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Over-the-Counter Products We Love

July 18, 2018

At Prosper Family Dentistry, we understand that not all people have the same dental problems.  Because of our unique, individualized approach to risk management in dental care, we often give our patients specific recommendations for dental products that improve oral health in a specific area of risk.  We strongly believe that each person should use a customized oral hygiene regimen aimed at fighting his or her specific risk factors.

We also listen to our patients and seriously consider their complaints and concerns.  We make recommendations for products to alleviate problems or irritations that do not necessarily cause dental disease.  Our goal is to improve the quality of life for every patient we see.  We believe some of these products can do just that.

Biotene

Biotene is a brand of oral health products that we love.  Biotene is hypoallergenic and mild.  It does not contain any harsh chemicals that can irritate sensitive tissues inside the mouth.

The most common condition for which we recommend Biotene is dry mouth.  A dry mouth is usually a sensitive mouth.  Biotene’s gentle formula will not burn, sting or irritate your gums, lips, cheeks and tongue.

Biotene products include toothpastes, mouthwash, dry mouth gel and dry mouth spray.  If your mouth is extremely dry, you should be using the entire line of Biotene products.  The gel helps moisturize a dry mouth and is great for nighttime dryness.  The spray is perfect for periodically moisturizing the mouth throughout the day.

Who Should Use Biotene?

  • People who take multiple prescription medications causing dry mouth as a side effect
  • People suffering from multiple mouth ulcers
  • People who have lost salivary function due to cancer treatments
  • People suffering from Burning Mouth Syndrome or other soft tissue disorders that cause the inside of the mouth to be extremely sensitive

Crest Sensi-Stop Strips

Do you drink room temperature water?  Do you dread taking a bite of ice cream?  If your teeth are sensitive, Crest Sensi-Stop Strips might be your new favorite dental product.

Crest Sensi-Stop Strips treat tooth hypersensitivity through the application of an active ingredient that is different from those of other products aimed at sensitive teeth.  According to Crest’s research, the ingredient oxalate blocks the tiny pores on a tooth surface, which allows cold sensations to reach the nerve inside the tooth.  By blocking these pores, the nerve is insulated from the cold temperature, stopping sensitivity in its tracks.

These strips are also unique in their delivery method.  As opposed to the typical forms of a toothpaste or mouthwash for sensitivity, these strips are applied directly to the sensitive tooth surface.  Studies show that using Crest Sensi-Stop Strips three days in a row for 10 minutes each day relieves tooth sensitivity for over a month!

Who Should Use Crest Sensi-Stop Strips?

Only patients who have seen a dentist recently and ruled out other important causes of tooth sensitivity, including cavities and cracks!

CocoFloss

CocoFloss is a relatively new brand of floss, and it’s just fun!  Not only is it a truly great way to clean your teeth, it comes in a variety of yummy tropical flavors.  CocoFloss’s packaging is bright and stylish; it makes you feel like you have just splurged on a designer purchase.

CocoFloss is so named because it contains coconut oil to soothe and nourish your gums.  It also uses thick fibers to gently scrub the sides of the teeth.  It is great for teeth with small gaps that may be difficult to clean with regular floss.

Designed by a dentist and made in Italy, it is currently available online only.

Who Should Use CocoFloss?

Anyone who wants to up their flossing game!

Any Electric Toothbrush

You know we love electric toothbrushes.  They just clean teeth better than manual toothbrushes do.  We truly believe everyone is better off brushing with an electric toothbrush.

Multiple scientific research studies show better plaque removal with electric toothbrushes.  Better plaque removal means lower risk for cavities and gum disease.

A few of our favorite electric toothbrushes include the Oral B Sonic Complete and the Philips Sonicare.  These two have the best plaque removal by far.  The new quip toothbrush is very small, quiet and affordable.

Who Should Use an Electric Toothbrush?

Everyone!  But seriously, here is a list of people who would greatly benefit from an electric toothbrush.

  • Elderly people who have noticed a decrease in their manual dexterity due to conditions like Parkinson’s disease or arthritis
  • People with special needs
  • Children
  • People with high risk for gum disease

Phos-Flur

Phos-Flur is a mouthwash made by Colgate that has a high concentration of fluoride.  It was originally available with a prescription only, and now is for sale over-the-counter.  It was created to fight the white spots, called demineralization, that often occur around braces.

Phos-Flur’s high concentration of fluoride strengthens enamel and fights the cavity-causing bacteria in plaque.  Because of this ability to combat decay, this mouthrinse is great for anyone who is prone to cavities, as well as anyone wearing braces.

Who Should Use Phos-Flur?

  • Patients wearing orthodontic braces
  • Patients with more than one new cavity at your last dental evaluation
  • Patients with a large amount of dental work (lots of fillings, crowns, etc . . .)

Ice Cubes Gum

This is the one product you won’t find in the dental aisle at Walmart.  It is at the checkout counter.  Ice Cubes gum, by Ice Breakers, is the easiest and most flavorful way to fight cavities.

Research has shown that xylitol, a natural sweetener found in plants, has the ability to kill harmful bacteria in the mouth.  Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that bacteria ingest but cannot digest.  There are multiple dental products containing xylitol, including toothpastes, mouthrinses, mints and gum.

Ice Cubes gum contains 2 grams of xylitol per piece, which is as high as, if not higher than, any other mint or gum on the market today.  Studies show a decrease in cavity risk when you chew 5-6 pieces of xylitol containing gum each day.

Who Should Chew Ice Cubes Gum?

  • Any patient with a high cavity risk
  • Patients with dry mouth problems
  • Children with a moderate or high cavity risk
  • PATIENTS WITH TMJ PROBLEMS SHOULD NOT CHEW GUM!

What OTC Dental Products do You Love?

Is there something we failed to list?  Let us know what your favorite over-the-counter dental products are!  Call today to schedule a consultation to discuss what products are right for you.

 

 

Why Exactly is Sugar So Bad for Teeth?

July 12, 2018

It is commonly known and well supported by scientific research that sugar is bad for teeth.  When dentists say “sugar”, most people think of soft drinks and candy.  There are many other sources of sugar that are damaging to teeth, which often get overlooked.  This blog will address why sugar is bad for teeth, which specific sugars are especially dangerous, and how you can fight sugar’s effects on your child’s teeth.

Why is Sugar Bad for Teeth?

Our mouths are full of bacteria.  Some bacteria are good, and some are bad.  The bad bacteria are those which feed on sugar to produce dangerous acids. (Some people have higher levels of bad bacteria, which gives them a higher risk for cavities!)

Bad Bacteria + Sugar = Acid à Enamel Damage –> Cavities

Which Specific Sugars are Bad for Teeth?

If you have taken part in any low-carb or no-carb diets, you probably know the important differences between simple and complex carbohydrates.  Nutrition experts emphasize the way these carbs are digested and how they affect your metabolism.

The distinction between simple and complex carbohydrates is also important for your teeth.

Simple carbohydrates are short-chain sugars that bad bacteria in the mouth quickly and easily break down.  Complex carbohydrates are long, complex chains of sugar molecules that are more difficult for bacteria to break down.

Simple carbohydrates make it easy for bacteria to cause cavities.  Complex carbs are also a sugar source for bacteria, but they take longer to digest, slowing the cavity process down enough for you to intervene and stop them.

Examples of simple carbs include the sugar in soft drinks, candy, cookies and other baked sweets, cereal, fruit juices and milk.  Complex carbohydrates include whole grains, starchy vegetables (like potatoes), green vegetables, and beans/peas.

Complex carbs are better for your teeth than simple carbs, but there is still a risk for cavities.  Often, complex carbs are sticky and become stuck in or between the teeth.  If they are not quickly cleaned from the teeth, the bacteria have more time to break them down into simple sugars and cause cavities.

How You Can Fight Sugar’s Effects on Teeth

Limit intake of simple carbohydrates – Cutting simple sugars from your or your child’s diet is a sure way to lower cavity risk.  Sodas have zero nutritional value, so eliminate them completely.  Instead of sticky candies, switch to chocolate.  Chocolate’s fat content gives it a lower risk of causing cavities.

Stimulate saliva – Saliva is our body’s best defense against cavities!  Saliva has a slightly basic pH, which neutralizes the acid produced by bad bacteria.  There are two great ways to stimulate saliva to fight sugar:

  1. Limit simple sugars to mealtime only! When you eat a meal, saliva production increases.  A soda with lunch is less likely to cause a cavity than a soda sipped throughout the afternoon.
  2. Chew sugar-free gum. By chewing gum after eating or drinking sugar, you stimulate saliva.  Ice Cubes is our favorite cavity-fighting gum.  Give a piece to your child after any sugary snack to lower cavity risk.

Practice great oral hygiene.  Do not let any sugars stay on the teeth.  You can greatly reduce cavity risk by removing any sugary food debris from your tooth surfaces.

  1. Brush after sticky and/or sugary snacks.
  2. Floss, if possible, after snacking. If not, floss every night before bed.
  3. Use a fluoride containing mouthrinse after brushing and flossing.

Do You Have More Questions about Sugar and How it Damages Teeth?

Call 972-347-1145 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They can answer any question you have about sugar and your risk for cavities.

 

 

Teeth Whitening FAQs

July 5, 2018

We are constantly asked about teeth whitening.  It’s hard to find someone who does not want to whiten his or her teeth.  This blog will cover the questions most commonly googled about teeth whitening.

Is teeth whitening safe?

Yes.  Teeth whitening is safe and causes no permanent damage to the teeth.

In fact, there are scientific studies showing that teeth whitening can actually provide some benefits to your oral health.  The chemical used to whiten teeth can also kill bad bacte

ria in your mouth.  This reduces your risk for gum disease.

Another study shows that teeth whitening increases the microhardness of enamel.

While it is difficult to argue that teeth whitenin

g is good for you, we can definitively state that it is perfectly safe.

The changes wrought by teeth whitening are

also temporary.  The negative side effects

of gum tenderness and tooth sensitivity completely subside when you stop whitening.

Is teeth whitening worth it?

You might have to answer this question for yourself.  Teeth whitening involves an investment of both time andmoney.  The payoff of those investments is a brighter smile using the quickest, most conservative form of cosmetic dentistry.

Is teeth whitening covered by insurance?

No.

Teeth whitening falls under the category of cosmetic dentistry and usually does not have any insurance coverage.

Is teeth whitening painful?

Sometimes.

Teeth whitening can cause temporary side effects.  These side effects include tooth sensitivity, tenderness or burning of the gums, and zingers.

Sensitivity to temperatures occurs when whitening gel touches the tooth root, the gel concentration is too high, or the gel is worn for too long.  If your teeth become very sensitive when whitening, talk to Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They will make adjustments to your whitening protocol to make it more comfortable for you.

Gum tenderness or burning occurs when the higher concentrations of whitening gel extrude from your whitening tray onto the gums.  The chemicals in teeth whitening gel are irritating to gum tissue and should not contact the gums at all.  One of the benefits of professional custom whitening trays is that they are trimmed away from your gums to prevent this side effect.

Zingers are sharp, shooting pains in one or more teeth during teeth whitening that last for 3-5 seconds.  The cause of zingers is unknown, but we have found that they are more likely to happen on teeth with dental work, small enamel fractures, or nerve damage.  They can be avoided by using a lower concentration of whitening gel.  If you experience zingers frequently, talk to Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara about what changes you should make to your whitening regimen.

Is teeth whitening permanent?

No.

The results of teeth whitening fade over time.  Staining of the teeth will reoccur when someone drinks coffee, tea or red wine frequently and/or smokes or uses smokeless tobacco.

Most people require maintenance whitening to keep the teeth at the desired shade.  The interval of maintenance whitening varies per person.  On average, most people whiten every six months.

Are teeth whitening strips safe?

Yes.

Over-the-counter whitening strips, like Crest WhiteStrips, are safe to use.  They contain the same chemical ingredient as professional teeth whitening gel.  They typically have a lower strength, so it may take longer to notice a difference in the color of your teeth.

The strips must be properly placed on the teeth in order to work correctly without causing side effects.  They can cause the same teeth sensitivity and gum tenderness as professional whitening gels.  These are temporary side effects.

Is teeth whitening at dentist (in-office whitening) safe?

Yes.

In-office whitening is very safe.  It uses a very high strength professional whitening gel with a barrier for the gums and oversight by a dental professional.  Because it is customized for each patient, exposed tooth roots are covered, the gum tissue is

protected, and the best results are achieved.

Is teeth whitening at the dentist worth it?

In-office teeth whitening is the most expensive type of teeth whitening available today.  The reason for the greater expense is due to the cost of the ingredients and the time you spend in the dental chair.  We do all the work for you!

The benefit of in-office whitening is an instant result with a lower risk for side effects.  Many of our patients choose this option because they have a special event in less than a week.  Others choose in-office whitening because they know they are unlikely to be compliant with the at-home teeth whitening.  With in-office whitening, you will get whitening results without all the effort.

Are teeth whitening and bleaching the same thing?

Yes.

Many people use the term bleaching because of the active ingredient in whitening products: hydrogen peroxide.

Do You Have Other Questions about Teeth Whitening?

Call 972-347-1145 today to schedule a whitening consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They can answer any other questions you have about teeth whitening and help you choose the option that is best for you.

Five Trendy Things that are Really Bad for Your Teeth

June 27, 2018

With the wealth of information available to anyone with internet access comes the risk of incomplete information or misinformation.  Health and beauty blogs tout countless trendy ways to lose weight, clear your skin, and whiten your teeth.

There are a few popular trends that can have a detrimental effect on your teeth, and we want you to learn about these dangers before you find out the hard way (i.e. multiple new cavities or broken down dental work).

Apple Cider Vinegar

Fans of apple cider vinegar claim a wide range of health benefits from drinking it straight, diluting it with water or gargling it.  These claims include calming an upset stomach, curing hiccups, soothing a sore throat, lowering cholesterol, losing weight, and boosting energy.

The benefits are pretty tempting.  Here are the risks: increased chance of cavities and greater likelihood of acid erosion/damage to teeth and dental work.

The pH of apple cider vinegar is 3.3 to 3.5.  This is far below the threshold at which enamel, the hardest substance in the body, begins to dissolve.  Any prolonged contact of a strong acid with your teeth begins to weaken the enamel, making it easier for bacteria to penetrate, causing a cavity.

Strong acids also cause deterioration and breakdown of existing dental work.

A thorough rinsing with water should follow any use of apple cider vinegar in your mouth in order to bring the pH inside the mouth back to neutral.  Do not brush immediately.  Wait until your mouth returns to neutral.

Lemon Juice Detox

The most popular lemon juice detox is called the Master Cleanse, and it claims to cleanse the body of toxins and help you lose 20 pounds in 10 days.  The recipe for the recommended “lemonade” includes fresh lemon or lime juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water. 

There are two huge problems in this recipe: lemon juice and maple syrup.  One is an extremely strong acid, and the other is loaded with sugar.

There is another problem with the Master Cleanse, as far as teeth are concerned.  The detox calls for avoiding all solid food for 10 days, which means liquids only.

When we chew, we stimulate the production of saliva, which is our body’s natural defense against acid and bacteria.  Saliva fights cavities, gum disease, and acid erosion.  If chewing stops, and only drinking ensues, the production of saliva decreases.  This puts someone at a higher risk for the things saliva fights: cavities, gum disease, and acid erosion.

Sparkling Water

Many people drink sparkling water simply because they like it.  Others drink it in an attempt to stop drinking sodas.  Other people enjoy it as an alternative to plain water every once in a while.

Is sparkling water better for your teeth than soda?  Of course.

Is it completely risk-free?  No.

Sparkling water is acidic.  The flavored types of sparkling water typically add citric acid to create lemon, lime or orange flavors.  This makes it even more acidic; some fall into the same pH range as sodas and sports drinks.

Sipping on a sparkling water drink throughout the day creates a low pH environment in your mouth, weakening enamel and making it easier for bacteria to cause cavities.

Enjoy sparkling water during a meal so that your saliva can counteract the acid it contains.

Kombucha

Kombucha is trendy, but it is not new.  Records of “fermented tea” show that people have been drinking kombucha for over 2000 years.  Health benefits attributed to kombucha include detoxification, improved digestion, immune system stimulation, arthritis and cancer prevention, and weight loss among others.

Some people make their own kombucha, and others prefer store-bought brands.  There are two concerns with kombucha: acidity and sugar content.  One of the most important steps in making your own kombucha is monitoring the pH level.  When the pH level reaches about 3, the brewing cycle is complete, and it is ready to drink.  This pH is low enough to damage enamel, weakening it and making it vulnerable to cavity-causing bacteria.

Some store-bought brands of kombucha contain as much as 10 grams of sugar per serving, and most bottles contain more than 2 servings.  As with candy and sodas, high sugar content feeds those same cavity-causing bacteria, increasing your risk for cavities.

Activated Charcoal

There are countless new oral hygiene products containing activated charcoal.  They claim to absorb both toxins and stains, leading to healthy gums and white teeth.

In 2017, the American Dental Association published a literature review of all the current scientific studies regarding activated charcoal.  Their findings state that there is not enough evidence to deem activated charcoal products effective at removing bacterial toxins or whitening teeth.  There is also not enough evidence to confirm that activated charcoal is safe to use on your teeth.

The risk is damage to the enamel caused by abrasion.  Abrasion is the gradual wearing away of enamel by an abrasive or gritty substance.  This is like using sandpaper on your teeth.  Because many beauty blogs recommend DIY toothpastes using activated charcoal and coconut oil, the level of abrasiveness could be different for each homemade recipe.  Being unable to measure its safety means we cannot recommend it.

Are You Curious about Another Trend and Its Effects on Teeth?

Ask Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara at your next checkup about any trends you are considering.  They will make sure you will not damage your teeth by trying a new diet or trend.  Call our office at 972-347-1145 today to schedule a consultation.

 

Why Do Some Teeth Have to be Pulled?

June 20, 2018

Having a tooth pulled is a relatively common experience.  Children lose twenty baby teeth, perhaps having them pulled by their parents.  Many people have their wisdom teeth extracted in their late teens or early twenties.

But aside from baby teeth and wisdom teeth, why do other teeth have to be pulled?

It’s all about prognosis.

What is Prognosis?

A prognosis is a forecast of the likely outcome of a situation.  It is like a prediction.  When Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara evaluate a tooth with a problem, they must consider the severity of the problem, the available treatment options, and the likely outcome of those treatment options.

Dentists will typically give a tooth a prognosis that is one of the following: good, fair, poor, or hopeless.  A good prognosis means that there is little risk for any complications, and you will keep the tooth for a very long time.  A fair prognosis includes the risk of some complications and the chance that the tooth will need more treatment in the future.  A poor prognosis means the tooth is not likely to successfully function in your mouth for any extended period of time.  And a hopeless prognosis means no treatment will enable you to keep the tooth in your mouth.

What Gives a Tooth a Poor Prognosis?

The more severe the dental problem is, the lower the prognosis.  Teeth with very large cavities, deep fractures, and/or severe gum disease often carry a poor long-term prognosis.  Treatment performed on these teeth does not guarantee that that they will last forever.

The reason we are cautious about giving the prognosis of teeth and their corresponding dental treatment is that we want your dental work to last.  At Prosper Family Dentistry, we are committed to performing excellent dentistry.  We stand behind the work that we do, and with the proper care, it should last many years.

We also talk about prognosis because we want our patients to have clear expectations about their dental work.  When we do not believe that dental treatment will give a tooth many more years, that tooth has a poor long-term prognosis.

When a tooth has a poor long-term prognosis, we will always discuss the option of extracting the tooth.  We want every investment in your mouth to be a good one.

What Gives a Tooth a Hopeless Prognosis?

A hopeless prognosis means that no treatment will save the tooth and keep it in your mouth.  For teeth with a hopeless prognosis, extraction is the only treatment option to remove the dental disease.  The tooth must be pulled in order to ensure for your health and safety.

How Do I Replace a Tooth That Has Been Pulled?

In most cases, you will be able to replace the pulled tooth with a dental implant.  Dental implants are the best way to restore a missing tooth because they are the only treatment option that recreates every part of the tooth.  By replacing the tooth’s root, the dental implant functions like a natural tooth.

There are other ways to replace missing teeth, including removable partials and cemented bridges.  These options require support from other teeth and, over time, weaken and damage those supporting teeth.  Dental implants stand alone.  They do not need any other teeth in order to function.

Because an implant is as close as we can get to a natural tooth, you will not miss the pulled tooth.  An implant looks and functions the same way a natural tooth does.

What if I Don’t Replace a Tooth That Has Been Pulled?

Several problems can occur when you do not replace a missing tooth.

  • Reduced chewing force – When you lose a tooth, there is less surface area available for chewing. Chewing works best when you have a full complement of teeth.  Chewing function diminishes when even one tooth is missing.
  • Shifting, crowding or spacing of teeth – The teeth hold each other in place. When you lose a tooth, the adjacent teeth drift into that space, causing changes in the alignment of the teeth.
  • Bite changes – The pressure between upper and lower teeth during biting also holds the teeth in their vertical position. When you lose a tooth, the opposing tooth can move into that space.  This is particularly common when a lower tooth is missing, and the upper tooth drifts downward into the gap.
  • Increased risk for damage to neighboring teeth – Teeth are designed to withstand a certain amount of force from chewing. When you lose one tooth, the teeth on both sides have to bear more of the burden of chewing than they are designed to withstand.  This leads to increased risk for gum recession and cracked teeth.

Replacing a missing tooth is always the best long-term treatment for your mouth.

Do You Have a Tooth with a Poor or Hopeless Prognosis?

Call us today at 972-347-1145 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They will discuss the prognosis of your tooth and the details of all of your treatment options.

 

Are Baby Teeth Really That Important?

June 13, 2018

Yes!

We hear this question a lot.  Some parents tend to be less concerned about a child’s baby teeth because they know these teeth will eventually fall out.  This blog will explore all of the reasons baby teeth DO matter and need to be healthy for the years they are in your child’s mouth.

What are Baby Teeth?

Also called primary teeth, baby teeth are the first set of teeth a child gets in his or her mouth.  Other names for baby teeth include deciduous teeth and milk teeth.  There are 20 baby teeth in all, and they enter the mouth from age 6 months through 2 years.

Baby teeth are fully developed teeth, with the same physical makeup as permanent teeth.  They have nerves and blood vessels on the inside, and they are covered in enamel.

Baby teeth can feel pain, they can get cavities, and they show damage from teeth grinding.

Why Do Humans Have Baby Teeth?

It is all about growth.  A baby’s jaws are too small to hold the full set of permanent teeth.  This initial set of teeth allows a baby to begin chewing and speaking as the jaw continues to grow.

Without baby teeth, a child would not be able to obtain the nutrition necessary for his or her overall growth.  Baby teeth also help in guiding the growth of the jaws.

What are the Purposes of Baby Teeth?

Baby teeth are important for all of the following reasons. Even just one of these functions is reason enough to take great care of your child’s baby teeth.

  • Chewing – A child can only live on milk, formula, and baby food for so long. In order to receive the proper nutrition, he or she has to begin eating solid foods.  This is only possible with healthy teeth to chew those foods.
  • Speaking – Many of the letter sounds required for speaking involve interactions between the tongue, lips and teeth. Without teeth, a child cannot learn to make these sounds.  Often, the speech habits formed in early childhood persist for many years and require speech therapy to correct.
  • Jaw Growth – A proper bite relationship between the upper and lower teeth is vital to normal, healthy growth of the upper and lower jaws. When teeth are lost and shift into inappropriate positions, it can negatively influence how the jaws grow.
  • Formation of Permanent Teeth – Permanent form from the cells in baby teeth. If a baby tooth is missing, the permanent tooth will not develop.  If a baby tooth is infected or injured, the developing permanent tooth is often damaged.  This damage may result in an abnormal shape or weakened enamel on the growing permanent tooth, which would cause an unsightly appearance and a higher risk for cavities.
  • Holding Space for Permanent Teeth – Healthy baby teeth maintain the health of the jawbone and keep space available for permanent teeth to come in. If a baby tooth is lost from infection or injury, the teeth around it begin to shift into that space.  This results in a lack of space for the underlying permanent tooth to come into its correct position in the jaw.  It leads to crooked, crowded teeth, which will require years of braces to fix.

How are Baby Teeth Different from Permanent Teeth?

Baby teeth are not meant to last forever.  Their purposes are temporary, lasting only until the permanent teeth replace them in the arch.  Because they are only temporary, they are slightly different from permanent teeth.

Baby teeth have thinner enamel.  The layer of enamel covering a baby tooth is about half the thickness of that covering a permanent tooth.  Thin enamel makes it easier for bacteria to penetrate through and cause cavities to spread very quickly.

Baby teeth roots dissolve under pressure.  The baby teeth fall out at just the right time by this mechanism.  The underlying permanent tooth begins to push toward the oral cavity and put pressure on the roots of the baby tooth.  As the roots dissolve, there is nothing holding the baby tooth in the jawbone, and it becomes loose.

Other Reasons to Keep Baby Teeth Healthy

Big cavities on baby teeth cause toothaches.  Babies and young children may experience or communicate that they are experiencing pain differently than an adult does.  You should never assume that a decayed baby tooth is not painful.

Infections on baby teeth can spread to the brain or bloodstream!  These can be extremely dangerous situations.  If there is visible swelling in or near your child’s mouth, seek emergency care immediately!

Baby teeth with dental problems require dental treatment.  By keeping them healthy, you can prevent the need for expensive and traumatic dental visits for your child.

Do You Have More Questions about Baby Teeth?

Call our office at 972-347-1145 to set up a consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara for an evaluation of your child’s baby teeth.  They will discuss with you all you should know about caring for your child and his or her teeth.

What Causes Cold Sores and Fever Blisters?

June 6, 2018

Cold sores and fever blisters have these names because people once believed they were the result of colds and fevers.  They are not caused by colds or fevers, but colds and fevers can put you at risk for them.

What is a Cold Sore/Fever Blister?

A cold sore and a fever blister are the same thing.  From here on, we will refer to them as cold sores, just for the sake of simplicity.  Cold sores consist of a small cluster of fluid-filled bumps, which burst to form tiny ulcers.  These ulcers then scab over while healing.  They can occur on the lips, which is most common, or on the inside of the mouth.  Inside the mouth, they typically appear on the roof of the mouth.

Most people who get cold sores frequently recognize the tingly feeling you get right before a cold sore appears.  This is called the prodromal phase.  If you catch it in this early stage, medications can shorten their lifespan and reduce their intensity.

What Causes Cold Sores?

The scientific name of cold sores is oral herpetic lesions because they are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus-1.  This is not the same virus that causes genital herpes.  Oral herpes and genital herpes are caused by two different strains of the herpes simplex viruses.

In general, oral herpes lesions are HSV-1, and genital herpes lesions are HSV-2.  Over 3.7 billion people have HSV-1, and in most of those people, it does not cause any sores.  However, in other people, it causes painful and even embarrassing oral sores.

The billions of people who have the HSV-1 virus in their body usually have no symptoms at all.  Because the virus is inactive but present all the time, it is likely to become active when your immune system is down.

This is why things like colds and fevers can predispose you to cold sores.  When your body is trying to fight off something else, HSV-1 can creep up and cause active lesions.  Cold sores also commonly occur after sun exposure and dental visits.  Any minor damage to the lips (UV rays from sun exposure or minor stretching during a teeth cleaning) can be enough to spark a cold sore

How Do You Get HSV-1?

The virus that causes HSV-1 is so common that most people are exposed to it by the age of one year.  One person transmits the virus to another via oral-to-oral contact, like kissing or sharing drinks and eating utensils.  While it is possible to transmit the virus anytime, it is more likely to happen when you have an active sore.

How to Reduce Your Risk of Getting a Cold Sore?

There are a few steps you can take to make cold sores less likely.  These are not foolproof, but they may lower your risk.

  • Always wear chapstick with sunscreen protection of SPF 15 or greater.
  • Make sure your lips are well-lubricated with Vaseline or chapstick before, throughout and after a dental procedure.
  • Take care of your immune system. Make healthy food and drink choices, and try to prevent any minor illnesses.
  • Avoid kissing or sharing drinks and eating utensils with anyone who has an active cold sore.
  • Reduce stress as much as possible, and get plenty of sleep.

How to Reduce Your Symptoms Once You Have a Cold Sore?

If a cold sore is already present, here are some tips for managing your symptoms.

  • Catch it as early as possible! When you use the available anti-viral treatments early, the sores are smaller, less painful, and short in duration.
  • Learn from your past. If you’ve had cold sores in the past that do not respond well to over-the-counter ointments like abreva®, talk to Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  There are prescription medications that may work better for you.
  • Do not touch it! The blisters of cold sores should never be squeezed or popped.  This introduces bacteria to the sore and increases the risk of an infected sore.
  • Keep it clean. Do not put makeup over the sore.
  • Avoid kissing loved ones and sharing food and drinks.
  • Throw away chapstick used over an active sore.

Do You Suffer from Cold Sores? 

Talk to Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara at your next visit about how you can reduce the risk of developing cold sores and how to treat them when they do occur.

 

White Teeth to Go with Your Summer Tan

May 30, 2018

School is out, and summer is officially here!  Do you know what goes beautifully with a nice tan?  A bright white smile!  Here are some ways you can get a brighter smile to complement your summer tan.

Whitening Toothpastes and an Electric Toothbrush

The way whitening toothpastes work is to polish external stains off the enamel surface.  This will not change the underlying color of your teeth.  It will remove superficial stains from things like coffee, tea, red wine, tobacco, etc . . .

Whitening toothpastes have a slightly gritty texture, caused by the abrasive particles they contain.  This roughness is completely safe for enamel, but it should not be used on the tooth’s root.  You should avoid using whitening toothpastes in areas of gum recession that exposes the root.

Whitening toothpastes become even more effective when used with an electric toothbrush.  The rapid motion of the electric toothbrush enhances the polishing ability of the whitening toothpaste, giving a better result than a manual toothbrush.

Which Whitening Toothpaste is Best?

There are many wonderful brands of whitening toothpaste on the market today.  Make sure to choose one with the American Dental Association’s Seal of Approval.  These have been tested for safety and will not damage your teeth.

Warning!

If your teeth become sensitive after using whitening toothpaste, stop using it and call our office for an evaluation.  Whitening toothpaste could aggravate a dental problem.  We need to rule out any problems and confirm that continuing to use the whitening toothpaste will not do any harm to your teeth.

Over-the-Counter Whitening Products

There are countless whitening products available over-the-counter in your local drugstores and via online retailers.  Here are the important things to know about over-the-counter whiteners.

  • They do work.  Many over-the-counter whiteners contain the same active ingredient chemical as professional products.
  • Check the ingredients. If the product contains a peroxide chemical (either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide), then it has the ability to change the overall color of teeth.
  • Beware of gimmicks. If it does not contain a peroxide chemical, it will not penetrate the enamel and actually whiten the teeth.  Many products today claim to whiten the teeth while being peroxide-free.  They may remove some surface stains, like whitening toothpastes do, but they will not have any effect on underlying discolorations in the teeth.
  • They may work slower than professional products. Typically, OTC whiteners have a lower concentration of the active ingredient, which means it may take longer to achieve your desired result.
  • They may not meet your whitening goals. Due to their lower concentration, over-the-counter whiteners might not get you as far as you would like to go with teeth whitening.
  • They may cause sensitivity as a side effect. This is a typical side effect of any teeth whitening.  Ask Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara for help if you experience sensitivity from OTC whiteners.

Professional Teeth Whitening Products at Prosper Family Dentistry

At Prosper Family Dentistry, we want to meet both the needs and wants of our patients.  When it comes to teeth whitening, we offer three different professional options.

  1. Opalescence® Go! Whitening Packs – These at-home whitening trays are ready to go! No molds or digital scans are required because they are a one-size-fits-most tray.  These trays contain a professional strength whitening gel, and they are available in 10-packs for whitening your teeth up to four shades, or 4-packs for maintenance of your white smile.  You can pick these up at our office without an appointment.  Drop by anytime!
  2. Custom Tray Whitening with Opalescence® Whitening Gel – This is the gold standard of teeth whitening. A set of custom trays is made to intimately fit your teeth and hold the whitening gel exactly where it needs to be for maximum whitening effect.  The trays will last for many years, and refills of the whitening gel (in three different concentrations) can be purchased at any time without an appointment.
  3. BOOST! In-Office Whitening – For those who want immediate results, this is the way to go. With BOOST! in-office teeth whitening, you will achieve whitening results in one hour.  This option is great for people who need a whiter smile as soon as possible.  We also have many patients choose this option because they know they will not keep up with the whitening regimen on their own at home.

Are You Looking for a Whiter Smile to Complement Your Summer Tan?

Call 972-347-1145 today to schedule a whitening consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They will discuss your whitening options and help you choose the one that is best for you.

 

Are Electric Toothbrushes Really Better than Regular Toothbrushes?

May 16, 2018

The short answer is yes.

This blog is the long answer.  Many people are hesitant to invest in an electric toothbrush.  For some, it seems too expensive.  For others, it is simply difficult to change a lifelong habit.  Almost every electric toothbrush user will tell you that once you switch, you will never want to go back to using a regular toothbrush!

What is an Electric Toothbrush?

An electric toothbrush is a toothbrush with electrically powered movement of the bristles.  Some move in a circular motion, and others use a back-and-forth or up-and-down motion.  They typically consist of three different parts: a replaceable brush head (available in different shapes for your preference), a base containing the battery and power control, and a charging station.  Most electric toothbrushes run on a rechargeable battery, and there are a few models containing AA or AAA batteries that you can replace.

How is an Electric Toothbrush Better than a Regular Toothbrush?

The purpose of a toothbrush is to remove plaque and food debris from the surfaces of teeth.  In theory, a manual toothbrush can remove plaque as well as an electric toothbrush when used perfectly.  The problem is that very few people brush perfectly.

Electric toothbrushes make up for the imperfect way people brush their teeth by doing the majority of the hard work.  The motion of the bristles created by an electric toothbrush will effectively remove plaque and food debris as soon as it makes contact.  With an electric toothbrush, all you have to do is touch it to the tooth, and it does all the work for you.

Research studies have proven over and over again that an electric toothbrush shows greater cleaning effectiveness than a manual toothbrush.  This means it is better at removing plaque.

Better plaque removal = cleaner teeth.

Cleaner teeth = healthier teeth.

Who Should Use an Electric Toothbrush?

An electric toothbrush is beneficial to everyone!  We all need clean teeth.  However, there are certain groups of people who are in greater need for help in removing plaque, and they will find even more benefits in using electric toothbrushes.  All of the categories shown below include people who struggle with the manual dexterity required for effective brushing.  When maneuvering a toothbrush is difficult, an electric toothbrush makes a significant difference in someone’s ability to clean his teeth.

  • Children
  • Elderly
  • Special needs
  • Arthritis in the hands or other physical disabilities

How to Use an Electric Toothbrush

When used properly, an electric toothbrush will effectively remove plaque and food debris from the teeth.  There are a few guidelines to using an electric toothbrush in the correct way.

  1. Wet the toothbrush bristles, and apply a small amount of toothpaste.
  2. Insert the toothbrush into your mouth and lightly close your lips before turning the toothbrush on. Otherwise, you’ll make a big mess.
  3. Slowly move the toothbrush over the surface of each tooth in your mouth, ensuring that the bristles lightly touch the gums and that you reach all three accessible surfaces of each tooth (cheek-side, tongue-side, and biting surface). Your hands only need a gentle guiding motion on the toothbrush.  No scrubbing or rotating motions are necessary.
  4. Turn the electric toothbrush off before removing it from your mouth to avoid a messy spray of saliva, toothpaste and water.

As with a manual toothbrush, the electric toothbrush only cleans the surfaces that it touches.

How to Care For an Electric Toothbrush

The bristles on an electric toothbrush will wear out in the same way they do on a manual toothbrush.  Replace your electric toothbrush heads every 3 months.

As with anything exposed to moisture, the base and charging station can become moldy or mildew over time.  It is important to regularly clean the base and the charging station.  Use a cleaning solution that contains vinegar or bleach to clean them and dry completely before reassembling.

Which Electric Toothbrush is Best?

Some brands are better than others are.  It is important to remember that any electric toothbrush is better than all manual toothbrushes.  Each dental professional will have her own unique opinion on which brand is the best.  Ask Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara or your dental hygienist about which brand they think would be best for you when you see them at your next professional cleaning.

 

National Dental Care Month

May 16, 2018

It seems like every time we turn around, there is a new “national day” or “national month”.  Some of these are pretty silly.  And then there are some we can really get behind.  This year, the registrar at National Day Calendar declared May to be National Dental Care Month.  Its purpose is to bring awareness to preventive dental care.

What is Preventive Dental Care?

The word preventive, as it applies to dental care, means simply to prevent dental disease and other dental problems.  This includes preventing cavities, gum disease, cracked teeth, and oral cancer.  It also encompasses protecting against injuries, orthodontic relapse (teeth becoming crooked again after braces or clear aligner treatment), and TMJ problems.

How Can You Practice Preventive Dental Care?

Maintaining a good, consistent relationship with your dentist is essential to preventive dental care.  Many problems that can occur in the mouth do not produce any symptoms until they are relatively large problems.  You simply cannot wait until something bothers you to go to the dentist if you want to be preventive.

Preventive dental care can be divided into two categories: 1) things your dentist is responsible for, and 2) things you are responsible for.  Because being preventive requires the cooperation of you and your dentist, having a good relationship with your dentist is of utmost importance.

Our Role in Preventive Dental Care

At Prosper Family Dentistry, as  conservative, preventive dentists, we take our job very seriously.  Our role in preventive dental care involves evaluating your unique risk factors, catching warning signs of dental disease, and making an accurate diagnosis of every dental problem we see. 

Risk Factors

We use a system of identifying risk factors to inform our patients of the areas in which they are at high risk for developing dental problems.  By making each patient aware of your unique risk areas, we can customize a preventive treatment plan to help you avoid dental disease and future dental work.

Warning Signs

Warning signs are the early signs of disease.  Each member of our team at Prosper Family Dentistry has extensive training and experience in identifying warning signs of cavities, gum disease and tooth cracks.  Catching disease early makes dental treatment less extensive and less expensive.  Our elite dental hygienists closely scrutinize all of the teeth and gums as they are completing a professional teeth cleaning.  In order to catch warning signs, keeping up with consistent dental cleanings is crucial.

Accurate Diagnosis

We use the latest advances in dental technology, including digital x-rays, three-dimensional scans and CariVu imaging to gather the most accurate information about your mouth and teeth.  By having this accurate information, Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara are able to make the most accurate diagnosis of the current state of your teeth.  

Your Role in Preventive Dental Care

Consistent Dental Visits

Unfortunately, the risk factors and warning signs discussed above are usually not detectable by non-dental professionals.  Waiting until something bothers you means the problem has progressed beyond the stage of risk factor or warning sign.  By regularly visiting your dentist for consistent evaluations, any problem will be caught early.

Follow Through with Preventive Dental Treatment

When Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara “catch” risk factors and warning signs of dental disease, they will recommend some preventive dental treatment options to help you avoid further dental work in the future.  If you choose to forego these preventive dental treatments, it is more likely that the risk factor will progress into a warning sign, and that a warning sign will progress into more extensive dental disease.   

Good Oral Hygiene at Home

Preventive dental care begins and ends at home.  No matter how wonderful your professional dental care is, it cannot do the job alone.  Preventing dental problems always includes good oral hygiene at home.  Our wonderful dental hygienists, Staci, Kenneth, and Carli, will give you specific, customized recommendations for your unique needs.  A good general routine for oral hygiene includes these three important steps.

  1. Brush twice daily.  Ideally, you should brush your teeth with a soft bristled toothbrush (or electric toothbrush) once in the morning after breakfast, and once at night before bedtime.  Make sure to brush in a circular motion that causes the bristles to touch the gums.
  2. Floss every single night! An oral hygiene routine that omits flossing is not a good one.  Flossing is imperative for clean teeth.  It is the only way to remove plaque and food debris from between the teeth.  Brushing alone will not do that.
  3. Use an alcohol-free mouthwash each time you brush.  Mouthwash kills bacteria and dislodges plaque and food debris from hard to reach places.

Do You Have More Questions about Preventive Dental Care?

Call 972-347-1145 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They can answer any questions you have about your specific dental concerns.

Oil Pulling

May 9, 2018

In recent years, we have seen a resurgence of interest in alternative medicine, homeopathic remedies, and all things “all-natural”.  Also, with a wealth of information at our fingertips and the way the whole world is connected through social media, many people are interested in the traditions of other cultures.  One of the best examples of the link between our newfound interest in natural healthcare and international traditions is oil pulling.

What is Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling is an ancient practice of Ayurvedic medicine in India dating back thousands of years.  It consists of swishing an oil in the mouth, pulling it in and out of the teeth, for 15-20 minutes.  Oil pulling is believed to detoxify the entire body, help you lose weight, strengthen your immune system, and boost liver and kidney function.  Some websites even promote that it stops the growth of malignant tumors. This blog will only focus on the benefits to oral health care and the technique of oil pulling.

Legitimate Oral Health Benefits of Oil Pulling

There is not enough scientific research on oil pulling for dentists to be major proponents of its use.  However, there is no scientific research that shows it to be detrimental to oral health.  The one published study about oil pulling with coconut oil in a recognized dental journal does show a reduction in Streptococcus mutans levels in plaque and saliva after 2 weeks.  (S. mutans is one of the most common bacteria active in causing cavities.)  This means there is no reason NOT to do oil pulling from a dentist’s perspective, and there may even be some benefits in reducing a person’s risk for cavities or gum disease.

Questionable Claims of Oil Pulling

One of the biggest reasons oil pulling has soared in popularity is the many social media claims that it is an all-natural way to whiten your teeth.  Some very untrustworthy sites even claim that oil pulling heals all dental problems so that you never have to go to the dentist again.  To be clear, oil pulling does not whiten teeth.  It does not heal cavities or periodontal disease.  It can reduce the accumulation of plaque, which can give the appearance of whitening the teeth.

Side note on whitening: Mouthwashes that claim to whiten the teeth are also false claims as they cannot whiten teeth.

If used, oil pulling is an additional oral hygiene therapy, not a replacement for brushing or flossing.  It can be used in place of a mouthwash, if desired.  Again, it should never take the place of brushing and flossing.

Technique for Oil Pulling

To try oil pulling at home, simply follow these instructions.

  1. Purchase (or dig through your pantry for) a raw, cold-pressed oil.  This can include coconut oil, sesame oil, avocado oil, olive oil, and many others.  Coconut oil is the most popular by far.
  2. Swish 1 tablespoon of oil in the mouth for 15-20 minutes. If you are new to oil pulling, you may want to start with a smaller quantity and set your timer for a shorter length of time.
  3. Spit out ALL of the oil in your mouth. Do not swallow any of it.  Remember, an oil that is semi-solid at room temperature should not be spit into any drains in your house.  Only spit into the trash!
  4. Follow the oil pulling with brushing and flossing your teeth.

Are You an Oil Puller?

If you are an avid fan of oil pulling, please let your dental hygienist know.  We would love to be able to correlate any improvements we see in your gum tissues and oral health with an oral hygiene practice that you have.

Are you thinking of giving oil pulling a try?  Start with a clean slate by having your teeth professionally cleaned first.  Call us today at 972-347-1145 to set up an appointment with one of our awesome dental hygienists.

FAQs about ClearCorrect™

May 2, 2018

At Prosper Family Dentistry, we have spent many years creating beautiful smiles with Invisalign®.  This year, we added another option for patients who want to straighten their teeth using clear aligners: ClearCorrect™.

Our goal is to give each person the beautiful smile he or she has always wanted. By broadening our horizons and offering multiple treatment alternatives, we are making this goal more attainable than ever before.

With anything new, there are always questions.  According to Google, here are the most frequently asked questions about ClearCorrect™ orthodontic treatment with our answers.

Is ClearCorrect™ cheaper than Invisalign®?

Yes!

ClearCorrect™ offers more options for treatment length and pricing.  We are able to pass those savings on to the patient.  In general, clear aligner therapy with ClearCorrect™ is less expensive than Invisalign®.

Is ClearCorrect™ the same as Invisalign®

No.

ClearCorrect™ is made from a slightly different clear plastic material.  Many dentists feel that the ClearCorrect™ aligner material is actually thinner than Invisalign®’s.  Thinner means less visible and less likely to cause changes to your speech.

Another way in which ClearCorrect™ is different: it is made in the U.S.A.  We are so proud to use a company that creates jobs right here at home!

Is ClearCorrect™ worth it?

Absolutely!

ClearCorrect™ will give you the beautiful straight teeth you’ve always wanted!  It works by focused, prescribed amounts of pressure applied to the teeth.  This pressure guides and moves the teeth into the position set by the aligners.

Unlike other things you could spend money on, like a new TV or other new technology, ClearCorrect™ will never depreciate.  It will give you something that will last the rest of your life: a beautiful smile!

Is ClearCorrect™ covered by insurance?

Yes!

ClearCorrect™ is an accepted form of orthodontic treatment, just like Invisalign® and traditional braces.  If your dental insurance provides benefits for orthodontics, it will pay for ClearCorrect™.  Many insurance plans put an age limit on orthodontic benefits, so you should check to see if your insurance covers orthodontic treatment at your age.  If you are not sure how to do this, just ask Lorrie at our front desk.  She is an insurance expert and can answer all of your questions!

Can you eat with ClearCorrect™?

Kind of . . .

In many cases, it is okay to eat with clear aligners in your mouth.  The pressure of chewing actually helps move the teeth into the position of the aligner.  However, it is important to remove the aligners to clean your teeth and the aligners any time you eat with them in place.  It is best to remove them several times a day to clean them.  Most people do this at mealtimes.

Can you drink with ClearCorrect™?

Only water.

Because of the way clear aligners trap liquids against the teeth, you should not drink anything besides water when the aligners are in your mouth.  Otherwise, you increase the risk for developing cavities!

Can you smoke with ClearCorrect™?

Um, no?

We do not want you to smoke ever.  For reasons why, see our latest oral cancer blog.

Does ClearCorrect™ work?

Yes!

ClearCorrect™ has thousands of happy customers!  The teeth straightening results from ClearCorrect™ are predictable and beautiful.

Does ClearCorrect™ hurt?

Sometimes.

Moving teeth can make the teeth sore or sensitive.  Some people experience mild headaches.  Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara have many years of experience moving teeth with clear aligners and can give you lots of tips to reduce this discomfort.

In general, clear aligners cause less pain than traditional braces because there is no metal and sharp edges to cut lips, cheeks and tongue.

Are You Interested in ClearCorrect™?

Call 972-347-1145 today to schedule a consultation with one of our dentists.  If this blog did not answer all of your questions, our very own Dr. Cara is currently straightening her teeth with ClearCorrect™ and can answer any other questions you may have.

 

Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April 25, 2018

April is Oral Cancer Awareness month!  As dental professionals, we are aware of oral cancer year-round.  In April, we want to bring oral cancer to your awareness. 

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is cancer that starts in the mouth.  This includes cancer on gum tissue, cheeks, the tongue, the floor of the mouth, the palate, and the opening into the throat.

More than 90% of all oral cancers are classified as squamous cell carcinoma, which is also a type of skin cancer.  These begin on the surface layer of the tissue inside the mouth.  If left untreated, they can spread deeper into the original site or into other areas of the body.

There are also other types of oral cancer that are below the surface, arising in the jawbone or the tissue surrounding a tooth.  This blog does not address these types of oral cancer as they have different and usually unknown causes, which makes them non-preventable.

What Causes Oral Cancer?

There are several known risk factors for oral cancer.  For most of the 20th century, oral cancer typically emerged in males, age 60 years or older, with poor dental care and a significant history of alcohol and tobacco use.  The 21st century has revealed a new demographic of oral cancer cases, thanks to the exponential increase in the prevalence of HPV (Human PapillomaVirus).

As the face of oral cancer changes, researchers are working diligently to follow the causes and keep us up to date on what to watch for.

The “old” oral cancer still persists in its demographic of older males with alcohol or tobacco use and poor dental care.  These types of oral cancer usually show up on the floor of the mouth, sides of the tongue, and cheeks.

The “new” oral cancer is affecting younger people with no history of alcohol or tobacco use.  This “new” type also usually appears in different areas of the mouth, namely the back of the tongue or the opening into the throat.

Risk Factors for Oral Cancer:

  • Poor dental health – The presence of chronic infections in the mouth, whether from gum disease or cavities, predisposes you to oral cancer.
  • Tobacco use – Both smoking and using smokeless tobacco place people into the high risk category for oral cancer.
  • Heavy alcohol use – Heavy alcohol use leads to nutritional deficiencies and a deficient immune system. When combined with tobacco use, alcohol greatly increases the risk for developing oral cancer.
  • HPV infection – A recent Swedish scientific study on the correlation between HPV and oral cancer concluded that over 60% of oral cancer patients were infected with HPV. There are particular strains of HPV which are more likely to be linked to oral cancer.

What are the Signs or Symptoms of Oral Cancer?

Many cases of oral cancer do not hurt!  This makes consistent screenings by your dental professional mandatory.

The signs and symptoms to watch for are listed here.

  • An abnormal red and/or white patch on the tissues inside your mouth that does not go away and can’t be wiped off
  • An ulcer that does not heal within 2 weeks
  • Any progressive swelling or lump that steadily enlarges
  • Persistent hoarseness or difficulty swallowing
  • Unusual changes in the texture or appearance of the surface tissue
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck that do not return to normal

How is Oral Cancer Treated?

Like most cancers, treatment of oral cancer is customized to the individual case.  Treatment always begins with a proper diagnosis using a biopsy.

Most likely, you will be referred to an oral & maxillofacial surgeon for the biopsy of the suspicious area.  If the specific diagnosis of oral cancer comes through from the biopsy results, your dentist and oral surgeon will work with an oncologist to determine your full treatment plan.

treatment often includes surgical removal of the initial cancer lesion.  Depending on the stage or spread of the cancerous cells, it may be necessary to also add chemotherapy and/or radiation.

Is Oral Cancer Contagious?

No.

It is important to know that the actual lesion (sore) of oral cancer in someone’s mouth is not contagious and is not transmitted between people.

However, it is also important to know that HPV, which is one of the causes of oral cancer, is contagious.  It is a sexually transmitted virus, which is also one of the causes of cervical cancer in women.

Is Oral Cancer Dangerous?

Yes.

Oral cancer kills one person every hour in the United States.  Early detection and treatment are the key to surviving oral cancer.  When caught early, the survival rates are good.

How can People Prevent Oral Cancer?

You can lower your risk for oral cancer by reducing your exposure to the known causes.

  • Stop all tobacco use. If you need help to quit smoking or using smokeless tobacco, tell Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara or your dental hygienist.  They are all trained in tobacco cessation counseling and can give you useful tips on quitting.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation only. Heavy alcohol use increases your risk for oral cancer, especially in the presence of tobacco use.  Cut back on alcoholic drinks to lower your risk.
  • Keep your mouth clean. By preventing and treating any infections in your mouth, like gum disease or cavities, not only are you improving your overall health: you can lower your risk for oral cancer.
  • Practice safe sex, and limit your number of sexual partners. HPV is everywhere.  Your risk for becoming infected with the particularly dangerous strains of HPV increases as the number of your sexual partners increases.  Women, you can have your Ob/Gyn test for HPV during your yearly well women exam.  Men, you can request an HPV screening by your medical doctor.

Do You Have More Questions or Concern about Oral Cancer for Yourself or a Loved One?

Call us at 972-347-1145 to schedule an oral cancer screening with Dr. Jill or Dr. Cara.  We are so committed to early detection that all oral cancer screenings in our office are included in your oral evaluations at no charge to you!

Sjögren’s Awareness Month

April 18, 2018

We care about your overall health, and we are especially interested on how the condition of your mouth impacts overall health.  There are also systemic conditions that affect the condition of the mouth, and one of those is the focus of today’s blog.

Sjögren’s Syndrome is a disorder that has huge ramifications for the health of your mouth, in addition to its effects of the rest of the body.  April is Sjögren’s Awareness month, so today we want to highlight the dental health concerns related to this disorder.

What is Sjögren’s Syndrome?

Sjögren’s Syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the glands that produce moisture.  In most cases, the most obvious damage is to the salivary glands and the glands producing tears.  It can also affect other mucous glands, like those in the respiratory and GI tracts.  The damage to these glands causes them to malfunction and not produce the saliva, tears or mucous that the body constantly needs.

Sjögren’s Syndrome affects over 4 million Americans, and 90% of those affected are women.  It can occur by itself, called primary Sjögren’s, or in the presence of other connective tissue disorders like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, called secondary Sjögren’s.

What are the Symptoms of Sjögren’s Syndrome?

No two people are exactly alike, and patients with Sjögren’s can experience one or more of these symptoms.  The disorder usually begins with a mild case of dry mouth, of which many people are unaware.  For this reason, Sjögren’s is often undiagnosed until painful symptoms are noticed by the patient.

  • Inadequate saliva – dry mouth
  • Inadequate tears – dry eyes
  • Inadequate mucous production – dry airway, esophagus
  • Joint and muscle pain

What are the Functions of Saliva?

Saliva is more than just spit.  Saliva is vital to the healthy function of your mouth in all of its capacities.  It aids chewing, tasting, digestion, swallowing, speaking, and the maintenance of a healthy oral environment.

  • Lubrication – One of saliva’s most important roles is keeping the mouth moist. Without proper lubrication, the delicate tissues lining the mouth become dry, inflamed, and sensitive.  The cheeks, lips and tongue often stick to the teeth and suffer painful sores or ulcers.  The lubrication also extends into the throat and esophagus, aiding in swallowing.
  • pH balance – Healthy saliva has a pH slightly higher than neutral; it should be slightly alkaline. This counteracts the acids in foods and drinks we regularly ingest, and it fights the acids produced by disease-causing bacteria in the mouth.
  • Digestive enzymes – Saliva is not just water. It contains many essential ingredients for healthy digestion.  The very first step in the digestive process is the exposure of food to saliva.  The enzyme amylase in healthy saliva begins breaking down food molecules.
  • Taste – Saliva has a solvent effect on food. It carries food particles to the taste buds for a greater sensation of taste.  Patients with dry mouth often experience a decreased sense of taste.

What are the Dental Consequences of Sjögren’s Syndrome?

  • Ulcers and mouth sores – Dry tissue inside the mouth is extra-sensitive to any injury, and therefore more likely to develop ulcers or sores in response to any injury. Cheeks, lips, and the tongue cannot function properly without the lubrication provided by saliva.  They are more likely to get bitten.
  • Cavities – Without saliva neutralizing the oral cavity, the bacteria that cause cavities are able to proliferate and produce more acid. This acid damages and weakens enamel, making cavities much more likely.
  • Gum disease – Saliva contains an antibacterial component, without which the bacteria that cause gum disease thrive. Patients with a dry mouth have gum disease that is more persistent and difficult to treat.
  • Bad breath – Almost all bad breath is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria. We have already discussed how a lack of saliva allows bacteria to multiply.  Most people can relate to the sensation of waking up with a “cotton mouth” feeling and extreme bad breath.  Imagine having a mouth that dry all the time!
  • Thrush infection – Thrush is a fungal infection. The fungus is naturally present in a healthy mouth without causing any concerns.  In a dry mouth, it can take over.
  • Burning sensation – The lack of lubrication makes the lining of the cheeks, lips and tongue hypersensitive to every stimulus. This often creates a burning or tingling sensation to the inside of the mouth
  • Sensitivity to harsh chemicals in toothpastes and mouthrinses – A normal healthy mouth can handle some of the harsh ingredients in many over-the-counter oral care products, like essential oils and alcohol in mouthwash or the foaming Sodium Lauryl Sulfate in toothpastes. In an extremely dry mouth, these chemicals can cause painful burning or numbing sensations.
  • Difficulty speaking – The cheeks, lips and tongue simply cannot function well when the saliva production is impaired. The position of these tissues is essential to making certain sounds, so some patients notice changes in their speech when their mouths are extremely dry.
  • Difficulty swallowing – Saliva is necessary to form food into a bolus that can be swallowed and to lubricate the throat and esophagus during the swallowing process.

What is the Treatment for Sjögren’s Syndrome?

There is no cure for Sjögren’s Syndrome at this time.  All treatments are aimed at managing the symptoms of the disorder.  Specific to dentistry, we recommend the following protocol for any patients with extreme dry mouth or impaired salivary function.

  1. Recognize your increased risk for cavities and gum disease. This means you need more frequent and more consistent visits to your dentist.  Patients with Sjögren’s Syndrome should never miss a professional teeth cleaning or dental evaluation.  Some patients need to have their teeth cleaned on a more frequent basis (for example, every three months instead of every six).
  2. Use oral care products specifically designed for patients with dry mouth. In order to prevent the burning sensation and harsh chemicals of most over-the-counter products, they should be avoided.  A great over-the-counter brand of dry-mouth-friendly products is Biotene®.  Their toothpastes and mouthrinses will not sting or burn, and their dry mouth sprays and gels are great adjuncts to keeping your mouth moist.  Jill and Dr. Cara may also recommend prescription toothpastes or mouthrinses to decrease your risk for cavities and gum disease.
  3. Drink water throughout the day. Avoid drinks that will dehydrate you, like caffeine and alcohol.  Stay away from sodas and other high sugar drinks (they increase cavity risk).  It is essential to drink water while you eat to aid in swallowing your food.

Do You or Someone You Love have Sjögren’s Syndrome?

If you or someone you love have Sjögren’s Syndrome, call us today at 972-347-1145 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They can assess your specific risks and needs while giving you valuable recommendations to keep your mouth healthy as you fight this difficult disorder.  For more information on Sjögren’s, click here.

 

Staff Highlight: Kadi

April 11, 2018

Kadi is the life of the party!  She is constantly surprising us with her silly ideas and zany antics.  We are always laughing when Kadi is around.

Kadi joined the Prosper Family Dentistry team as a dental assistant in August of 2016.  She was recommended by our dental hygienist Carli, who had worked with her in a previous dental office.  One of her first official days with PFD was our Mouthguard Day, during which we take mouth impressions for the entire Prosper High School varsity football team.  Kadi did not bat an eyelash.  She put the pedal to the metal and breezed right through what is typically an insanely busy day.

Kadi’s enthusiasm and compassion for people of all ages make her the perfect fit in our busy practice.  She has an energy level that is difficult to compete with, and she throws herself into any assigned task with diligence and efficiency.

Kadi was trained and received her certificate as a Registered Dental Assistant in 2013 from North Central Texas College.  She gained experience in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics before joining our family practice.  Her big smile and friendly voice have endeared her to all of our littlest patients.  She loves helping to calm down anxious children and make their dental experience a good one.

In the last year, Kadi has been cross-trained to work both in the dental chair as an assistant to Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara and up front doing more administrative tasks.  Her warm smile, friendliness, and peppy voice are a great comfort to our patients who walk in the front door or need information over the phone.  So you never know where you’ll find Kadi in our office.  You can bet she is getting something done because one of her pet peeves is wasting time.

She loves Prosper Family Dentistry for the team’s emphasis on true comprehensive care and compassion for each patient.  From young to old, every patient at PFD gets a little bit of Kadi’s joy.

When she’s not entertaining us at PFD, Kadi is busy taking care of her two daughters Pazley and Tatum.  She loves being outdoors, especially fishing and soaking up the sun on Lake Texoma.  She and her boyfriend Cody enjoy riding side-by-sides in their outdoor time.

 

HPV: What is it, and What Does it Have to Do with Oral Cancer?

April 4, 2018

What is HPV?

HPV stands for Human Papillomavirus.  It is an often-undetected viral infection that infects an estimated 6.2 million new people each year.  It is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States.  HPV does not cause any symptoms at the time of infection, so most people are unaware that they have it.

There are hundreds of different strains of the virus, and nine are known cancer-causers.  The CDC estimates that more than 80% of Americans will have an HPV infection in their lifetime.  Most people have non-cancer-causing strains, and their bodies’ immune systems naturally clear the virus within 2 years of infection.

The vast majority of people infected with HPV do NOT develop cancer.

What Does HPV have to do with Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer has historically been the disease of the 60 year old white male smoker.  The cancer was usually located in the front of the mouth and easily correlated to tobacco and alcohol use.

Times have changed.  As researchers noticed an increase in oral cancers among younger non-smokers toward the back of the mouth and throat, they looked for the reason behind this change.   What they found was an extremely high prevalence of HPV infection in these “new” oral cancers.

The strain HPV16, which is also associated with cervical cancer in women, is the same culprit in newer oral cancers.

How Does This Change Things?

The demographics of oral cancer have changed.  Dentists typically held to a 75/25 rule: 75% of oral cancers are tobacco-related, and 25% are not.  That rule no longer applies.  Oral cancer affects people of all ages with no history of tobacco or alcohol use.  A recent Swedish study showed that 60% of oral cancer patients tested were infected with HPV.

This means there is no specific profile for oral cancer anymore.  All people are at risk, and all must be screened regularly.  At Prosper Family Dentistry, we perform a comprehensive oral cancer screening on every patient (even children) at every professional cleaning visit.  Our doctors and dental hygienists are trained in the detection of suspicious lesions that could be dangerous.

Who has the Highest Risk for HPV-related Oral Cancers?

The statistics show that non-smoking white males aged 35-55 years with an active sexual history are at the highest risk.  The more sexual partners, the higher the risk.  Patients with weakened immune systems are also at a higher risk because their bodies will not naturally clear the infection as most do.

How Can I Find Out if I Have HPV?

You can request a test from your medical doctor.  Most women will have this test performed with their yearly exams with an Ob/Gyn.

What if I Do Have HPV?

  • Don’t freak out. Most people have this virus at some point in their lifetimes.  Having an HPV infection does not mean you will get oral cancer.  It only means you may have a higher risk for developing oral cancer.
  • Check your mouth monthly! Note any unusual lumps, bumps or sores.  If they do not go away on their own within 2 weeks, make an appointment to see your dentist ASAP for an evaluation.
  • Keep your mouth healthy! Oral cancer rates are higher among patients with oral disease (like cavities and gum disease).  Keeping your mouth healthy boosts your immune system and lowers your risk.
  • Practice safe sex and limit the number of sexual partners. Your risk for dangerous strains of HPV, which are closely linked to cancer, increases with more sexual partners.

Want More Information on HPV-Related Oral Cancer?

The Oral Cancer Foundation provides statistics, advice and links to research about HPV and Oral Cancer.  Or call 972-347-1145 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They can answer any oral cancer question you may have and perform a thorough screening while you’re there.

Retainers: What You Need to Know

March 28, 2018

Straight teeth do not stay straight on their own.  They need help to keep their position.  Retainers do just that.  They retain the position of teeth in their correct place.

Why Do I Have to Wear a Retainer?

If your teeth have been straightened, you must wear a retainer regularly to keep them straight.

If your teeth have not been straightened, you might want to consider wearing a retainer regularly.

Here’s why:

It is a natural part of the aging process for teeth to get more crooked over time.  As we chew, the teeth rub against their neighboring teeth, and this friction removes small amounts of enamel over time.  The teeth get skinnier from side to side.

In order to prevent small gaps from opening, the teeth slowly shift forward.  This forward shift is natural, and it results in crowded or crooked teeth.

This happens whether or not your teeth were previously straightened.  The process is usually more obvious to people who had braces when they were young.

How Long Do I Have to Wear My Retainers?

We have a slightly sarcastic, but very true, answer to this question. You only have to wear it as long as you want your teeth to be straight.  Seriously.

Because of the aging process described in the previous section, crowding is inevitable for most people.  If you straightened your teeth, you made a significant investment in your beautiful smile.  Wearing your retainers regularly is the only way to keep it beautiful.

How Often Do I Have to Wear Retainers?

The answer to this question varies.

Some people have teeth that are prone to shifting as soon as the retainer is taken out each morning.  This type of scenario requires wearing retainers every night.

There are others whose teeth move very slowly, and the risk for shifting is less urgent.  A patient like this may be able to get away with wearing retainers twice a week.

No one should ever go more than one week without wearing retainers.

What Types of Retainers are Available?

There are many different types of retainers available today.  At Prosper Family Dentistry, we offer a few select types of retainers, and we help our patients chose which one will best meet their needs.

Removable Retainers:

All of the statements made above regarding how long and how often you should wear retainers are based on the assumption that your retainer is removable.  Removable retainers are the most common type made today.

Pros:

  • Removable retainers are typically less expensive.
  • Retainers you can remove allow you to keep your teeth as clean as possible.

Cons:

  • A removable retainer requires you to cooperate with your dentist’s specific recommendations for how often to wear it. If you don’t wear it, it cannot do its job.
  • Removable retainers can be lost or broken more easily.
  • Retainers that are removable will loosen and wear out over time. When this happens, they do not retain the teeth as well and need to be replaced.

In general, there are two different kinds of removable retainers.

  1. Esthetic Retainer – These clear plastic retainers cover all exposed surfaces of the teeth. They are great for maintaining the straightness of the teeth and holding the bite in its exact prescribed position.
  2. Acrylic and wire retainers – Also called Hawley retainers, these removable retainers have an acrylic base with a wire that wraps around the front of the teeth. A Hawley retainer will hold the teeth in their position front-to-back and left-to-right.  It does not hold them in a specific bite.  This allows the teeth to “settle” into a comfortable bite.  The wire can be adjusted to tighten or loosen the retainer as needed.

Glued-In Retainers:

A retainer that is glued to your teeth is called a fixed retainer.  A fixed retainer is composed of a wire that is bent to perfectly line the inside surface of the teeth. This wire is bonded to the teeth with an adhesive material that has a strong attachment to enamel.

Fixed retainers work well for lower teeth, but they are not always appropriate for upper teeth.  In most cases, attaching a metal wire to the back side of upper front teeth would interfere with the bite.  Only in rare cases will a fixed retainer work for upper teeth.

Pros:

  • Fixed retainers cannot be removed so no patient compliance is required. You don’t have to remember to wear them because they are always in place.
  • Retainers that are glued to the teeth are long-lasting.
  • They are unlikely to get lost or broken.

Cons:

  • Fixed retainers create an oral hygiene challenge. The wire prevents normal flossing and requires some extra effort, special tools, and different flossing techniques.
  • Retainers that are glued in typically only cover the front 6 teeth, so they do not prevent movement of the other teeth in the mouth.
  • They are not a good choice for upper front teeth.
  • They do not protect a correct bite relationship.

Do Retainers Last Forever?

No.

Removable retainers often loosen and wear out over time.  Fixed retainers can also break or come unglued to the teeth.

It is important to keep up with the proper maintenance on your retainers, no matter what type you have.  Bring your removable retainers with you to your professional teeth cleaning visits.  We will clean them and ensure the proper fit.  We will also evaluate them for wear and tear to let you know when a new one is necessary.

How Much Do Retainers Cost?

The cost varies based on the type of retainer.  In general, removable retainers are less expensive than fixed retainers.  Some retainers perform additional functions and cost more.  Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara will go over the cost of each type of retainer with you and help you select the best one for your needs.

What if I Need a Nightguard for Grinding?

Some nightguards are dual purpose and act as a retainer to maintain the position of the teeth.  When picking out a retainer, make sure to tell your dentist if you’d like one that will function as a nightguard to protect the teeth from grinding.

Need a Retainer?

Call us today at 972-347-1145 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They will assess your retainer needs, discuss the available options with you, and help you choose the best retainer!

Spring Cleaning

March 21, 2018

Spring has sprung!  This time of year is a time for new beginnings and fresh starts.  Trees are budding, and flowers are in bloom.  Most people are familiar with the concept of spring-cleaning.  We clean out our closets and our flowerbeds.  We throw out things we do not use anymore.

Obviously, spring-cleaning carries with it the idea of cleaning up the things to keep.  It also implies cleaning out things that are past their usefulness.

When you spring-clean, you strive for a clean slate, bringing things back to a state that is more easily maintained so that they stay cleaner for longer.

As your dentists, of course we want you to apply this concept to your mouth!

Spring Cleaning for Your Mouth

Cleaning Up the Things to Keep

We want you to keep your teeth.  Forever.  We want your teeth to outlast you!  In order to keep your teeth for the rest of your life, they must have healthy gums and supporting bone.  They also need to stay cavity free.

The key to keeping teeth free of decay with healthy gums and bones is keeping them as clean as possible.  There are two essential steps you must take to keep your mouth clean.

  1. Professional Teeth Cleanings – To achieve a perfectly healthy mouth, it is absolutely necessary for you to have professional teeth cleanings on a consistent basis. Our wonderful dental hygienists Staci, Kenneth and Carli are masters at removing every trace of bacteria from your teeth and gums.  No matter how diligent you are, you can never clean every bit of plaque and tartar on your own at home.  Professional teeth cleanings are a must for a clean mouth.
    1. Interval of Teeth Cleanings – All men are not created equally when it comes to plaque and tartar buildup. We are all unique, with specific risks and needs.  For this reason, some people need to have professional teeth cleanings at different intervals than the average of six months.  Ask your dentist and dental hygienist which interval will give you the healthiest outcome!
  2. Great Home Care – As amazing as our hygienists are, they cannot do all of the work for you. Their job stops when you walk out of our doors, and the ball is then in your court.  They leave you with a clean slate and all the information you need to keep it clean.  If you have a particularly difficult area to clean on your own, ask Staci, Kenneth and Carli.  They each have customized ways of teaching you how to clean your teeth to the best of your ability.  Follow this regimen for great home care.
    1. Brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste after breakfast and before bedtime. If possible, use an electric toothbrush, which is proven to remove more plaque buildup than a manual toothbrush.
    2. Floss every night before bed. Brushing alone does not get the job done.  Flossing is the only way to remove plaque and food debris from between the teeth.
    3. Add a mouthwash to your daily routine. There are so many different types of mouthwash available today, and they have different purposes.  Ask your hygienist which type is best for your specific needs.

 

Cleaning Out Useless or Obsolete Things

Okay, this may seem like a strange concept when applying it to your oral health.  We have two ways that you should “clean out” things related to your mouth.

  1. Throw Out Your Toothbrush – Toothbrushes are wonderful tools that have greatly improved dental healthcare. But they do not last forever.  If yours is frayed or splayed or otherwise “worn out”, toss it.  For electric toothbrush users, buy the replacement heads, and throw this one out.  Old toothbrushes can harbor bacteria and even grow mold.  Once the bristles are worn out, they may not even touch the tooth surface as they should.
  2. Take a Tip from Marie Kondo – The bestselling author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” has a unique tactic for cleaning out your closet. Hold up an item and think about how it makes you feel.  If it does not bring you joy, get rid of it.  If we were to apply that tactic to your mouth, what would you get rid of?  Is there an old discolored filling that you hate?  Do you have a tooth that you try to hide when you smile?  If there is something in your smile that does not bring you joy, please schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara to discuss how we can change that for you.

Maintaining a Clean Mouth

Have you noticed the phenomenon that it is much easier to keep something clean once it is clean?  The fact that the countertops are free of clutter makes you want to keep any clutter from building up.

The same is true for your teeth.  The feeling of a perfectly clean mouth just after your professional teeth cleaning is so good that you are more motivated to follow a great home care regimen.  Don’t let that momentum fizzle out.  Commit to keeping up that great home care routine so that your “spring clean” lasts all year!

Do You Need a “Spring Cleaning”?

It is time for a fresh start!  Call 972-347-1145 today to schedule your professional teeth cleaning with our fabulous hygienists or a consultation with our dentists.

Dental Trauma: What to Do When your Child Suffers an Injury to the Teeth

March 14, 2018

Spring is almost here, and children’s sports are going to be in full swing!  This equates to an increased risk for injuries to your child’s teeth.

As children grow and learn new things, the risk of injury is relatively high.  Toddlers fall down when they are learning to walk.  Children have accidents when learning to ride a bicycle.  Adolescents suffer trauma when learning to play sports.

Accidents and injuries happen.  In children, often these accidents involve injuries to the mouth and teeth.  This blog highlights what you need to know about trauma to the teeth.

Different Types of Trauma to the Teeth

Baby Teeth vs. Permanent Teeth 

All of these types of trauma can happen to both baby teeth and permanent teeth.  The consequences of trauma to baby teeth are usually less severe than those for permanent teeth, simply because baby teeth fall out.

The only serious consequence of trauma to a baby tooth occurs when the trauma affects the underlying permanent tooth as it is developing.  The crown (or visible part) of the permanent tooth forms underneath the roots of the baby tooth.  If an injury occurs which forces the baby tooth or its roots into the developing permanent tooth during this formation stage, the permanent tooth can be deformed.

The majority of injuries to teeth occur on the front of the face and affect front teeth.  It is possible for a back tooth to be injured if a child is hit from the side, for instance with a baseball.  The recommendations below apply to both front teeth and back teeth.

Injuries that Move a Tooth

When force from an injury moves a tooth, it needs to be addressed quickly.

What You Will See:

The tooth looks whole, but it is in a different position.  It could be pushed up into the gums, hanging down out of the gums, or protruding at an unusual angle.  It is very common to have bleeding in the gums around a tooth that has been moved.

Baby Teeth vs. Permanent Teeth

In general, the treatment for this type of injury is the same for baby teeth and permanent teeth.  In severe cases, the baby tooth may be extracted.

What You Should Do:

Call your dentist immediately and start heading toward the office.  Attempt to move the tooth back to its normal position using light finger pressure only.  Whether you are able to reposition it or not, go to the dentist for an x-ray of the tooth to evaluate the health of the root, and the bone around the tooth.

Follow-Up Care:

Your child will need a soft diet for a period of a few days up to two weeks.  The goal is no additional pressure on the injured tooth as it is healing.  You may need to give your child over-the-counter pain reliever such as Children’s Advil or Children’s Motrin as needed for pain.

Follow-up with your dentist in 3 months.  He will x-ray the tooth to confirm healing and the health of the tooth and its surrounding structures.

Possible Long-Term Consequences:

When a tooth moves, it is possible that the nerve supply to the tooth has been broken where it enters at the tip of the root.  In many cases, the nerve supply can reattach, and the tooth heals.  In other cases, the nerve does not reattach, and the tissue inside the tooth dies.  A dead nerve must be removed, and the tooth needs a root canal.

The injury to the surrounding structures may also damage the connection between the tooth and the jaw bone.  A condition called ankylosis often develops, in which the tooth becomes fused to the bone and is unable to move.  This is a major concern in orthodontic treatment, when you desire to move that tooth.

Injuries that Chip or Break a Tooth

If an injury to a tooth causes a portion of the tooth to chip or break off, the consequences are usually a little milder than a tooth that is moved or knocked out.  In minor cases, the small chip can be filled in to return the tooth to its natural shape.  In severe cases, the chip extends into the nerve of the tooth, and a root canal is needed.

What You Will See:

The tooth looks broken or jagged on the edge.  Look specifically for any pink or red spots in the center of the tooth.  This is the nerve inside the tooth, and large breaks may extend this far.

Baby Teeth vs. Permanent Teeth

In general, the treatment for this type of injury is the same for baby teeth and permanent teeth.  Minor cases will be restored with filling material. In severe cases, a permanent tooth will need a root canal, and the baby tooth may be extracted.

What You Should Do:

Call your dentist immediately and start heading toward the office.  Try to locate any fragments of the tooth, and bring them with you.  Whether you are able to find it or not, go to the dentist for an x-ray of the tooth to evaluate the health of the root, and the bone around the tooth.  The dentist will evaluate the depth of the chip and determine whether or not the nerve is affected.

Follow-Up Care:

If you have the tooth fragment, your dentist can reattach it to the tooth.  If not, he can rebuild the tooth back to its normal shape and size.

Your child will need a soft diet for a period of a few days.  You may need to give your child over-the-counter pain reliever such as Children’s Advil or Children’s Motrin as needed for pain.

Follow-up with your dentist in 3 months.  He will x-ray the tooth to confirm healing and the health of the tooth and its surrounding structures.

Possible Long-Term Consequences:

The force to the tooth, which chipped it, could also have disrupted the nerve supply, as noted above.  Your dentist will monitor the tooth closely for any signs of a dead nerve.  If a root canal become necessary, your dentist will guide you in the steps involved in treatment.  It is important to know that the nerve inside a tooth could die at any point in the future, even decades later.

The tooth could also become ankylosed.

The dental treatment, which restores the broken tooth, may need replacement at any point in the future.  Be careful not to use that tooth for anything besides chewing and speaking (i.e. holding hair pins or cutting fishing line).

Injuries that Knock Out a Tooth

A tooth that is completely knocked out needs immediate action!  The longer you wait, the less chance the tooth has of surviving.

What You Will See:

The tooth is completely gone from the mouth.  Evaluation of the tooth should show the crown (visible part) of the tooth, as well as the root.

Baby Teeth vs. Permanent Teeth

There is no treatment for knocked out baby teeth.  The child will have a space in that tooth’s site until the permanent tooth comes in.

For a permanent tooth, we make every attempt to save and reattach the natural tooth.

What You Should Do:

Call your dentist immediately and start heading toward the office.  Hold the tooth by the crown ONLY.  Do not touch the root.  If you can, put the tooth back into the socket after very gently rinsing off any dirt or debris.  If you are unable to put the tooth back into the child’s mouth, place it in a cup with milk or saliva.  That’s right: fill up a cup with enough spit to cover the tooth.  Saliva is the best thing to keep the cells and fibers on the knocked-out tooth alive until it can be reimplanted into the mouth.

Whether you are able to reinsert it or not, go immediately to the dentist.  The dentist will clean and reinsert the tooth, using anesthetic if the child is in pain.  The sooner the tooth is reimplanted, the better the chances of its full healing.

Follow-Up Care:

Follow the recommendations for a soft diet and OTC pain relievers noted above.  The dentist will follow-up with you more frequently to confirm healing and reattachment of the tooth.

Possible Long-Term Consequences:

The consequences noted above, a dead nerve and ankylosis, are both highly likely when a tooth is completely knocked out.  Another possible consequence is failure of the tooth to reattach.  In this case, it is necessary to extract the tooth and replace it with a dental implant.

Adhering to your dentist’s prescribed follow-up schedule will keep you informed of any of these consequences as they occur.

Be Prepared for Injuries to Your Child’s Teeth

As you can see from the instructions listed above, getting in to see your dentist as soon as possible is very important!  Save our number in your phone, and call us at 972-347-1145 as soon as an injury happens.  Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara will treat your child’s emergency and give you all the information you need for the right follow-up care.

 

An Exciting New Way to Straighten Teeth: ClearCorrect™

March 7, 2018

At Prosper Family Dentistry, our goal is always to meet the oral health and cosmetic needs of our patients.  Since 2007, we have been able to meet that goal by straightening our patients’ teeth with Invisalign® clear aligners.

We are excited to announce that we are now offering a new clear aligner therapy to straighten teeth called ClearCorrect™!  ClearCorrect™ has been successfully treating smiles for over 10 years and offers a few advantages over Invisalign®.

Benefits of All Clear Aligner Therapy

All clear aligners function to straighten teeth with small increments of pressure.

Clear aligner therapy, in general, can align teeth that are crooked or crowded, teeth with gaps or spaces, and small bite problems.  All clear aligners can help you meet your smile goals!

All clear aligners are virtually invisible and allow you to improve your smile without unsightly brackets and wires.

All clear aligners are removable, which allows you to keep your teeth clean while you straighten.  Because they are removable, you can also take them out when you have a special occasion or a speaking engagement.

All clear aligners are more comfortable than brackets and wires, which can cause cuts and ulcers inside your mouth.

Benefits of ClearCorrect™ Clear Aligners

The most noticeable benefit to the patient of ClearCorrect™ aligners is the cost.  ClearCorrect™ is less expensive than Invisalign®!  We know that many people want to straighten their teeth with clear aligners, and that cost is often the reason they don’t.  With ClearCorrect™, we are able to offer a less expensive straightening option to our patients.

Many dentists feel that the ClearCorrect™ aligner material is slightly thinner and less visible.  It is possible that these aligners are even less noticeable than Invisalign.

Another huge advantage of ClearCorrect™: made in the USA!  ClearCorrect™ manufactures its aligners right here in Texas.  They have been making clear aligners “deep in the heart of Texas” since 2006.  We love supporting a company that provides local jobs!

How Can You Start Straightening Your Teeth with ClearCorrect™?

The first step is an orthodontic consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They will evaluate your concerns and determine if ClearCorrect™ is the right treatment for you.  The most important aspect of this step is communication!  Make sure you explain to your dentist your long-term smile goals.  Based on the amount of movement required to reach these goals, Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara will give you an estimate on the cost of ClearCorrect™ treatment.

The next step is an intraoral 3D scan.  This scan gathers a three-dimensional digital model of your teeth and the way they bite together.  After transmitting this scan to ClearCorrect™, your dentist works with an orthodontic lab technician to prescribe the exact movements of your teeth.

ClearCorrect™ creates the clear aligners according to the precise instructions of Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara and sends them to our office.  Then you begin straightening your teeth!

Interested in Straightening Your Teeth with ClearCorrect™?

Call our office at 972-347-1145 today to schedule an orthodontic consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They will discuss all of the benefits of clear aligner therapy with you in detail and help you get started on achieving the smile of your dreams!

 

 

 

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Prosper Family Dentistry

201 N. Preston Road, Suite A
Prosper, TX 75078

Phone: 972-347-1145

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pfdstaff@prosperfamilydentistry.com

 

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