Monday, 21 May 2018

The Great Debate: Can Genetics Cause Cavities?

Just like professionals in every field of work, sometimes dentists disagree on medical theories. One of the most popular areas of disagreement and lively engagement surrounds the theory that dental genetics plays a leading role in the likelihood someone will have cavities. 


Some patients deflect the perceived embarrassment of poor teeth on that they are more “prone” to cavities since their parents also suffered. Therefore, it’s not a reflection on their oral hygiene skills, but instead more of a result of genetic tooth decay. 


However, does anecdotal experience outweigh data from dental studies? Stay tuned and we’ll dig into the research and let you decide for yourself if you think dental genetics weigh heavily on the health of your teeth! 

 Genetics and cavities

First, what are cavities? 


A cavity is another way to say “tooth decay.” The cavity itself is a hole that can grow deeper over time—which is why it’s so important to seek treatment if you think you have a cavity.  


Cavities can affect people of all ages. In fact, 90% of adults are walking around with tooth decay at this moment and one in four people currently have an untreated cavity. Cavities are a result of plaque, which results from eating excess sugars and carbohydrates and not cleaning your teeth well. When the plaque attacks the enamel, it eventually wears it down leaving your tooth vulnerable to bacteria and acid. If left unresolved, the bacteria move through the layers of your teeth causing decay at every level. 


So, are these cavities caused by poor oral hygiene or bad dental genetics? 


Certain populations are more cavity prone  

New data from the CDC shows that African Americans and Hispanics have a higher incident of tooth decay and of cavities.  Experts have concluded that there are three overarching factors that contribute to oral health: biology, social conditions, and behavior. Related studies have shown some African Americans are missing a variant form of salivary protein that helps stop cavity-causing bacteria. And while outstanding oral health might be able to compensate for the lack of that protein, this biological difference creates an additional hurdle for patients in preventing tooth decay. 

Additionally, there are certain DNA strands that make teeth able to absorb more fluoride, creating harder enamel on the surface of the tooth. Those lacking this strand may have weaker enamel, which can result in more cavities. Individuals who produce more saliva also benefit from that genetic quirk, since saliva is one way to eliminate harmful bacteria in the mouth while allowing healthy bacteria a warm, moist place to thrive. Saliva also helps to neutralize the pH of the mouth and prevent excess acids from wearing away enamel.         

Tooth shape 

Both the shape of your mouth and the shape of your teeth are two factors that contribute to the likelihood of you getting cavities. First, small mouths make it harder to brush and floss and reach all the nooks-and-crannies in your mouth. If you know you have a small mouth, take extra time and be diligent on brushing all the hard-to-reach places. Next, teeth that naturally have deep grooves are more susceptible to cavities since food can easily become lodged. Food lodged in these deep groves can be difficult to reach, and since it’s closer to the root any erosion will be more likely to cause extensive and painful damage. Decay in the grooves is very likely to cause cavities, so visiting the dentist to ensure they remain clean and healthy is important. Diligent brushing and flossing is the best way to safeguard against bacteria buildup and tooth decay. 

To summarize, there are many genetic factors that can lead to a higher likelihood of having cavities. Whether it be the shape of your mouth or the makeup of your DNA, tiny genetic factors can cause serious oral health issues if you don’t take the best care of your mouth possible. If you are concerned about cavities that haven’t been treated, call our office today!

Monday, 14 May 2018

The Unknown History of Chewing Gum

There are many aspects of modern dentistry that have ties back to ancient times. From primitive toothbrushes to tooth fillings in ancient Egypt, we’ve learned and progressed significantly from practices originally used thousands of years ago. 


However, what if we told you chewing gum history is just as storied as some of the practices mentioned from ancient Egypt? In fact, there’s evidence that Europeans chewed birch bark tar more than 9,000 years ago as a way to relieve toothaches. Will you ever look the same at those colorful packages lining the grocery store checkout? Chewing gum for dental health is a practice that has transcended millenniums while helping to cure dry mouth or relive pain. Keep reading as we unpack the chewing gum’s sticky history! 

 The history of chewing gum

The history of chewing gum 


There’s evidence that chewing gum actually dates back more than 9,000 years. Originally the substances chewed had medicinal purposed and were thought to receive toothaches or quench thirst. Some cultures even had strict social constraints on who could chew gum. For instance, in many societies, kids and single women could chew it in public while married women were allowed to only do it in private as a way to freshen their breath. Men, on the other hand, had to chew gum in private and used it solely as a way to clean teeth. 


Fast forward to the 19th century where Europeans began to use products that local Indians already used as part of their cultures. By 1850 this led the first chewing gum factory to be opened. The original gum was made from spruce tree resin boiled down and coated with cornstarch. Unfortunately, the combination was less than ideal, and led subsequent produces to use paraffin wax instead of spruce tree gum. Once again, the products evolved, and chicle was substituted for paraffin wax. This combination of ingredients worked so well that it remained largely unchanged until the mid-1900s. 


In 1928, bubble gum made its first entrance onto the market. This product was different than other chewing gums since it was made with the purpose of blowing bubbles. After more than a decade of comic failures, Flank Fleer finally created what we know as Double Bubble.  


Today, the market is full of different varieties of gum. From dental chewing gum to the gum that comes inside lollipops, there is something out there for everyone. In 2017 over 72.04 million Americans chew at least one stick of spearmint flavored gum—the most popular flavor on the market. Peppermint, wintergreen and fruit flavors fill out the next three spots. Although it took over a decade to produce, bubble gum is one of America’s least favorite flavors with only 22 million people chewing it.  


Dentists have long recognized the oral health benefits of chewing gum. Studies have shown that chewing sugar-free gum after a meal can help rinse off harmful acids and help prevent potential of tooth decay. In addition, chewing gums helps to stimulate up to ten times as much as saliva in your mouth as an otherwise unoccupied mouth (dry mouth can lead to significant oral health problems since bad bacteria are able to infiltrate gum lines easier). 


Finally, chewing gum can prevent the growth of bad bacteria that causes cavities since one of the main ingredients in gum—xylitol—causes the mouth to become inhospitable to these bacteria. It’s due to these benefits that the American Dental Association has put its seal of approval on sugar-free gums. If you’re in a pinch after a meal and need something to freshen your breath or otherwise don’t have the opportunity to brush, popping in some sugar free gum is a great and long-since popular option! 

Monday, 7 May 2018

How Else To Invest In Your Child’s Health

We all want to invest in our children and ensure they’re able to live up to their full potential. Whether by choosing the best schools or investing for college, as parents we are constantly evaluating our child’s needs. 


With regards to their health, we also invest in their future by ensuring that they receive a healthy diet and get enough activity in their day. And while we first think about health as it relates to diet and nutrition, it’s important to not overlook your children’s dental health. 

 Invest in your child’s dental health

As we commonly remind our adult patient, your oral health can affect your total body health. This is true for our pediatric patient population as well. While bi-annual check-ups are an essential part of investing in your child’s oral health, that is only part of the picture. As with anything in parenting, it’s also important to guide your child to independence and the sustainability of good habits. Below we will outline other healthy oral habits that will benefit your child in the long run. 


Build an oral health routine EARLY 


The phrase “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is closer to the truth than many people like to admit. It’s important to begin a comprehensive oral health regimen with your child early so the habit is engrained before they reach those defiant toddler years. This includes getting you infant used to something being in their mouth. Use a wet washcloth to gently wipe off the gums after a nighttime feeding. As they start to grow teeth, transition to a child-sized toothbrush with toothpaste and brush twice a day. Mouthwash isn’t encouraged until the elementary school years since it takes significant coordination to swish and not swallow, but when you think your child is mature enough to use it, incorporate that into their nightly routine. By the time your child is old enough to brush their teeth on their own, they should be in such a set routine that it would be weird to not brush their teeth at night. 


Decrease the fear  


While we love to see all our patients, we know everyone is not as excited to see us if it means going to a dental appointment—kids in particular. A recent poll indicated that one third of all adults admitted to not seeing the dentist in the past year. In addition, childhood cavities effect approximately 42% of children aged 2 to 11, and when left unfixed can result in damage to the gums and jaw that will follow them to adulthood. In order to combat these statistics, it’s on both the parents and on dental professionals to ensure your child is having a good experience and doesn’t suffer unwarranted anxiety about the visit. On our end, we make the visit as inviting as possible and interact with the child throughout the visit to reassure them of what we are doing. We ask parents to not project any anxiety on their children and possible offer an incentive for coming. Whether it’s a trip for ice cream (don’t forget to brush your teeth after!) or a small toy or gadget, having something to look forward to can make the whole process more enjoyable.  


Make it fun 


We previously discussed how important a tooth brushing routine is, but one component that can really make it stick is making the experience fun. Whether that’s a special trip to the store to pick out a new toothbrush with their favorite character on it, or toothpaste in bubblegum flavor, don’t let adult rigidity get in the way. The bedtime routine can also be a great opportunity to invest in time together and create memories. Try letting your child brush your teeth before you brush theirs, or make up silly songs together to pass the time. If you child looks forward to their oral health routine, it increases the likelihood it will stick. 


Investing in your child’s oral health is an investment in a happy future. From brushing to braces and everything in between, your child’s smile is an import social aspect of their life. Keep it bright and white for life by implementing a solid plan early.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Final Exam Care Packages for College Students

There are a lot of parents out there with college students who are entering final exam time. Whether it’s their first year or their senior year, there is still a lot of stress and little extra time to take care of life’s necessities. 


This time of year is the perfect opportunity to send your student a care package. To take the hassle out of thinking what to include, we’ve provided a go-to list on what to put into the box! Remember to include extras since roommates will be looking to share! 

 Care package ideas

Useful items 


Let’s start with the necessary items first. Since it’s the end of the year, school supplies might be running short. Include a couple of pencils, pens, highlighters and sticky notes. If your child is moving out of the dorm or having to pack up all their belongings for the summer, consider buying things cheap since all these items could get thrown away in the end of the year cleanup.  


And speaking of that, if deep cleaning will need to take place prior to heading out for the summer, add supplies to the package. This will prevent your student from having to run to the store while also juggling studying, packing, and sleeping. 


Brainpower food 


While chips and sweets may be fun to nibble on while pouring over books, it’s important your student maintains a healthy diet. Nuts—specifically walnuts—are a top food for brain health. Visit the Vending Nut Company in Fort Worth to create a custom nut combination specifically tailored for your child. If you can’t make it to their store, they also sell gift tins that can be shipped directly. Dried fruits, granola bars and bottles of water are also great options to include. 


Fun food 


In addition to healthy food, everyone loves a treat now and then. Finals are the perfect excuse to send a favorite treat! In addition to candy, consider treating them to themed iced cookies. You can order custom cookies featuring the college mascot or colors from local Fort Worth bakery, Haute Cakes and Cookies. If your student is local, Tiff’s Treats is another option and an easy way to send warm chocolate chip cookies and milk straight to the library!  


Gift cards 


In addition to the stress, the end of the year can get expensive. Between putting deposits down for new apartments and all the opportunities to go out with friends one last time, money can easily become tight. Include gift cards to your student’s favorite restaurants or coffee shops to help ease the financial burden. 


Add a note 


Finish the care package off with a note of encouragement. With tensions running high and stress from tests and papers piling up, a reminder of the support of your parents can mean a lot. No matter how old your child is, a sincere note can change their day. If your child is returning for the summer, remind them that you are happy to have them home. It can be hard to transition from the freedom of college back into the home with rules and curfews. Reminding them they are welcome and that you’re happy to have them will make the transition easier.  


School is almost over and, with it, finals! If you have any favorites for care packages, make sure to let us know for our packages next year!

Monday, 30 April 2018

Can Baby Teeth Erode?

 We all understand the importance of oral health in adulthood since we only get one set of permanent teeth! What about baby teeth, though? Particularly from the frame of mind of a child.

Since baby teeth aren’t designed to remain with you throughout life, does it matter if a child gets a cavity or suffers from tooth erosion? Just like with your own teeth, it’s important to keep your child’s teeth healthy as well! The American Dental Association recommends you start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first one erupts and bringing them to the dentist around their first birthday. Tooth decay can affect everyone, so it’s important to practice good oral health to prevent any long-lasting problems.

cartoon doctor dentist with tooth and whitening tool, great for dental care and teeth whitening and bleaching concept

We understand as a parent—especially parents of little ones—how much information you are inundated with about your child’s health. To help you understand what is most beneficial for their dental health, we have outlined your dental checklist to be on the lookout for!


Tooth erosion

Tooth erosion occurs when acids damage and dissolve the layers of enamel on a tooth. This erosion can cause permanent damage and discoloration to the tooth. The acid can occur from a variety of sources—anything from stomach acid to the food we eat.

When dentists notice baby teeth erosion, it’s typically a result of allowing children to go to bed with a cup of juice or milk (sometimes called milk bottle erosion) and not brushing their teeth after they finish their drink.

It’s important to limit the amount of juice your child drinks for several reasons. First, juice is high in natural and artificial sugar. This isn’t great for growing bodies and can lead to cavities. It’s recommended that children’s diet consist primarily of milk and water.

If you children does drink juice, it’s important to brush their teeth to prevent erosion. Tooth erosion can also be caused by a diet that lacks certain nutrients, or by medications that the child takes. Depending on the age and severity of the erosion, your dentist may recommend non-invasive treatments like sealants—or, if the erosion is severe, the tooth may need to be extracted. If your child suffers from baby teeth erosion, it is important to talk to your dentist to ensure the permanent teeth below remain healthy.



It’s estimated that more than 4 million preschoolers suffer from tooth decay. This is a result of higher-sugar foods in diets and the use of bottled water that doesn’t contain fluoride. While many cavities result from poor oral hygiene combined with high sugar diets, experts also say some children are predisposed to having more cavities than others. For instance, children with certain illnesses such as diabetes and asthma, or other chronic conditions, are more likely to have a cavity than their peers.

Children are not born with the bad bacteria in the mouth that eats away at the structure of the teeth and causes cavities. Instead, it’s generally transferred by a parent prior to age two by the transmission of salvia from a parent to the child. This could occur from sharing spoons or glasses with your child. While some people say their family has a history of bad teeth, there is some truth to that statement. You pass down the germs and bacteria that can cause tooth decay. If you, as the parent, know you have had numerous cavities, then it is important to schedule regular dentist appointments starting at six months for your child.


Adult teeth

While it may seem better for children to experience cavities in their baby teeth since they fall out (as opposed to their permanent teeth), the truth is you need a healthy mouth in general to grow healthy adult teeth. This is why it’s important to have cavities filled and tooth decay addressed while your child is young.

If tooth decay starts to impact the gums, it can easily impact the teeth and bones beneath the surface. In addition, untreated tooth decay can lead to infections that need more medical intervention. To ensure your children have a lifetime of bright smiles, start brushing their teeth as soon as the first one erupts. Use a toothpaste with fluoride and ensure they aren’t going to bed with a bottle of milk or juice.


At our practice we love to see kids and help ensure they have a healthy mouth for life. If you have a little one, give us a call today for their first appointment!

Monday, 23 April 2018

The History You Never Knew About Invisalign

It’s never too late to give yourself the gift of a beautiful smile. Millions and millions of adults are unhappy with the way their teeth look—some have never had braces, and others had braces in their teenage years, but have since had their teeth shift. While many of us are familiar with traditional braces, their bulkiness and viability are a turn off for many professionals. 

 Where Invisalign came from

Thankfully, due to progressions in orthodontic technology, other products that can straighten teeth have hit the market. One of the most popular advances is Invisalign. An increasing number of our patients ask about this product, specifically if they are a candidate. To help all our patients out, we’ve created a short Fact Sheet on Invisalign. Let us know at your next appointment if this is something you’re interested in! 


The basics—what is Invisalign? 


Invisalign is a treatment process that relies on removable trays that, through a careful and gradual process, provide alignment correction of the teeth. Unlike traditional braces that rely on brackets and wires, Invisalign is made from clear, flexible plastic that fits snuggly over the teeth. This product is FDA-approved and is made from a patented thermoplastic. 


Is it new?

Invisalign has been on the market for almost 20 years now and has built quite the reputation. While the idea of incremental movements with removable trays wasn’t “new,” Invisalign was nevertheless the first company to harness it and use new technologies to bring it market. 


How long will it take? 


On average, the typical treatment for an adult an average of twelve months, unlike traditional adult braces (which can take upwards of two years). Once you are fitted for the trays, you will wear them for 20-22 hours per day and change the trays out to a new set every two weeks. The aligners will gradually shift your teeth over the course of your treatment. 


How do I get started? 


After an initial consult with Dr. Marchbanks to ensure you’re a candidate, a customized treatment plan will be drawn up. First, 3-D images of your teeth will be taken to help map out the movement that will occur over the course of the treatment. These images are used to make aligners that mold perfectly to your teeth and mouth. After the first set of aligners are ready, you pick them up and start on this exciting process! 


What is daytoday life like? 


Unlike traditional braces that easily collect food, you can take your Invisalign out when you eat! This means you don’t have to give up all the favorites that have been known to break brackets. To ensure your aligners stay fresh, brush them every morning and night. Many wearers forget they have them on during the day because they’re so comfortable and discreet. In fact, many professionals wear them to meetings and presentations without anyone even knowing. 


What do I do when I finish? 


After finishing your treatment course, your orthodontist might recommend retainers. This is important to keep your teeth from shifting back to their original positions. Unlike the retainers of yesteryear that are bulky and give you a speech impediment, there are new retainers made from the same technology as the Invisalign aligners. Low-profile retainers ensure you finish your treatment plan entirely and have a straight smile that lasts forever. 


If you are looking for straighter teeth but are concerned about the look of traditional braces, then Invisalign might be the best treatment option. Take the first step today by giving us a call! 

Monday, 16 April 2018

2018 Spring Bucket List of Outdoor Adventures

With warmer weather and longer days, we are always looking for an excuse to get out of the house. While dining al Fresco is a great option for just spending time with friends, sometimes you need something a little different when smaller family members are around or if you want to include your furry family members! 


When you’re put on the spot it can be hard to think of fun, new things to do for a night out. To help answer the “what-do-you-want-to-do” endless circle of questions, we’ve prepared the 2018 Spring Bucket List of Outdoor Adventures upcoming events in our metroplex! 

 Create an adventure

  1. Dallas Blooms at the Arboretum: Featuring one of the largest floral festivals in the southwest, the Dallas Arboretum is home to more than 500,000 blooming flowers. This is a great place for your budding gardener to seek out new plant options or to snap a few spring photos for the grandparents!
  2. Safari Nights at the Dallas Zoo: Bring your dancing shoes to the zoo! Throughout the spring and summer bands will be filling the zoo with music. Come for the animals and stay for the tunes!
  3. Friday Night on the Green: If you’re looking for a lazy Friday night spent relaxing with good music, head to Magnolia Green in Fort Worth. This once-monthly concert series is going on its 10th year! In addition to music there’s also food and drink available.
  4. Baseball: Springtime means baseball time! North Texas has both major and minor league teams so there’s something for everyone. Head to Arlington to cheer on the Rangers or be on the look-out for promotional nights at the Roughriders that allow kids to run the bases before the game. Hit the concession stands, and you won’t have to plan dinner for a night!
  5. Dallas Pizza Fest: Have you ever met a kid that didn’t like pizza? Head to the Dallas Pizza Fest to get your fill and to taste samples from more than 20 local and national pizza restaurants. Also, if you have a child that seems to be a bottomless pit, there’s a pizza eating contest with a prize of $250!
  6. Dog Bowl: If your “kids” have four legs and are covered in fur, then head to the Cotton Bowl for the annual Dog Bowl! Here you can unleash your dog and let them run through agility courses, splash in kiddie pools and meet other canine friends. This event is open to dogs of all sizes.
  7. Dallas Children’s Theater: Consistently ranked as one of the best children’s theaters in the country, the Dallas Children’s Theater is a great option for rainy days. The Jungle Book will be featured next month, so get your tickets early for this childhood classic!
  8. Splash Parks: In Texas we know the mild spring weather won’t last long. As it gives way to the brutal heat, cool off at one of the dozens of splash pads in the area. While Celebration Park in Allen is a little bit of a drive, it’s worth the excursion. Boasting over 99 acres, this playground/park/splash pad will keep your kids entertained and, by the end of the day, wear them out!
  9. Six Flags: If everything is bigger in Texas, then Arlington, Texas must have the biggest and fasted rides in the country. Right? For a treat, take your kids to the amusement park and ride the roller coasters until you get dizzy from the fun of it all!
  10. Create your own adventure: One of the best parts of longer nights is the ability to come up with great family adventures on your own. Start your own family traditions that live on year to year. Let us know what you come up with!