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Posts for: February, 2015

By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
February 27, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
YourSmileDesignPerfectionvstheNaturalLook

We have noticed that there are two types of patients when it comes to enhancing a person's smile. One type, which we'll call the “Perfect Minded” patient, expects teeth that are completely regular in their arrangement and of maximum whiteness and brightness, often beyond the range of traditional guides for tooth color. They are looking for a perfect “Hollywood” smile. The other, the “Natural Minded” patient, is looking for a more natural look. This person expects a general sense of regularity and alignment of teeth with definite brightness, but not so much that the teeth are noticeable before and above other facial features. Which type are you?

The “Perfect Minded” Patient
While you expect maximum regularity and alignment of teeth along with maximum whiteness and brightness, the “perfect minded” patient requires a smile completely symmetrical (balanced from one side to the other). If we drew a vertical line down the center of your face (midline), it would fall directly between your front teeth and your smile would look just the same on each side of the line. You also expect your smile to be horizontally symmetric, so that it matches the curvature of your lower lip and the gum lines match from side to side.

The “Natural Minded” Patient
You are looking for a more subtle, natural look produced by including some minor irregularities in your look. Like the “Perfect Minded” individual, you still expect your teeth to be generally regular and well aligned but you also want to have some minor asymmetries (not matching) as you move farther back along your jaw to make your teeth look real. Your preference in tooth color is not a super shade of white, but for a tooth color that looks very natural for your facial skin and hair color.

There is no right or wrong here. What is important is to be sure to communicate your expectations to us before embarking on a program of smile redesign.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about Smile Design. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Great Expectations — Perceptions in Smile Design.”


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
February 19, 2015
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral cancer   oral health  
AreYouatRiskForOralCancer

Often perceived as a cancer that only affects older adults who have a history of heavy tobacco and alcohol use, oral cancer is now on the rise among younger adults as well. New research has found a link between oral cancers, and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a disease that is primarily spread through oral sex.

Importance of Screening: If you're concerned about oral cancer, rest assured that our office routinely carries out a cancer screening exam on every patient. We have several ways to painlessly detect abnormal tissues in their earliest stages. In addition, please contact our office if you experience any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • White and/or red patches in the mouth or on the lips
  • A bleeding or ulcerated sore in the mouth
  • A sore anywhere in your mouth that doesn't heal
  • Persistent difficulty swallowing, chewing, speaking, or moving your jaw or tongue

Although all of these symptoms can also be signs of less serious problems, be sure to alert our office if you notice any of the above changes.

Prevention: you can take a proactive role in preventing oral cancer by:

  • Conducting an oral self-exam at least once a month. Use a bright light and a mirror, look and feel your lips and front of your gums, the roof of your mouth, and the lining of your cheeks.
  • Scheduling regular exams in our office. The American Cancer Society recommends oral cancer screening exams every three years for people over age 20 and annually for those over age 40.
  • Refraining from smoking or using any tobacco products and drinking alcohol only in moderation.
  • Eating a well balanced diet.
  • Practicing safe sex.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions you may have regarding oral cancer. Read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Risk Factors for Oral Cancer.”


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
February 11, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  
MaintainingyourDentalImplants

Once you receive your dental implants, you can have peace-of-mind in knowing that you have chosen a successful tooth replacement option, with long-term success rates of well over 95%. Your implant will look, feel and function just like the natural teeth that it has replaced.

However, despite the natural appearance, when you visit us for a regular cleaning, you may notice that we are using special instruments to clean around the implant. Cleaning around implants differs from the maintenance of your natural teeth for two reasons:

  1. Your implants attach to the surrounding bone and gums in a very different way from your natural teeth.
  2. The materials that comprise your implants are very different than those that make up your natural teeth.

Cleaning implants is just as important as cleaning natural teeth, because both depend on healthy surrounding tissues for support. Just as bacterial biofilm (plaque) collects on your natural teeth, it can also collect on your implant. That is why it is very important to brush and floss thoroughly on a daily basis at home. Without daily biofilm removal, the gums surrounding your implant can become infected, leading to bone loss and eventually loss of the implant.

Your regular dental cleanings will also play an important role in keeping dental implants infection-free, and we will select the right instruments for a professional cleaning. We will ensure that these instruments will not damage the crown, abutment, or the implant itself. If implants are scratched, they can attract and harbor bacteria. That's why the instruments we use, called scalers and curettes, are most often made of plastics and resins. Natural teeth don't scratch in the same way, and therefore metal instruments need to be used to clean them.

A number of power instruments have nylon or plastic sheaths or tips to minimize implant damage. They clean by using high-frequency vibration, which may be necessary if large quantities of debris have accumulated on your implant. We use these on a low power setting with a lot of water irrigation, and sometimes antibacterial solutions, to clean and flush material.

When it comes to keeping your implants infection-free, keep in mind that the most successful formula will be consistent oral hygiene at home mixed with regular dental cleanings.

If you would like more information about maintaining your dental implants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implant Maintenance.”


By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
February 03, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: orthodontics   extractions  
RemovingTeethCouldImproveanOrthodonticOutcome

Teeth crowding is a difficult bite problem (malocclusion) that often involves the entire jaw structure to be evaluated. Normally occurring when the jaw doesn’t have adequate space for normal tooth eruption, teeth coming in later put pressure on other teeth, causing them to develop improperly.

Crowding also makes it difficult to realign teeth with braces because there’s simply not enough room for sufficient movement to take place. The solution may then be to consider the removal of some of the teeth to create enough space for orthodontic treatment.

Not just any tooth can be removed, however — we must first conduct a careful analysis to determine which can be removed to facilitate optimum movement of the remaining teeth without disrupting normal mouth function or affecting appearance. The teeth most frequently removed for this purpose are the bicuspids, located between the cuspids or eyeteeth (which are positioned directly under the eyes) and the molars, the largest teeth in the back of the mouth. Sometimes one premolar tooth on each side of the jaw can be removed without sacrificing future form or function.

There are a few important considerations we must keep in mind when extracting teeth for orthodontic reasons; perhaps the most important is preserving bone at the extraction site. Because continuing bone growth depends on the forces generated by teeth when we bite or chew, bone near a missing tooth socket will tend to diminish over time. If there’s insufficient bone during orthodontic treatment, it may result in gum recession and root exposure — not only damaging to the teeth themselves but also to a person’s smile appearance. To avoid this, we sometimes will consider inserting a bone graft, which will stimulate bone growth, into the empty socket immediately after extraction. While this isn’t commonly done, it’s being considered if the patient’s bone is thin and a concern during healing.

We must also consider how to accommodate other, unrelated tooth loss to assure the final result is visually appealing. It may be necessary in these cases to maintain the space at the missing tooth site for a future restoration once the orthodontics is completed. This takes planning as well as the use of restorations like dental implants, bridges or partial dentures.

Regardless of your bite issues, the field of orthodontics has the appliances and techniques to overcome even the most complicated condition. When necessary, using procedures like tooth extraction can help turn an unappealing, dysfunctional bite problem into a beautiful smile.

If you would like more information on orthodontic teeth extractions, 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 “Tooth Removal for Orthodontic Reasons.”