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Staff Highlight: Danielle

January 17, 2018 

Danielle usually goes by Dani.  She joined the Prosper Family Dentistry team in January of 2016 to cover the maternity leave of another dental assistant.  She quickly proved her worth, and we realized she had to stay!

Danielle became a Registered Dental Assistant in 2006. In dental assisting school, she met and became best friends with Stephanie Falcon (who was a dental assistant at PFD for over 5 years before moving to Florida).  When we were looking for a dental assistant to cover maternity leave, Stephanie told us about her best friend, and the rest is history.

Dani is a hard worker.  Not only does she work full time at Prosper Family Dentistry as a chairside dental assistant; she is also working towards her bachelor’s degree.  She takes evening and online classes through the University of North Texas.  We are not talking about a “light load”.  This woman is taking 12 hours each semester!  Somehow, she is able to show up and work hard all day at PFD.Dani’s primary function is chairside assisting with Dr. Cara.  She excels at making patients feel comfortable.  We know that no one wants to come to the dentist.  People like Dani make it a little bit easier. She has a special way of relating to each patient, comforting them without being condescending.  She just seems to “get” how a patient feels.  You feel like you have an ally with Dani by your side.

Dr. Cara describes Dani as smart, caring and empathetic.  She is great at making us all laugh and can do the best impressions of people.

In her free time (what little there is with full time work and a full load of college classes), she and her boyfriend Terence enjoy gym time and fitness competitions.


SDF: A New Way to Treat Cavities

January 10, 2018 

How Prosper Family Dentistry is Treating Cavities Without Drilling

An exciting dental material has been in the news recently.  You may have seen it in a 2016 New York Times article. It was also featured just last week in a PBS Newshour special.

The material is Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF), and the reason it is exciting is because it has the potential to stop cavities.  That’s right:  stop them.

How Cavities Work

Cavities, a.k.a. tooth decay, are caused by the acidic by-product of the bacteria in our mouths.  The bacteria eat sugar (or any simple carbohydrate), digest it, and produce acid.  When you don’t brush and/or floss perfectly, these bacteria hang out on the teeth.  The acid they create etches (softens and weakens) the underlying enamel.  This weak spot allows the bacteria to begin working their way into the tooth.  Once they infiltrate past the enamel, they continue to produce acid, which continues to soften the tooth.  This is the inevitable, and historically unstoppable, growth process of a cavity.

How Traditional Dental Fillings Work

One way to stop this inevitable growth is through a traditional dental filling.  The decay, which includes the softened tooth structure and the bacteria, is removed until only healthy, hard tooth structure remains.  The resulting hole, or cavity, is filled with a dental restoration.  Traditional dental filling materials will only adhere to healthy tooth structure.  This is why drilling is necessary.  Because drilling on a tooth causes pain, this is also why local anesthetic (an injection) is necessary.

How SDF Works

The silver in SDF kills bacteria and prevents future bacterial buildup on the site.  The fluoride in SDF remineralizes, or hardens, the tooth structure.  It does not replace missing tooth structure.

One application of SDF has an 80% success rate at stopping a cavity.  The highest success with SDF is achieved when it is applied to a cavity twice a year.

Because it is not a 100% guarantee, it is important for a patient receiving an SDF treatment to comply with all follow-up appointments.

How PFD  Uses SDF

Dr. Cara Kessler revolutionized the way Prosper Family Dentistry treats cavities when she joined our practice.  She has been using SDF since 2015 and taught the PFD staff about its great benefits.

Although SDF has been used for over 40 years in Japan, it only recently gained popularity and FDA approval in the US.  At Prosper Family Dentistry, we use SDF for two different purposes.  1) Its FDA-approved use for treating hypersensitivity, and 2) its more common off-label use for stopping cavities.

What to Expect During an SDF Treatment

Whether the patient is you, your child, or an elderly person, the treatment is carried out in the same manner.  The area around the tooth to be treated is coated with Vaseline, and the tooth itself is isolated with cotton.  The SDF, which is a colorless, odorless liquid, is painted onto the tooth for one minute.

In order to increase the fluoride release from the SDF treatment (and therefore improve the success rate of the treatment), it is then covered with a fluoride varnish.  Fluoride varnish is the sticky material painted onto most children’s teeth at the end of a dental cleaning.

If the cavity is located between the teeth, the liquid is applied to the tooth using dental floss.

A follow-up appointment is scheduled for 2-4 weeks later.  At this follow-up visit, the tooth is closely evaluated and then any holes are restored with a filling material.  This filling does not require injections or drilling into the tooth.

Any holes in the teeth need to be filled because food impaction increases the risk for more cavities in the future.  Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara will discuss the exact details of the specific procedures you need to stop a cavity.

Who Should Have SDF

  • Children – The most common use for SDF is in small children. An SDF treatment requires no injections and no drilling.  It can be completed very quickly at the initial evaluation.
  • Elderly patients – Many elderly patients have complicated medical problems, which makes the use of local anesthetic and dental procedures less safe. They are also less tolerant of lengthy dental procedures.
  • Special needs patients – Patients with special needs have traditionally been sedated to treat dental problems. SDF treatment allows them to have a fast, easy treatment in the dental chair.
  • Cancer patients – Many patients undergoing cancer treatment experience dry mouth and tooth decay. SDF can be used in order to stop the tooth decay and put off any necessary treatment until after cancer treatment is completed.
  • Patients needing a large amount of dental work – Using SDF to stop decay is a great way to slow down the progression of dental disease. This allows dentists and patients to space out needed dental treatment for the sake of time and money.

Why Isn’t Every Cavity Treated with SDF

Some people and/or teeth are not candidates for SDF (see below).  The biggest con of SDF treatment is a dark brownish-black staining of the decayed area.  A dark spot will be seen if the cavity is in an area visible when a person smiles or speaks.  It just does not qualify as “cosmetic” dentistry.  For this reason, most patients do not want it used on their cavities.

Who Should Not Have SDF

The following are considered contraindications for treatment with SDF.

  • Silver allergy
  • Any current mouth ulcers or sores
  • A tooth which does not show enough tooth structure protecting the nerve (due to extensive decay)
  • A tooth that causes pain

How to Find Out if You Are a Candidate for SDF Treatment

Call our office at 972-347-1145 to set up a consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They will assess any areas of decay and discuss your treatment options including SDF.



New Year, New Smile

January 2, 2018 

It is that time of year when people around the world are resolving to make changes for the better.  A common theme in many New Year’s resolutions is improved health.  One of the great perks of improving your health is that it usually involves improving your appearance, too!  If you are exercising to enhance your health, you may also be losing weight or toning muscles.  If you resolve to get more sleep, you will lose those dark circles under your eyes.

The same applies to taking care of your teeth.  The steps you take to make your mouth healthier will make your smile prettier.  Here are a few ways you can improve the health and appearance of your smile.

Brush Up on Your Oral Hygiene Regimen

Keeping your teeth free from plaque reduces your risk of unsightly cavities and gum disease.  Here is the most effective way to keep your pearly whites pearly and white.

Brush twice a day, preferably after breakfast and before bed.  Make sure you are using a soft-bristled toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to the edge of the gums.  Make sure you touch every surface of every tooth.  This should include the cheek side, tongue side, and biting surface.  The most commonly missed area is the inside (tongue side) of the lower teeth.  Do not go to bed without brushing!

Floss nightly!  Brushing alone is not enough to ensure proper plaque removal.  The toothbrush bristles cannot reach in between the teeth; therefore, they leave harmful plaque, bacteria, and food debris on the teeth.  Flossing is absolutely mandatory to keep your teeth and gums healthy and beautiful.

Use a mouthwash.  Swishing mouthwash is a great way to flush out unhealthy bacteria from the various nooks and crannies of the oral cavity.  If you are cavity prone, use a mouthwash containing fluoride to strengthen your enamel and fight cavities.  If you have a dry mouth, stay away from mouthrinses containing alcohol.  For someone with red, swollen gums, a whitening mouthwash containing hydrogen peroxide is a great tool for reducing gum inflammation.

Treat Yourself to Teeth Whitening

There are many ways to improving your smile.  Whitening your teeth is one of the quickest ways to give your smile a boost.  At Prosper Family Dentistry, we are proud to offer three different types of professional teeth whitening.  With both in-office and at-home whitening products, we can help you find the type of whitening that most easily and quickly meets your needs.

Another way you can achieve a brighter smile is by using an electric toothbrush and whitening toothpaste.  This works to polish off surface stains accumulated by years of drinking coffee or tea and using tobacco products.  Ask our dental hygienists about the other benefits of an electric toothbrush.  Most patients find that once they begin using an electric toothbrush, they cannot return to a manual toothbrush.  Electric toothbrushes truly give a cleaner, smoother, shinier appearance to the teeth.

Straight Teeth are Healthy Teeth

Many people consider crooked teeth to be a cosmetic issue.  In addition to an improved appearance, straightening your teeth actually creates a healthier oral environment.  A research experiment was conducted in which plaque was collected from both patients with straight teeth and those with crowded teeth.  This study concluded that not only do crooked and crowded teeth harbor a greater quantity of plaque; they actually harbor more dangerous bacteria than straight teeth.

Closing gaps between the teeth helps prevent food impaction, which leads to cavities and periodontal disease.  Aligning crooked teeth makes brushing flossing easier to accomplish.  Ask us how Invisalign® can make your mouth healthier!

Full Smile Makeover

Perhaps you have always wanted a full smile makeover, and 2018 is your year.  Missing teeth can be replaced with dental implants.  Broken teeth can be restored crowns.  Cavities can be repaired with cosmetic tooth-colored fillings.

You can achieve a beautiful, straight, white smile with veneers.  A veneer is a covering of at least one full surface of the tooth.  Veneers are made from porcelain or composite (an in-office dental restoration).  They can be contact lens thin for minor corrections and refinements.  Or they can be several millimeters thick to correct misalignments and dark discolorations.

The possibilities are almost endless!  To get started on your full smile makeover, schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They will evaluate your current situation and discuss the treatment options available to meet your cosmetic goals.

Happy New Year!

Whether 2018 is the year for minor improvements or major life changes for you, there are two things that will always be a great idea: 1) Make healthy choices.  2) Smile!

If you’d like help improving that smile, we are here for you.  Call 972-347-1145 today to schedule a visit with Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara or one of our wonderful dental hygienists.



Is Flossing Really That Important?

December 27, 2017

Let’s talk about flossing.

We know.  No one wants to floss.  Recent statistics show that Americans can be roughly divided into thirds when it comes to flossing habits.  Just under 1/3 of the population floss every day.  Just over 1/3 of the population floss sometimes.  And the rest admit to never flossing.  Never.  That hurts our dentist-hearts.

Many of our patients have shared that they feel guilty when we ask about flossing.  We do not ever want to make anyone feel guilty.  We simply want to know where you stand on the flossing issue so that we can point you in the right direction.  Our goal is to encourage you to have great oral hygiene habits so that your visits to see us consist of maintenance only, not repair.

What does flossing accomplish?

A toothbrush mechanically removes soft buildup on the exposed surfaces of teeth.  The bristles have to touch the tooth to be effective.  Many areas of tooth structure are not accessible with a toothbrush, namely in between the teeth.  A toothbrush can effectively clean the cheek side, the tongue side, and the biting surface of teeth.  It simply cannot reach the side of a tooth that faces an adjacent tooth (called the interproximal surface).

Flossing removes plaque and food debris that your toothbrush leaves behind.  By physically touching the interproximal surfaces of the teeth, floss does the job that a toothbrush cannot.


Increased life expectancy – Some studies claim an increase of 6.4 years for people who floss daily over those who do not.  This is likely an assumed benefit based on the reduced risk of other diseases, which itself is another benefit of flossing.

Reduces risk of heart disease, cavities, gum disease – It is no surprise that flossing reduces the risk of dental disease.  Anything that keeps the teeth and gums free from harmful bacteria will lower the risk of cavities and gum disease.

Over the last 20 years, new research has shown a significant link between oral health and systemic health.  Patients with periodontal disease are more likely to have cardiovascular disease.  People who suffer from severe dental disease are more likely to develop oral cancer.  There is a proven connection between diabetes and gum disease.  All of these associations make it clear that keeping your mouth healthy is beneficial for the whole body.

Improves bad breath – Bad breath is the product of bacteria and food debris that is left in the warm, moist environment of the mouth.  A good, but gross, analogy is that the mouth is like a kitchen trash can.  Flossing is like taking out the trash.  When you neglect it, it starts to stink.

Gives gums healthy pink appearance – A beautiful smile involves more than just the teeth.  Straight, white teeth surrounded by swollen, red, or receding gums cannot be considered beautiful or healthy.  Flossing removes the source of gum inflammation (called gingivitis), which keeps them healthy.  Healthy gum tissue is light pink in color, flat (not swollen, bulbous, or rounded), and does not bleed when brushed or flossed.

Proper technique:

Not just any old flossing will do.  In order for the floss to actually remove buildup from the teeth, it must touch the teeth.  Simply snapping floss in between each tooth contact and hitting the gums can miss a large portion of the tooth.  For effective flossing, envision the following diagram with a triangle between each tooth.

  1. Holding an end of the floss in each hand, first press back with both hands to wrap the floss around the rear tooth. Using an up and down motion, rub the floss against the side of the tooth labeled on the diagram as side #1 of the yellow triangle.
  2. Then pull forward with both hands to wrap it around the forward tooth. Using the same up and down motion, clean side #2 of the yellow triangle.
  3. Before pulling the floss out, use a gentle sweeping motion along the bottom of the triangle (side #3 on the yellow triangle) if there is any open space between the teeth to remove large pieces of debris that may have become lodged there. This step is necessary when the gum tissue does not completely fill in the triangular area.  If you do not have gum recession or areas between the teeth called black triangles (described below), you may omit this step.

Additional tools:

In some cases of overlapped teeth or teeth with large gaps, it is necessary to use additional tools to properly clean between the teeth.

Waterpik – A Waterpik is a tool that uses water or mouthwash at high pressure to flush out the areas between the teeth.  This is a great tool for patients with braces, large areas of “black triangles”, or problems with handling floss (such as arthritis).  Black triangles develop when the gums no longer completely fill the space between two teeth, as shown in the diagram.  This open space allows food and bacteria to collect and presents an additional cleaning challenge.  A Waterpik creates a power wash for these hard-to-clean areas.  It is not a replacement for flossing.

Interproximal brushes – Another great tool for black triangles is a small angled brush called an interproximal brush.  Brand names include Proxabrush, Go-Betweens, and Interdental brushes.  They look like tiny pipe cleaners or bottle brushes and are made to fit between the teeth and gently scrub the side of each tooth.  Please use caution with these tools.  Aggressive use of an interproximal brush could create black triangles and gum recession.  Only a light, gentle touch is necessary to remove plaque and food debris from between the teeth.

Do you have more questions about flossing?

If you have questions this blog did not answer or would like an in-person demonstration of the proper flossing technique, please call 972-347-1145 to set up a consultation with Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara or one of our awesome dental hygienists.  They will create a customized hygiene plan for you to keep your teeth as clean as possible.


A Naughty and Nice List from Your Dentist

December 20, 2017

Christmas time is here!  And with it comes a plethora of baked goods, candies, cakes and pies.

The cold weather inspires hot cocoa, apple cider, coffee and tea.  Your holiday parties may overflow with wine, eggnog, and ornamentinis.

If you are lucky enough to enjoy some vacation time during the holidays, you may find it easy to shirk your daily routines.

We have made a list of things that are naughty and nice for your teeth to help you have a Christmas you won’t regret at your next dental visit.



The important things to consider are sugar content and the length of time the food will contact your teeth.  Obviously, a high sugar content is bad and increases your risk for cavities.  Sticky foods like gummy bears and caramels keep that sugar in contact with enamel for a long period of time, making them more likely to cause cavities.

  • Hard candies
  • Candy canes
  • Sticky candies with caramel
  • Gummy candies
  • Christmas cookies
  • Dried fruit and fruitcake


The important things to consider with a drink are sugar content, pH, and the length of time you spend drinking it.  An acidic drink will lower the pH in your mouth, making it easier for the bacteria to cause cavities.  The longer you spend drinking a beverage that is acidic or has a high sugar content, the more likely it is to cause tooth decay.

Hot drinks can also cause microscopic enamel cracks if they are drunk soon after eating or drinking something cold.  The drastic temperature change is very bad for teeth.

  • Anything bubbly (sodas, sparkling water, champagne) – acidic pH, some have high sugar content
  • Wine – acidic pH
  • Hot cocoa – high sugar content
  • Hot apple cider – very acidic
  • Coffee & tea – acidic


The change in schedules can make it too easy to get out of our normal hygiene routines.  Staying in your PJ’s until noon makes it less likely that you will brush your teeth after breakfast, whereas most people remember to brush before heading out to work or school.

  • Skipping your morning routine in favor of a long, snacky breakfast in your PJ’s.
  • Falling asleep in front of the fire, then stumbling into bed without:
    • Brushing
    • Flossing
    • Wearing your nightguard or retainers
  • “Grazing” or snacking throughout the day as opposed to three solid meals



You could make your own list of nice foods with the process of elimination of anything on the naughty list.  Limiting your food intake to meals will help decrease your cavity risk also.  Here are things that are especially good for your teeth.

  • Cheese
  • Nuts
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Yogurt – with no added sugar, of course


With beverages, it is best not to sip slowly on anything but water.  The danger with drinks comes from the length of time you expose your teeth to the sugar and/or acid they contain.  So partake of your special drinks with a meal or drink them quickly.


Not surprisingly, we want you to keep a consistent oral hygiene routine over the holidays.  Getting out of the habit over your Christmas vacation only makes it harder to return to the habit when you go back to work and school.

  • Mouthwash and brushing every morning after breakfast
  • Three solid meals – limit snacking in between meals
  • Drink only water between meals
  • Mouthwash, brushing and flossing every night before bedtime
  • Wear your prescribed nightguard or retainers consistently

Christmas Wishes

If Santa were your dentist, which list would you be on?  Naughty or nice?

From our Prosper Family Dentistry family to yours, we wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy (and healthy) New Year!


Dreaming of a White Christmas?

December 12, 2017

Instead of just dreaming, this year you can do something about it!  Did you know that whitening your teeth is the quickest and most conservative way to improve your smile?  Maximum results of take-home teeth whitening are usually seen within 14 days, so if you start now, you will have a bright, white smile just in time for Christmas.


The most common stains affecting teeth are external stains caused by the things we eat and drink or the use of tobacco products.  The bad news is that if you continue in those habits, the teeth will continue staining.  But we won’t tell you to give up your coffee or red wine.  The good news is that external stains are the easiest to whiten.

The Difference Between Polishing and Whitening

Polishing – External stains can be lightened a bit by a professional teeth cleaning where the teeth are polished by your dental hygienist.  They also may improve through the use of a whitening toothpaste and electric toothbrush.  Both of these techniques work by removing superficial stains from the surface of the teeth.  This is strictly a mechanical process.

Whitening – Teeth whitening changes the color of a tooth through a chemical process.  In teeth whitening, the peroxide compound in whitening gel infiltrates into the enamel of a tooth, causing a chemical reaction that lightens the natural shade of the tooth structure itself.

Types of Whitening

Teeth whitening can be divided into three categories.

  1. One-size-fits-all whitening products – All over-the-counter whitening products have a one-size-fits-all approach, like Crest Whitestrips. This is necessary because there is no dentist involved to give you a custom fit.  The whitening ingredient is a peroxide compound, similar to professional whitening gels, but at a lower concentration.  At Prosper Family Dentistry, we offer a professional approach to one-size-fits-all whitening products: Opalescence GO!  These trays fit almost any mouth and are the perfect solution to start whitening your teeth as soon as possible.  Because they are distributed by a dentist, they have a higher concentration of whitener than what is available over the counter.  No appointment is required.  Simply drop by our office today to pick up your GO! pack.
  2. Custom whitening trays with professional whitening gel – This is considered the gold standard for teeth whitening. A custom whitening tray is made by your dentist from a mold or 3D scan of your teeth.  These trays fit the teeth intimately and keep the whitening gel in its appropriate place for optimal results.  The trays last for many years, and additional whitening gel can be purchased for refills.  We offer three different concentrations of Opalescence whitening gel, so you can select which concentration best meets your needs and daily routine.
  3. BOOST! In-office whitening – For the quickest result, in-office whitening is the answer. BOOST! in-office whitening uses a very high concentration of whitening gel and must be supervised by a dentist.  This is a great option for someone with a time crunch, like that high school reunion that snuck up on you or your office Christmas party this weekend. In about an hour and a half, your teeth will become several shades lighter and brighter.

Over-the-Counter vs. Professional Whitening Products

The benefits of using whitening products from a dentist as opposed to over-the-counter whiteners are threefold.  The first reason to opt for a professional whitening gel is that Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara can guide you to the perfect concentration of gel for your specific whitening goals.  The second is that professional whitening gel comes in a wide range of concentrations, with many of them much stronger than what is available over-the-counter.  This means you will achieve better results more quickly.  The third reason professional custom trays are better is for maintenance of your white smile.

Maintenance of a White Smile

Remember that we promised not to make you give up your coffee and red wine?  If you continue the habits that stained your teeth in the first place, you will have to do some maintenance.  Once you have reached your whitening goal, which usually happens in the first two weeks, you will need to maintain your white smile by doing maintenance treatments.  The custom trays Prosper Family Dentistry makes for you are durable and will last for years.  When you notice that your white smile may be fading a bit, you can simply use your whitening gel in the custom trays for 2-3 treatments or until you notice the brightness you are aiming for.  Some people will require more frequent maintenance based on habits and level of staining.  Others will only require maintenance once or twice a year.  The great thing about custom tray professional whitening is its flexibility.  You can use it as often or as infrequently as you prefer.  If you find that one concentration of whitening gel isn’t your favorite, you can switch to a different one while still using your custom trays.

What are the Downsides of Whitening?

Nothing permanent!  There are some side effects of teeth whitening, including tooth sensitivity or gum irritation.  These will subside when you discontinue whitening.  If your teeth are extremely sensitive, tell Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They will be able to guide you to the best concentration of whitening gel and even make adjustments to your trays to keep the gel from reaching particularly sensitive areas.

Are You Looking for a Whiter Smile?

Call Prosper Family Dentistry today at 972-347-1145 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They will discuss your whitening options and help you choose the one that is right for you.

Give the Gift of a White Christmas!

Gift certificates are available for you to purchase by phone at 972-347-1145 or in our office at 201 N. Preston Road, Suite A in Prosper.  Any of our whitening gift certificates would make the perfect Christmas gift for your loved one who would like a brighter, whiter smile this year.

$500 for BOOST In-Office Whitening

$200 for Custom Tray Whitening

$60 for Opalescence GO! 10-pack Whitening


Is Your Mouth Making You Sick?

December 7, 2017

How Oral Health Impacts Systemic Health

At Prosper Family Dentistry, we take healthcare seriously.  While we are specifically concerned with our patients’ oral health, we acknowledge its role in a person’s overall health.  Unfortunately, the mouth has always been treated by a realm of healthcare (dentistry), which has historically been completely separate from general medicine.  Because of this, some people are under the impression that the mouth is therefore independent and unrelated to the rest of the body.  This is a dangerous myth!

What systemic issues are connected with the mouth?

In 2000, the surgeon general released a report called “Oral Health in America”.  The purpose of this report was to inform and educate the nation about oral health, its prevalence in our nation, and how it affects a person’s overall health.  This report was based on a review of published scientific literature and is still considered the authority on the link between oral health and systemic health.

There are many links between the mouth and the rest of the body.  In this article, we will limit the discussion to the most harmful health conditions that are affected by the health of your mouth.

  • Osteoporosis – Osteoporosis is a condition of decreased bone density and often brings to mind a picture of a frail old lady whose bones break easily. Osteoporosis can affect any bone in the body, even the jawbones.  This is especially important in patients who have lost teeth and wear dentures.  The jawbones in a patient with osteoporosis will diminish much more rapidly than in a patient with healthy bones, causing the denture to become loose and uncomfortable.  In a patient with all of their teeth, osteoporosis causes an increased risk for periodontal bone loss.  It has even been suggested that bone loss around the teeth could be a warning sign of osteoporosis.
  • Immunosuppression – There are many different diseases, disorders, and conditions that suppress the immune system, including HIV, autoimmune diseases, organ transplants and cancer treatments. A suppressed immune system makes any type of infection worse because your body cannot fight it naturally.  This puts a person at higher risk for periodontal disease and dental abscesses.  Because these infections also affect other areas of the body, the impact on the overall health is much greater in an immunocompromised patient.  Anyone who has a problem with their immune system should keep to a strict oral hygiene routine and continuing care schedule with their dentist.
    Some people with a weakened immune system will suffer from persistent mouth sores and ulcers that do not heal.  Often a dentist is the first person to catch these signs of a suppressed immune system.
  • Pulmonary Disease – Because the bacteria in the mouth have a quick pathway to the lungs, there is a link between oral disease and pulmonary disease. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is associated with poor oral health, and patients with periodontal disease are at a higher risk of developing bacterial pneumonia.
  • Diabetes – The link between periodontal disease and diabetes is considered a two-way connection: meaning diabetes makes periodontal disease worse, and periodontal disease makes diabetes worse. Diabetes worsens periodontal disease through its affect on blood flow, inflammation and healing ability.  Periodontal disease worsens diabetes by contributing to hyperglycemia and complicated metabolic controls.  This association is thought to be true of diabetes with any chronic infection in the body.
  • Heart Disease – The bacteria present in the mouth of a patient with periodontal disease can contribute to heart disease through a few different mechanisms of action: 1) small localized infections of blood vessel walls, which leads to plaque formation, atherosclerosis, and in severe cases, a heart attack, 2) an influence on platelets causing them to aggregate and form clots in the bloodstream, which could block a coronary artery, leading to heart attack.  People with periodontal disease have a 25% higher risk of heart disease than people with healthy gums.
  • Stroke – The increased risk of a stroke in patients with periodontal disease is based on the same mechanism of action noted above: increased risk for clot formation, which can travel to the brain and occlude a cerebral artery, blocking blood flow to brain tissues.
  • Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes – There is a correlation between periodontal disease and low birth weight infants. The mechanism is in need of more scientific research.  At this time, it is thought to arise from two possible consequences of periodontal disease:  1) The bacteria present in periodontal disease produce toxins that could enter the blood stream, cross the placenta, and cause damage to the fetus.  2) The maternal inflammatory response to these toxins could interfere with fetal growth.

How do I reduce my risk of health problems?

All people should be aware of the health risks associated with dental diseases.  Because most oral health problems are preventable, you can be instrumental in lowering your risk for systemic health problems.

  1. See your dentist and dental hygienist regularly for cleanings and oral evaluations.
  2. Practice good oral home care with regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing with the proper mouthwash.
  3. Treat dental problems as they arise. Do not wait until something hurts!  Periodontal disease is often called a “silent” disease because it rarely causes pain.
  4. See your medical doctor to be as preventive as possible with conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

I am concerned that my mouth is affecting my overall health.  What now?

Call our office today at 972-347-1145 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill or Dr. Cara.  She will discuss your medical history with you and outline how it can affect your oral health and vice versa.


Happy Birthday, Dr. Cara!

November 29, 2017

They say time flies when you’re having fun.  It is also said that you feel like you’ve known someone forever when it’s actually been a relatively short period of time.  Isn’t it funny that those two sentiments can describe the exact same time frame?  They each express the way we feel about Dr. Cara!  She joined the Prosper Family Dentistry team in August of 2016, and boy, has the time flown since then.  It also feels like she has been part of our team forever.

Our patients have described her as friendly, thoughtful, thorough, and accommodating.  Her coworkers describe her as caring, funny, empathetic, and conscientious.  No matter which adjective we choose to describe her, she is definitely an asset to Prosper Family Dentistry.

Dr. Cara is a native Texan.  She grew up in Bedford and graduated from LD Bell High School.  She received a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University in 2007 and remains an avid Bear fan no matter how their season goes.  After college, Dr. Cara went on to earn her master’s degree at Baylor College of Dentistry in 2010, which is also the year she married her husband Robby.  He was by her side throughout the four years of dental school, also at Baylor College of Dentistry (now named Texas A&M College of Dentistry, much to Dr. Cara’s dismay).  She completed her doctorate of dental surgery in 2014.

With two years of practice in general dentistry under her belt, she was hired by Dr. Jill as an associate dentist at Prosper Family Dentistry based on her wonderful education, her diverse work experience, and her humble and gentle personality.

The reason Dr. Cara loves being a dentist is because it gives her a way to change people’s lives, even if only in a small way.  She loves helping educate patients about their overall health and how their mouth affects it.  She has been praised by her patients for encouraging them to seek medical treatment for dangerous medical conditions they were unaware of before their visit with Dr. Cara.  One patient specifically thanked her for putting his overall health above the dental treatment he needed that day.  After seeing Dr. Cara, he suffered a heart attack, but it was after he had begun medical treatment at her urging and recognized that the heart attack could have been much worse had he had no warning.  He said she played an important role in saving his life!

The words thorough and thoughtful are often used to describe Dr. Cara.  When it comes to your comprehensive dental care, she will leave no stone unturned in diagnosis.  She understands well that many issues that manifest themselves in the mouth have their roots elsewhere in the body.  She is happy to spend as much time with a patient as it takes to get the right answers for their questions.  In this, she complements the mission of Prosper Family Dentistry perfectly.  She’s pretty great at fitting in with our silliness, too.

Dr. Cara has a strong commitment to lifelong learning and continuing education.  She is a faithful member of both local and international study clubs that meet regularly to discuss complex cases and new technology in dentistry.  Dr. Jill appreciates the way Dr. Cara brings a fresh set of eyes to the office because she sees things from a different perspective. 

In her free time, you can find Dr. Cara changing diapers or napping because her adorable, precious, snuggly, happy eight-month-old little boy refuses to sleep through the night.  Her two-year-old daughter also keeps her busy.  She and Robby love watching college football and playing board games with their friends.  And if you’re looking for a conversation starter with Dr. Cara, just ask her whether or not you should read Harry Potter.


Give Thanks for Your Teeth: They’ll Work Hard This Week.

November 22, 2017

Be Thankful for Your Teeth

It is easy to take things, like good health, for granted. Here are a few reasons you should be thankful for your teeth this holiday season.

  • Chewing – Teeth are absolutely essential for chewing food. Many people do not realize that chewing is the first step in the digestive process.  The breakdown of food does not begin in the stomach.  It begins in the mouth.  Being unable to properly chew food means missing an important link in the chain of digestion.  Chewing breaks large particles of food down into smaller pieces that will not damage the esophagus.  Smaller food particles also help the stomach metabolize food more efficiently.  When we chew, our salivary glands release digestive enzymes that begin digesting the food on a microscopic level.  Missing even just a few teeth reduces chewing efficiency.  Be thankful for your ability to chew!
  • Speaking – Speech is highly dependent on the presence and position of teeth. It is possible to communicate with no teeth, but certain sounds are distorted.  Anyone who has worn an Invisalign® aligner can attest to the fact that even the smallest changes to the teeth can change the way you speak.  If your family can understand you over the Thanksgiving table this week, thank your teeth!
  • Smiling – Another thing that is easy to underestimate is the power of a smile. A smile is the fastest way to communicate kindness and friendliness without words.  People who are missing teeth are much less likely to smile at others, giving the impression of shyness or a lack of friendliness, because they are embarrassed to show an incomplete smile.  A smile makes other people thankful for your teeth, too.

Be Kind to Your Teeth: Make Good Choices for Your Teeth on Thanksgiving

It is our biggest meal of the year, and people tend to eat the same traditional dishes every year.  Thanksgiving dinner is certainly better for your teeth than the candy-filled holidays of Valentine’s Day and Halloween.  Here are a few tips to keeping your teeth clean and healthy on the biggest eating day of the year.

  • Turkey – Our favorite fowl can be brined and stuffed and roasted or fried. However it is prepared, it is the focal point of most Thanksgiving feasts.  Turkey is packed with protein and is a great source of nutrition.  The downside is that the tender tendrils of meat can get stuck between your teeth.  One other potential consequence of turkey is forgetting to brush and floss because you’re too sleepy after your big meal.  Leaving food stuck between your teeth can irritate your gums, causing gingivitis.
  • Starches like mashed potatoes, dressing, macaroni & cheese – Not only do starchy foods like potatoes, breads, and pastas make you over-full and more likely to doze through your nighttime brushing and flossing regimen. The refined carbohydrates are the perfect fuel for bacteria in our mouths that love to cause cavities.
  • SweetsEveryone knows that sugar causes cavities. Just like Halloween candy, there are certain types of sweets that are worse for your teeth.  Anything with a very sticky texture (ahem, pecan pie and cranberry sauce . . .) will keep that sugar on the tooth surface for a longer period of time, which increases the risk for cavities.  Drink lots of water with your desserts and don’t allow any sugary treat to stay stuck on the teeth.
  • Wine – Many people celebrate a Thanksgiving feast with wine flowing in bountiful amounts. While wine can help diffuse family tensions, it can create some problems for your teeth.
    • Acids – All wines have an acidic pH, and acids can weaken the enamel of your teeth if they are allowed to stay in contact with them for an extended period of time. Our saliva has properties that fight the acid in wine, so it is best to drink your wine with the Thanksgiving meal.  Sipping wine between meals for an extended period of time keeps the pH in your mouth lower than normal and predisposes teeth to cavities.
    • Staining – With red wine comes stained teeth. Drinking large amounts of red wine will leave its mark on the teeth.  You can reduce this staining by sipping water along with your wine or limiting wine to mealtime only.  If you prefer to let the teeth become stained and then whiten them later, come see Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara to discuss your whitening options so you can get your sparkling smile back by Christmas!
  • Other tips:
    • Limit snacking. Eating one large meal is better for your teeth than grazing all day.
    • Drink lots of water. Water can help combat the acids in wine, flush out the stickiness of sweets, and wash away food debris.
    • Do not miss brushing and flossing Thursday night before bed. We know such a heavy meal makes you fall asleep on the couch during the Cowboys game.  Resist the urge to stumble straight to your bed.  Make a stop at the bathroom sink and be good to your teeth.  They’ve been good to you.

Thanksgiving Wishes

From all of us at Prosper Family Dentistry, we wish you and yours the happiest of Thanksgivings.  We are grateful for each and every patient, and the trust you place in us each time you enter our doors.

A Toothache Caused by Sinus Problems

November 15, 2017

Can a sinus infection make my teeth hurt?

It’s fall, y’all.  And unfortunately, with this lovely cool weather comes new allergens, sinus infections, head colds, and the flu.  It is very common for us to see an increase in “toothaches” during this season.  We put “toothaches” in quotes because while the tooth definitely aches, it’s not a tooth problem.  Many patients will call us with a toothache and come in for an evaluation, only to be told that the tooth is perfectly fine.

Why does sinus pressure make my teeth hurt?

The natural anatomy of our upper teeth, jawbones and sinus cavities predisposes us to this problem.  The maxillary sinus cavities are large, air-filled spaces located just inside our cheekbones.  They extend inward toward the nose and downward toward the upper teeth.  Often the jawbone separating our upper teeth from the above sinus cavity is extremely thin.

The sinus cavities are supposed to be empty.  These air-filled spaces allow for the passage of air as we breathe and lighten the weight of our skull so that we can hold our heads up.  Anyone who has ever experienced sinus congestion knows that it can be hard to breathe and make your head feel heavy.

When the sinuses are filled instead of empty, pressure is created in that bone-encased space.  Many people feel this pressure inside their cheekbones or under their eyes.  Many also feel this pressure on their upper molars and premolars.  The nerves that supply sensation and feeling to our teeth enter the tooth at the very tip of its root.  Many upper molars’ roots protrude up into the sinus cavity.  When there is an increase in pressure in the sinus, it can cause sensitivity, soreness or just a plain old toothache.

What symptoms are commonly associated with sinus pressure toothaches?

  • Because the toothaches associated with sinus cavities are caused by an increase in pressure, anything that changes the pressure would change the pain in the tooth. Things like the impact of running or jumping and tossing your head upside down to blow-dry your hair will affect the pain of a toothache caused by sinus pressure.
  • Because of the pressure on the tooth’s nerves, the teeth may be more sensitive to cold air or liquids.
  • The increase in pressure on the roots of the teeth also causes a soreness or tenderness when chewing, grinding, or tapping on the side of the tooth.

What can I do about it?

First of all, you should rule out any problems with your teeth.  If you haven’t seen a dentist in a while, you should schedule a visit to have the tooth or teeth evaluated.

If you have been seen regularly by your dentist and know that you have no cavities or other problems with your teeth, you may want to begin by treating your sinus pressure.  Take over-the-counter decongestants and antihistamines.  If these do not help, you should see your medical doctor to treat your sinus condition, allergies, cold or flu.

Many patients have experienced this multiple times and are able to recognize it as a sinus problem and not a tooth problem.  If you’re not sure, come see us anyway.  When in doubt, rule a real toothache out!

Have a toothache that could be from sinus pressure?

Call us today at 972-347-1145 to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Jill or Dr. Cara.  They will do a thorough evaluation of the area that is bothering you and distinguish between a tooth problem and a sinus problem.


Save $1000 on Invisalign®!

November 8, 2017

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What is Invisalign®?

Invisalign® is an almost-invisible method of straightening teeth that does not require metal brackets or wires.  It consists of a series of clear plastic aligners (or trays) that are custom made for each individual’s teeth.  Dr. Jill and Dr. Carat make a personalized treatment plan for your orthodontic needs.  This plan is communicated to the AlignTech laboratory, where each aligner is fabricated via precise CAD/CAM technology.  The aligners are virtually invisible, so it is the most esthetic way to straighten your teeth.

How does it work?

Through the use of its patented design, Invisalign® aligners move your teeth through the appropriate placement of controlled force.  Invisalign® not only controls the force, but also the timing of the force application.  This means that Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara can prescribe exact movements for each individual tooth, including which teeth not to move, like implants or teeth that are part of a cemented bridge.  Certain teeth can be held in place while others are being moved.  This is an advantage that Invisalign® has over traditional brackets and wires.

Why do some people get Invisalign® and others get braces?

Invisalign® is limited in the exact tooth movements it can accomplish, and not every patient is a candidate for straightening their teeth with Invisalign®.  An orthodontic evaluation of your teeth is necessary to determine if your goals will be met by using Invisalign®.

What is the cost?

For full-length Invisalign® treatment, the cost ranges from $4500-6000 depending on the length of treatment.  There are some limited Invisalign® options that are used for correcting minor issues that range from $1500-3000.  During our special Invisalign® event on Wednesday, November 15, 2017, you can receive $1000 off full Invisalign® treatment, and 15% off any limited Invisalign® treatment.  This is the largest sale we have ever given on Invisalign®.  Don’t miss it!

Does my dental insurance cover Invisalign®?

Yes!  Many dental insurance companies do provide coverage for Invisalign®.  It is claimed as a benefit for Adult Orthodontics and typically ranges from $1500-2500.  To find out if you are covered, you can call your dental insurance company and ask if you have adult orthodontic coverage.  We can also verify any orthodontic benefits you may have when we have your dental insurance information.  Teenagers are often covered under their insurance plan’s orthodontic benefits, up to a certain age limit, which varies depending on your specific insurance plan.

How long will it take to straighten my teeth?

Treatment time varies based on how much movement is required to achieve your goals.  If more movement is required, then treatment will last longer.  Some minor tooth movements can be accomplished in as little as 2-3 months!  Average treatment time for full Invisalign® treatment for an adult is around 12-18 months.

How often do I have to see the dentist during treatment

After treatment has begun, Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara will typically see you every 6 weeks, which means you will wear 3 sets of aligners between each visit.  Certain patients are eligible to wear their aligners for only 7 days, instead of the average 2 weeks.  This will speed up tooth movement and decrease the length of time required for treatment.  Ask Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara if you can do accelerated tooth movement by wearing your aligners for 7 days!  Sometimes more frequent appointments are required to monitor the progress of the teeth.

What are the eating and drinking restrictions during Invisalign® treatment?

Because aligners can be removed for eating and drinking, there are no restrictions to what you can eat or drink when the aligners are not in your mouth.  You can eat with the aligners in, and the chewing force actually contributes to tooth movement by putting pressure on the teeth to move them into the position the aligner dictates.  It is important that you do not drink anything besides water with the aligners in.  Because the aligners keep your saliva from properly bathing the teeth, any acid or sugar from a beverage could be trapped under the aligners and increase the likelihood of cavities.

Why now?

There is no better time to straighten your teeth than now!  Over time, teeth continue to shift and move, and most problems are aggravated as we age.  Spacing between teeth continues to increase so gaps get noticeably larger.  Crowding on upper and lower front teeth typically gets worse so teeth appear more and more crooked.  Straightening teeth earlier, rather than later, allows for shorter treatment time and more time to enjoy your new, beautiful smile.

Another reason to start now: Our biggest Invisalign® special ever!  On Wednesday, November 15, 2017, we are hosting a special Invisalign® event, offering $1000 off full Invisalign® treatment and 15% off limited Invisalign® treatment!  Call the office at (972)347-1145 for details.

10th Annual Candy Graveyard

November 1, 2017

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A House Full of Candy . . . Now What?

Halloween is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the USA.  Over 179 million Americans celebrated Halloween this year, with 70% handing out candy.  In 2015, our merry-makers spent over $2.1 billion on Halloween candy.  That is a lot of candy!

The average US trick-or-treater takes home 600 grams of sugar – the equivalent of 3 cups.  The recommended daily amount of sugar for a moderately active ten-year-old is 23 grams per day.  This means you would have to stretch that Halloween candy out in evenly divided doses over 26 days and eliminate any other sources of sugar in your child’s diet to stay healthy.

Or you could throw all that candy away and subject yourself to much weeping and gnashing of teeth by your maniacal, sugar-crazed kids.

How about another option?

At Prosper Family Dentistry, we were buying back Halloween candy before candy buy-backs were cool.  This year, we are celebrating our 10th annual Candy Graveyard.  In this event, hosted at our office each year in the days following Halloween, children are invited to bury their candy in our graveyard cauldron and receive cold hard cash for their healthy efforts.  We believe that Halloween should be fun, and that all candy is not created equal.  There are some candies that can be consumed in a healthier manner (read last week’s blog for tips on better candy choices).

In order to keep things fun, help your children come up with ways they can spend the money they earn by trading in their candy.  Maybe a trip to the dollar section at Target would make their day.  Add it to their allowance that they are saving up for a big purchase.  You could even use it as a teaching point about giving back and help them choose a worthy cause to which they can donate their Halloween money.

The point is that children can be rewarded for making healthy choices, and you can teach them that life is still fun without 600 grams of sugar.

How Can I Participate?

Drop by our office anytime today, November 1, or tomorrow, November 2, between 7:30am-2:30pm.  Bring all the candy you can.  We will help your child weigh it and pay $1 per pound.  We promise to ooh and ahh and gush over your sweet kiddos and their healthy choices!  Call us at 972-347-1145 if you have any questions.

Don’t Get Tricked by Halloween Treats

October 25, 2017

Halloween: Making Good Decisions for Your Teeth

Halloween is almost synonymous with candy, and most people know that candy can cause cavities.  What many people do not know is that some candy is worse and more likely to cause cavities than other types of candy.  As dentists, it is easy to be a killjoy on Halloween.  Since we know kids are going to load up on candy at Halloween, we are not going to tell you not to eat it.  We’re going to give you information that will help you make better decisions about Halloween candy.

All Candy is Not Created Equal

The cavity risk associated with candy is based on two factors: 1) the amount of sugar in the candy, and 2) the amount of time the sugar from the candy is exposed to the teeth.  This blog will give you tips to help address both of these factors so that your risk of a Halloween cavity is minimal.

Moderation and Timing are Key

In order the address the amount of sugar in Halloween candy, it is important to exercise moderation.  Try not to binge on Halloween candy, and don’t let your kids do it, either.  Eating large amounts of candy fuels the cavity-causing bacteria in our mouths with unlimited sugar.  Limiting your candy intake to “dessert” (with a meal) also reduces cavity risk by counteracting the high amount of sugar with a high volume of healthy, cavity-fighting saliva.

Make Good Choices

  • Sort through all your Halloween candy. Make three piles: 1) Sticky, gooey candy like caramels, Starburst, any kind of taffy, anything “gummy”.  2)  Hard candies or anything that is held in the mouth for a long period of time like a jawbreaker or any kind of sucker (lollipop).  Even mints fall into this category.  3) Chocolates or candy bars containing fat, anything that would be eaten quickly.
  • Now throw away piles 1 and 2. These sticky and hard candies have a high risk for causing cavities because they expose the teeth to sugar for a long period of time.  The sugar in sticky candies will adhere to the tooth, especially in deep grooves, and provide fuel for bacteria for as long as the candy is stuck to the tooth.  You also fuel those bacteria by sucking on a piece of candy for an extended length of time.
  • Eat your chocolates and candy bars in moderation as explained above.

Feel Bad Throwing Candy Away?

At Prosper Family Dentistry, we want to make Halloween as fun as possible while still encouraging good habits.  We offer a candy buy-back program called the Candy Graveyard.  Your child can bring in any amount of candy, and we will buy it for $1 per pound.  We also give a prize for the child who brings in the largest amount of candy!  Call us at 972-347-1145 to find out the details about our Candy Graveyard.

Caring for Teeth While in Braces

October 18, 2017

Best Day Ever

The day you get your braces off should be the best day ever. After months, maybe even years, of hiding your metal mouth and constantly digging food out of the brackets and wires, you will feel a newfound sense of freedom and won’t be able to pass a mirror without smiling at yourself. The end result of orthodontics is always worth the time, money, and effort you put into it. Not only are straight teeth beautiful; they are actually healthier than crooked teeth.

There are two reasons straight teeth are healthy teeth: 1) Many people understand that crowded and crooked teeth allow more plaque accumulation because of the various nooks and crannies created by overlapping and rotated teeth. 2) Research studies have shown that the types of bacteria collecting on crooked teeth are different than the bacteria typically found on straight teeth. They are more periodontopathogenic – more likely to cause periodontal disease!

How the Best Day can become the Worst Day

If the braces come off, and instead of exposing a beautiful, straight smile, a mouth full of discolored and decayed teeth is revealed, the Best Day has now become the Worst Day. Braces create a dental hygiene challenge that many people, especially preteens and teenagers are not aware of or prepared for. The extra apparatuses on the teeth are havens for plaque, bacteria, and food debris, causing a person’s risk for gum disease and cavities to sky-rocket.  The most common problem we see after braces is a phenomenon called “white spot lesions” that outline where the bracket was.  The white spots are areas of demineralization or weakening of the surface enamel where plaque was allowed to linger for too long and damaged the tooth structure surrounding the bracket.

How to Lower the Inherent Risk for Gingivitis and Cavities that comes with Braces

  • Don’t miss a single dental visit. While you’re busy seeing your orthodontist every 4-6 weeks, it is easy to forget your need for dental cleanings and checkups while in braces. Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara will be able to reassess your risk for both gum disease and cavities and make recommendations to help you lower your risk. This may include more frequent dental cleanings, a prescription toothpaste, a professional fluoride application, and adjunctive oral hygiene tools for you to use at home.
  • Adjunctive oral hygiene tools – Braces take cleaning your teeth to a whole new dimension. A manual toothbrush usually won’t do the job, and traditional floss is virtually impossible to use alone.
    • Brushing – An electric toothbrush is a must because it can remove more plaque and bacteria around the brackets more effectively than a manual toothbrush.
    • Flossing – Using traditional floss requires the addition of something called a floss-threader, which is like a large plastic needle that can be inserted underneath the wire in order to floss between the teeth. An alternative to this is using small pre-threaded floss picks that will fit underneath the wires, called Platypus flossers.
    • Waterpik – Some people choose to add a Waterpik tool to their oral hygiene regimen. It is an effective way to remove food debris from underneath the orthodontic wires.
  • Additional oral hygiene products – The specific type of oral hygiene products you use matters when you have orthodontic appliances. There are many products available that can strengthen enamel and make it more resistant to damage from plaque and bacteria.
    • A prescription fluoride toothpaste or gel – Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara will give you recommendations based on your specific risk levels. If they determine that you are high risk for cavities, you may be given a prescription for a special toothpaste or gel to use on your teeth. Make sure to carefully follow the instructions and store any of these products out of the reach of small children.
    • Mouthwash – A mouthwash is a great way to flush out food debris from around the brackets and wires before you begin the flossing and brushing process. Any alcohol-free mouthwash is appropriate for pre-brush rinsing. Before bed and after brushing and flossing, you should swish with a fluoride-containing mouthwash. Do not rinse this one because the fluoride should stay in contact with your teeth for as long as possible. Our favorite fluoride mouthwash for orthodontics is Phos-Flur. Click here to read more about Phos-Flur mouthwash.

Questions about Your Risk (or Your Child’s Risk) While in Braces?

Call our office at 972-347-1145 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara. They will assess your risk for gingivitis and cavities while in braces and make the appropriate recommendations for your specific risk.


Energy Drinks

October 11, 2017

Red Bull gives you wings, but it may also give you cavities.  Energy drinks are defined as “any of various types of beverage that are considered a source of energy, especially a soft drink containing a high percentage of sugar and/or caffeine or other stimulant”.  The most common brands of energy drinks sold in the U.S. are Red Bull, Monster, and RockStar.  In 2015, Red Bull had $4.55 billion in sales.  While the soda industry is noticing a slow, steady decline in sales, the energy drink industry is steadily climbing.

What is in an Energy Drink?

  • Caffeine – Energy drinks contain a varying amount of caffeine, some as high as 160mg, which is equivalent to a Starbucks coffee. If you would not let your child drinks a strong coffee at Starbucks, you should not let them drink energy drinks.
  • Taurine – Taurine is an amino acid, present in most energy drinks, that shows no actual evidence of providing any energy at all.
  • Guarana – A plant native to the Amazon region, guarana berries contain a very high concentration of caffeine. Guarana is an ingredient in both Monster and Rockstar energy drinks.  If you see both caffeine and guarana listed as ingredients in your energy drink, it’s a double whammy, and you should proceed with caution.
  • Lots and lots of sugar – An 8-oz serving of Monster energy drink contains 27g of sugar, which is the exact amount of sugar in an 8-oz serving of CocaCola.  The important thing to remember is that most people buy both energy drinks and sodas in 16-oz bottles or cans.  If you drink a 16-oz energy drink, the amount of sugar is doubled to 54g, which is far higher than anyone’s recommended daily allowance.

How Do Energy Drinks Cause Cavities?

Energy drinks cause cavities in the same way sodas cause cavities: high sugar content, and very acidic pH.  It is important for both parents and children to understand that energy drinks offer no health advantages over sodas; in fact, they are more harmful due to the high levels of caffeine they provide.

  1. Sugar – The bacteria which is naturally present in mouths ingests (eats) sugar, and the by-product is an acid. When this acid stays in contact with the enamel surface, it begins to etch or weaken the outer layer of enamel.  This process is the beginning of a cavity.  The more sugar you drink, the more you are feeding the bacteria in your mouth, enabling them to cause damage to your enamel.
  2. pH – All energy drinks, even the sugar-free versions, have a very low pH. Rockstar Sugar Free has a pH of 3.15, Red Bull Sugar Free is 3.39, and Monster Low Carb is 3.60.  These pH measurements are well below (more acidic than) the threshold of 5.5, at which enamel begins to soften and become susceptible to decay.  Consistently drinking very acidic drinks predisposes you to a high risk for cavities.

What if I Can’t Give Up My Energy Drink?

  • As with sodas and sparkling waters, you can minimize the damage to your teeth by high sugar, acidic drinks if you limit them to mealtime only.  Drink them quickly and while you are eating.  The saliva stimulated by your chewing and tasting food will counteract the acid in the energy drink.
  • If you have a dry mouth, you are at a much higher risk for developing cavities from energy drinks.  Please ask Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara how you can address your dry mouth issues and still enjoy an energy drink from time to time.
  • After having your energy drink, chew sugar-free, xylitol gum for 20 minutes.  Chewing gum stimulates saliva production and can bring the pH in your mouth back up to neutral more quickly than it can without chewing gum.
  • Know your cavity risk.  Unfortunately, some people are much more prone to cavities than others.  You should know your risk and take the necessary steps to lower that risk as much as possible.  If you do not know your level of cavity risk, call the office today at 972-347-1145 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill or Dr. Cara.


What is Gingivitis?

October 4, 2017

A lot of people hear this word from their dentist and are not really sure what it means.  Have you been told that you have gingivitis by your dentist or dental hygienist?  Do you sometimes see blood when you spit your toothpaste out in the sink?  This blog will describe what gingivitis is, what it is not, what causes it, and what you can do about it.

What Gingivitis Is

The word gingivitis is easy to break down into its two components: gingiva and the suffix “–itis”.  Gingiva is the scientific term for gum tissue.  The suffix “–itis” always indicates inflammation.  Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix.  Dermatitis is inflammation of the skin.  Inflammation will always exhibit at least one of four characteristics: redness, swelling, heat, and pain.

In gingivitis, the most common characteristics of inflammation are redness and swelling.  Any bleeding of the gums without injury indicates the presence of gingivitis (and, no, brushing, flossing and professional teeth cleanings do not count as injuries).  Gingivitis can be localized or generalized.  Localized gingivitis is isolated to a small area of the mouth, perhaps 1-2 teeth.  Generalized gingivitis is inflammation of the gum tissue around all of the teeth.

What Gingivitis Is Not

While gingivitis is typically present at the same time as many of these other conditions, it is technically not the same thing.

Periodontal disease – Periodontal disease is the loss of gum and bone attachment to teeth.  The jawbone and gums are the foundation on which our teeth function.  They support the teeth and hold them in place.  When periodontal disease is present, that support is compromised.  In severe periodontal disease, the teeth will become loose and, in extreme cases, can even fall out.  Periodontal disease often occurs in conjunction with gingivitis.  Gingivitis, if untreated, will advance to periodontal disease.  However, periodontal disease is called a “silent” disease because the inflammation can be hidden underneath the gums, not visible to an untrained eye.

Gum recession – Gum recession is the process of gum tissue receding down the root surface of a tooth.  Recession exposes the root and also compromises the support for a tooth because it is a loss of attachment.  Gum recession is often accompanied by gingivitis, but recession can be present without any inflammation.

What Causes Gingivitis

  • Plaque – The #1 cause of gingivitis is the accumulation of plaque.  Plaque consists of bacteria, their by-products, and food debris.  Plaque is an irritant to gum tissue, so when it is not properly cleaned away, the gums respond with an inflammatory reaction.  Plaque is the easiest cause of gingivitis to treat.
  • Hormones – Many people experience changes in levels of inflammation due to changes in levels of hormones.  This can affect patients going through puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.  Read more about how hormones affect gingivitis here.
  • Mouth breathing – Constant mouth breathing has a drying effect on all the tissue inside the mouth.  Saliva is instrumental in maintaining the pH of a mouth, moistening the tissue, and fighting bacteria.  Mouth breathing allows a greater accumulation of bacteria on the gum tissue, leading to inflammation.  This can affect people who have nasal obstruction, severe allergies, or sleep-disordered breathing.
  • Braces – Orthodontic treatment creates beautiful smiles.  Sometimes it also contributes to gingivitis.  All of the additional fixtures in the mouth during orthodontic treatment provide countless hiding places for bacteria to accumulate.  More bacteria means more gingivitis.
  • Some prescription medications – There are a few prescription medications that cause gingivitis as a common side effect.  Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara are familiar with these drugs and their influence on gum tissue.  They will advise you in the event you are taking a medication that could cause changes in your gum tissue.

What You Can Do About Gingivitis

  1. Improve your oral hygiene routine at home! Your routine should include brushing twice daily and flossing before bedtime.  Adding a pre-brush mouthrinse that contains hydrogen peroxide (like an over-the-counter whitening mouthrinse) will help reduce inflammation in your gum tissue. 
  2. Have your teeth professionally cleaned! Patients who are prone to gingivitis should never miss a cleaning.  Many even need to have cleanings more frequently than ever 6 months.  The good news is that more frequent cleanings always mean more comfortable cleanings.  If you skip cleanings, the bacterial buildup that is causing the gingivitis will persist and can worsen into periodontal disease.
  3. Talk it over with your dentist. You may have more than one risk factor for gingivitis, like mouth breathing or hormones.  Jill and Dr. Cara will give you customized recommendations for your specific situation.

Worried about Gingivitis?

Call our office at 972-347-1145 to schedule a consultation to discuss your concerns with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara and get a plan to resolve your gingivitis.


Is Morning Sickness Ruining Your Teeth?

September 26, 2017

What is Morning Sickness?

Morning sickness is a commonly used term to describe the nausea and vomiting that affects many women during pregnancy.  It’s a bit of a misnomer, as most women who experience this phenomenon say it actually happens throughout the entire day and not just in the mornings.  Morning sickness affects between 70-85 percent of pregnant women!  While most women experience morning sickness in the first 16-20 weeks of pregnancy, some of the unlucky ones have symptoms throughout the entire pregnancy.

Morning sickness affects a person’s ability to work, perform necessary tasks around the home, and/or care for children or other dependents in the household.  Many women state that morning sickness forced them to reveal their pregnancy earlier than they would have preferred.

How Does Morning Sickness Affect My Teeth?

The reason morning sickness is damaging to teeth is that the nausea and vomiting brings acid from the stomach up into the mouth.  Healthy stomachs are filled with acid, which breaks down food as an important part of the digestion process.  However, that acid is supposed to stay in the stomach.  Stomach acid has a pH of 1.5-3.5.

In contrast, a healthy mouth has a pH that is slightly above neutral, in the range of 7.1-7.5.  Teeth can stay strong at this pH.  The enamel covering our teeth begins to weaken when the pH drops to 5.5 or below.

When someone vomits, the acid in the stomach is pulled up the esophagus and into the mouth.  This stomach acid is far below the pH threshold for enamel damage.  When the mouth is subjected to this strong acid with such a low pH repeatedly, the enamel is weakened and may begin to erode.

Enamel erosion is the gradual degradation of the enamel surface of teeth caused by exposure to acids.  This includes any acid, like sodas, lemon juice, and any carbonated drink.  Because stomach acid is more acidic than these things, it can cause more damage in a shorter amount of time.  The photos below show examples of severe enamel erosion.  The enamel becomes thinner and is even missing in some areas.  On front teeth, this can cause the teeth to appear translucent or “see-through”.  On back teeth, the enamel can erode away from a filling, leaving the filling taller than the tooth surface.

Because enamel is a tooth’s defense against decay, anything that weakens enamel makes a tooth more likely to get a cavity.  Loss of enamel also causes tooth sensitivity.

How Do I Protect My Teeth From Morning Sickness?

There are several steps you can take to protect your teeth if you are suffering from morning sickness.

  1. After vomiting, do not immediately brush your teeth.  Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water, wait 30 minutes and then brush.
  2. Use an over-the-counter mouthrinse that contains fluoride before bed each night. Fluoride can strengthen the enamel and protect it against acid.
  3. Chew sugar-free gum throughout the day. This stimulates your natural saliva production, which raises the pH in your mouth.
  4. See your dentist. If you are suffering from morning sickness, let Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara know.  They can assess your risk for enamel erosion and make specific recommendations for you.

What Else Can Cause Acid Erosion of Teeth?

  • GERD – Severe acid reflux can keep the pH in the mouth much lower than normal.
  • Bulimia – As with morning sickness, consistent vomiting causes enamel erosion.
  • Lemon juice cleanses – Lemon juice is as acidic as stomach acid and should never touch the teeth.

Are You Suffering With Morning Sickness?

Call our office at 972-347-1145 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill or Dr. Cara.  They will determine your risk for enamel damage and give you customized recommendations to lower that risk.


What PFD Has Been Up To: Dr. Jill Lectures at the Southwest Dental Conference

September 19, 2017

At Prosper Family Dentistry, we are committed to lifelong learning and the continual furthering of our knowledge.  Because dentistry is an ever-changing profession and our most important goal is taking excellent care of our patients, we place a high priority on dental education. As in most professions, dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants must meet a minimum requirement of hours of education in order to maintain an active license.  Our doctors exceed the required hours of continuing education by five times or more.

The Southwest Dental Conference is held each year at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in downtown Dallas.  It provides a wide range of classes on a myriad of subjects by well-known dentists and other lecturers.  What made this year extra special is that one of those dentist/lecturers was our very own Dr. Jill!  After presenting a short table clinic in February 2017 at the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry in Chicago on the subject of the upper cervical spine, she was invited by the organizers of the Southwest Dental Conference to give a one hour lecture on the same topic at this year’s meeting.

In her lecture, Dr. Jill explained the anatomy of the upper cervical spine and how it affects the teeth and jaws.  She discussed a dentist’s unique position to identify problems in the upper cervical spine through the use of 3D imaging.  She described how a misalignment of the upper cervical spine can masquerade as a toothache or TMJ pain.  Dr. Jill illustrated this phenomenon with several case studies of patients she has treated at Prosper Family Dentistry over the last few years.

The doctors at Prosper Family Dentistry strongly believe in an interdisciplinary approach to dentistry.  The teeth and jaws are not isolated from the rest of the body, and they should not be treated as if they are.  This belief has led Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara to work with many specialists to help each patient reach optimum health.  In the case of the upper cervical spine, they work closely with chiropractors, physical therapists and physicians who specialize in the manipulation of the upper cervical spine.  As with many other situation, like high blood pressure and sleep apnea, our dentists are in a unique position to identify a problem before a patient seeks medical attention.  This is just one of many ways Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara provide our patients with the most comprehensive care possible.

Hannah and Kadi attended Dr. Jill’s lecture

Ending the lecture on a funny note

Taking questions after the lecture



Pizza Burns, Popcorn Shrapnel, and Tortilla Chip Daggers: Soft Tissue Injuries in Your Mouth

September 13, 2017 

Have you ever been so excited for your pizza that you just could not wait for it to cool down?  You are starving.   You cannot wait one more second.   So you take a big bite of piping hot pizza, only to feel the searing pain of a tomato sauce burn on the roof of your mouth instead of the simple gustatory satisfaction of bread, tomatoes, cheese and {insert your favorite topping here}.

Maybe Mexican food is your weakness.  The chips and salsa start calling your name as soon as you walk in the door.  You toss the whole chip with its twists and turns into your mouth, but when you bite down, a shard stabs into your gums.

At the movie theater, you eat hot, buttery popcorn by the giant handful.  When one shell of a kernel finds its way between your teeth, you spend the entire movie contorting your tongue to try to work it out and curse yourself for not carrying floss with you at all times.

Most everyone can relate to these slightly over-dramatized examples.  In some cases, the damage is very minor and only bothers you for an hour or two.  In other cases, the injury leads to a painful ulceration or a localized gum infection if not handled correctly.  Here is what you need to know about reducing your risk for these types of injuries and how to handle them when they inevitably happen.

How to Reduce the Risk of Injury

Slow down!  Many of these injuries happen because someone is eating too quickly, not allowing food to cool properly, or taking bites that are too large.  In order to lower your risk of these types of injuries, always wait for your food to cool to a manageable temperature.  Only take bites that are appropriate for your mouth, and chew slowly.  When teeth are aligned properly and chewing is performed at a normal rate, the anatomy of the mouth provides protection for the gum tissues, lips, cheeks and tongue as you chew.

How to Handle a Soft Tissue Injury

Keep your mouth as clean as possible!  The initial injury, whether it is a burn, laceration, or impacted food, can quickly progress to an inflammation or infection if not cleaned properly.  Our mouths are full of bacteria, and it is imperative to keep sores clean until they heal.  Gentle swishing of warm salt water or over-the-counter Peroxyl® mouthrinse can keep the injured site clean and promote rapid healing.

Use mild oral care products.  The injured site can be very tender and overly sensitive.  If you find that your normal mouthrinse and toothpaste cause a stinging or burning sensation to the injured area, you should switch to mild, hypoallergenic products like those made by Biotene.

Alter your diet.  Areas of ulceration or inflammation are easily irritated by very hot temperatures, very spicy foods, and acidic foods and beverages.  In order to keep the injured site as soothed as possible, you should avoid drinking hot coffee or tea.  Do not eat food that is extremely hot; allow it to cool down before taking a bite.  During the healing period, eat a mild diet that is not spicy or acidic.  Steer clear of foods high in tomato or citrus content until the area has resolved.

Avoid toothpicks.  If you feel that a popcorn kernel or other food debris is lodged between your teeth and gums, do not use a traditional wooden toothpick to attempt retrieval.  Ironically, we have removed more fragments of wooden toothpicks from patient’s gum tissues than popcorn kernels.  Only use dental floss or small interdental brushes (like a Proxabrush) to remove the embedded food particles.

Be careful when flossing.  It is possible to floss too aggressively and cause damage to your gum tissue.  When you floss with the intent to remove a popcorn kernel or other food particle, it is important to be gentle and monitor your progress.  Ideally, you want the floss to reach under the foreign body and pull it out.  If you feel that your flossing is actually pushing the material further into the gum tissue, stop immediately!

Come see us.  If you are unable to remove a piece of food or debris, it is important to see your dentist sooner rather than later.  The longer the irritant stays in place, the more likely it is to cause inflammation and can lead to infection.  If you have a painful burn or ulceration, we can prescribe a prescription mouthrinse and/or topical ointment to alleviate the painful symptoms and promote healing.

Have You Injured Yourself?

Call Prosper Family Dentistry at 972-347-1145 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jill or Dr. Cara as soon as possible.

Dental Implants: Restoration of a Missing Tooth

September 6, 2017 

A Missing Tooth

In dentistry, we use the term prognosis to describe how long a tooth will continue to function properly.  That term also encompasses any treatment done on a tooth as a predictor of how long the treatment itself will last and keep the tooth in proper function.  Giving a prognosis on a tooth or treatment is a little like predicting the future.  We are not giving an exact timeline; we are making an educated guess.  We want your teeth and the work we perform on them to last as long as you do!

When a tooth has a hopeless prognosis, the only treatment option is removal of the tooth by extraction.  When a tooth or the proposed treatment to save a tooth has a poor long-term prognosis, we will always give you the option to remove the tooth.  Once the tooth is removed, you will have several options for replacing it.  We believe that your time, effort and money are best invested in something that will last.  The treatment option with the highest success rate for replacing a missing tooth is a dental implant.

Anatomy of a Dental Implant

One of the reasons a dental implant has such a high success rate is that its anatomy mimics a natural tooth more closely than any other treatment option available in dentistry.  This configuration allows a dental implant to stand alone; it does not anchor or rest on any other teeth unlike a bridge or a removable partial.

A dental implant consists of three parts:

  1. Implant body – The implant body is the root replacement. It is made from titanium, like implants and prostheses used in other parts of the body.  This titanium root form comes in many different sizes, and using our 3D image of your jawbones, we will select the proper size for your specific missing tooth.  In some cases, the implant can be placed at the time of extraction, called an immediate implant.  In other situations, it is necessary to allow the jawbone to heal for several months between the extraction and the placement of the dental implant. Once the implant has been placed into the jawbone, it must heal for several months, allowing the bone to grow into the threads of the implant form, which is a process called osseointegration.  After a minimum of 3 months of healing, we are able to test the level of osseointegration of the implant using a tool called an Osstell to ensure that the implant is stable and ready to withstand chewing forces.
  2. Abutment – The abutment is the connector between the implant root and the dental crown. An abutment can be made from several different materials, as needed for esthetics.  The abutment is affixed to the implant root form with a small screw, and it protrudes from the gums, providing the core structure for a crown.
  3. Abutment-supported crown – An abutment-supported crown is very similar to a traditional dental crown. It covers the entire abutment form to the gumline and restores the natural anatomy of the tooth, enabling you to return to normal function in this area.

What Is the Process for Replacing a Missing Tooth with a Dental Implant?

Visit 1:  Implant Planning

At this visit, some images are taken of the proposed implant site, including photographs, dental x-rays and a 3D CBCT image.  We determine which size dental implant will best restore your missing tooth and discuss the following surgical visit.

Visit 2: Surgical Placement of the Implant

During the surgical visit, you have the option to be sedated, and if you desire this, please discuss it with Dr. Jill or Dr. Cara BEFORE this visit.  You can also elect to have the procedure done with local anesthetic only, meaning you are awake throughout.  Implant placement is a relatively quick procedure and usually causes less discomfort than a tooth extraction so many people choose to remain awake for this visit.  You should feel only vibration as the site in the bone is being prepared and the implant placed.  You will be given very strict post-operative instructions regarding your stitches, care of the surgical site, and oral hygiene to follow.

Visit 3: Removal of Stitches

Between one and two weeks later, you will return for the removal of your stitches and a post-operative evaluation of the surgical site.  This is typically a very quick visit, and most, if not all, post-operative pain or discomfort has subsided by this time.

Visit 4: Uncovering and Testing Implant

At three months post-op, the implant will be exposed to the mouth (if it is not already) by removing the gum tissue over it with a dental laser.  Once the implant is accessible, we are able to test its stability to determine whether or not it is ready to withstand chewing forces.  Using an instrument called the Osstell, we can quantitatively measure the stability of the implant in the jawbone.  If the implant shows the correct amount of stability, we can proceed with visit 5.

Visit 5: Scanning for Abutment and Crown

This visit may be done in combination with visit 4 if the Osstell measurements are appropriate.  Using our 3D intraoral scanner, we take an image of the implant site and the surround teeth.  This image is sent to the laboratory for selection of the proper abutment and fabrication of your dental crown.  A covering called a healing cap is placed over the implant at the end of this visit.

Visit 6: Final Placement of Abutment and Crown

When the abutment and crown are delivered to our office from the dental laboratory, the healing cap is removed from the implant, and the abutment and crown are placed.  The abutment is attached to the implant via a small screw, which is torqued to the appropriate tightness.  Dental x-rays confirm the fit of the crown.  Once the crown meets our standards and feels perfect to you, it will be cemented and cleaned.

Do You Have a Missing Tooth that You Would Like Restored with a Dental Implant?

Call our office at 972-347-1145 to set up a consultation with Dr. Jill or Dr. Cara.  They will discuss your treatment options in detail and help you choose what is right for you.





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Prosper, TX 75078

Phone: 972-347-1145



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