Dr. Victoria Ho will be joining our practice in July 2014

Dr Victoria Ho Associate Announcement

Call our office for more details or stop by to meet her!


Ringing in 2014 with new Belmont dental chairs

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.
                                                                – Ernest Hemingway

No matter how excellent a job we think we are doing, our practice is constantly trying to improve.  We decided this year to take a giant leap and upgrade four of our existing dental chairs with brand new ones that offer our patients nothing short of the best in comfort and elegance.  Our main criteria for selecting a new chair was patient comfort to help make dental appointments as relaxing as possible.  After trying out several different brands and models, we finally decided on the Quolis 5000, the premier line of dental chairs manufactured by a Japanese company called Belmont.

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Belmont has been manufacturing dental chairs for over 38 years, and is known for producing some of the most reliable equipment in the industry.  The amount of detail and precision that they put in their products is evident once you sit in the Quolis 5000.  The Ultraleather upholstery feels like a soft satin to the touch, with a very responsive type of cushioning memory foam – I even noticed the difference just sitting in the operator’s stool.

Bel-Halo LED light

We chose to upgrade our lights to the Bel-Halo LED lights, which uses less energy and produces less heat, and also happens to look beautiful.   We opted for the ceiling mounted versions of the lights in the dental operatories as it is useful in positioning for oral surgery where we are often standing to perform the procedures.

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We have yet to finalize the colour of the chairs in the hygiene operatories – K-Dental was kind enough to give us loaner upholstery so that we could make a final decision later. Thank you to K-Dental for their consultation and expert installation services throughout the process.

We are very excited to usher in 2014 with brand new equipment that will not only help us to serve our patients better, but will also improve their experiences in our office.

Happy New Year!

– Dr. Michael Banh, Uxbridge Family Dentistry

Brush-A-Mania is coming to Uxbridge!

April is a very special month in Canada – It is Oral Health Month.  To help spread awareness of this important month and to promote good oral health, Uxbridge Family Dentistry and The Rotary Club of Uxbridge will be running a fun and interactive educational event called Brush-A-Mania at three elementary schools in the Uxbridge region.

Brush-a-mania is a not-for-profit program designed to promote oral health and awareness among young children. It was started in 2001 by the the Rotary Club of Toronto – Don Mills and has already reached over 390,000 students.

Teams of five volunteers will be holding assemblies at Goodwood Public School, Joseph Gould Public School, and Uxbridge Public School on March 19March 26, and March 28, respectively.  These assemblies are aimed at teaching kids in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 3 about the importance of good oral hygiene, and establishing proper brushing and flossing techniques early on.  Approximately 600 children will be reached through these assemblies.

Thanks to a generous grant from The Durham Ontario Dental Society, each child will receive a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a special booklet to help them keep track of their brushing habits during the month of April. When the students return their completed booklets to their teachers, they will receive a certificate and official Brushamania sticker acknowledging their hard work.

Durham Ontario Dental Society
Supplies for this year’s Brush-A-Mania program in Uxbridge have been funded through a generous grant from The Durham Ontario Dental Society

Encouraging children to develop good oral hygiene habits at an early age is essential for creating healthy smiles that will last into their adult years.

– Dr. Michael Banh



Tooth Decay: What does a cavity actually look like?

The only time I open the hood of my car is to refill my windshield wiper fluid. If something else requires work in there, I take it to the dealership. On occasion, during a routine oil change, the mechanic will come out to inform me of some other work that needs to be done, such as a wheel alignment or brake pad replacement. Of course, when this happens, I’m probably not the only one to start wondering if the mechanic is working in my best interests or those of his wallet. After he answers a few of my questions, I usually consent to the work and continue to wait. And as I’m waiting, I can’t help but think how similar my customer experience at the dealership is to how some patients might feel when visiting a dental office to have a cavity filled.

Just like at the mechanic’s shop, patients confer an implicit trust to their dentist when having a dental procedure performed. Unless you are able to watch everything that the dentist is doing, you have absolutely no idea what is being done in your mouth – especially if you are frozen and have no sensation in the area being worked on.

When I do fillings, or any procedure for that matter, I make it a habit of telling my patients everything that I do, before I do it. This approach tends to calm even the most anxious patients, because they know exactly what to expect and leaves little to the imagination. For those patients who grew up with The Learning Channel, I am always happy to provide them with a hand-mirror to observe everything that I’m doing (with the disclaimer that they should not try these things at home).

When time permits, I like to take pictures at different stages during certain procedures to help educate patients and to provide further evidence as to why the dental work needed to be done in the first place. It’s only natural for patients to question if they really need a filling especially if they are not having any problems with the tooth in question – just like when the mechanic tells me I need my brakes replaced. Pictures truly are better than a thousand words, and they never lie.

Tooth Decay: a molar with a cavity on the chewing surface
Molar showing a dark spot on the chewing surface. No symptoms were reported.

The picture above shows a tooth with what looks like a mere dark spot on the chewing surface. The patient reported no symptoms with this tooth. However, upon clinical examination with my instrument called an “explorer”, that dark spot was actually a tiny hole which felt “sticky” to the touch. Soft spots like these indicate tooth decay (AKA: a cavity).

I administered local anesthetic and after confirming the patient was sufficiently numb, we started to clean out the cavity as seen below.

Initial cavity preparation
Initial preparation of the cavity
Further cleaning of the cavity
The cavity is opened more to show the true extent and reach of the decay
Indirect view of the cavity in dental mirror
The true extent of the cavity can be seen in the dental mirror

The cavity is cleaned out with the dental drill until there are no more soft areas (decay) in the preparation. The tooth looks deceptively normal from the initial picture, which can dangerously mask the true depth of the cavity below the surface. Indeed, it’s quite possible for some to not feel symptoms from a cavity of this size. However, if the tooth decay is not treated and is allowed to enlarge, over time it will extend deeper and closer to the nerve of the tooth – at which point symptoms of pain with chewing, sensitivity to temperature and sweets may ensue. If the pain worsens to a throb or ache, that’s when a root canal may be needed whereby the nerve of the tooth is removed. It’s usually best to be proactive and deal with these small problems when they are easier to fix, as opposed to waiting until it becomes a true dental emergency.

Final shot of tooth after a white filling has been placed
The cavity is restored with a white filling

It’s always nice to see pictures (Before, during, and after photos) of any work that you have done by a contractor on your home or mechanic on your car so that you fully understand what is happening and what you are paying for. Ask your dentist for the same!

– Dr. Michael Banh

Travel Log: Capybaras, Cordoncillo, and Coca Leaves

One of the highlights of our trip to Peru was a two day side trip into the Amazon Rainforest. From Lima, we took a small plane to a town called Peurto Maldonado, where once you step off the plane, it’s as if you walk into a 40 degree Celsius wall of heat and humidity. From the airport, a bus shuttled us along the red dirt roads deeper into the jungle until we reached a branch of the Amazon River. From there, we boarded a long boat and enjoyed the cooling breeze of the 1 hour ride to our jungle lodge in the Tambopata National Reserve.  Upon reaching the lodge, it’s hard not to notice the nonstop conversations of the birds singing overhead, beautiful sounds impossible to reproduce.  Macaws were regular visitors during our stay.

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For nature lovers and those wanting to see exotic wildlife, this excursion is a dream-come-true.  Some of the animals we saw included Capybaras (the world’s largest rodent), caimans (relatives of the alligator), tarantulas, and countless insects and other critters.

Along one of our many hikes, our tour guide stopped us at what appeared to be a  fairly unremarkable plant – he called it a Cordoncillo.

The unremarkable looking cordoncillo plant with really unbelievable anesthetic properties

He reached down and cut a tiny piece of the plant off as seen below:

After chewing this tiny piece of the plant, my tongue and lips felt numb!

He told us to chew the piece of plant that he rationed for us, but not to swallow.  As I chewed, an intensely sour taste burst through mouth.  I felt pins and needles in my tongue and my lips, as if I had rubbed some sort of topical anesthetic (like orajel) on the surfaces of my oral mucosa and tongue.  I couldn’t believe the numbing sensation that was going through my mouth just from that small piece of plant.  Our guide told us that this plant had been used by the locals as a natural anesthetic to relieve tooth pain and to help with simple dental procedures.

Another plant that we encountered quite frequently in Peru was the ubiquitous coca plant, the stimulant properties of which were well known to the Incans centuries ago.  The leaves of the plant are used to make a tea which supposedly helps with altitude sickness, among other ailments.

Coca leaves used to make coca tea and from which cocaine is derived

Some of the locals still chew the leaves which also produces a numbing effect in the mouth.  It’s interesting to note, that cocaine (a potent stimulant and narcotic) is derived from the coca leaf, and was one of the first local anesthetics to be used in surgery and dentistry in the 1800’s.  Since that time though, newer and safer synthetic anesthetics have been developed that are used in modern dentistry.

(The featured image of the moth at the top of this blog entry was taken by fellow traveller and friend, Amanda Wilhelm)

– Dr. Michael Banh

Travel Log: Serendipity at Machu Picchu

My wife and I recently travelled to Peru to hike the Inca Trail following the footsteps of the famed US explorer Hiram Bingham – discoverer of the ancient city of Machu Picchu.  The 3.5 day hike took us to elevations as high 4200m above sea-level, up and down undulating landscapes in the mountains, and through natural and man-made tunnels that have stood the tests of time and nature.  On the last day of our hike, we reached a landmark on the trail called Intipunku – otherwise known as the “Sungate”.

Intipunku or “The Sungate”

From this point on the trail, hikers can catch their first glimpse of the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu down below, a huge reward after such a long and arduous trek.  At first, the city looks like a small speck and is hard to discern, but as you climb down the trail and get closer, the size and grandeur of the ruins becomes more appreciable.

The first view of Machu Picchu from the Sungate

For those not able to hike the actual Inca Trail or have limited time, there is also a commercial train that takes tourists up to Machu Picchu.  On the descent from the Sungate towards Machu Picchu, we frequently encountered tourists climbing up the trail towards the Sungate who had already reached the city  via train.

Out of sheer luck, I happened to recognize one of the many train travellers walking past us in the opposite direction as Dr. Lynn Tomkins – the Past President of the Ontario Dental Association.

Dr. Michael Banh crossing paths with Dr. Lynn Tomkins, Past President of the ODA, on the Inca Trail. Machu Picchu can be seen in the distance.

Dr. Tomkins is a tremendous ambassador of dentistry, a huge supporter of The U of T’s Faculty of Dentistry, and was one of my clinical demonstrators in the Emergency Clinic at the University of Toronto.  As our meeting on the Inca Trail was quickly turning into a bottleneck with hikers building up in both directions, we quickly exchanged greetings, took a photo opportunity and went on our ways.

If you are thinking about doing the hike up to Machu Picchu, stop thinking and DO IT!  (Get medical clearance from your family physician before you go, of course).  You will be rewarded with one of the most awe-inspiring views that this world has to offer.  And you never know who you might bump into when you’re up there!

Machu Picchu

– Dr. Michael Banh


The Million Dollar Hole In One

Presale Tickets

The Rotary Club of Uxbridge will be holding it’s 9th annual Million Dollar Hole In One event from Wed, Sept 5 to Sun, Sept 9 at the Little Sticks Driving range on Elgin Park Drive in Uxbridge.  In addition to the $1,000,000 namesake prize, there are over 80+ other prizes to be won at the event, including the GRAND PRIZE which Dr. Michael Banh and his brother, Dr. Vi Tu Banh, have sponsored – an all expenses paid golfing weekend for two at a major resort in Muskoka!

How To Win:

Step 1: Come and compete on any or ALL of the 5 days of the event from Sept 5-9, 2012

Each day the participants attempt to hit golf balls to a flag in a regulation golf hole on a green 100 yards away.  From each of the 5 days of the event (including the Special Challenge Days), the top 10 players who hit closest to the hole are ALL 10 daily qualifiers are guaranteed to win a prize AND are invited to the semifinals on Sunday, September 9 in the afternoon. Players can qualify multiple times if they reach the top 10 on multiple days of the competition – The more times you qualify for the semifinals, the more chances you get in the next round.

Step 2: The Semifinals – Sept 9, 2012

The 50 semifinalists will be given 3 balls (for each time they qualified) from 160 yards.  The six closest to the pin will become eligible for the final round where they can win the $1,000,000!  If a semifinalist gets a hole-in-one with their first, second, or third ball at this stage, they will win a 2013 SUBARU OUTBACK courtesy of C&C Motors Whitby, a $40000 in-ground pool from Jones Pools, or $10000 golfing vacation in Scotland courtesy of Ian Morrison, respectively.

Step 3: The Finals – Sept 9, 2012

The six closest shots in the semi finals qualify for the FINAL round in which each finalist hits ONE ball from a new location, but still 160 yards from the pin.  If a finalist scores a hole-in-one, they will receive $1,000,000 to be paid in annual $50,000 installments over 20 years.  The closest to the pin from the 6 final shots will win the GRAND PRIZE GOLF WEEKEND.

Million Dollar Hole In One

This is one of the biggest fundraisers for the Rotary Club of Uxbridge, which supports many community groups and organizations such as the The Uxbridge Public Library, The Uxbridge Cottage Hospital, The Youth Centre, the food bank, Precious Minds, and Africyle,  (just to name a few).  Pre-sale tickets are available for purchase at Dr. Michael Banh’s office or from any Rotary Club member.

For complete details and rules, visit http://www.uxbridgerotary.com

Please support this event and all the good that Rotary does.  Good Luck!!!

– Dr. Michael Banh

Blog about Uxbridge Family Dentistry, topics about dentistry, and the Uxbridge Community

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