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Beware of These 4 Dental Fads

family dentistry Battle Creek MIBrowse your social media timelines and you will see an abundance of health advice. From recommendations about a new supplement touted as a “miraculous cure” for all kinds of ailments to “ancient remedies” for cleaning one’s teeth, our family dentistry practice receives many questions from our patients who see conflicting information online.

From flat-out dangerous for oral health to a waste of one’s money or time, here are four dental fads you should avoid.

Activated Charcoal

Ad-driven “news” websites are touting activated charcoal as an all-purpose teeth whitener and cleaner. Some sites even go so far as to tell patients to toss their toothpaste and floss in the trash and move to scrubbing teeth with activated charcoal.

The truth is that activated charcoal is abrasive. It damages tooth enamel, increasing people’s risk for dental caries. Moreover, activated charcoal cannot lighten permanent tooth stains.

Toothpastes with the ADA seal of acceptance are best for cleaning teeth. If you want to brighten your smile, a professional whitening treatment from our family dentistry practice is a safe and effective option.

Oil Pulling

This fad involves instructing people to swish coconut oil in their mouths for 20 minutes a day. Despite being an ancient practice, there isn’t science to support its claims of being able to clean teeth or whiten them. Instead, save yourself 20 minutes a day and stick to evidence-based oral hygiene practices like brushing and flossing.

Fluoride-Free Toothpaste

There are unhealthy fears of fluoride proliferating on the Internet. Fluoride has been used to strengthen teeth and prevent tooth decay for over a century. There’s also a wealth of scientific evidence to support its use.

The truth is that fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that replenishes lost minerals in tooth enamel. We recommend using fluoridated toothpaste with the ADA seal of acceptance, unless a dentist recommends otherwise.

Canker Sore Home Remedies

Some websites might recommend coconut oil for canker sores. These sores heal on their own, so there’s really nothing that can be done to speed up the healing process.

If you have a sore for more than two weeks, you should reserve a checkup at our family dentistry practice because slow-healing sores could be a sign of oral cancer.

Call the dental office of Dr. John Morris today to schedule a visit.

5 Things You May Not Know About Your Toothbrush

dentist Battle Creek MIHow much do you know about your toothbrush and correct oral hygiene practices? Did you know that brushing improperly or inadequately could lead to the need for restorations like crowns and fillings from a dentist? Here are five facts you might not know about your toothbrush that might improve your oral health.

Not All Toothbrushes are Created Equal

When purchasing a toothbrush, whether it is manual or powered, look for the American Dental Association’s (ADA) seal of approval. To earn the ADA seal of approval, toothbrush manufacturers must adhere to strict standards. A toothbrush made in facilities not vetted by the ADA might underperform or harm teeth.

Your Toothbrush Needs to be Replaced Frequently

Even if the bristles of your toothbrush don’t appear frayed, you should still replace your toothbrush or brush heads every three to four months. A good way to remember when to replace your toothbrush is to replace it every season.

If you come down with the flu or a cold, you should replace your toothbrush after your symptoms improve, too.

Buy Toothbrushes with Soft Bristles

Some toothbrush manufacturers make brushes with different types of bristles. These bristles might be marked as “soft”, “medium”, and “firm” on packaging. When buying a toothbrush, always choose soft bristles in addition to looking for the ADA’s seal of approval.

Anything but soft bristles could lead to tooth enamel damage with repeated use. Coarse and firm bristles can wear cracks in tooth enamel over time and can irritate the gingiva.

You Shouldn’t Share Your Toothbrush

Sharing your toothbrush could expose you to bacteria and germs that your immune system is not used to. The habit of sharing a toothbrush is especially concerning for those who have health conditions that compromise their immune system.

An easy way to avoid an awkward situation is to keep new, unused toothbrushes on hand for guests.

Let Your Toothbrush Air Dry Between Uses

Your toothbrush needs to air dry between uses. A wet toothbrush can harbor bacteria and germs. Leave your toothbrush upright and in the open between uses so that it can dry.

If it’s time for a checkup or cleaning, call our practice to schedule an appointment with our dentist.

When is a dental crown necessary?

dental crowns Battle Creek MIDental crowns are used to treat a variety of problems such as broken or cracked teeth; saving a tooth that has already been treated for decay, but further decay has developed; as the final step following endodontic therapy; to affix a dental prosthesis; or as a cosmetic restoration. Your dentist is able to salvage a tooth that otherwise might be lost; and saving your natural teeth is usually a much better option than tooth loss.

Wouldn’t it be easier to extract the problematic tooth?

Initially, extraction might seem like a good solution. But depending on the tooth involved, if a tooth is removed problems could ensue such as…

Remaining teeth could begin to drift toward the opening where a tooth is missing. This can create problems with the bite as well as the appearance of remaining teeth. If teeth become misaligned, problems with chewing; keeping teeth clean; and discomfort can occur.

When a tooth is gone, the bone that held that tooth in place begins to atrophy. Over time neighboring bone could be impacted affecting remaining teeth.

Gum recession, bruxism (teeth grinding), and sensitivity might occur. If extraction is chosen, it is usually recommended that replacement follow with dental bridges, dentures, or dental implants. If possible, saving the natural tooth with a crown is a better option.

Other Uses for Dental Crowns 

In addition to saving a decayed or fractured tooth, other crown applications include:

Sealing a tooth following a root canal. During a root canal, the dentist will create a tiny hole in the tooth to remove the contents of the tooth’s roots. Once completed, the opening must be sealed. Most often a dental crown is chosen.

Crowns can be made to affix a dental prosthesis like a bridge.

If tooth loss should occur, a dental implant is often recommended to restore missing dentition. A crown will be the final step to complete tooth restoration.

Dental crowns are available in a variety of materials; your dentist will explain which is best for your needs. A porcelain crown is stain resistant and will be made to match surrounding teeth. Crowns provide fit, function, and aesthetics making them a valuable asset for your dentition.

For additional information or to schedule a consultation, contact the office of Dr. John Morris today.

Porcelain Veneers: Handcrafted Beauty For Stunning Smiles

cosmetic dentistry Battle Creek MI

Porcelain veneers are among the most useful tools in cosmetic dentistry. Not only can they be placed to correct a variety of aesthetic flaws in the smile, but they also improve the smile’s appearance in a relatively short timeframe. Porcelain veneers are customized for the patient’s unique specifications, enhancing the lifelike appearance of this treatment option.

Uses Of Porcelain Veneers

Among the most popular cosmetic dentistry interventions, porcelain veneers are thin, tooth-shaped shells that your dentist may bond on top of your natural teeth to hide various flaws such as chips, cracks or stains in your teeth. If you have a tooth that is noticeably smaller than its neighbors, the dentist can place a porcelain veneer to bring the undersized tooth into the proper proportion. Porcelain veneers also can help to create the appearance of correct alignment to slightly crooked teeth.

Porcelain Veneers Treatment Process

The process of getting porcelain veneers usually takes place over a series of two or more appointments spaced a few weeks apart. At the initial consultation, your dentist will gather the information needed to plan for your veneers. This may involve a visual examination, as well as taking photos, x-rays or dental impressions.

Sometimes, a small amount of enamel will need to be removed from the teeth to make room for the veneers. If this is necessary in your case, this step may also be completed at the first appointment, and patients can wear temporary veneers until the permanent devices are ready. Your treatment goals are our primary concern, so don’t hesitate to be upfront with your provider in terms of your wishes.

The information gathered at the consultation is then forwarded to the dental lab where their experienced technicians will create your custom-designed veneers. You return to the office to have them placed on your teeth. Additional changes can be made to the shade and shape of the veneers before they are bonded to the teeth, so feel free to request adjustments as you see fit. Keep in mind that the veneers cannot be altered after they are bonded to your teeth.

Porcelain veneers can dramatically improve your smile’s appearance, so if you are dissatisfied with the way your smile looks, consider this treatment option. Call our office today and speak to one of our friendly staff members to schedule your consultation.

Dental Implants Offer A Long-term, Permanent Solution

dental implants Battle Creek MIWhen patients have suffered tooth loss, they may not want a tooth replacement that will need to be replaced itself every few years. Yet, this can happen with some standard appliances, like fixed dental bridges or conventional dentures, which are used to restore patients’ smiles after tooth loss.

In contrast, dental implants provide a more permanent solution for tooth loss. This revolutionary technology takes advantage of the biocompatible qualities of titanium, which is used to make dental implants. Bone is able to fuse with the titanium cylinders, and this osseointegration process leaves the dental implant as a fixture in the patient’s jaw. After dental implants have been osseointegrated, a dentist can place a crown, bridge or denture on top of them to meet the patient’s needs.

Dental implants are structurally similar to a biological tooth’s root, which performs many important functions, including maintaining the stability of the jaw. Tooth roots anchor jaw bone, which erodes following tooth loss when those roots are missing. That jawbone atrophy can put remaining teeth at risk for being lost and cause a conventional appliance to lose its fit as the jaw’s shape changes. Eventually, those appliances will need to be refitted or even replaced.

Although dental implants can be a permanent solution for tooth loss, the conditions must be right for this outcome. To maximize the longevity of dental implants, it is important for the patient to be a suitable candidate for the treatment, which requires adequate bone at the implant site to support osseointegration.

Patients who choose dental implants also must be diligent about maintaining their oral health, as future bone loss could compromise the dental implants. This requires a thorough daily oral hygiene routine, along with routine professional cleanings and exams every six months.

If you want a durable replacement for a missing tooth or teeth, consider dental implants. Visit the office of Dr. John Morris for a consultation and to learn more about this treatment option.

Sugary Drinks and Dental Health

family dentistry Battle Creek MIYour dentist may have told you to cut down on sugary drinks, such as soda and sweetened juices, but you may not really understand why sugar is so harmful. Furthermore, you may be reluctant to give up your sugary drinks entirely but still want to take good care of your smile. Here is some information that illustrates the harmful effects of sugar and the steps you can take to reduce those effects.

How Sugar Harms Your Smile

The oral bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease are sugar fiends. They seek out sugar as a nutritional source and in the process of metabolizing that sugar create highly acidic waste byproducts. It is that acidic aftermath that is actually most harmful to your teeth, causing erosion of the enamel and inflammation in the gum tissue.

The problem is exacerbated when the sugar is present in your mouth for a longer period of time and also when sugar is present in an otherwise acidic beverage, such as with sugar-sweetened sodas. As a result, regular consumption of sugary drinks increases the risk that you’ll need to see your dentist for a filling or gum disease treatment.

Reducing the Effects of Sugary Beverages

  • Choose your beverages wisely: We recommend that patients choose unsweetened beverages most of the time, including water (plain or sparkling), unsweetened tea or plain milk. Fruit juice that is heavily diluted with water can also be a good choice. Drinks like fruit juice, soda, chocolate milk and energy drinks should only be enjoyed rarely.
  • Drink through a straw: When you do enjoy sweetened beverages, drink them through a straw. This limits their contact with the teeth. Also, drink a beverage in one sitting rather quickly, as sipping over an extended period of time creates more exposure to the sugar.
  • Get fluoride treatments: Most family dentistry practices offer fluoride treatments, which are beneficial in a number of ways, including by making your teeth more resistant to the effects of sugar and acid.
  • Clean your teeth thoroughly through brushing and flossing: Good oral hygiene habits are the keystone of preventing damage from sweetened drinks. Brush twice each day for two minutes at a time and floss daily. You may also want to rinse your mouth with water after drinking a soda or juice as an additional precaution.

For additional advice about limiting the effects of sugary drinks on your smile, call the office of Dr. John Morris to ask any questions you may have.

Healthy Dental Habits to Follow

dentist Battle Creek MIOur oral health is precious. From our teeth to our jawbones, the structures that make up the oral health system require attention and care to prevent common dental conditions and diseases. Receiving regular care from our dentist, along with learning accurate information about your oral health, can help prevent disease. Following are four healthy dental habits to follow for optimal wellness.

Daily Flossing

Are you flossing your teeth every day? If you’re not, you should be. Flossing is an essential part of any proper oral hygiene routine. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends daily flossing to clean between teeth and along the gum line where a toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing helps prevent tooth decay and periodontal disease – two of the biggest threats to your oral health.

Thorough Brushing

Almost everyone knows to brush their teeth but many people do not brush properly. Thorough brushing is necessary to clean the surfaces of teeth and other structures like the gums and tongue. The ADA encourages patients of all ages to brush twice a day for two minutes each time.

Routine Dental Appointments

Skipping visits to the dentist could cost you your oral health. Regular appointments are necessary for enjoying early detection of common diseases. Receiving cleanings and checkups twice a year means that your oral healthcare provider is familiar with your health history, oral anatomy, and unique needs -giving our team the opportunity to look for signs of gum disease, cavities, bone deterioration, and oral cancer. With early detection, many people can treat potential issues conservatively and affordably.

Diets Low in Sugar and Acid

Your diet can make a drastic impact on your oral health. If you consume sugary foods and beverages that are also high in acid, you greatly increase your risks for developing cavities.

Bacteria thrive on sugar. As bacteria eat sugar molecules, they grow stronger and colonize to form plaque. They also release acid as a by-product of the feeding process. Acid is dangerous to oral health because it softens tooth enamel, which allows bacteria to attack teeth. Reducing the intake of acid and sugar can significantly extend the lifespan of teeth.

If it’s time for a dental checkup, call the office of Dr. John Morris to schedule an appointment.

Sleep Apnea: A Non-invasive Treatment Option

sleep apnea treatment Battle Creek MIIf you suffer from sleep apnea, you likely want a treatment that will improve your sleep, leave you with more energy and improve your health in general. Unfortunately, some highly effective sleep apnea treatments are not appealing to patients. They often complain that wearing a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask is just as disruptive to their sleep as the apnea is. Surgery to remove excess tissue may be another option, but patients may be reluctant to pursue such an invasive procedure.

Your dentist may not be the first healthcare provider that you think to turn to for a sleep problem, but with their extensive knowledge of structures of the jaw and oral cavity, these practitioners are actually well-suited to provide sleep apnea treatment. In fact, a dentist can design a custom-made oral appliance to reduce the structural issues that lead to apneic episodes.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when soft tissues at the back of the throat collapse during sleep and cover up the airway opening. The patient stops breathing for a very brief period, and the amount of oxygen flowing through the body decreases. Because this happens repeatedly, the patient does not get a complete night’s worth of rest and may still feel drowsy upon waking, in addition to suffering other symptoms like frequent morning headaches or sore throats.

When a dentist designs an oral appliance to prevent sleep apnea, the goal is to eliminate the likelihood that the soft tissues can cover up the airway opening. Therefore, oral appliance therapy may hold either the jaw or the tongue in a forward position throughout the night.

Because the oral appliances are custom-fitted, they are quite comfortable and patients often forget they are even wearing the device. This improves compliance with the therapy and increases the chances of symptom relief.

Sleep apnea isn’t just a quality of life issue, either. This condition appears to be related to serious health problems, such as stroke, high blood pressure and obesity. Getting effective sleep apnea treatment can be a life-saving endeavor. First, you should confirm the diagnosis if you have sleep apnea symptoms. You can do this by completing a sleep study. Then, you can pursue treatment by setting up an evaluation at our office.

Harmful Effects of Soda on Teeth

dentist Battle Creek MI

Depending on where you live, the carbonated soft drinks enjoyed by many may be called soda, or pop, or simply soft drink. But whatever you call it, consumption can result in damage to teeth. Your dentist can provide you with information about the hazards to your teeth from drinking soda.

Enamel Erosion and Dental Decay

When you drink soda (both regular and sugar free), the components of soda mix with the bacteria already present on teeth to form acid. This acid is actually attacking your teeth with the ultimate result being diminished enamel and the potential for cavity formation. Most sodas contain phosphoric acid and citric acid – both are hazardous to your dental health.

Alternative to Soda

The only truly safe option is water; tap water contains fluoride which is good for healthy teeth. Water can be flavored by adding fresh fruit. Or there are a multitude of sugar free water enhancers you can use for variety.

Many will continue to drink soda so at a minimum follow a few tips to lessen the potential for damage:

Do not sip on soda for extended periods – drink quickly or consume with a meal. Remember if you sip all day, you’re more likely to get decay.

Use a straw – this will allow much of the beverage to bypass teeth. But be aware, soda consumption is known to promote obesity and type 2 diabetes whether you use a straw or not.

Brushing following soda consumption is ill advised. Rinse with water, but wait at least 30 minutes before brushing. Soda softens enamel; brushing too soon can damage protective enamel.

Do not drink soda before bed – once you’ve brushed your teeth for the night, limit yourself to water.

Healthy Teeth and Gums

Cavities and gum erosion can result in sensitivity and decay that affect your ability to eat and how you look. If problems are not caught and treated quickly, time consuming treatment may be needed to save teeth.

Eliminating or severely limiting soda is important, but that’s not enough to maintain good dental health. Your primary daily diet should be comprised of fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein, and healthy grains. Do not smoke or use tobacco in any form; and stay sufficiently hydrated with water.

Brush and floss every day and visit the office of Dr. John Morris every six months for dental exam and cleaning to remove plaque.

Are there food restrictions with Invisalign?

Invisalign Battle Creek MIInvisalign is an alternative to conventional, fixed orthodontics. This treatment option is ideal for many adults who desire a discreet method for improving the placement of teeth and occlusal health. While some people might find meals cumbersome with traditional fixed orthodontia, Invisalign patients can eat all their favorite foods with ease. This is because Invisalign’s aligners are removable. During treatment, aligners are removed for meals and oral hygiene.

How does Invisalign work?

Conventional braces feature brackets and archwires. The archwire is tightened throughout treatment to generate force and pressure so that teeth will move to healthier positions. Instead of fixed brackets and archwire, force and pressure is generated by wearing Invisalign’s oral appliances called aligners. An aligner is made to fit the unique oral anatomy of a patient so that it fits snuggly over teeth and comfortably inside the mouth.

As treatment progresses, patients will wear progressively tighter sets of aligners. Treatment is broken into two-week phases and every two weeks, a person in treatment will wear a new aligner. Since aligners conform perfectly over teeth, they will help correct spacing issues like gaps and crowded teeth as well as teeth that are overlapped or rotated.

Once treatment is complete, a retainer will need to be worn to ensure that teeth stay in their new positions.

What does Invisalign look like?

Aligners are made from clear, semi-pliable plastic. Since Invisalign is clear and does not utilize metal, people enjoy very inconspicuous treatment. When worn, this treatment option is virtually undetectable to others.

How do I know if Invisalign is right for me?

Invisalign is a great treatment option for many adults but sometimes, conventional orthodontia is still necessary to correct specific issues. The only way to be certain if this treatment option is right for you is to reserve a consultation with our dentist. At your consultation, we will evaluate the placement of your teeth, your occlusion, and your oral health with a physical examination and diagnostic images. Our dentist will make treatment recommendations based on your unique circumstances.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the office of Dr. John Morris today.