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Posts for: January, 2014

By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
January 28, 2014
Category: Oral Health
TheTopTenMainCausesofBadBreath

Nobody wants “halitosis,” commonly known as bad breath. Americans spend an estimated $3 billion per year on breath freshening products like candies, chewing gum and sprays, but that really just masks the problem. Bad breath is clearly a major concern. Treating bad breath effectively means understanding and treating what causes it.

And The Top Ten Main Causes of Bad Breath Are:

  1. You just woke up — because saliva flow is reduced during the night, it is normal to wake up with a dry mouth and “morning breath.”
  2. It was something you ate — garlic, onions, coffee, alcohol, spicy foods and more — are common causes — luckily they are temporary. Brushing, flossing and mouthrinses may help.
  3. It was because you didn't eat — fasting can result in bad breath. In hunger, especially starvation, a person's breath may actually smell like nail polish remover (acetone). This comes from ketones that are produced as the body metabolizes fat for energy production.
  4. “Xerostomia,” literally dry mouth — from plain old dehydration, and certainly many medications can cause dry mouth leading to bad breath. Drinking sufficient quantities of water is helpful and important.
  5. Smoker's breath — If you are a smoker, the telltale odor lingers — for days and weeks. Try quitting for multiple health benefits.
  6. Ineffective oral hygiene — buildup of food remnants and bacteria on and between your teeth and gums is a prominent cause of bad breath.
  7. Bacterial accumulation on the back of your tongue — large numbers of bacteria accumulating in the nooks and crannies, where they may give off volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), which have an odor reminiscent of rotten eggs.
  8. You may have tooth decay or periodontal (gum) disease — one of the main causes of bad breath is gum disease. Studies have shown that the more VSCs a person has on their breath, the more likely it is that they have gum disease. Openly decayed teeth can also be a cause of bad breath.
  9. You may have a problem with your nose or tonsils — Nasal odors exhaled from the nose and mouth may be a result of sinus infections, foreign bodies, or infections of your tonsils.
  10. Serious health conditions — like diabetes, lung disease and cancer can also be systemic (general body causes of bad breath) that do not emanate from the mouth.

Because some of these problems are serious and need treatment, don't just try to cosmetically camouflage bad breath. Make every effort to remove the film of bacteria (plaque) from your teeth and gums every day; if this does not cure your bad breath, contact us for an assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about bad breath. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bad Breath: More than just embarrassing.”


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
January 24, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
DoClearOrthodonticAlignersReallyWork

Compared to traditional braces, orthodontic clear aligners seem miraculous in many ways, almost too good to be true. You may be wondering if they really work. The answer is yes — but they are not for everyone.

What are orthodontic aligners and how do they work?

Clear orthodontic aligners are an alternative to traditional braces that are used to move your teeth and transform your smile without much interference to your daily life. They are removable trays made of a clear plastic material that is essentially invisible.

When using aligners, a sequence of slightly different trays is custom-made to fit over your teeth. You must wear each one 20 hours a day for two weeks before changing to the next in the series. The aligners are computer generated, designed by state-of-the-art techniques based on models and images of your own teeth. They work because slight changes in the sequential aligners gradually shift your teeth. If they are worn consistently, the process takes from six months to two or three years.

Advantages over traditional braces are:

  • The aligners can be removed for eating, drinking, brushing, flossing and social occasions.
  • They have no rough edges or wires, making them more comfortable.
  • Changes become visible quickly as your teeth move into their new, better positions.

Clear aligners are a good solution for correcting mild to moderately crowded or incorrectly spaced teeth. They are most effective if your back teeth already fit together properly. Clear aligners are usually effective in correcting simpler or tipping movements of teeth in two dimensions. For more complex movements, traditional braces may be required. Clear aligners are usually recommended for adults whose teeth and jaws are fully developed, and not for children.

When do you need traditional fixed braces?

Traditional braces are fixed brackets attached to the teeth through which narrow, flexible wires are threaded. They may be necessary if your teeth do not meet properly, creating too much overbite or underbite. Closing spaces where teeth are missing, rotating teeth, or other complicated situations probably make you a better candidate for traditional braces.

Each particular situation is unique. To find out if clear aligners are right for you, make an appointment with us for an assessment and diagnosis of your own situation. For more information see the Dear Doctor magazine article “Clear Orthodontic Aligners.”


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
January 16, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
MakingtheRightChoicesWithRemovablePartialDentures

Removable partial dentures (RPDs) are a common replacement option for multiple lost teeth. However, they're not the best long-term option; in fact, one particular type of RPD could be a poor choice if you wish to wear them long-term.

Made primarily of plastic, these RPDs are sometimes referred to as “flippers” because of how the tongue can easily flip them out of the mouth. While some people see them as a permanent replacement for their lost teeth, in reality plastic-based RPDs are a transitional replacement — a stepping stone, if you will, to a permanent solution. They are most useful during healing following a periodontal procedure or during the waiting period after implant surgery.

However, they can pose problems to your long-term oral health if worn permanently. Because of the manner in which they fit to the gums and any remaining teeth, they tend to settle into and compress the gum tissues. If you have gum disease, they force infection deeper into the tissues. They also allow and promote bacterial plaque growth. This in turn may lead to increased incidences of decay and gum disease.

On the other hand, a metal RPD, ideally made of cast vitallium or gold alloy, fits more snugly and accurately in the mouth. They still can cause increased plaque and food retention, but if the wearer also adheres to sound daily oral hygiene practices, regular dental checkups and diligent care of the RPD, they can be used successfully for many years.

Although a metal RPD costs more than its plastic counterpart, they cost less than more permanent teeth replacements. They are lighter in weight than plastic RPDs and fit more securely to deflect the forces generated by biting.

In considering your options for replacing lost teeth, you should not view plastic transitional RPDs as a permanent solution, but rather as a temporary one until you can obtain a more permanent solution. And although not the most optimal choice, the metal RPD could be considered a more permanent cost-effective solution.

If you would like more information on your options regarding removable partial dentures, 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 “Removable Partial Dentures.”


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
January 08, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  
DentalImplantsRequireCleaningandMaintenanceJustLikeNaturalTeeth

There’s no doubt dental implants are an effective choice for restoring both the form and function of missing teeth. But although they aren’t susceptible to tooth decay as with natural teeth, the bone and gum tissues that surround them are. Implants, therefore, require the same cleaning and maintenance as natural teeth.

A dental implant is actually a root replacement, a titanium post surgically imbedded in the jawbone. Because titanium is osteophilic (“bone-loving”), bone will naturally grow around it, making the implant more secure over time. Atop the implant is an abutment to which an artificial crown, the visible portion of the implant, is attached. The abutment is surrounded and supported by connective fibers within the gum tissue that hold the tissue against the implant surface.

This attachment differs significantly from natural teeth’s attachment to the jawbone, which attach to a tooth’s root through the periodontal ligament. The tiny fibers of the ligament hold teeth in place; its elasticity allows for tiny adjustments in a tooth’s position in response to changes in other teeth and bone. The ligament is also rich in blood supply that enriches the area with nutrients and provides resources to fight and resist infection.

An implant doesn’t have this same degree of defense against infection. Without proper hygiene, a layer of bacterial plaque known as biofilm can develop on the crown surface of both natural teeth and restorations. In addition, an infectious condition specific to implants known as peri-implantitis can set in the gum tissues surrounding the implant. This can lead to bone loss (sometimes very rapid) and eventual loss of the implant.

Although your daily hygiene won’t require special toothbrushes or other devices for implant cleaning, your professional cleanings will. The metal instruments (known as curettes) used to clean natural teeth could damage implant surfaces. The hygienist will use devices made of plastic or resin rather than metal, and nylon or plastic sheaths or tips on ultrasonic equipment that are specially designed for implant cleaning.

While maintaining dental implants requires diligence on both your part and ours, implants remain an effective, long-term choice for dental restoration. In fact, some studies indicate upwards of 95% success rate. Proper hygiene will greatly increase your chances for many years of service from your implants.

If you would like more information on properly maintaining your dental implants, 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 “Dental Implant Maintenance.”