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Posts for: April, 2012

By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
April 28, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: orthodontics  
StraightFactsAboutStraighteningTeethmdashTheScienceBehindOrthodontics

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a sub-specialty of dentistry devoted to the study of growth and development of the teeth and jaws and treatment of improper bites (malocclusions).

What causes improper bites?

Malocclusions result from irregularities in the positioning of teeth, disproportionate jaw relationships, or both.

Why have orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic treatment is carried out primarily to improve the alignment and function of your teeth and bite. It also results in improved oral health, easier maintenance, a better smile, and enhanced self-confidence and esteem.

What is the first step?

Schedule an appointment with our office for an orthodontic evaluation of your teeth and jaws and learn what options are best for you.

What do we need in order to plan your orthodontic treatment?

  • Molds (impressions) of your teeth to study your bite (study models).
  • “Articulated models” placing your study models in a machine that replicates jaw movement.
  • Specialized x-rays showing your teeth and how your jaws align.
  • Photographs of your smile and position of your teeth.
  • Computer imaging.

What are braces?

Orthodontic appliances, commonly known as braces, are small brackets that are placed on teeth, through which thin flexible wires are threaded. They are the parts that move the teeth.

How do they work?

The wires tend to straighten out to their undistorted forms moving the teeth with them. Since the tissues that attach the bone to the teeth are living, they are constantly changing and remodeling themselves. Harnessing these natural forces allows the movement of teeth. Light controlled forces acting through the wires cause new bone to be formed as the teeth move into new improved positions.

What are current options for orthodontic appliances?

  • Fixed appliances, traditionally known as braces, include brackets bonded to the teeth. These may be either metal or clear brackets, which are less visible but more susceptible to breakage.
  • Removable appliances, or clear aligners. These consist of a series of computer-generated clear plastic custom fitted trays that progressively move the teeth into better alignment.

Orthodontic treatment is an ingenious scientific discovery that has allowed the dental profession to precisely move teeth for better appearance as well as improved function. It harnesses the body's natural processes by which tissues normally remodel themselves to maintain a steady state, allowing your dental team to move your teeth into improved position for a lifetime of dental health and a great smile.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about orthodontics. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Magic of Orthodontics.”


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
April 20, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
MimickingLifeWithTooth-ColoredFillings

The goal of restorative dentistry is to return the teeth to full form (shape) and function. For years, a key tool for achieving this goal has been through the use of metal amalgams (silver looking dental fillings). However, this technique does have some disadvantages. One is the fact that they can involve removal of healthy tooth structure to retain them. Too much “undercutting” can undermine and weaken a tooth resulting in less resistance to biting forces possibly leading to fatigue fractures and cracked tooth syndrome. Another approach is call “biomimetic” which literally means mimicking life. This approach to dentistry is made possible through the structured use of tooth-like materials such as composite resins. Scientific studies and clinical experience have validated their use as both safe and predictable.

By mimicking life, we rely upon our delicate balance of artistry, experience and expertise to provide you with properly restored teeth that function and wear normally, while appearing indistinguishable from natural teeth. Dental composite are now the most commonly used materials for tooth-colored adhesive restorations and have properties similar to a natural tooth's enamel and dentin. They consist of resin which are plastic and fillers made of silica (a form of glass). The fillers give the composites wear resistance and translucency (see through properties). However, most of the properties of enamel are also mimicked quite well by dental porcelains. Porcelains are a form of ceramic, that are formed by the action of heat. Dental porcelains come in all colors and shades so we can easily and perfectly match the color of virtually any natural tooth. As for longevity, porcelain is typically your best option because it is the closest option in mimicking a natural tooth.

To learn more on this subject, you can continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Natural Beauty of Tooth Colored Fillings.” Or contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your specific questions.


DidYouKnowThatDiabetesAndPeriodontalDiseaseHaveMuchInCommon

Did you know that recent research has shown diabetes is a risk factor for increased severity of periodontal (gum) disease and that periodontitis is a risk factor for worsening blood glucose (sugar) control in people with diabetes? Periodontitis can even increase the risk of diabetic complications for people diagnosed with diabetes. When you combine these facts with the following, you will clearly see how important it is to understand and manage these two diseases.

  • Over 23 million people in the United States currently have diabetes and over 170 million worldwide.
  • 14+ million Americans have a condition called pre-diabetes.
  • Another estimated 6 million people in the US have diabetes but are unaware and thus not diagnosed.
  • Periodontal disease is the second most common disease known to man, only surpassed by tooth decay.
  • Diabetic individuals with periodontal disease have a greater risk for cardiovascular and kidney complications than those diabetics not having periodontal disease.

What You Can Do

One of the most important steps you can take if you have either of these conditions or suspect that you might have one or both is to make an appointment with your physician or with our office for a thorough examination. You should schedule an appointment with your physician for an exam and blood work so that your general health and well-being are monitored. Be certain to share your medical information and any family history of diabetes with our office, as it tends to occur in families.

Learn More

Learn the risks and how to take care of types 1 and 2 diabetes, as well as the stages of periodontal disease (with detailed full-color illustrations) when you read the Dear Doctor article, “Diabetes & Periodontal Disease.” Or if you want to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions, contact us today.


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
April 04, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: medication   aspirin  
AspirinNotJustaHarmlessOTCMedication

We tend to think of aspirin as a harmless medication. It is dispensed over the counter and is the most widely used OTC medication in the U.S. We take it without thinking we may be exposing ourselves to risks. But in certain situations aspirin can cause dangerous side effects.

What is aspirin, and how does it work?
The chemical name for aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid. It is used to reduce mild pain, inflammation and fever. When you take an aspirin, it blocks the formation of prostaglandins, substances your body creates that are associated with inflammation. Prostaglandins cause inflamed tissues to become red and swollen, but they also serve protective purposes, such as forming a barrier that protects the stomach from the acid it produces to digest your food. That's why long-term aspirin use can sometimes cause stomach bleeding and ulceration or other health problems.

Why do cardiac patients take aspirin?
Another effect of aspirin is to prevent blood platelets from clumping together. Blood platelets are structures in the blood, smaller than white or red blood cells, that aid clotting by sticking together at the site of an injury. This effect of aspirin can cause prolonged bleeding, but it may be beneficial to people who have cardiovascular (from cardio, meaning heart; and vascular, meaning vessel) disease with narrowed blood vessels.

Aspirin can keep blood flowing in the obstructed vessels and thus prevent heart attacks and strokes; but it can also increase the risk for strokes that are caused by bleeding in the brain. Most physicians attempt to lower such risks by asking their patients to keep their daily aspirin consumption to a low dose 81 mg “baby” aspirin.

How does aspirin affect your teeth and gums?
Be sure to let your medical and dental professionals know you are taking aspirin, and how much you take. Also tell us about other OTC medications you take, including herbal medications and supplements, because they may interact with aspirin to cause side effects.

If you have been told to take aspirin because of a cardiac condition or procedure, be sure to follow your recommended treatment. Do not suddenly discontinue aspirin therapy; doing so can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. Ask us if you should stop taking aspirin before a major dental or oral surgery, but do not stop taking it on your own. We will consult with your physician about your medical condition and let you know our recommendation. In most cases you can continue your aspirin therapy without causing excessive bleeding during the dental procedure.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Aspirin: Friend or Foe?