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Posts for: September, 2013

By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
September 25, 2013
Category: Oral Health
CrackedToothSyndrome

You may never have heard of cracked tooth syndrome. However, while it is often difficult to diagnose, this condition can be very serious, and it will be helpful to familiarize yourself with the symptoms.

Cracked tooth syndrome can be summed up in three phases: craze lines, cracks and fractures. Craze lines refer to miniscule cracks in the outer enamel surface of a tooth. While they do not cause immediate harm to the tooth, they can lead to true cracks in the enamel that actually penetrate the dentin.

This can lead to a fracture, where the crack extends deep into the tooth. The deeper the crack, the worse the symptoms. If the fracture exposes the pulp, the living tissue within the tooth, it must be treated immediately in order to save the tooth. Fractures are now the third leading cause of tooth loss. This increase may be the result of several factors, including longer life spans and higher stress levels that may lead to increased teeth clenching and grinding.

The complications surrounding the diagnosis of cracked tooth syndrome stem from the fact that symptoms vary, depending upon the location of the crack and what other structures are involved.

  • If you feel a sharp, intense pain for a short amount of time during chewing, then you likely have a crack in a “vital” tooth in which the nerve has not been affected. If a crack reaches the nerve, the pulp tissues housing that nerve will become inflamed and sensitive to temperature changes.
  • On the other hand, if you have a crack in a tooth without living pulp, the symptoms may be vague. It's often difficult to locate where the pain is coming from until the tissues around the teeth are affected. If a crack involves periodontal structures (gum, periodontal ligament and bone), symptoms may include tenderness around the tooth, in which case it will be easy to discern the affected tooth.
  • Finally, when a crack increases and becomes a true fracture, the symptoms strengthen. If located in the crown of the tooth, a piece of the tooth may come off, becoming quite sensitive to temperature change and sweet foods. If the crack is located in the root, you will experience pain of increasing intensity.

Keep in mind that early diagnosis is of utmost importance, so we will always conduct a thorough examination to check for signs and symptoms of cracked tooth syndrome. The earlier it is detected, the easier it will be to repair, so be sure to share with us any pain or discomfort that you have been experiencing.

If you would like more information about cracked tooth syndrome, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cracked Tooth Syndrome.”


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
September 17, 2013
Category: Oral Health
BadBreathmdashSufferNoMore

While most people can expect to have a temporary case of bad breath after eating spiced foods like garlic, smoking, drinking coffee or wine, odor that persists and becomes chronic is not something to take lightly. We can help diagnose the underlying cause of your bad breath, making both you and the people around you much happier!

Chronic bad breath, also known as “halitosis,” affects about 25% of Americans to some extent. Treating the condition effectively requires a thorough oral examination to uncover the source of the odor. Although some forms of bad breath can be caused by medical conditions like diabetes, lung infections, even kidney failure and cancer, between 85% and 90% of cases originate in the mouth. There are more than 600 types of bacteria found in the average mouth and, given the right (or, should we say, wrong) oral environment, dozens of these bacteria can produce foul odors including a “rotten egg” smell from the production of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs).

Some of the oral causes of bad breath include:

  • Naturally occurring bacteria found on the back of the tongue that thrive on food deposits, dead skin cells and post nasal drip (Yuck!);
  • Dry mouth, after sleeping, especially when an individual breathes through his or her mouth;
  • Unclean dentures;
  • Decaying or abscessed teeth;
  • Diseased gums; and
  • Infected tonsils.

Once the exact origin of the odor has been determined, we can tell you what form of treatment you'll need to successfully banish the bad breath for good. If your problem is merely the result of poor oral hygiene you can play a large role in turning your situation around. In any case, treatments for mouth-related halitosis can include:

  • A careful, at-home plaque control routine using dental floss and a special toothbrush designed to clean between teeth — nobody really knows how to properly clean without professional instruction;
  • In-office and at-home tongue cleaning using a tongue scraper or brush;
  • Instruction on how to properly clean your dentures;
  • To treat underlying gum disease, periodontal therapy in the form of a deep cleaning, also known as scaling or root planing; and
  • Extraction of wisdom teeth that exhibit debris-trapping gum tissue traps.

So if you are ready to toss your breath mints away and pursue a more permanent solution to rectify your mouth odor, call our office today to schedule an appointment. For more information about the causes of bad breath, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bad Breath: More Than Just Embarrassing.”


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
September 09, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
DoYouWantAPerfectOrNaturalSmileWeNeedToKnow

Are you unhappy with the appearance of your smile? Do you get anxious about smiling in social settings? Have you ever wished you had teeth like your favorite celebrity? If you have answered yes to any of these questions it might be time to discuss a smile makeover with us!

During our initial meeting we will ask you exactly what look you are hoping to achieve. Open communication will help ensure ultimate success and satisfaction — you need to tell us what you want and we need to tell you what is actually possible. Then we can plan a solution that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional.

We will also decide which cosmetic materials and techniques to use; this can range from composite resins (tooth-colored fillings), porcelain veneers (thin layers of dental ceramic that are bonded to your tooth enamel) or porcelain crowns (which replace the entire external form of a tooth).

Essentially, most people seem to want one of two looks — a “perfect” Hollywood smile or a more “natural” look. For those who want a “perfect” smile, we will focus on achieving symmetry so that your smile appears perfectly balanced. We will also focus on achieving uniform and maximum tooth brightness and whiteness.

For those who want a more “natural” smile, we can enhance your smile by gently improving brightness while maintaining a more normal symmetry to each tooth shape and size. This can produce a more elegant, youthful smile, not just a Hollywood white smile. We can also maintain slight color, shape and shade variations throughout your mouth.

The best tool for testing our vision is with the use of a tool we call a “provisional restoration.” During this phase of the process we will actually create your new smile using temporary materials, allowing you to “test drive” your new look before committing to permanent materials. This way we can make sure you get exactly what you want. Once you give us the green light, these restorations will be replaced with your permanent new teeth.

Call our office today so we can get started! For more information on the importance of communication between dentist and patient during a smile makeover, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Great Expectations: Is What You Get What You Want?


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
September 06, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   brushing   flossing  
BrushingandFlossing-TwoKeyElementstoAvoidingDentalDisease

We humans have been cleaning our teeth for millennia. While the tools and substances have changed (we don't use twigs or pumice anymore), the reasons haven't: we want a nice, fresh smile and a clean-feeling mouth.

Objectively, though, oral hygiene has one primary purpose — to remove dental plaque, the whitish film of bacteria that grows on unclean tooth surfaces and at the gum line. Removing this decay-causing film can drastically reduce your risk of dental disease.

Effective oral hygiene depends on two primary tasks: brushing and flossing. You should perform these tasks at least once (flossing) or twice (brushing) in a 24-hour period. Brushing involves a simple technique. You hold your toothbrush (a well-designed, multi-tufted brush) in your fingertips with the same pressure as you would a pen or pencil. You then gently scrub all of the tooth surfaces starting at the gum line, holding the brush at a 45-degree. “Gently” is the key word here: it's possible to damage your tooth and gum surfaces by brushing too vigorously.

While brushing seems easier for people to fit into their daily routine, flossing seems to be harder. It's just as important, though, because over half of plaque accumulation occurs between teeth, in areas where brushing can miss. Like brushing, flossing isn't difficult to do. Holding a strip of floss taut by your fingers between both hands, and gently slipping the floss between your teeth you form a “C” shape around each tooth surface as you apply pressure onto the one surface you are cleaning. Gently move the floss up and down for three or four strokes or until you hear a squeaky clean sound (that's when you know the surface is clean). Then you go to the other tooth surface by lifting the floss above the gum line so that you don't damage the gum tissue in between the teeth.

You should also schedule regular checkups and cleanings with our office to supplement your daily routine. Professional cleanings remove any hidden plaque that brushing and flossing may have missed. A checkup also gives us a chance to evaluate how well your hygiene program is progressing. Our partnership in proper oral hygiene can make all the difference in you avoiding tooth decay and other dental diseases.

If you would like more information on proper oral hygiene, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Hygiene Behavior.”