Monday, 15 January 2018

What’s In A Root Canal?

There’s dentistry and then there’s “endodontic treatment.” So, what’s the difference? Is one a smaller part of the other?


The word “endodontic” stems from the Greek words for “inside” (endo) and “tooth” (odont). Together, the meaning of a root canal treatment is brought to a term. Endodonic therapy is actually a tooth-saving branch of the dental industry.


In order to better understand what a root canal is and how “endodontic therapy” can help save a tooth, it is essential to understand the anatomy of a tooth.

 What’s in a root canal?

A tooth’s anatomy 


Starting from the outside-in, let’s first talk about what you see when someone smiles: the enamel of the tooth—you know, that (preferably) white, shiny stuff.


Below the enamel is a layer called dentin. Dentin is softer than enamel, but is the second hardest tissue in the body—akin to bone—with a yellowish tint (hence when your dentin is exposed or enamel wears, your teeth look more yellow).


Below the layer of dentin you have the “pulp” of the tooth. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue that create surrounding hard tissues of the tooth during its initial development. Reaching from the top of the tooth to the bottom of the roots, the pulp connects everything to the tissues of the jaw. Once the tooth is fully mature, however, it can survive without the pulp…hence why a root canal works!


So, what exactly happens during a root canal? First, let’s dive into why a root canal is usually needed.


The cause for a root canal


If the pulp layer of a tooth becomes infected or inflamed (due to enamel erosion, cavities, decay, impact, repeated dental procedures, a chip or a crack, or something else), you will experience sure signs like pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, tenderness to touch and chewing, discoloration and swelling in that area. These symptoms signify infection or inflammation that can cause more pain over time and eventually lead to an abscess. Read: go to your dentist immediately to sort out the cause and get appropriate treatment.


If the needed treatment is a root canal, what happens during the procedure by the endodontist? Allow us to paint that picture.


How root canals work


  1. An exam and x-ray is done to identify the infected area. After taking a look, your dentist will administer a local anesthetic to numb the area, and then isolate the tooth by placing a “dental dam” (a small protective sheet) over the area to keep it sanitary and dry throughout the procedure.


  1. Once isolated, the procedure begins. First, the endodontist will drill an opening into the crown (or top) of the tooth. Once an opening is created the endodontist can clean out the infected pulp from the entire pulp chamber and the roots below to prepare the space for the filling.


  1. After the canals of the tooth have been shaped, a biocompatible material called “gutta-percha” (a rubber compound) is used to fill the canals where the existing pulp and roots were. This is done with a cement adhesive that ensures total sealant of the canals. On top of the gutta-percha will be a layer of composite filling. For some patients, this is all that a root canal will entail.


  1. Depending on the strength of your tooth and if it is possible for it to hold the restoration in place, your endodontist may opt to use a post inside of the tooth, add a crown—or even a crown and post to prevent the tooth from breaking.


  1. If a crown is the avenue you have to take, then a temporary crown will be placed on top of the filling at this time. You’ll have a second appointment when the permanent crown is ready to be placed.


Where is a root canal on the pain Richter?


Many people report that a root canal procedure itself is equivalent to having a filling done. If the anesthetic is done correctly you should only feel the vibrations from the tools.


Starting a few hours after the procedure is when you might feel sensitivity due to the area being inflamed from impact. Usually over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, or naproxen can subdue the pain, and in a few days you should return to normal.


For a period of time, there may be a noticeable difference in your bite or how your tooth feels to your tongue. In time, this will change, and you’ll become used to the new shape or feel.


Caring for your tooth and/or crown after the procedure


Until the root canal procedure is officially complete, and the permanent filling or crown is in place, it’s best to chew on the opposite side of your mouth.


We’re happy to report that no extra care is needed for this update to your teeth! Continue upping your game with good oral care (i.e., brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, using mouthwash, eating a healthy diet and seeing your dentist regularly), and you can put this quick procedure fast behind you!

Monday, 8 January 2018

When And Why Are Fillings Replaced?

“All good things come to an end is” a saying used as a near-proverb to remind us that, realistically, all things are temporary. When referring to the fillings in your mouth, this truism is a cautionary and realistic tale that can help you understand, and be prepared, for the day that your fillings are ready to be replaced. 


We’ve compiled a quick read about how replacing fillings works, and under what circumstances it’s done. Read on to understand more about this undertaking! 

 When do you replace a dental filling?


Why a filling is needed in the first place 


Bacteria is what causes tooth decay. And then, tooth decay exposes the integral layers of your teeth, and expose your gums to more serious problems to rectify. If a cavity in a tooth is caught soon enough, a dentist can apply a filling to replace the decay and to help prevent any further problems. 


How long do fillings last? 


Fillings can last many years, but it does depend on what material is used to fill the cavity, and how you treat it. It also depends on where the fillings is located (on what tooth—each tooth performs a different function and bears a different load). When it comes to how well you care for your teeth, that can all impact the life expectancy of dental fillings more than you might realize. 


When a filling needs to be replaced 


Old fillings may eventually need to be replaced due to constant assault from eating and drinking, or stress from clenching or grinding—which, when combined, may all cause reason for a dental filling to fail. Just like tires wear down, so do your fillings. 


Composites (tooth-colored) tend to be weaker than amalgams (silver), so depending on the force load (the pressure you put on the tooth) and its placement, the filling’s life expectancy can be a source of conversation for you and Dr. Marchbanks.  


Why a filling might need to be replaced 


If we circle back to why fillings are needed in the first place (decay), we can understand why a filling that has worn away, chipped or cracked or even fallen out might leave open crevices that expose the interior of your tooth to more decay and more damage. Bacteria, plaque and food that’s not easily brushed away are all high-risk once a dental filling starts to fail. 


This is one of many reasons why your regular dental examinations are so important, because your dentist will be able to identify the status of your fillings, and when they’ve lost their integrity. 


Our best recommendation is to not wait until the tooth or tooth filling hurts, or a crack appears in the filling of the tooth. Visiting your dentist regularly can minimize costly and extensive procedures later, not to mention a nasty sore tooth if something goes wrong. 


Choices for new fillings 


While many of us have come to know fillings as those little silver spots in our molars, dental advancements have allowed for new materials and techniques to provide more aesthetically pleasing and natural looking options.  


Options today include:  


  1. Amalgam – a relatively inexpensive mixture composed of silver, copper, tin and mercury, creating a strong and stable filling material.


  1. Composite – a mixture of acrylic resin and finely-ground glasslike particles that allow for a tooth-colored restoration. Be aware that this is not the strongest option, meaning it may have to be replaced sooner than an amalgam.


  1. Glass ionomers – tooth-colored materials made from a mixture of fine fluoride-containing glass powder and organic acid.


At the end of the day, having an examination and conversation with your dentist will help you understand the best option for you.  


If you’re worried that you may need to replace your fillings, call us today and make an appointment!

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Out With The Old, In With The New

What are you most happy to move on from in the year 2017?  


Did you go through some trying times last year? A death? A change in job? A health issue? Or, were you affected by a love one who was going through one of those scenarios?  


This how-to touches on some of the harder things that come our way, and how to look forward in the New Year with optimism and a fresh approach. We at the office of Dr. Marchbanks believe fundamentally in your holistic health, and want you to have every reason to flash those pearly smiles. So read on to see what we’ve compiled for you. 

 Out with the old, in with the new

While there is no quick-fix solution or process that works for everyone, there are ways all of us can choose to perceive these realities we’re hit with. 


  1. First things first: Change – and the acceptance of change


Change must be made, and will always happen of its own accord (on top of the active changes we choose to make). In all cases, you have to recognize when the universe—or your gut—is saying it’s time to make a necessary change. Because, as we all know, growth only happens outside of your comfort zone. So, your best bet is to embrace it…which is where the magic of perception comes in.  


  1. Next: Perception – and, in our opinion, the most important concept


If you’re perceiving life in a negative way, you are most likely going to deal with the emotions brought on by the immediate circumstances of the situation without more proactive forethought. If you aren’t adept enough to catch the negative thoughts when you have them, once you do catch yourself reaffirm the negative thoughts with positive ones. 


Example: Replace “I am never going to be able to pay this $2,000 debt” with “If I make 24 payments of $83.33 a month, I will be debt free from this situation in two years”. Not only in that example did you reaffirm your thought pattern from negative to positive, you accepted the reality of the situation and you made a plan…which can help calm anxiety and help you refocus on the other things that need your attention in life. Because, “affirmation without discipline is the beginning of delusion.” (Jim Rohn) 


  1. Overcoming


Now that you’ve taken the time to choose your perspective through acceptance, feeling the emotions and then listening to your true inner thoughts, it’s time to move forward. 


Nothing ever happened by staying stagnant, so it’s time to move. The failsafe pattern to get moving again is: find inspiration, strategize, and take action.  


  • Inspiration brings positivity, hope and desire—all things that can propel you forward away from feelings of despair that can creep up at any moment. 


  • Strategizing is a whole lot easier when you see a situation for what it is and take on a positive mentality. It makes your figurative escape plan for a place you don’t want to be. Create the vision of where you’re going so that making the necessary moves toward it become your conscious decision to move forward, giving you a solid action plan to follow. 


  • Finally, take action! This one is easier said than done, but the lack of action is where people fail in New Year’s resolutions, even after choosing a healthy perspective, feeling all of the feelings, and listening to their inner monologue—in the end, they still make the choice to not take action. But not making a choice is just as deliberate as making a choice. One just takes you to a higher place than the other. 


Perception, enduring, and overcoming are nothing without changing your status quo. Seek out the people who support, encourage, believe and care about you. When you can remember you’re not alone and you have people who love you (quality over quantity), overcoming life’s obstacles can seem easier. 

Monday, 25 December 2017

Resolutions for 2018

We’ve all made them, and some of us like making them more than others. “Resolution” as a word itself has meaning; it means to have an intention, make a decision, plan, commitment, or promise. So, it comes as no surprise that with a fresh start to a new year, most of the population would like to take this reset as a way to prove their own word to themselves.  

 New year resolution concept illustration


As a wise man once said, what are you if not good for your word? 


Being a person of integrity is a sign of good character. Who wouldn’t want to be around a person with good character? And since smiles are our thing here at Dr. Marchbanks’s office, we ask: who wouldn’t want to be around a person with good character and a beautiful smile to match? 


While some people aim to drop weight in the new year, or be more punctual, or stop smoking cigarettes, or take more vacations in before the calendar close…we think oral health is the beginning of a life well led. We’ve gathered a few reminders…or “resolutions,” ahem…that you can keep in the back of your mind on a daily basis that will add up to good health, good character and a more confident you for 2018. 


  1. Brush twice a day – and use mouthwash


It truly goes without saying – you need to brush those useful gnashers of yours twice a day. If you’ve been skipping out on brushing before bed, or worse, leaving the house without brushing in the morning, you have to make a resolution to remove the plaque buildup that causes decay, cavities and other health issues.  


Also, use mouthwash at least once a day. Mouthwash helps remove more plaque, brighten your smile, and keep your breath fresh.  


  1. Floss at least once day 


Whether you prefer to do it in the morning or before bed, this is a habit that must be well-formed. Not removing the food and sticky plaque buildup between teeth for too long is what causes gum problems, gum disease, tooth decay and the beginning of cavities. By not flossing, you leave two of three surfaces on your teeth left unclean.  


Pick your preference, whether it’s old-fashioned thin string floss, wide dental tape, a floss threader (that looks like a plastic sewing needle), Super Floss, or the two-pronged plastic floss holder picks. 


Flossing helps remove 40% of plaque from your teeth. There’s no instant results of a healthier mouth, but it is the only thing that really can get into the spaces between teeth and gums to remove bacteria.  


Don’t worry if you see blood. It just means the gums are inflamed because plaque has built up and needs to be cleaned away. Look at this as incentive to ensure you floss regularly so your gums aren’t left bleeding. Do note that if bleeding consists after a few days it could be a sign of periodontal disease, so call you dentist. 


  1. Eat with healthy habits


First step in good eating habits for your teeth is to curb sugar intake. Studies show a direct link between the amounts of sugar a person eats and the amount of tooth decay s/he has. When grocery shopping or eating out, always think twice about purchasing that sugary treat. Replace the notion with a piece of sugar-free gum, a cup of tea (brush after), or sugar-free seltzer water instead of soda.  


A few foods to include in your diet that actually help clean your teeth are: dairy products (high in calcium), fibrous foods that require saliva to break down and help scrub away plaque and other food particles like crunchy vegetables.  


  1. Drink More Water


Not only are you made up of 60% water, so it’s a good idea to keep drinking it, but by drinking a glass of water with each meal (and saving a few solid swigs for after a meal), you allow the excess sugar and debris to be flushed away from your teeth.  


And if water gets a bit bland, try adding strawberries, mint or cucumbers to your water for a natural, low-acidity, and refreshing flavor boost!  


  1. Regular dental appointments


Schedule your dentist appointment. Get them all on the calendar for the year if you can. If you can’t, start by finding out when the last tooth-cleaning you had was and book the soonest you would need another. 


And always book your next appointment on your way out of the office! 


The great thing about making your oral health one of your highest priorities, or resolution shall we say, in the coming 2018 year is that it can lead to accomplishing other worthy resolutions like dropping weight by making healthier choices for your teeth, consuming water instead of naughty beverages, and leading a life of healthy habits develops a life of health and willpower.  


We wish you a wonderful last week of 2017 and a beautiful New Years celebration and will see you – and your healthy teeth – soon enough!

Monday, 18 December 2017

Just Skip the Sour

Acid, in it’s purest form, can melt things. You’ve seen it in sci-fi films. In a lemon, acid has a less severe effect, but most assuredly enough it still has an impact of eroding your teeth over time; especially if consumed in conjunction with other highly-acidic food choices, the effect will be one you’ll see before long. 
Read on to see if you already knew much about tooth erosion, and how much you might be exposing your teeth to this erosive villain when you go in for sour candies this holiday season. 

 Skip the sour this holiday season

What is enamel erosion?  


There are four layers that make up your physical tooth. The pulp (the innermost portion and has connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels, which nourish the tooth) is the deepest. The dentin that surrounds the pulp is hard as bone, and gives teeth their yellowish tint. The enamel (the hardest tissue in the body, covering the dentin and protecting other layers of your teeth from harmful bacteria) changes in temperature based on what you eat. And then, cementum is under the gum line, and covers the root of the pulp and connects tooth to jawbone1. 


So, this enamel surface of your teeth is a protective layer. If your enamel is worn away by erosion, the underlying dentin is vulnerable to plaque, bacteria, and the whole gamut that causes decay. 


What causes tooth erosion?  


There are a few key culprits of tooth erosion. If you’ve been feeling sensitive to food temperatures, sweets and other foods, you can be aware of these corrosive foods (and signs of erosion) to take corrective action.  


Drum roll – the biggest offender to teeth erosions is….acid! Acid comes in many forms. No matter the form, though, exposing your teeth to it will leach calcium from your enamel, therefore causing it to weaken.  


This holiday season, try to avoid the following: 


  1. Carbonated drinks – Soda is bad for your teeth in general. In case you didn’t know why, we’ll spell it out: it contains high levels of acid, chemicals AND sugar for a triple-corrosive whammy.
  2. Wine – The production process of wine makes it naturally acidic, so it doesn’t matter what your choice color is—it still can weaken your enamel.
  3. Candy – We all know candy is bad. To remind you, though, sugar turns into bacteria and causes decay. But, in moderation and with good oral hygiene, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Sour candy, on the other hand, means acidity, which means erosion!
  4. Sugar – As stated above, sugar is bacteria that turns into plaque that eats away at your teeth if not swished, brushed and flossed away – or better yet – not eaten at all – or at the very least – in moderation.
  5. Fruit juices – The highest concentrations of acid in fruit juice can be found in cranberry, apple, orange and lemon juice.

Signs of tooth erosion: 


In order to avoid dental problems like cracks, pain and decay in your teeth, it’s key that you pay attention for the following signs of erosion:  


  1. Sensitivity – Ever feel a twinge of pain after consuming something cold, hot or sweet? That can be because enamel has worked away.
  2. Discoloration –  You’ll notice a lot more yellowing as the dentin begins to be exposed from acid erosion to the tooth enamel.
  3. Rounded teeth – Seeing rounded corners on your teeth? Yep, that’s almost certainly erosion.
  4. Transparency – If the edges of your teeth start looking translucent, acid erosion has probably begun.
  5. Cracks –  Did a tooth crack? Or, are there some teeth that are rough around the edges? This could very well be erosion.
  6. Cupping – If a dent appears on the surface of a tooth or a filling starts to rise out of tooth, acid may be to blame. 


Worst-case scenario: 


You won’t have teeth. That’s the worst case.  


Up until then, you can lose one tooth, two teeth, or a lot of your teeth, because over the course of time, erosion can make them weak and then crack—weak teeth can then succumb to an attack of bacteria, which could lead to either an extraction, a root canal and later a crown, implant or bridge.  


Tips to prevent erosion: 


A healthy diet includes moderation in all things. We’re not here to deprive our patients of the finer things in life. That said, the following tips can help reduce chances of acid erosion to your teeth:

  1. If you must drink soda – It may not be your choice way of drinking your favorite bubbly beverage, but it will curb the amount of acid that touches your teeth. Also, consuming a drink fairly quickly instead of sipping can help.
  2. Swish with water – Even a half-glass of water can help wash away an acid that would otherwise sit on your teeth.
  3. Avoid carbonation – Yes, that means champagne and soda alike. Milk, tea or flavored waters are good substitutes if you want a caffeine kick or something sweet.
  4. Hold off on brushing – Brushing immediately after consuming something acidic can actually cause more damage than waiting, so hold off on brushing for at least 30 minutes after eating…particularly if there was something high in acid. 


At the end of the day it’s all about moderation. How can you possibly avoid a glass of good ol’ bubbly on New Years Eve? Or that delicious glass of red wine Grandma paid a hundred dollars for? Or your friend’s “sinful and sour” cocktail recipe? Remember our tips on how to prevent the erosion, and be sure to schedule a post-holiday check in with your dentist to ensure everything is going good!

Till then, Happy Holidays from all of us here at the office of Dr. Marchbanks!

Monday, 11 December 2017

The Biggest, Brightest Smile

There are a lot of new “norms” these days that still feel like something of the future. If you weren’t already aware, for example, the youngest generations thrive off of the “photo or it didn’t happen” mentality—which, interestingly enough, has people thinking more about their pearly whites this holiday season. Read: Photo evidence of a not-so-bright-smile. 

 Snow-bright teeth this winter

But if you’re here, there was a reason behind your curiosity. Happily, we here at Dr. Marchbanks’ office in Arlington, TX strive to ensure that when you open that beautiful mouth, your picture-perfect smile it is exactly that: bright and beautiful.  


There are only so many techniques to achieve said “bright” smile in accordance to your teeth, and we’re here to talk about your options. Overall, hydrogen peroxide is going to be the key agent in breaking down stains on your teeth and polishing your smile.  


Read on to understand the processes and options of tooth-whitening that will best suit your case. And, of course, be sure to meet with us for a consultation to ensure you receive the very best care! 


Who’s a candidate? 


Overall, teeth-whitening is a very low-risk procedure, which means it can suit a lot of different needs. Generally, the best candidates have mild to moderate discoloration. The following factors may rule out a patient from treatment: 


  1. Patients with porcelain veneers, dental crowns, or dental bonding. These circumstances don’t always allow for the most uniform teeth-whitening, and physical replacements sometimes have to be done to achieve the level or white or bright you want consistently around your mouth.


  1. Intrinsic Stains are stains that can show as white spots, gray discolorations, or a “dead tooth” where an underlying layer in the tooth (underneath the enamel) has become discolored. Standard teeth whitening only works on extrinsic stains, so patients with intrinsic stains will have to seek other options. The good news is, there might still be hope with other treatments, so your consultation isn’t over yet!


  1. Extreme tooth sensitivity or worn enamel: Unfortunately, these conditions are sometimes exacerbated if teeth-whitening is performed.


  1. Bruxism or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD): Again, whitening may worsen these conditions, so consulting your dentist and doing an in-office whitening is often the best option.


Types of whitening treatments 


For candidates who are a good fit, the following options are all procedures a patient can use to whiten, dependent upon their budget: 


  1. Over-the-counter (OTC) – The cheapest from of tooth whitening can be convenient, but this also means it will be the least effective. Some of the over-the-counter options to brighten your smile include: toothpastes, gels, rinses, strips and pre-made whitening trays.


  1. Take-home treatment– The cost of take-home trays will be dependent upon the cost of the materials, including the gel and how many treatments the dentist recommends, but will be much more effective than OTC options.


  1. In-office– The cost will depend on the total number of sessions, and if you need advanced treatment, which can include laser. The greater investment does ultimately mean the strongest treatment your dentist is able to offer, and will reveal much more dramatic results using a combination of whitening gel and specially-formatted lights to achieve optimal results. Dr. Marchbanks may also send you home with the trays so you can perform treatments at home as well.


At the end of the day, everyone’s results will be different depending on the severity of the stains, the layer of the tooth the stains are on, plus lifestyle and dietary habits, oral care habits, the type of teeth-whitening system used, the number of treatments and consistent follow-up care. 


We urge you to inquire here at our Arlington, Texas office about the best option for your case. When it comes to take that family holiday photo, you won’t have to be the one looking awkward or bashful, but instead boastful and beautiful!

Thursday, 7 December 2017

North Texas Holiday Lights—2017!

Driving around to see houses lit up in holiday lights is a time-honored tradition in many families. The twinkle of hundreds of thousands of tiny lights brings out the child in all of us. 


If you’re looking for more than just your average neighborhood light display this year, then you’ve come to the right place. We have scoured the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex for the most awe-inducing spectacles in 2017! Grab your coat and gloves, or if it is a typical North Texas Christmas, a light fleece, and venture out to these family-friendly exhibits! 

 Holiday lights in 2017

Historic Grapevine Light Displays 


There’s a reason Grapevine is considered the “Christmas Capital of Texas.” With three different nights dedicated to decking the halls, there’s no reason to miss out on the excitement. While the Christmas tree at City Hall is lit just after Thanksgiving, there’s still time to catch the Parade of Lights and the Twinkle Light Boat Parade. 


The Parade of Lights in is the largest lighted Christmas parade in North Texas, and will feature more than 100 lighted floats and marching bands. If that isn’t enough, head to Lake Grapevine to watch boats decked out in holiday d├ęcor, and a lights parade from the Twin Coves Marina to Silver Lake Marina. Each event is free and open to the public.  


Sparkling Nights in Addison 


Walk off those extra holiday pounds by wandering around the Vitruvian Park’s holiday spectacle in Addison. Twelve acres of the park have been decorated with twinkling lights that are just begging to be explored. Weekends in December will also feature food trucks, live music, and holiday shopping villages. Bring the kids for free pictures with Santa, and to visit with the local police and fire department, too! 


Gift of Lights in Fort Worth  


Ever dream of hitting the Texas Motor Speedway? Well, here’s your opportunity! Cruise around the raceway through the Gift of Lights, and experience over 150 new light displays this year. At the end of the tour, explore Santa’s Village for family-friendly activities, including photos with Santa. Admission is $25 per car; however, if you bring an unwrapped gift for Toys for Tots, you receive a $5 discount. The event benefits multiple local charities, and is open daily from 6pm-10pm. 


Christmas in the Square – Frisco 


Head to Frisco Square to experience the largest choreographed holiday lights and music display in North Texas. Running daily from 6pm-10pm, visitors can bask in the glow of over 175,000 lights on display. To put this number in perspective, it takes over 11.5 miles of wiring and 8 miles of extension cords to pull off this show. If you’re longing for a white Christmas, you can even experience “snow flurries” every fifteen minutes in the Square on Fridays and Saturdays. And, finally, test your skating skills on the outdoor rink! 


Prairie Lights – Grand Prairie 


Drive through more than four MILLION lights sets along a two-mile path at the Lynn Creek Park on Joe Pool Lake in Grand Prairie. Halfway through the drive, hop out of the car to wander around the Holiday Village that features food, gifts, a snow maze and lighted forest. 


After enjoying the stopover, you get back in the car to experience the grand finale of the display, including an animated light tunnel. Bring the kids to snap a photo with Santa as well. Purchase tickets online to save $5 off admission per vehicle. 


The North Texas region is full of holiday cheer this year! No matter where you live in the metroplex, there is a holiday light spectacular nearby. Didn’t see one of your favorites on our list? Leave us a comment and tell us where else we should check out!