during the day if they tend to clench their teeth when under stress.

If you are concerned about teeth grinding or interested in learning more about nightguards, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. If you would like to read Dear Doctor's entire interview with Vanna White, please see “Vanna White.” Dear Doctor also has more on “Stress & Tooth Habits.”


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
December 18, 2011
Category: Oral Health
TheSecretsBehindVannaWhitesSmile

Describing Vanna White, co-host of the hit television game show Wheel of Fortune as friendly is an understatement. Yes, a good portion of the credit goes to her bubbly personality; however, you can't look at her without noticing her world-famous smile.

During an interview with Dear Doctor magazine, Vanna shared some of the secrets to her trademark smile. Secrets that she is instilling in her children.

“I floss every day and I brush my teeth at least twice a day — morning and night — and sometimes after lunch.” She added, “I think that flossing is the most important thing. I believe that dental floss helps a lot, as it keeps your gums strong and looking younger.” And when asked about how often she has her teeth professionally cleaned she replied, “...every four to five months because I get a lot of plaque buildup.”

A typical dental hygiene visit is one that involves prophylaxis, a dental (and insurance) term for scaling and or polishing procedures to remove plaque and calculus (tartar) from the crown or portion of the tooth that you can see. Scaling is a procedure where we use special hand-held instruments and/or ultrasonic scalers to remove plaque, bacteria and tartar that can coat your teeth causing them to feel rough or fuzzy. To polish your teeth, we use a rubber polishing cup, prophy paste and a motorized instrument that removes bacterial plaque and surface stains. This is usually the last portion of a routine cleaning because it leaves your teeth feeling smooth and shiny.

However, if you have been seeing blood when you brush your teeth or while flossing, you have the telltale signs of periodontal (gum) disease. During your cleaning appointment, we will clean below the gum line to treat and manage your periodontal disease (an infection of the gum and jaw bones). We may also discover that additional, deep-cleaning treatments (such as root planing) may be needed to treat and manage your periodontal disease.

To learn more about this topic, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Polishing.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination and cleaning. And if you want to read the entire feature article on Vanna White, continue reading “Vanna White.”


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
December 11, 2011
Category: Oral Health
WhatYouShouldKnowAboutSensitiveTeeth

It is not uncommon to have one or more teeth that are particularly sensitive to heat, cold, or pressure. If you have such a tooth, you probably want to know what caused it and what you can do about it. Here are some frequently asked questions, and their answers.

What causes teeth to become sensitive?
The most common cause of sensitivity is exposure of the tooth's dentin, a layer of the tooth's structure that is just below the outer protective layer (the enamel).

The dentin is sensitive but the enamel layer is not. Why?
The enamel is composed of minerals that are hard and protective. It is not living tissue and has no nerve supply. The dentin layer underneath is bone-like living tissue that does contain nerve fibers. It is protected by enamel above the gum line and by gum tissue in the area of the tooth's root, below the gum line. If the tooth's protective covering is reduced, the nerve fibers in that section of the dentin are exposed to changes in temperature and pressure, which they conduct to the inner pulp layer (nerve) of the tooth. The sensations that reach the tooth's interior pulp layer cause pain.

What causes exposure of the dentin layer in teeth?
Often the dentin is exposed by receding gums, causing areas of the tooth that are normally below the gum surface to be uncovered.

What makes gums recede?
One cause of receding gums is excessive, rough brushing techniques. This is particularly common in individuals who have a family history of thin gum tissues. Removing the film of bacteria called plaque requires only gentle action with a soft brush. This is one reason that we stress the value of learning proper and effective brushing techniques. Gum recession becomes worse after the uncovered dentin of the tooth's root is exposed to erosion from sweet and acidic foods and beverages, such as fruit juices.

Doesn't tooth sensitivity indicate decay?
Decay can also cause tooth sensitivity. As decay destroys a tooth's structure, it eventually invades the inner pulp of the tooth, causing greater and greater pain.

How can you prevent or reduce tooth sensitivity?
As we mentioned above, learn proper brushing techniques; we would be happy to demonstrate them. Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride, which increases the strength of the tooth's protective coating. In more serious cases, we can apply a fluoride varnish or a filling material as a barrier to cover sensitive areas. If you experience long-term tooth sensitivity, make an appointment for an assessment and diagnosis so that we can determine the cause and proper treatment.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about sensitive teeth. You can also read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sensitive Teeth.”


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
December 04, 2011
Category: Oral Health
Tags: celebrity smiles  
LearnAboutLivingtheLifeYouLovewithDesignerNateBerkus

Design expert and television celebrity Nate Berkus has definite ideas about how to live. In a recent interview, he explained his ideas on design. He also talked about health, and how he keeps his teeth and mouth healthy.

From an initial design makeover that he did eight years ago on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Berkus has gone on to do 127 such makeovers. He was such a success that he now hosts his own daily talk show. He has also developed a line of home products for the Home Shopping Network and has his own design firm, Nate Berkus Associates. His clients include well-known restaurants and hotels as well as private homes. He has written articles for O Magazine and authored a book on the subject of transforming your home into a place you love.

“I realized many years ago that I wasn't going on Oprah to pick sofa colors and paint chips. I was there to lift people up through the way they live,” he says. His secret to design success is to “go with what you love.” He says, “Don't worry about mixing metals, eras or styles. If you love each item, you'll find a way to make it work.”

His common sense practical attitude continues when it comes to dental health. Berkus is blessed with a healthy mouth and teeth. He doesn't feel anxious when visiting the dentist because he usually has a good report. He has not needed orthodontics or cosmetic dentistry. He thanks his childhood dentist for giving him fluoride treatments and sealants, and for teaching him healthy dental hygiene habits.

Berkus brushes his teeth twice or even three times a day, with a manual or electric toothbrush — depending on whether he is at home or traveling. He also follows his dentist's advice about flossing: “Floss the ones you want to keep!” He says that he tried tooth whitening once, but he felt that the whiteness was “too white.” Now he simply works to maintain his natural tooth color and smile.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about maintaining healthy teeth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Nate Berkus, Helping Others Love the Way They Live.”