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Gift Ideas for that Hard-to-Buy-For Person

December 5, 2018

We know.  This may see like a strange topic coming from your dental office.  But most of us have someone in our lives who is hard to buy for.  Some people just seem to have “everything”.

When it comes to buying Christmas gifts with some creativity, you can’t get more creative than shopping at the dentist!  Consider these gift options at Prosper Family Dentistry.

Electric Toothbrush

You’ve heard it before, and we’ll say it again.  Electric toothbrushes truly do clean your teeth better than manual toothbrushes.  Unfortunately, the best ones are also the most expensive.  Many people fell Ike spending $120 on a toothbrush is an unnecessary extravagance.

While we could waste a few paragraphs convincing you that they are both necessary and economical (in saving you money on future dental expenses), we won’t do that here.

Ask anyone who uses an electric toothbrush how they feel when they have to use a manual toothbrush.  They will tell you that it is hard to go back to a manual toothbrush because your teeth just do not feel as clean.  The smooth, shiny feeling of your teeth left by an electric toothbrush cannot be achieved with a manual toothbrush.

Electric toothbrushes also have the advantage of more effectively polishing away dark staining, keeping your teeth whiter and brighter.  An electric toothbrush is the perfect gift for the coffee or red wine lover in your life.

Teeth Whitening

Another great gift for almost anyone is professional teeth whitening.  On our new patient forms, we ask each patient this question: “If you could wave a magic wand and change your smile, what would you change?”  Every single person writes down the word “WHITER”.

Everyone wants whiter teeth, and the fastest, most predictable way to get whiter teeth is with professional teeth whitening.  Professional products are faster, more effective and less likely to make teeth sensitive.  We offer three different options for teeth whitening, and there are TWO ways you can gift these.

  1. Buy Opalescence GO! Whitening kits in our office.

These kits are a one-size-fits-all approach to teeth whitening.  They consist of a flexible, generic fit tray that contains a high strength whitening gel.  They are easy to apply and very safe to use.

Opalescence GO! kits are great gifts for pre-teens whose teen have not fully come in or patients who are in the middle of complicated dental work.  They are made to grab and go at our office.  You don’t need to make an appointment.  Jut drop by during normal business hours!  Melanie, Lorrie and Kadi can answer all of your questions about the GO! Kits and send you home with one item checked off your Christmas to-buy list!

They also make great stocking stuffers!

  1. Buy a gift certificate for one of our other two professional teeth whitening options.

Opalescence GO! Kits are the only professional whitening option that do not require a dental appointment.  Our other two options do, which is why we recommend buying a gift certificate for these. Then your loved one can make the necessary appointment according to their schedule!

The first, and most popular, option is custom-fitted whitening trays with professional strength gel.  This teeth whitening option gives the gift recipient complete control over their whitening results.  The professional gel works quickly and provides protection against teeth sensitivity.  We offer several different concentrations of the whitening gel, which allows you to select the ones that meets your needs.

The custom-fitted trays will last for many years, allowing you to maintain your bright white smile.  The close fit of the tray against your teeth helps conserve the whitening gel, making it last longer, too.

The second whitening option for which you can purchase a gift certificate is in-office whitening.  This is a great gift for the busy person who wants white teeth but has no time.  In-office whitening produces whitening results in a single 90-minute appointment.

Teeth Straightening

If a beautiful, straight smile is on a loved one’s wish list, ask if he or she is interested in straightening teeth with clear aligner therapy.  We can make minor corrections of mildly crowded teeth in just a few months with clear aligners.  We can also use clear aligners to completely transform a smile!

Talk to Dr Jill and Dr. Cara if you think someone you love might have teeth straightening on his or her Christmas wish list.

Questions about How You Can Give a Gift from PFD?

Call 972-347-1145 today to ask our wonderful front office staff, Lorrie, Melanie and Kadi.  They can answer any question you have about gifting one of the options listed above.

I Just Ate a Candy Cane.  Now What?!?

November 28, 2018

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  It could also be the sweetest.  Are you like Buddy the Elf?  “We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup.”  While we love Buddy and that beloved Christmas movie, we’re not so sure about his nutritional advice. 

While you and your family are enjoying the sweet treats of the season, keep these tips in mind to ward off “sugar bugs” (the cutesy name we use for the bacteria that cause cavities).

Helpful Tips for Fighting Cavities

When it comes to fighting cavities during the holiday season, you either have to say NO to the sweets or up your oral hygiene game.  Despite our reputation (as dentists) of wanting to take all the fun out of candy, we really do want you to enjoy the Christmas season!  Here are our tips for enjoying your holiday goodies and fighting cavities at the same time.

  1. Rinse with water!

Immediately after having candy or sweets, gently swish some plain old water around in your mouth.  This helps to dislodge small sugar-packed food or candy particles out of the nooks and crannies in your teeth.  It also brings the pH in your mouth back to neutral more quickly than it would return on its own.  The bacteria in our mouths produce acid when they eat sugar.  That acid is what does all the damage of cavities.  Keeping a neutral pH in your mouth is vital to fighting cavities.

  1. Chew sugar-free gum, preferably with xylitol.

Did you know your saliva is better than water?  It has a higher pH, and it contains enzymes that fight bacteria in your mouth.  By chewing sugar-free gum, you are stimulating the natural production of saliva.  Both the flavor of the gum and the chewing motion cause more saliva to flow.

Xylitol is a bonus!  Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol found in plants that actually kills the bad bacteria in your mouth.  The bacteria eat xylitol, thinking it is sugar, but then they cannot digest it and die.  Our favorite xylitol-containing gum is Ice Cubes.  It comes in a wide variety of flavors and is available at most grocery stores and convenience stores.  Grab a few packs today and start chewing!

  1. Add a fluoride mouthrinse to your oral hygiene routine.

If you are not already using a mouthrinse, this is the time to start!  If you are using a mouthrinse, but it does not contain fluoride, it is time to make a switch.  Fluoride is the best ingredient in oral care products for fighting cavities.

Fluoride strengthens enamel, making it more resistant to acid attacks from bacteria.  By adding a fluoride rinse to your oral hygiene routine, you are making your teeth stronger and less likely to get cavities.

Because fluoride should stay on the teeth as long as possible, we recommend rinsing with a fluoride-containing mouthrinse AFTER brushing and flossing your teeth.  Do not rinse your mouth with water after rinsing with fluoride.  Let it be the last thing on your teeth before your head hits the pillow.

  1. Commit to great oral hygiene practices.

This is not the time of year to slack off with brushing and flossing your teeth!  People eat more sugar, drink more alcohol, and snack more frequently during the day in the holiday season.  All of these things increase the risk for cavities.

Make sure to stick to a consistent oral hygiene routine that includes:

  • Twice daily brushing, after breakfast and before bedtime
  • Once nightly flossing before bedtime
  • Rinsing with a fluoride mouthrinse after brushing and flossing
  • Use any additional teeth cleaning tools your dentist or dental hygienist have recommended, like a water flosser, interdental brushes, etc . . .
  1. Know your cavity risk.

Unfortunately, some people just have a higher risk for cavities than others do.  No, it’s not fair, but it is just the way things are.  If you have a high risk for cavities, these tips are even more important for you.

Do you know what your cavity risk level is?  If not, schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara today.  They will assess your teeth and gums, telling you specifics about your risk areas.  Remember that old G.I. Joe saying: “Knowing is half the battle!”  That is certainly true for your cavity risk.  Once you know it, you can take the appropriate measures to fight it!

More Questions about Sweet Christmas Treats?

Call 972-347-1145 today to schedule a visit with our doctors or dental hygienists.  We can answer any candy question you have!

Thankful

November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving week is officially here!  We are excited for big meals, family time, shopping, and a long weekend.  We believe that it is important to reflect on all the many things we have to be thankful for at this time of year.  Here are just a few of them.

Our Patients

We know that we are nothing without the people who walk in our doors each and every day, trusting us with their dental care.  We are thankful for every patient, new and old.  Whether you’ve been coming to Prosper Family Dentistry since we opened in August of 2004, or you had your first visit this week, we thank you!  We take our responsibility as your healthcare providers very seriously.  We are committed to serving you with excellence, compassion, and integrity.

We are grateful for those of you whose entire families trust us with their care.  Nothing makes us happier than seeing four generations of the same family!  From toddler to great-grandmother, we love you all.

Our Team

Dr. Jill places a high priority on teamwork and has worked diligently to put together a group of people who work together to provide every patient with the best dental experience possible.

We are thankful for Dr. Cara’s thoroughness and thoughtfulness.

We are thankful for Lorrie’s big smile and friendly voice.

We are thankful for Melanie’s compassion and empathy.

We are thankful for Kadi Jo’s energy and ability to keep us laughing.

We are thankful for Staci’s loyalty and diligence.

We are thankful for Kenneth’s optimism and kindness.

We are thankful for Carli’s sense of humor and commitment to helping others.

We are thankful for Denise’s experience and efficiency.
We are thankful for Hannah’s sweet spirit and flexibility.

We are thankful for Dani’s ability to identify with and calm an anxious patient.

Each team member brings unique, valuable traits to our daily pursuit of making each patient feel truly cared for.

Our Town

We are so grateful to be a part of the community of Prosper, Texas.  We have watched Prosper grow and change since becoming the first dentist here in 2004.  Despite all of the changes, one thing has remained the same: the small-town heart.

As part of our gratitude toward this town, we want to especially thank our Prosper police force and fire department for their hard work and dedication to keeping this town safe and prosperous!

Our Families

And of course, this time of year is all about family.  We are grateful for the families who support us, encourage us, and give us purpose.  To the parents who raised us, the siblings who uplift us, the spouses who love us, the children who inspire us: WE THANK YOU!

We hope you enjoy a holiday filled with joy and gratitude. 

Happy Thanksgiving from Prosper Family Dentistry!

How to Stay Cavity-Free this Holiday Season

November 14, 2018

The holidays are upon us, and you know what that means: parties, candy, drinking, and lots and lots of eating!  This time of year often leads to a deviation from our normal eating and drinking habits as well as the way we take care of ourselves.

Don’t let the holidays put you at risk for damage to your teeth!  Follow these simple steps to stay cavity-free this holiday season.

  1. Try to have desserts with meals only.

We know this is a tough one.  There are extra helpings of pie in the fridge.  There are bowls full of candy everywhere.  Your neighbors bring you cookies and treats. 

All this sticky, sugary goodness is very tempting, but it is also very bad for your teeth.  One way you can still enjoy these treats and not hurt your teeth is by partaking of your sweets with a meal instead of as a mid-day snack.  Saliva is our best defense against cavities.  Between meals, our saliva production goes down, which helps those sweet treats pack an extra punch on your enamel.  Having them with a meal means you’re protected by the saliva that comes naturally with eating a meal.

Keep your sweets to mealtime!

  1. Avoid heavy alcohol consumption.

Another tough one, especially if your family time is . . . you know . . . stressful.  Alcohol can harm the teeth in three ways.  1) It dries out your mouth.  2)  It contains sugars.  3)  It is acidic.

A dry mouth filled with sugary acid is a recipe for disaster.  The same tip applies to alcohol as to sweets: enjoy it with a meal.  Your saliva will counteract the dryness, the sugar, and the acid.

Another helpful hint: after drinking alcohol, rinse your mouth with water.  This also helps moisturize your mouth and counteract the effects of sugar and acid in the alcoholic drink.

  1. Force yourself to be diligent with your oral hygiene.

Having company in town or traveling to see family can lead to a disruption in your bedtime routine.  Make sure to prioritize keeping your teeth clean no matter where you are and what time you get to bed.

The changes that often occur in our diets during the holidays make consistent brushing and flossing even more important than they already are!

Nightly brushing and flossing is essential to good dental health.  At night, while we are sleeping, our bodies do not produce much saliva.  (This is a protective mechanism to keep us from choking on our own spit!)  So when you put your head on the pillow, your teeth are entering a higher risk situation.  Give them a fighting chance by removing all the plaque, food and bacteria from all the exposed tooth surfaces by brushing and flossing thoroughly.

  1. Head off a dental emergency!

Don’t let a toothache ruin your Thanksgiving!  If you have not had a dental check-up in a while and something is bothering you, come see us as soon as possible.  Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara will help you address any teeth problems that are in danger of turning into an emergency situation.  Dental emergencies not only cause pain; they also lead to unexpected expenses at an already expensive time of year.

Don’t put off seeing the dentist when something starts to bother you.  We know this time of year is busy, but we also recognize that, while there is NEVER a good time for a toothache, the holidays are the worst time.  Let us help you prevent an emergency situation with your teeth.

If you know or suspect that you have a cavity, let’s fix it before Christmas rolls around.  Call today to be scheduled with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  Once the cavities are removed, you’ll officially be cavity-free for the holidays!

Need More Tips on How to Enjoy Healthy Holidays?

Call today to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They can help you learn your specific risk areas and take steps to reduce those risks and be cavity-free this Christmas!

Whitening for the Holidays

November 7, 2018

The holidays are quickly approaching, and you know what that means: lots and lots of pictures.  Photos for the family Christmas cards, selfies over the Thanksgiving spread, and parties galore.

If you want your smile to be bright for this holiday season, it is time to consider teeth whitening now!

When do I Start Whitening for the Holidays?

Unless you decide on professional in-office teeth whitening, you need to keep in mind that it can take up to several weeks to see results.  In general, the quicker the result, the more expensive the whitening option.  By planning ahead, you can get beautiful results without breaking the bank.

Timelines for Different Products

Some teeth whitening products take longer than others to produce results.  The things that affect the timeline are the strength of the active ingredient and the way it is applied to the teeth.  For this reason, professional teeth whitening products will always produce a faster result than over-the-counter products.

Over-the-Counter Whitening Products

Like Crest Whitestrips, there are many options available over-the-counter to whiten your teeth.  These products DO work.  They usually contain a lower strength of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide (the chemicals capable of breaking down stains in tooth enamel), which means it can take longer for them to work.  The way you apply these products to the teeth also slows down their results because it is hard to keep the whitening gel or strip in direct contact with the tooth for an extended period of time.

For an over-the-counter whitening product, start now!

Professional Teeth Whitening Gel in Custom-Fitted Trays

This is what dentists consider the “gold standard” in teeth whitening.  At Prosper Family Dentistry, we provide a variety of concentrations of the teeth whitening gel, so you can choose which one is best for your whitening needs.  With the option of stronger whitening gels, you can get faster results.

Maybe even more important than the gel you choose is the custom-fitted tray that holds the gel against the teeth.  This is the main advantage of at-home professional teeth whitening products.  We make a comfortable plastic tray that is perfectly fitted to your teeth.  This means the gel stays in contact with your teeth rather than slumping to the bottom of a generic, too-large mouthpiece or sliding off of the teeth with slippery strips.

Typical results from professional at-home whitening are seen within 7-10 days, so plan on starting a week and a half before your big event!

Also keep in mind that we need some time in the lab to make your custom-fitted trays, so may your appointment with us at least a week before you need to start the whitening process.

In-Office Professional Teeth Whitening

This is the fastest way to get a brighter, whiter smile for the holidays!

In-office professional teeth whitening produces whitening results in about one hour.  The only planning ahead that you need to do is to make an appointment.

This is a great option for people who need a white smile TODAY!  Many of our patients who choose in-office whitening have a special event coming up quickly and do not have time to do at-home whitening.

This is also a great option for people who just know that they do not have the time or motivation to commit to the consistent process of at-home whitening.  You know yourself.  If you know that those custom trays are going in the back of your bathroom drawer, never to be seen again, then in-office whitening is probably the best choice for you!

With in-office whitening, you can get your results in one day!  Just remember that your ability to get an appointment varies with the busy-ness of our schedule.  Call now to make your appointment!

How Old do You Have to be to Whiten Your Teeth?

We know a lot of teens and pre-teens want a whiter smile, too.  There is not a set age for when a child can begin whitening.  The decision is based on multiple factors, including the position of the teeth and the health of the teeth and gums among others.  In general, we feel that kids should be at least 13 years old before they do any teeth whitening.  For a better answer, bring your child in for an evaluation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They can tell you if your child is ready for teeth whitening.

Can I Give Teeth Whitening as a Gift?

Yes!  Professional teeth whitening makes a wonderful Christmas gift.  We have whitening kits available for quick purchase without the need for an appointment.  We also offer gift certificates fjor both at-home and in-office teeth whitening (since those each require an appointment in our office).  Just let us know what option you’d like to purchase for your loved one, and we will make it happen.

More Questions about Teeth Whitening for the Holidays?

Call 972-347-1145 today to talk with Mel, Lorrie or Kadi.  They can answer all of your questions about teeth whitening and get you scheduled with our doctors as soon as possible.

 

How Do You Find a Great Dentist?

October 31, 2018

Prosper and the surrounding communities are growing at an unprecedented rate!  With all this growth comes a wider selection.  You have more restaurants to choose from and more than one grocery store to shop.  (Those of you who have been here since 2004 remember when there wasn’t even one!)

This growth also brings you a selection of dentists from which you can choose.  (Those of you who have been here since 2004 may remember when our office was the only one!)

So how do you choose a great dentist for you and your family?  This blog will give you a few tips.

Ask Your Friends and Neighbors

Nothing beats a personal recommendation.  When asking others about a dentist, it helps to be specific.  Here are some great questions to ask:

  • How long have you been seeing this dentist?
  • Do they see your entire family?
  • How was your professional teeth cleaning with the hygienist?
  • Do you see the same faces each time you go?
  • How did they treat your children?
  • Does the dentist spend a good amount of time listening to you and answering your questions, or do they rush in and out?
  • Do they give you conservative treatment options?
  • Have you had dental work with this dentist (more than just teeth cleanings)? How was that experience?
  • Did they look at more than just your teeth?
  • Have you ever had a dental emergency? How did they handle it?

The answers to these questions will give you a much more detailed picture of the office your friend is recommending.

Look for a Commitment to Education

Most dental practice websites have a page where you can learn about the dentists who practice there.  As you read through their bios, look for something that shows a commitment to lifelong learning.  The state board has requirements for the amount of continuing education required for a dentist to maintain a license.  However, these requirements are very low.

You should choose a dentist who goes above and beyond those low requirements by taking more than the minimum number of hours required by the state board each year.  Continuing education keeps dentists up to date on the latest advances in dental technology, materials, and procedures.

An involvement in organized dentistry is typically related to this commitment to advanced learning.  Look for memberships in various dental associations that promote continuing education like study clubs and the Academy of General Dentistry.

Look for a Commitment to the Latest Technology

There are a lot of really cool advances in dental technology.  They require a significant investment by the dental practice, and a practice that invests in things like digital intraoral scanning, 3D imaging, and no-radiation cavity detection shows a commitment to advanced technology.

A commitment to advanced technology is actually a commitment to YOU: the patient.  All these advances in technology are aimed at making dentistry safer, more efficient and more comfortable.

Read Online Reviews

In the age of the internet, you can learn a lot about a dental practice by reading their reviews online.  Sites like Google, Yelp, Facebook, and Angie’s List allow people to rate and review dental offices.  In these reviews, you can learn about the experiences other people have had with these offices. 

The Easiest Way to Find a Great Dentist

Call Prosper Family Dentistry at 972-347-1145 and make an appointment with our two great dentists, Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They are both thorough, compassionate, and committed to lifelong learning!

Frequently Googled Questions about TMJ,

Part 2

October 24, 2018

This week’s blog continues our two-part series in answering Frequently Googled Questions about TMJ.  A proper understanding of the TMJ goes far beyond the reach of a dental school education and requires dentists who purposefully seek out that deeper understanding through years of study.  Both Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara have extensive advanced education in this most complicated joint in the body.

  1. What are TMJ Headaches?

There are a couple of different kinds of headaches caused by TMJ problems.  The most common is a muscle tension headache in the temples that may extend across the forehead.  Heavy clenching or grinding of the teeth typically causes these headaches.  These can involve sharp, shooting pains or simple dull aching.

Another type of headache related to TMJ problems involves the chronic pain of nerve compression and blood flow constriction.  These headaches can occur anywhere in the head.  Headaches of this type are also more difficult to treat because it is difficult to pinpoint the exact problem area.  This type of headache is one of the reasons Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara take a multidisciplinary approach to TMJ treatment, involving physical therapists, chiropractors, and surgeons as needed.

  1. What are TMJ Specialists Called?

Trick question!

There is no such thing as a board-certified or licensed TMJ specialist.  At this time, there is no recognized or credentialed residency or specialty program dedicated to the TMJ.  The term “TMJ Specialist” can be very misleading, as it implies an advanced education in this specific joint.  Unfortunately, that type of education does not exist as a recognized dental specialty at this time.

  1. What are TMJ Splints?

“Splint” is another word for mouthguard or dental appliance.  There are many different types of TMJ splints.  Their shape, size, and bite vary depending on what position is best for the jaw joint.

A splint’s job is to guide the way your teeth come together in order to uniquely position the “ball” of the lower jaw into the “socket” of the skull.  That unique position is determined by the state of health of the joint.  Some splints can actually hurt the jaw joints.

A dentist should only make a splint for a patient after an accurate diagnosis of the status of the jaw joint. 

  1. What are TMJ Treatments?

This is another great question with a relatively complicated answer.  There is a wide range of treatments available to help with TMJ Disorder and Dysfunction.  In order to choose the correct treatment for your specific problem, the doctor must first accurately diagnose your TMJ problem.  We have already discussed how tricky that can be.  In general, there are certain types of treatment aimed at alleviating symptoms only, and other treatment options to attempt to correct the malfunction in the joint.  This wide range of treatment options includes:

  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic care
  • Habit-breaking techniques to reduce teeth clenching or grinding
  • Nighttime splint (or nightguard) wear
  • Orthodontic treatment
  • Steroid injections in the joint
  • Minor joint procedures to reduce inflammation
  • Disc relocation surgery
  • Total joint replacement surgery
  1. What is TMJ Caused By?

There are several different causes of TMJ Disorder and Dysfunction, and many people actually have a combination of a few of these causes contributing to a bad jaw joint.

Growth Problems

If a child’s upper and lower jaws have a growth problem, leading to an improper relationship between the two, this can create a TMJ problem.  The way the upper and lower jaw come together has a big effect on the joint itself.  We are now able to anticipate and intercept these growth problems relatively early in life, preventing the development of severe TMJ problems.

Hormones

Hormonal changes affect the ligaments and tendons in our joints.  This is purposeful in pregnancy, where the pelvis expands to allow room for a growing baby.  Unfortunately, the hormones do not stick to the pelvis.  They can affect the ligaments in the entire body, and many of our patients first develop TMJ problems during pregnancy or nursing.

Bite Problems

The position of the “ball” of our lower jaw in the “socket” of our jaw joints is determined by the way the teeth come together.  There are certain bites that can actually create TMJ problems!  Something as simple as a new retainer can reposition your TMJ and lead to clicking, popping, and pain.  If you notice any changes in your bite or wear some type of appliance that changes your bite, you may need to discuss this with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.

Injury

This is a very common, but not well-known, cause of TMJ problems.  Any injury to the chin, jaw, face, head or neck can lead to TMJ damage.  Unfortunately, the TMJ problems do not always show up immediately.  It can be years before the problems manifest in symptoms such as pain, popping or clicking, locking, or limitation in opening your mouth.  If you present with TMJ problems, be prepared for Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara to ask lots of questions about any possible trauma to your head!

Chronic Damage

By chronic damage, we mean a consistent microtrauma applied to the joints by a chronic habit like nighttime clenching or grinding of the teeth.  Over years and years of heavy forces, the anatomical components in the jaw joints start to wear and tear.  Similar to arthritis, this slow damage over time leads to long-term problems in the joints.

  1. What’s the Difference between TMJ and Trigeminal Neuralgia?

Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference!

Trigeminal Neuralgia is a nerve disorder affecting one specific nerve in the head.  It is usually caused by some type of compression on that nerve and creates chronic pain.  The symptoms of TMJ problems can sometimes mimic those of trigeminal neuralgia.  In trigeminal neuralgia, a person experiences pain without the other symptoms associated with TMJ.  If you have joint clicking or popping, trouble eating or speaking, or jaw locking, you have TMJ problems.

  1. What’s the Difference between TMJ and Lockjaw?

Lockjaw is just a different way of describing one of the symptoms of TMJ problems.  Patients with lockjaw definitely have a TMJ problem.  Some patients have a jaw that is locked closed, and they are unable to open their mouths.  Others experience an “open lock” where the mouth gets stuck open and has to be manipulated to get it to close.  Any locking indicates a problem inside the joint; if you experience this, you should see your dentist or oral surgeon ASAP!

  1. What Causes TMJ Clicking?

If you hear a clicking or popping sound in your jaw when you open your mouth to eat, speak, or yawn, you have a slipped disc.  In a healthy joint, there is a small piece of cartilage, called the disc, that separates the “ball” of the lower jaw and the “socket” of the skull.  The disc moves with the ball as your jaw opens and closes . . . in a healthy joint.  If the disc slips out of its proper position, the jawbone actually moves off and on the disc as you open and close your mouth.  This off and on motion creates a click or pop.

Clicking TMJs do not always require treatment, but they do require close monitoring.  Let Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara if you experience any clicking or popping in your jaw joints.

More Questions about TMJ?

Call our office to schedule a TMJ consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They can answer any question you have about the complicated jaw joint.

Frequently Googled Questions about TMJ,

Part 1

October 17, 2018

TMJ is a phrase thrown around by many but understood by few.  The plethora of questions googled about TMJ tells us that.  Many people suffer from problems with their jaw joints.  They are often told by doctors or dentists that they simply have “TMJ”, but it is usually not quite so simple.

Because of the complicated nature of this joint and all of the questions regarding it, this will be the first in a two-part blog series on the questions people most commonly ask google about the TMJ.          

  1. What is TMJ?

TMJ is the acronym for TemporoMandibular Joint.  The term technically describes the anatomical joint, but many people use it to describe problems with the joint.  Some also use TMJ to describe facial pain and headaches associated with teeth clenching or grinding.

Each person has two TMJs, one in front of each ear.  They are ball-in-socket joints, like the hips and shoulders, with one important exception.  Unlike hips and shoulders, the ball of the TMJ comes out of the socket in normal chewing and speaking functions.  It is the most complicated joint in the body!

  1. What is TMJ Pain?

TMJ pain presents itself in many different ways.  Some people suffer from arthritis-type pain in the joint itself.  Others have headaches and muscular facial pain.  There are some who have radiating pain all over the entire head.

There are many nerves that pass near and through these joints, so some people experience sharp, shooting nerve-type pain.

When describing TMJ pain to your doctor, it is important for you to be as specific as possible.  The type of pain you experience helps the doctor diagnose the underlying specific cause.  Learning and understanding the details of your specific TMJ problem is what allows Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara to provide a specific diagnosis and treatment plan, as opposed to just telling you that you have “TMJ”.

  1. What Does TMJ Feel Like?

Great question!  Not everyone with TMJ problems has pain.  The above question discussed the different types of pain people experience with TMJ issues.  Some people have no pain at all.  They may, however, experience some of these other symptoms.  Keep in mind that all of these symptoms can apply to only one side of the jaw or both sides.

  • Clicking or popping sounds in the joints, just in front of the ears
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Limitation of opening (i.e. you cannot open your mouth very wide)
  • A crunchy, crackly sound (like tires on gravel)
  • Locking of the jaw – either closed, where you feel like it will not open, or open, where you cannot close your teeth together
  • Changes in the way your teeth bite together
  1. What Is TMJ Treatment?

Another great, but difficult, question!

In order to properly treat TMJ problems, a correct and specific diagnosis is necessary.  Treatment options range from very conservative, like physical therapy and nighttime splints, to very invasive, like joint surgery.  Knowing what treatment you need in this wide range requires gathering lots of detailed information.  This can involve 3D imaging of the bones of the joint in our office as well as an MRI at a local imaging center.

Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara work with a diverse group of specialists to treat all types of TMJ problems.  We have relationships with chiropractors, physical therapists and oral surgeons, all with advanced education in the treatment of TMJ disorder and dysfunction.

  1. What Is TMJ Surgery?

TMJ surgery is another broad term that encompasses many different specific types of surgeries in the jaw joint.  Some TMJ surgeries correct a slipped disc, and others completely replace and rebuild the entire joint.

Many people experience a markedly improved quality of life after TMJ surgery.  If you are experiencing chronic TMJ pain or severely limited function, ask Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara if you would benefit from joint surgery.

  1. What TMJ Exercises Relieve Pain?

We typically leave exercises to your physical therapist.  Because of the different types and degrees of TMJ disorder, an exercise that is good for one joint could be harmful to another.  A general rule to follow is that if anything hurts, you should stop!  Only gentle, slow stretches are good for damaged joints.

  1. What Does the TMJ Do?

The TMJ is the joint that allows you to open and close your mouth and move it side to side.  Therefore, it is necessary for functions like chewing, laughing, speaking, yawning, etc . . .

The joint itself contains a ball in a socket.  The ball portion is on the lower jawbone, and the socket is part of your skull.  The ball rotates within the socket for small movements, and it comes out of the socket for opening wide or side-to-side motions.

If any of these functions are restricted or limited, there may be a problem with your TMJ.

  1. What Aggravates TMJ?

TMJ problems become worse when aggravated by heavy muscle forces, such as those that occur when you clench or grind your teeth.  This adds pressure in the joint capsule and increases the potential for a slipped disc.

If you suffer an injury or trauma to the head and neck, it could aggravate TMJ problems.  Many patients experienced increased TMJ pain or limitation of function after a car accident or fall.

Some women note worsening of TMJ problems during pregnancy and nursing.  Large hormone surges can aggravate problems in an at-risk joint due to the changes in tendons and ligaments.

Stay Tune for More FGQs about TMJ!

Next week, we will answer more Frequently Googled Questions about TMJ.  If you have a question about TMJ and would like an in-person answer, please call to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They have an advanced education in TMJ disorder and dysfunction and can get you started down the path to good joint health.

Don’t Let Halloween Treats Give You a Jackolantern Smile!

October 10, 2018

The temperatures are dropping, and Halloween is just around the corner.  Fall is everyone’s favorite season, filled with football, cute scarves, and lots and lots of candy.  Don’t let your daily Pumpkin Spice Latte and all that Halloween candy give you cavities!

This blog will give you some tips to avoid the bad report from your dentist after Halloween is over.

Indulge Only in Moderation

We don’t want to ruin all of your fun.  You certainly can enjoy a PSL every once in a while with no ill effects to your teeth.  However, make sure you are not over-indulging.  A tall (12 ounce) Pumpkin Spice Latte has exactly the same amount of sugar as a 12 ounce Coca-Cola!

The candy sitting around the house before and after Halloween is also chock full of sugar.  Increasing the amount of sugar you eat every day increases your risk for cavities.

Remember that the bacteria in our mouths create cavities after they eat sugar and give off an acid.  That acid weakens and destroys tooth enamel.  The more sugar you eat, the more sugar you are feeding to the bacteria in your mouth, and the more acid they produce.

In the mouth, sugar = acid = cavities.

Clean Up Afterward

When you do indulge in a sweet fall treat, you can reduce the risk of developing cavities by making a little clean-up effort.  After drinking a Pumpkin Spice Latte or other sweet beverage, drink some water.  If possible, swish some room temperature water around your mouth for about a minute.  Quickly neutralizing the pH in your mouth with water can reduce the effect of acid on your teeth.

Obviously, brushing and flossing to remove all plaque and food debris will greatly lower your cavity risk.  We understand that many people do not have time to do this if they are indulging while out running errands or in the car line at school.  Keeping a bottle of water and even some little floss picks in the car will help you keep your pearly whites pearly white.

Then when you are home, floss and brush thoroughly to get all of the sugar off of your teeth.

Up Your Prevention Game

At Prosper Family Dentistry, we strive to be as preventive as possible.  We want to give you every tool to prevent cavities.  We usually aim these tools at patients who are noticeably high risk for developing new cavities year-round.

However, if you know you are going to be upping your sugar intake, you might want to consider upping your cavity prevention game.

Here are the best preventive measures you can take:

  1. Do not miss a professional teeth cleaning! Jill, Dr. Cara, and our hygienists will be able to catch early signs of the cavity process and tell you if your risk is going up.
  2. Make sure you are using a fluoride toothpaste. Topical fluoride in a toothpaste makes your enamel stronger in order to fight the acid attacks of bacteria and sugar.
  3. Add a fluoride mouthrinse like ACT or PhosFlur to your nightly oral hygiene routine. These are made to lower your cavity risk by swishing topical fluoride into the same spaces reached by sugary drinks.  Use the fluoride mouthrinse after brushing and flossing at night so that it can soak into the teeth all night.
  4. Drink plenty of water to keep the pH in your mouth as neutral as possible. A neutral pH goes a long way in fighting cavities.

More Questions about How to Enjoy Fall Fun without Getting Cavities?

Call 972-347-1145 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They can answer all of your questions about your cavity risk and which treats you should avoid.

Pediatric Sleep Problems: Some New Information

October 3, 2018

Most of our patients know that Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara have extensive education in sleep disorders, over and above that of most dental practitioners.  The reason for this is their belief that a dentist’s job is to help all of our patients achieve their optimal overall health.  Sleep problems often show signs inside the mouth.  Addressing sleep problems in children reduces their risk for other diseases throughout their lives!

Who is Involved in Diagnosing and Treating Pediatric Sleep Problems?

We as dentists are in a unique position to catch red flags or warning signs of sleep problems in children.  We see most patients every 6 months, and we check the airway of each patient at every visit.

When a child shows signs of a possible sleep problem, we discuss these signs with the parent and help guide you to finding the right treatment.

Getting the proper diagnosis and treatment for your child’s specific sleep problems can involve a whole team of medical professionals.

This team can involve the child’s pediatrician, an ear, nose and throat specialist, a sleep physician, a pediatric neurologist and even a psychologist.

Pediatrician

A child’s pediatrician is your primary medical provider who can catch warning signs such as breathing problems or behavioral issues.  Your communication with the pediatrician about your concerns is vital to finding the proper diagnosis.

ENT

If a child is experiencing sleep disordered breathing due to an airway obstruction by enlarged adenoids and/or tonsils, an ENT performs the surgical procedures necessary to open the airway.  An ENT will also help you address breathing problems caused by nasal obstruction, chronic sinus infections and seasonal allergies.

Sleep Physician

A sleep physician is the expert in sleep patterns and the quality of sleep.  By performing a comprehensive evaluation of your child’s sleep, a sleep physician will provide vital information about the exact diagnosis.

Pediatric Neurologist

Understanding your child’s brain function and its effects on sleep is an important aspect of diagnosing a sleep problem.  Your pediatrician or sleep physician will refer you to a neurologist if there appears to be problem with the signals from the brain, which is the case in Central Sleep Apnea.

Psychologist

A cognitive behavioral therapist is instrumental in helping your child overcome any of the psychological implications of sleep problems.  Sometimes children have a mental hang-up about sleep patterns.  This training can help a child understand what his body is doing, control its natural reactions, and learn to put himself back to sleep when a disturbance occurs.

What Makes a Child More Likely to Have Sleep Problems?

There are many factors involved in getting a good night’s sleep.  We have traditionally focused on the airway as the primary factor in a child’s sleep.  While it is essential for a child to breathe well to sleep well, it is not the only problem that can arise during sleep.

In addition to the anatomy of the airway and the jaws, there can be issues with nerve signals from the brain, as well as psychological factors.

These other factors are the reason a whole team of specialists may be necessary to arrive at the correct diagnosis and treatment.

Why Are Pediatric Sleep Problems a Big Deal?

Sleep is an important time for the immune system to work, so children who do not sleep well are more prone to illness and infections.  Children who do not get good quality sleep also have a higher risk for learning disabilities and ADHD.  Many children exhibit behavioral problems, such as extreme moodiness and combativeness.

By addressing sleep problems early in childhood, your child is healthier, better able to learn, and more even-tempered.  Rest is vital to a happy, healthy childhood.  Rest is also essential for normal growth and development.

Do You Have Concerns about Your Child’s Potential for Sleep Problems?

Call 972-347-1145 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They will discuss the latest information about pediatric sleep disorders and help point you in the right direction to getting a diagnosis and treatment.

 

Why Does My Dentist Ask So Many Questions about the Medicine I Take?

September 26, 2018

That’s a great question!  Both medicine and dentistry have changed drastically over the past few decades.

An old anecdote said that dentists built their offices on the second floor of buildings for a reason.  If the patient was healthy enough to climb the stairs to get to the dentist, he was healthy enough to have a tooth pulled.

Things are not quite so simple today.  First of all, we have elevators.  Secondly, and more importantly, we have more medications than ever, and these medications do have an impact on dentistry.  This blog will explain some of the reasons your complete medical history is so important to your dentist.

Your medications affect your mouth.

All medications have side effects, even over-the-counter ones.  It is important for your dentist to know what medications you take on a regular basis to help you care for your mouth.

Many meds cause dry mouth as a side effect.  A dry mouth is more than just an annoyance.  It can lead to serious dental problems, like cavities and gum disease.  A dry mouth also makes you more likely to have mouth sores and ulcers.

Other medications can affect things like bone density and wound healing, which can be very detrimental to a patient having oral surgery.  Some medications make the gums overgrow like crazy.  There are even some that affect your sense of taste.

If we do not know your medications, we may not be give you an accurate reason as to why you are experiencing certain mouth problems.  When we know what you are taking, we can take better care of your mouth.

Your medications affect our medications.

Most people do not think of anesthetic (“novocaine”) as a medication, but because of drug interactions, we must!

We inject medication every single day.  The ingredients in our local anesthetic injections can interact and interfere with medications you are taking.  In order to eliminate any complications that could arise, we have to know exactly what you are taking.

We also prescribe medications for dental infections, pain management, and TMJ problems.  The prescriptions we write could change the way your meds work.  For instance, certain antibiotics change the way birth control pills work.  And other medications affect the way antibiotics work.

Because of the countless types of prescription medications available today, it is impossible for us to guess what you are taking based on a list of medical concerns.  We need to know the name of the drug, the dosage, and the schedule you take it, so that we can ensure there will be no bad interactions with the medications we give you.

Your mouth may show whether your medications are working.

Did you know that certain health problems leave clues in your mouth?

Often, the dentist sees something in a dental evaluation that leads to questions about your overall health.  Dental hygienists can see signs of problems with hormones or blood sugar in your gums.

Many diseases have signs or symptoms that show up in the mouth.  If you are already taking medications for these diseases, and the oral symptoms are still present, that tells us that the medications may not be working as well as they should.

In addition to signs we see inside your mouth, we also may notice problems when taking your pulse and blood pressure.  If you are currently taking medication for high blood pressure, it is important to know whether or not that medicine is doing its job. 

Your medications help us understand your overall health.

Contrary to what the division between medicine and dentistry implies, the mouth is not separate from the rest of the body!

The mouth is an important part of the body, and oral problems play an important role in your overall health.

When we perform treatment on various areas of your mouth, it can affect the rest of your body.  It is essential for us to know the exact state of your health so that we can plan for certain types of treatment.  We cannot discern the state of your health without knowing what meds you take.

This is of utmost importance when we are planning dental surgery, like a tooth extraction or dental implant.  The healing process is the most important factor in the long-term success of the dental treatment.  Both medical problems and the medications you take affect that healing process.

More Questions on What Your Medications Have to Do with Dental Treatment?

Call 972-347-1145 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They will closely study and discuss with you the details of your medical history to make sure that we provide you with the right dental care in the safest, most predictable way.

Are You Brushing the Right Way?

September 19, 2018

You may remember that old toothbrush commercial that ended with the dramatic phrase: “Brush . . . like a dentist!”

The ad implies that if you use this specific brand of toothbrush, then you will automatically brush like a dentist.  The reality is that you can brush like a dentist with any kind of toothbrush.

Here are the things you need to know in order to brush like a dentist.

Timing

When you do brush, it is important that you spend enough time on it to ensure that you are reaching every surface of every tooth.  On average, it takes about two minutes of brushing for you to properly clean a mouth full of teeth.

In general, there are three exposed surfaces of each tooth.  When you brush correctly, you take the time to clean the lip or cheek side, the tongue side, and the biting surface.  It is a good idea to have a consistent routine, starting in the same place each time so that you know you haven’t missed a spot.

Twice a Day

People build up plaque at different rates.  For some people with issues such as a dry mouth, plaque will form on the teeth very quickly, even right after brushing.  These patients may need to brush more frequently than twice a day.

The average, healthy person should brush no less than twice each day.  The best schedule is to brush after coffee and breakfast to start your day with a clean slate.  Then brush before bedtime so that you do not leave dangerous plaque buildup on the teeth while you sleep.

We find that many people brush only in the morning because they worry about bad breath as they come into contact with people throughout their day.  That can be great motivation to brush every day.

It is even more important to brush at night before bed.  When we sleep, our body naturally produces less saliva.  Saliva is an important cavity-fighting tool, and when it is not actively flowing, we are at higher risk for dental disease.  Because we know we have less saliva flow at night, we need to go into bed with as little plaque on the teeth as possible!  This is why brushing before bed is so important.

Texture

Do not ever use a hard or medium toothbrush!

They do not improve plaque removal, and they do increase your risk for enamel damage!

Always always always use a soft toothbrush only.

Technique

Technique is the most important aspect of brushing.  You can brush for the right amount of time several times a day, but if you are doing it with the wrong technique, it won’t do you much good.

Maybe the problem originates in the term we use to describe our oral hygiene routine.  Many people brush their teeth, but miss the most important area of plaque buildup: the place where the teeth and gums meet.  A better term would be brushing the teeth and gums.  Unfortunately, a lot of people spend two minutes twice a day brushing the areas of the teeth which are least likely to have plaque buildup.  That makes the brushing least effective.

In order for brushing to matter, it must have the proper technique and lead to the best end result.  The desired end result is the removal of all plaque, bacteria and food debris from the teeth and gums.  The way to reach that result is by using the right technique, or to “brush like a dentist”.

We already discussed the need for reaching every surface of every tooth.  Now let’s explain how to reach the most common sites of plaque buildup.

Plaque has two favorite areas: 1) the tiny crevice where the gums meet the teeth, and 2) the space between the teeth where the toothbrush bristles do not reach.  We address #1 by brushing properly.  We address #2 by flossing (you didn’t think we forgot about flossing, did you?!?).

Brushing properly requires holding the toothbrush so that the bristles are at a 45-degree angle, pointing at the edge of the gums.  Using gentle, circular motions, the soft toothbrush bristles should lightly touch the gums on each tooth as you make your way around the mouth.  This technique takes some coordination and can be difficult for people with physical disabilities or restrictions (including young children).

Electric Toothbrushes

If you have trouble achieving this technique with a manual toothbrush, you should consider using an electric toothbrush.  Electric toothbrushes have very soft bristles and are extremely effective at plaque removal.  Because they perform the movements for you, your job is simply to make sure the bristles reach every area of the tooth.

Need Help Developing the Right Brushing Technique?

Call 972-347-1145 today to schedule a consultation with Staci, Kenneth, or Carli, our three dental hygienists.  They are experts at brushing technique and at giving you specific tips on reaching the areas you are prone to miss.

Is Dental Care Dangerous When I am Pregnant?

September 12, 2018

Great question!  The short answer is no.  The long answer is that pregnancy actually makes dental care more important.  Read on.

During pregnancy, your body goes through so many changes.  Some of these change affect your mouth.  There are also things in your mouth that can affect your growing baby.

Here are the things you need to know about pregnancy and your mouth!

  1. Pregnancy hormones make your gums go crazy!

Many of our pregnant patients suffer from a condition called pregnancy-induced gingivitis.  We also call it hormone-induced gingivitis, because it can affect kids during puberty and women during menopause.

The surges in hormone levels wreak havoc on your gums, causing severe inflammation.  Gums look bright red and puffy.  They also bleed at the slightest irritation.

It is important to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible because even minor plaque buildup will set off the gingivitis that is so aggravated by your hormones.

  1. Morning sickness can make oral hygiene difficult.

Many of our pregnant patients tell us that taking care of their teeth is so much harder due to an extremely sensitive gag reflex.  Brushing the molars can make some people throw up.  Reaching the fingers toward the back of the mouth for flossing may give a choking sensation.

One tip that can help with this is to use flossers with a long handle.  This keeps your fingers out of your mouth and reduces your risk of gagging.

  1. Severe morning sickness can cause acid erosion on your teeth.

The constant vomiting and acid reflux of morning sickness brings up powerful stomach acid into the mouth.  This extremely low pH is very dangerous to tooth enamel.

If you suffer from this problem, it’s important to rinse your mouth with neutral pH water after any vomiting.  Bringing the pH back to normal is essential in protecting your enamel.

Consistent vomiting can lead to dehydration, which also poses a threat to your teeth.  You may need to speak to your Ob/Gyn about anti-nausea medication.

  1. Dental care is absolutely essential during pregnancy!

Because of numbers 1-3 above, dental care is essential during a pregnancy.  Your gums are at risk for severe inflammation, and your teeth are at risk for cavities and erosion.  It is more important than ever to be preventive!

Fight pregnancy-induced gingivitis by staying on a frequent schedule with professional teeth cleanings.  Many of our patients need cleanings every 3 months during pregnancy to help maintain healthy gums.

More frequent dental cleanings also helps reduce your risk for cavities because we are helping you remove the dangerous bacteria that plaque contains.  This is particularly important if you are having difficulty brushing and flossing your teeth.

  1. We modify dental care during pregnancy.

There are some conditions, like severe gum disease, large cavities, or dental infections, that require urgent treatment.  The risk of the dental work causing a problem is much lower than the risk of the infection harming your baby.

At Prosper Family Dentistry, our doctors work with your other healthcare professionals to make sure you are receiving the safest and best care possible.  We follow this protocol for health concerns of all types, like high blood pressure, diabetes, or autoimmune conditions.

We take pregnancy and your safety very seriously.  Research has shown that the safest time to have dental work is during your second trimester.  Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara will obtain clearance from your Ob/Gyn to perform any necessary dental work.  They will get specific permission for dental x-rays and local anesthetic.

Are You Pregnant or Have a Loved One Who Is?

Call 972-347-1145 today to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They will discuss your specific risk areas with you and help you develop a plan to keep your mouth healthy throughout your pregnancy! 

Why We Go to Dental Conferences

September 5, 2018

Prosper Family Dentistry is closed this week on Thursday and Friday as our team travels to downtown Dallas to attend the annual Southwest Dental Conference!  This is a yearly tradition for us, and it is one we really enjoy.

Pardon Our Absence!

It is difficult for us to take time away from our patients and close the office.  Nothing is more important to us than caring for our patients!  The reason we choose to spend two days in September away from the practice is that we know that we can better care for our patients through the things we accomplish at the yearly dental conference.

There are three important benefits to our attending a dental conference together.

  1. High Quality Education

The most important reason we take time away from our patients for this dental conference is for the education opportunities it provides!

All of our team members choose the courses that will benefit them in their specific roles in our dental office.  We disperse to our various classes covering several different topics and reconvene over lunch and dinner to share what we have learned.

We believe that consistent learning is the key to continual excellence in our skills and our ability to care for our patients.  Providing the highest quality dental care is what motivates us to keep learning.  Dentistry is constantly evolving.  New materials create better long-term results.  New techniques help us improve patient comfort.  We are committed to staying ahead of the curve!

  1. Exposure to Exciting Technologies

In addition to new materials and techniques, there are new technologies introduced to dentistry on a regular basis.  Developers of exciting new technologies are able to exhibit them in the vendor hall.  We love seeing these advances!  Some give us a new way of doing a traditional dental procedure, and others open up a completely new realm of dentistry.

Advances in dental technology have so many benefits to our patients, including improved safety, greater efficiency, and better patient comfort.  We are always interested in technology that makes your visits with us safer, faster, and more comfortable!

  1. Time for Bonding as a Team

We believe that a unified team is essential to producing the best patient care in our office.  When we care about each other, we make an extra effort to support each other and work together as a cohesive team!  One of the best compliments we receive from our patients is that we seem to genuinely enjoy our work.  That can only happen when we work with an awesome team committed to taking care of each other.

Dr. Jill regularly stresses the need for us to bond as a team and just have fun together.  (Sometimes she is the silliest of us all!)  Getting away from our everyday schedules gives us the opportunity to do just that!  If you follow us on Facebook or Instagram, you will notice that this is the time when we take lots of photos together and post them.

What if You Have an Emergency While We are Out?

Our doctors are still available via the numbers on our voicemail, so you will be able to talk to both Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara if you have a concern.  If you have a true dental emergency, they will refer you to a dentist who is able to see you on the days we are unavailable.

 

What are These Gum Measurements?  What is a Pocket?

August 29, 2018

The people who come to Prosper Family Dentistry regularly for professional teeth cleanings know that once each year, they will have gum measurements taken by the dental hygienist.  We use terms like “FMP”, “pockets”, and “probing depth”, as well as a long list of numbers.

What are Gum Measurements?

Gum measurements are a way to evaluate the state of the gums and jawbone around each tooth.  These measurements tell your dental hygienist and dentist whether your gums are healthy or unhealthy.

You cannot have a healthy mouth without healthy bone and gums!  Even people with no cavities can lose their teeth due to gum disease.

To best understand gum measurements, you must first understand gum disease.

What is Gum Disease?

The jawbone and gums form the foundation of your teeth.  They stabilize the teeth, allowing them to function properly in chewing.  The bone and gums should completely cover every tooth root to adequately hold the tooth in place.

Gum disease destroys that foundation.  The primary cause of gum disease is always buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth.  This acts as an irritant to the bone and gums, causing them to pull away from the tooth.  This pulling away creates a “pocket”, or a gap between the gums and the tooth.  This gap is what we are measuring when we call out all of those numbers.

The irritants in gum disease also cause inflammation, which makes your gums bleed easily and look red and puffy.

Back to Those Measurements

Healthy gums attach to the bone over the tooth.  There is a slight overlap of gums on the tooth that is healthy.  This is why your hygienist may tell you that any number under 3 is okay.  A measurement of three millimeters is a normal amount of overlap.

Once the number gets higher than three, we have a problem.  You see, if the gums are not attached to the tooth once you pass three millimeters, it also means the bone is not attached to the tooth there. The higher the gum measurement number, the lower the amount of bone attached to the tooth.  As the bone level shrinks, the tooth loses support.

What is a Pocket?

Any place around a tooth where the number measures higher than 3 millimeters is a pocket.  These pockets present a two-fold challenge.  1) Your toothbrush bristles and floss cannot reach deeper than 3 millimeters under the gums to clean this area.  2) Pockets create a perfect hiding spot for plaque and bacterial buildup.  The plaque builds up more, irritating the tissue more, causing more pulling away, leading to a deeper pocket . . . it’s a vicious cycle!

Help!  I Have Pockets!  Now What?

Basically, just follow the instructions your dentist and dental hygienist give you.

Not every pocket is alike, and therefore, they are not all treated the same way.  Some patients have early pocketing and can turn things around with simple changes to their oral hygiene routine.  Other patients need gum treatments to clean long-standing bacterial buildup in those deep hiding spots.

One thing is certain: if you have gum measurements over three millimeters, it is a red flag for gum disease.  Anyone who is high risk for gum disease should take the following steps:

  • Never miss a professional teeth cleaning! Staying on schedule with teeth cleanings prevents an overgrowth of bacteria, which leads to gum disease.
  • Be a good brusher! It is not enough to simply brush once or twice a day.  You must brush with the right technique.  The soft bristles of your toothbrush must touch the gums in a gentle, rotating motion at 45 degrees.  If you need tips on brushing, ask Staci, Kenneth or Carli at your next cleaning.  They are the pros!
  • Floss! We know everyone hates flossing.  It is essential to keeping the bacterial buildup cleaned away from the areas between the teeth.  There is no substitute for good old flossing.
  • Use an antiseptic mouthrinse! A mouthrinse helps flush away soft buildup and food debris, as well as kill bacteria.  Regular use can help you prevent more bacterial buildup on the teeth.

More Questions about Gum Disease?

Call 972-347-1145 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They can answer all of your questions, assess your risk for gum disease, and get you back on track to a completely healthy mouth.

What Happens if I Don’t Wear My Nightguard?

August 22, 2018

If Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara and our hygienists have recommended a nightguard for clenching or grinding, that means they have seen signs of damage to your teeth, gums, muscles or jaws.  As part of our commitment to preventive dentistry, we believe it is essential to catch these signs of damage as early as possible and give you the tools to prevent more!

What Kind of Damage Results from Nighttime Clenching and/or Grinding?

There are many different ways clenching and/or grinding damages the teeth.  It is not likely for a single person to show all of these signs of damage.  Your dentist and hygienist will put together the pieces of the puzzle if you show signs that point to a bad nighttime habit.

It is important to note that because this happens when you are asleep, you do not have control over it!  This is why nightguards are so instrumental in protecting you against this subconscious habit.

Some of the damage caused by nighttime clenching and/or grinding is listed below with a brief explanation of each.

Cracked teeth

Enamel is strong.  It is the hardest substance in the human body, even harder than your bones.  Although it is the hardest material in our bodies, it is not meant to absorb forces heavier than normal chewing.  We have seen countless teeth cracked by heavy clenching or grinding.  Teeth weakened by cavities or large fillings are more likely to crack because their enamel has already been disrupted.  Heavy clenching forces during sleep can even crack teeth that are otherwise perfectly healthy.

Cracked teeth range from minor surface cracks to through-and-through tooth fractures.  Treatment of these cracks depends on the extent of the crack.  Cracks in enamel allow bacteria to penetrate the tooth, making cavities more common in cracked teeth.

Attrition (Wearing Away of Enamel)

Attrition is a condition that occurs when clenching or grinding causes a slow gradual wearing away of the enamel, resulting in a flattened and shortened tooth or teeth.  This condition is very common in people who have clenched their teeth for a long period of time.  Heavy attrition usually means that the enamel is completely missing, and the core of the tooth (dentin) is exposed.  Not only is attrition unhealthy for teeth, it also makes for an unattractive smile.  Unfortunately, flatter, shorter teeth make you look old.

Severe attrition can require extensive dental work to rebuild the teeth to their original contour.  Catching it early and taking preventive action (like wearing a nightguard) can prevent the need for lots of expensive dental treatment in the future.

Gum Recession

Forces that are too heavy cause microscopic movements and flexing in the teeth.  Sometimes these forces affect the attachment of the gums to the teeth.  The gums tend to back away or recede from these inappropriate forces.  Gum recession exposes the roots of the teeth, increases your risk for cavities, and causes sensitive teeth!

When severe, gum recession requires grafting surgery to repair it.  Just like attrition, catching gum recession early and taking preventive action can save you time and money in the dental chair.

Headaches and Facial Pain

Many patients experience symptoms in their head and facial muscles from heavy clenching and/or grinding while they sleep.  The muscles that close the teeth together are skeletal muscles, just like your biceps.  If they receive lots of exercise, they get larger and may cause soreness. 

How Does a Nightguard Help?

A nightguard is a physical barrier between your teeth.  It prevents attrition by separating the teeth so that they cannot grind away enamel.  A nightguard prevents things like cracks, gum recession, and headaches by reducing the amount of force your jaw muscles can produce.

Because the teeth cannot completely clench when a nightguard is in the way, the muscles cannot fully contract.  This takes away some of the strength of the clenching and grinding.

What if I Clench or Grind My Teeth During the Day?

Daytime clenching is a little more complicated because most people cannot wear a thick acrylic mouth appliance throughout their day.  It interferes with speaking, so unless you work alone at home without having to speak to anyone, it is a little impractical.

If you catch yourself clenching or grinding your teeth as you work, drive, exercise, or do chores, please talk to Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They have great information on habit-breaking techniques that can help you gain control of this daytime habit.

Do You Need a Nightguard?

If you know you are clenching or grinding your teeth at night, you probably need a nightguard.  If you’re not sure, ask Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara, or one of our highly-trained dental hygienists.  They can tell you if you exhibit signs of this habit and get you pointed in the right direction: PREVENTION!

What Does Sleep Apnea Have to Do with My Teeth?

August 15, 2018

Quite a bit, actually!

Many of our newer patients are surprised to hear us asking about their quality of sleep.  To some, it may seem like sleep problems and dentistry are completely unrelated.

There is a two-way link between dentistry and sleep-disordered breathing issues like sleep apnea.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition when a person stops breathing for any amount of time while he is sleeping.  The word “apnea” simply means not breathing.  The diagnosis of mild, moderate or severe sleep apnea depends on the number of times a person stops breathing per hour.

When sleep apnea results from a faulty signal in the brain, it is a central sleep apnea.  When a physical closure of the airway causes a person to stop breathing, it is an obstructive sleep apnea.

This blog deals primarily with obstructive sleep apnea.

The Effects of Sleep Apnea on the Teeth

Increased Risk for Nighttime Grinding and/or Clenching

When a person stops breathing, the brain perceives a lack of oxygen very rapidly.  The brain then sends signals to various parts of the body to open the airway and breathe.

One of the ways your body subconsciously opens the airway is by closing the jaws and either tightly clenching the upper and lower teeth together or pressing the lower jaw forward.  This is how sleep apnea causes people to clench or grind their teeth.

The heavy forces placed on teeth by clenching and grinding are higher than normal chewing forces, and they damage the teeth, dental work, gums and jawbone.

All of the following are signs that you may be clenching or grinding your teeth.

  • Cracked teeth
  • Broken dental work, like fillings, crowns and bridges
  • Receding gums
  • Notches in the tooth by the gums
  • Flattening or shortening of the teeth
  • Loss of enamel on the biting surfaces

Many dentists are aware that the cause of these dental problems is teeth clenching and/or grinding.  At Prosper Family Dentistry, our dentists look deeper to find the cause of the grinding!

Increased Risk for Acid Erosion

Sleep apnea causes many people to suffer from acid reflux or GERD.  When an obstruction blocks the airway, the lungs create a suction effect when attempting to breathe.  This suction pulls acid up out of the stomach into the esophagus and mouth.

Stomach acid is extremely acidic and corrosive to teeth.  Just as acid can etch and soften glass, it can soften and weaken tooth enamel.  Patients with sleep apnea often show tell-tale signs of acid erosion on their enamel.  This acid does not effect dental work, so fillings appear to be protruding out of a tooth.  They are not actually protruding; they just appear so because the surrounding enamel has eroded away.

The Effects of the Jaws on Sleep Apnea

Many people know that obesity is a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea.  The extra weight in the face, neck and tongue press on the airway causing a physical obstruction when laying down to sleep.

A lesser-known risk factor is the growth and development of the lower jaw.  Patients with a small lower jaw or severe overbite are at a high risk of sleep apnea because they are very likely to have a small airway.

Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara have extensively training in evaluation of the growth and development of the jaws.  They can spot this risk factor very early in life.  When caught early, problems in jaw growth and development can be intercepted and corrected as your child grows.

Do You or a Loved One Have Sleep Apnea?

If you or a loved one have sleep apnea and are concerned about its effect on your teeth, please call today to schedule a consultation with our dentists.  They will explain your specific risk factors for dental problems related to sleep-disordered breathing.  They are also trained to work with your physician in diagnosing and treating sleep apnea.

 

What Exactly is Preventive Dentistry?

August 8, 2018

There are many different categories within the realm of dental treatment.  In our opinion, the most important category is PREVENTIVE dentistry.

At Prosper Family Dentistry, we are committed to practicing conservative and preventive dentistry.  We believe those two go hand in hand.  In order to be as conservative as possible, we need to help each and every patient prevent dental problems.  Big dental problems require extensive dental treatment.  By being preventive, we either intercept developing dental problems early or completely prevent them from happening!

Why is Preventive Dentistry So Important?

It Saves You Money!

Ever heard that saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”?  When you spend a little money on preventive dentistry, you are saving a lot of money by preventing the need for future dental work.

Just as maintenance for your car is less expensive than repair work, preventive dentistry is always less expensive than restorative (or repair) dentistry.

It Keeps You Out of the Dental Chair!

We know . . . no matter how much you like us, you still do not want to be in the dental chair having a problem repaired.  When you have fewer dental problems because you have been preventive, you need less dental work.  This means you get to spend less and less time in the dental chair.

Of course, we cannot prevent every possible dental problem.  Things like congenital problems and injuries happen and are usually not preventable.  Because there are some things we cannot prevent, we should make every effort to prevent the things that we can!

It is the Only Option for a Completely Healthy Mouth!

Yes, it’s great to save money.  And of course, no one wants to spend more time in the dental chair.  But the greatest advantage of preventive dentistry is the fact that it keeps your mouth healthy!

Good health is priceless.  There is nothing better than having a mouth free of cavities, cracks and gum disease.  It looks beautiful, it does its job well, and it promotes a long healthy life.

What Dental Procedures Fall into the Category of Preventive Dentistry?

Professional Teeth Cleanings

You can prevent gum disease by sticking to a consistent schedule of professional teeth cleanings with our awesome hygienists, Staci, Kenneth and Carli.  Gum disease occurs when plaque (the soft, sticky stuff made of bacteria and food debris) stays on the teeth for too long.  Plaque acts like a toxin, and your gums and supporting jaw bone do not like it!  Plaque quickly hardens into tartar (also called calculus), which is also a toxin.

When plaque and tartar remain on the teeth for a long period of time, your body produces an inflammatory reaction.  This inflammation destroys the jawbone, which undermines the foundation of your teeth!  Without any intervention, gum disease gets worse and worse.

By staying on track with consistent professional teeth cleanings, you prevent this process from progressing.  The schedule of consistent teeth cleanings can be different for people with different circumstances.  Some patients need to have their teeth cleaned every three months.  Others do well and fight gum disease by seeing our dental hygienists every six months.  What is important is knowing which schedule is best at preventing gum disease for YOU!

Fluoride Treatments

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that strengthens enamel and fights cavities.  Fluoride is in most toothpastes and many mouth rinses.  In our office, we offer a professional fluoride treatment.  It is a high strength concentration that sticks to the teeth and packs a punch to boost the strength of your teeth!

Fluoride treatments are wonderful preventive tools for patients with a high risk for getting new cavities, people with sensitive teeth, and patients who have a hard time keeping their teeth clean (small children, the elderly, or those with physical and mental challenges).

Dental Sealants

Sealants are not just for kids!  Many people assume so because dental insurance often pays for sealants in children but not in adults.  Everyone can benefit from sealants.  Ask around the next time you are in our office.  You will find that most of us (all adults!) have sealants on our teeth.

Sealants form a protective coating over the biting surface of the back teeth where deep pits and grooves are high risk sites for cavities.  Sealants make the treated surface easier to clean, with less food being stuck in the grooves.  A $60 sealant can prevent the future need for a $250 filling!

Custom Nightguard

A nightguard is a hard appliance worn over the teeth while you sleep.  The purpose is to separate and protect the teeth from heavy clenching or grinding forces.

We see cracked teeth every single day.  So many people are damaging their teeth with nighttime clenching or grinding.  This leads to expensive dental work like crowns and even root canals.

By wearing a custom-fit nightguard while you sleep, you can prevent cracks and fractures on the teeth.  This is invaluable!  Cracked teeth are difficult for your dentist to diagnose, and treatment is often unpredictable.  Prevent them!

Are You Interested in Preventing Dental Problems?

Call our office today at 972-347-1145 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They will assess your specific risk areas and give you recommendations for preventive dental options.  Our goal is to keep your mouth as healthy as possible!

 

PFD Gives Back!

August 1, 2018

Last Saturday, members of the Prosper Family Dentistry team participated in an important Back to School event.  Cornerstone Assistance Network of North Central Texas began giving backpacks and school supplies to kids who need them five years ago.  In the past five years, the ministry has grown from providing school supplies to just over 30 children to giving school supplies and clothing to almost 300!  In addition to much-needed back to school items, this year, the kids also were able to have free vision and dental screenings.

Dental Screenings

The importance of dental screenings cannot be overstated.  Most people, children included, are unaware of dental problems until they are severe.  Without consistent dental care, many people wait until something hurts or breaks.  This leads to the need for extensive and expensive dental treatment.

With a free dental screening, parents are made aware of potential dental problems so they can be addressed before causing pain or needing costly dental work.  Catching dental problems early or noting areas of risk saves money and time, as well as prevents severe tooth infections that can affect your child’s overall health.

Dental Sealants

In addition to fluoride, dental sealants are a powerful cavity-fighting preventive treatment.  Many cavities form in deep pits or grooves on a tooth.  These pits are small and deep, collecting food debris and plaque that is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to remove with a toothbrush.

A dental sealant covers and seals these deep pits and grooves.  This prevents accumulation of food and/or bacteria and creates a surface that is much easier to clean.

Dental sealants seal out cavities!

A dental sealant is a simple, non-invasive treatment that requires no drilling or anesthesia.  Sealants can be applied to any tooth with deep grooves or pits.  Most commonly, we apply dental sealants to molars and premolars (the back teeth).

Because sealants prevent cavities on the surfaces the cover, they prevent future dental treatment, with all the time and expenses associated with it.  Sealants are particularly valuable in small children who are not adept at cleaning their teeth properly.  A smooth flat surface is much easier for a child to clean than a biting surface with lots of grooves and deep pits.  By sealing out decay and proving an easy-to-clean surface, your child is two steps ahead in the cavity-fighting game.

The Value of Giving Back

At Saturday’s event, members of our Prosper Family Dentistry team provided over $8000 in free dental care to many children.  The value of this preventive dental care is far higher than $8000.  While you can put a price tag on the fillings or other dental work required by the development of cavities in the future, you cannot put a price tag on a child’s health and well-being.  Keeping a kid out of pain and in good oral health is priceless!

And that is why we do these events!

A special thanks to Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara, Staci, Kenneth, Lorrie, and Kadi for devoting their time to some wonderful children.  An even bigger thanks to Kadi for giving of her time on her BIRTHDAY!

 

Frequently Googled Questions about Your Child’s Teeth

July 25, 2018

Prosper is a town for families!  We have a wonderful school system and family-friendly atmosphere  that attracts many people with young children to our area.  We know that kids play an important role in our community.

This week’s blog will highlight the most commonly googled questions about children’s teeth.

When Will My Child’s Teeth Start Falling Out?

The average age for the first lost tooth is six years old.  This also varies widely, and some kids are older than seven and a half before they have a loose tooth.  Others may lose teeth at age five.  The first tooth is lost around the same time as the permanent first molars begin erupting.  These are large molars that come in behind the baby molars.

Why Are My Child’s Teeth Yellow?

We hear this question most commonly from parents of 6 year olds.  Their children have lost their first baby teeth, and they are seeing the permanent teeth for the first time.  Permanent teeth always appear more yellow than those bright, shiny baby teeth.  This is completely normal in most cases.  The important thing to do is keep them clean as they, and other permanent teeth, come into the mouth.  Teeth whitening is not an option for young children and cannot even be considered until 12-13 years of age.

Some teeth do have developmental defects which cause them to be more yellow than average permanent teeth.  If this is the case, your dentist will help you decide how to handle a specific discoloration issue.

Why Do My Child’s Teeth Have Gaps?

It is normal and healthy for baby teeth to have small gaps between them.  This allows for proper development and room for the incoming permanent teeth.

Baby teeth without gaps are a sign that your child will likely have crooked teeth and need orthodontics when the permanent teeth come into the mouth.

Why Do My Child’s Teeth Have Ridges?

When the permanent front teeth come into the mouth, they usually have bumps or ridges along the biting surface.  They are not smooth with flat biting edges.  These ridges are normal developmental features called mamelons.  Over years of chewing, mamelons are worn away to leave a flat, smooth biting surface.

Why Does My Child Have White Spots on His Teeth?

Some teeth have issues during their development that lead to splotchy, white patches or spots.  These are usually caused by an improper amount of certain minerals in that specific site of the tooth.  They can form when there is a mineral imbalance, severe fever, or trauma during that tooth’s development.

For instance, too much fluoride can lead to these splotchy white spots.  An injury to a developing tooth bud can create a small area of hypocalcification, or lack of calcium, in the small area of the tooth being formed at the time of injury.  There are also some inherited enamel defects that create a chalky or splotchy appearance.

Why Does My Child Grind His Teeth at Night?

Teeth grinding in children is not normal.  If your child is grinding his teeth at night, it is important to have his airway evaluated.  The most common cause of teeth grinding in kids is sleep-disordered breathing.  Pediatric sleep apnea affects millions of children worldwide.  Often, the cause of an airway constriction in children is oversized or inflamed tonsils and adenoids.  In other cases, it is a problem with jaw growth.  Whatever the cause, the consequences are dangerous.  Pediatric sleep apnea leads to behavioral challenges, poor performance in school, and misdiagnosis of ADHD and learning disabilities.  Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara are experts at identifying signs of pediatric sleep apnea.  Tell them if your child is grinding his teeth.  Their dental evaluation is an important step in the diagnosis process.

Should I Have My Child’s Teeth Sealed?

Yes.  Sealants are one of the best preventive treatments available in dentistry today.  They are safe and easy to apply.  No anesthesia or drilling is required.

Sealing the grooves and pits on the biting surfaces of teeth is effective at preventing cavities, and therefore, at also preventing the need for dental work.

When Will My Baby’s Teeth Start Coming In?

The first baby teeth usually begin erupting (coming into the mouth) around six months of age.  The “normal” range is from age zero to twelve months.  This means that babies born with teeth are normal, and babies who do not get their teeth until age 1 year are also normal.

How Do I Strengthen My Child’s Teeth?

There are lots of important ways to strengthen your child’s teeth.

  1. Keep them clean. Your child should never be given complete responsibility over his oral hygiene.  Make sure you check on all  brushing, flossing and mouth rinsing.  A good rule of thumb is that a child is not able to clean his own teeth until he can tie his shoelaces and write his name in cursive.
  2. Never miss a dental checkup. Professional teeth cleanings and fluoride vitamins are important to consistently keeping little teeth strong.
  3. Limit sugary and acidic foods and drinks. Sodas and sports drinks are especially harmful to enamel.  Keep these to mealtimes only.
  4. Have dental sealants placed on any biting surfaces. These sealants are a protective coating over grooves and pits.  They seal good minerals in and cavities out.

Do You Have Other Questions about Your Child’s Teeth?

Call 972-347-1145 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara.  They can answer any question you have about your child’s teeth and give you specific recommendations to help them stay healthy and fight cavities!

 

 

 

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