My Blog

Posts for: August, 2012

By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
August 30, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants   bridgework  
TestingyourKnowledgeDentalImplantsvsBridgework

When it comes to replacing missing teeth, we have numerous options. However, two of the most common treatment options include bridgework and dental implants. See how much you really know about dental implants and bridgework by taking our quick and easy true/false self test.

  1. When it comes to costs, dental implants may initially cost more than bridgework but are less expensive than bridgework over a lifetime.
    True or False
  2. Both bridgework and dental implants can last a lifetime when properly maintained.
    True or False
  3. Prior to placing a three-unit fixed bridge, if the surrounding teeth have crowns, they must be redone so that the bridge fits and wears properly.
    True or False
  4. Replacing a single tooth with a three-unit bridge, requires removing the enamel on the adjacent teeth even if these teeth are disease-free.
    True or False
  5. In addition to being permanent tooth replacements, another advantage of dental implants is that they don't decay like teeth supporting bridgework.
    True or False
  6. It is not uncommon for root canal treatment to be required to save teeth that support bridgework if they have been subjected to severe decay and their nerves become infected.
    True or False
  7. Placing a dental implant requires more time when compared to placing a three-unit bridge.
    True or False
  8. Both bridgework and dental implants require minor surgery to replace a missing tooth.
    True or False
  9. Dental implants are more desirable than bridgework because placing them does not affect the adjacent teeth.
    True or False
  10. Studies indicate that bridges are only 67% successful at 15 years whereas dental implants have success rates into the 90s.
    True or False

Answers: 1) True. This fact shocks many people. 2) False. This is more commonly true for dental implants. 3) True. 4) True. This is one of the disadvantages of bridgework. 5) True. This is just one of the advantages of a dental implant. 6) True. 7) True. 8) False. Dental implants require surgery to be placed. 9) True. This fact is a significant advantage for dental implants. 10) True. Your results may vary; however, this statistic represents what you might expect.

To learn more, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Implants vs. Bridgework.” Or, you can contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions.


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
August 23, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: oral health   root canal  
RootCanalTreatmentFAQs

We pride ourselves on educating our patients regarding oral health and dental treatment. This is why we are providing you with these frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding root canals. Our belief is that by being informed about this important dental treatment, you will be more comfortable should you ever require a root canal.

Exactly what is root canal treatment?

A root canal treatment is an endodontic procedure (“endo” – inside: “dont” – tooth) in which the living pulp tissues are housed, including the nerves. When a severely decayed or damaged tooth begins to hurt, it is because the pulpal tissues are inflamed or infected, and the response of the nerves is varying degrees of pain — letting you know something is wrong. If the pulp is dead or dying it must be removed and the root canal of the tooth is filled and sealed to stop infection and to save the tooth.

Who typically performs them?

Endodontics is a specialty within dentistry that specifically deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of root canal issues affecting a tooth's root or nerve. While endodontists are dentists who specialize in root canal treatment, general dentists may also perform root canal treatment and are usually the dentists you will consult with when you first have tooth pain and who will refer you to an endodontist if necessary.

What are the symptoms of a root canal infection?

Root canal symptoms and the character of the pain may vary depending on the cause. For example, symptoms may be:

  • Sharp, acute pain that is difficult to pinpoint
  • Intense pain that occurs when biting down on the tooth or food
  • Lingering pain after eating either hot or cold foods
  • Dull ache and pressure
  • Tenderness accompanied by swelling in the nearby gums

Does root canal treatment hurt?

A common misconception is that a root canal treatment is painful when, in actuality, it is quite the opposite. The pain associated with a root canal occurs prior to treatment and is relieved by it — not visa versa.

If you have tooth pain, you may or may not need a root canal treatment. Contact us today (before your symptoms get worse) and schedule an appointment to find out what's causing the problem. And to learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatments for a root canal, read the article “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment.”


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
August 14, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dentures  
GettingtheBestPossibleResultswithFullDentures

Even with all the medical know-how we possess at the dawn of the 21st century, complete tooth loss is still a big problem. In this country, more than a quarter of all adults between ages 65 and 74 have lost all of their teeth. For these individuals, removable full dentures are often still used as an affordable and effective way to replace missing teeth.

Success with dentures originates from a collaboration among dentist, laboratory technician, and, of course, the denture-wearer. Creating false teeth that look natural is as much an art as it is a science. We take a number of steps to make sure you will get the best results. These include:

  • Positioning the teeth. Using facial landmarks and photographs of how you used to look before your teeth were lost helps us determine where to place each tooth and how the upper and lower teeth should line up in relation to each other. For example, we will consider what size the teeth should be; how close to the lip they should be; and how much space should exist between the upper and lower teeth when they are at rest.
  • Simulating natural gums. If you are someone with a “high lip dynamic” (a lot of gum shows when you smile), it is particularly important to simulate real gum tissue in a set of full dentures. Fortunately, there are many colors and textures available to create a realistic effect. Again, photographs can be helpful in achieving this.
  • Balancing the bite. We must make sure that your upper and lower dentures come together in a way that facilitates normal biting, chewing, and speech.

As a denture wearer, you will need to visit our office regularly to make sure the gum tissue and bone upon which your dentures rest stay healthy. It's common to see a gradual loss of bone in people who wear dentures at a rate that varies from person to person. This bone loss can affect the fit of your dentures and lead to other health problems, which we can address if we are monitoring you on an ongoing basis.

If you have any questions about dentures, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Removable Full Dentures.”


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
August 13, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
CommonQuestionsAboutWhiteningYourTeeth

Teeth whitening is a great way to improve your smile. For best results and to ensure your safety, teeth should be bleached under professional supervision. We can help you choose the whitening method that's right for you, and monitor the effects of your treatment. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about this relatively inexpensive cosmetic procedure:

Is teeth whitening safe?
A lot of research has been done on teeth whitening, so we know that specific bleaching formulas, from a reputable source, are safe if used as directed and after a proper dental examination. You should be aware that tooth sensitivity is a common side effect of bleaching, but brushing with a desensitizing toothpaste containing potassium nitrate for two weeks prior to bleaching can reduce sensitivity. Using potassium nitrate during the bleaching process can also help.

Is it effective?
Professional bleaching is very effective. Peroxide goes through tooth enamel (the outermost layer) and the dentin (middle layer) to the pulp (the innermost layer) in 5 to 15 minutes. The bleach actually changes the color of the enamel and dentin, and removes stains.

How is teeth whitening done?
Basically there are three options: in-office whitening (done by a dentist), at-home bleaching with custom-made flexible plastic trays (with prescription bleach), and over-the-counter (OTC) products. Not all OTC products are equal, and the results will take longer to achieve than with professionally supervised procedures.

How long does it take?
That depends on what method you choose and, in the case of at-home whitening, how conscientious you are about following through with your course of treatment. One study found that a six-shade change required either: three in-office applications of 38% hydrogen peroxide; one week of 10% carbamide peroxide used at home nightly in a custom-made tray; or 16 daily application of 5.3% hydrogen peroxide on a whitening strip.

Will it last?
It really depends on the individual. No bleaching method can whiten teeth permanently, though some people's teeth remain white for over 10 years with no touch-up treatment. More typical results vary from six months to two years. Keeping up with your regular oral hygiene routine at home and your professional cleanings at the dentist's office will help maintain the results; so will avoiding tobacco and beverages that stain, such as red wine, tea and coffee. You can also consider a bleaching touch-up once or twice a year at home or here at the dental office.

I want to go for it! What's the first step?
Step one is a pre-bleaching dental examination to determine the cause of your tooth discoloration. We want to make sure that your discoloration is not the result of an oral health-related problem. For example bleaching will mask but not resolve issues such as abscessed teeth, decay, and root canal problems. We want your teeth not only to be beautiful, but healthy, too!

If you are interested in learning more about teeth whitening, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. For more information on teeth whitening, please see the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Important Teeth Whitening Questions Answered” and “Tooth Whitening Safety Tips.”


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
August 11, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: dental implants   tooth loss  
NotJustFillingintheGapsLostTeethHaveUnexpectedConsequences

Why is it important to replace missing teeth with restorations such as dental implants? You might be surprised to find that the damage caused by missing teeth is much greater than the simple gaps left in your smile.

As the years go by, teeth lost early in adulthood cause structural changes in a person's face. By age 45 changes in facial structure are already visible in the form of sunken cheeks. By 60, cheeks and lips lose their support, resulting in an aging look. This process continues and if the teeth are not replaced, much of the structural support of the person's face is lost.

These changes are caused by loss of bone. Although it may seem static, bone is actually living tissue that needs constant stimulation to maintain its form and density. With normal stimulation it is in a constant state of resorption (breaking down) and deposition (building up). Teeth provide the needed stimulation for the bone that surrounds them (called alveolar bone) as they meet each other during biting, chewing, and speech. When the stimulation continues, the bone continues to rebuild itself. Without this stimulation, the bone resorbs, does not build up again, and loses substance.

Without stimulation, alveolar bone loses width, height, and volume. Since your teeth and their surrounding bone support your chin, cheeks, and lips, this has a powerful effect on your appearance. It may also affect your ability to chew and to speak.

As alveolar bone diminishes, the next layer of bone also begins to resorb. This is the bone of the jaw itself. The lower part of the face begins to collapse, and the cheeks become hollow. This effect is especially noticeable for people with no teeth (edentulous).

Usually the first tooth to be lost, due to infection and decay, is a molar (back tooth). In the past, a missing single back tooth was frequently replaced by a fixed partial denture (FPD). A crown is provided for each of the two teeth on the sides of the gap, called abutment teeth, to support a false tooth in the middle. However, if they are not well cared for, the abutment teeth may be the next to succumb to decay.

Today the treatment of choice is an implant. A dental implant is a tooth-root replacement made of titanium, which fuses with the bone — making it very stable. Above the gums it is covered by a crown that looks like a natural tooth. The benefit of the implant is that it continues to provide stimulation to the alveolar bone, preventing bone loss.

Implants are also a good choice in the case of multiple missing teeth. They can be used to support bridges or false teeth (dentures). The results are an improved, younger appearance and better functionality.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about missing teeth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”