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Follow These Tips for a Healthier Mouth

dentist Battle Creek MIAre you invested in protecting your oral health? Do you wonder if you are doing everything you can to prevent conditions like tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease? Many of us try to protect our teeth and gums but sometimes we fall into bad habits while others might do something harmful to their oral health because they don’t know better. If you’re wondering how you can protect your oral health, consider the following tips and don’t forget to schedule regular appointments for checkups and cleanings with a dentist.

Brush Thoroughly

Brushing your teeth is imperative to preventing the accumulation of plaque, which hardens into tartar after it is exposed to calculus. Plaque and tartar are full of harmful bacteria that collect between teeth and along the gums. These substances contribute to periodontal disease by causing gingival inflammation and receding gums. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day for about two minutes each time. Be sure to brush each tooth in soft, circular motions.

Floss Daily

While brushing helps control plaque and tartar accumulation, it is not enough. A toothbrush can’t reach between teeth. The only way to remove debris and plaque between teeth is to floss daily. Flossing is also beneficial because it disrupts colonies of bacteria that form along the gums.

Drink Water

It might seem like a no-brainer to drink water but many of us do not consume enough. Water is essential for keeping oral tissue moist. It is also helpful for rinsing away debris from food and diluting acid. We encourage patients to drink at least eight glasses of water throughout the day.

Reduce Sugar

Did you know sugar feeds oral bacteria? When we eat something with starch or sugar, the bacteria in our mouths go on a feeding frenzy. Cutting down on sugar helps starve cavity-causing bacteria. We recommend checking the labels on food so you know how much sugar you consume on a daily basis.

If it’s time for a checkup, call us today to reserve an appointment with our dentist.

Do I really need a dental cleaning and exam every six months?

teeth cleaning Battle Creek MIA thorough teeth cleaning leaves the patient with a brighter smile; and the exam your dentist delivers can bring relief knowing you are free from dental decay, gum disease, or something more serious like oral cancer symptoms. But if regular visits are allowed to lapse, you may encounter:

Cavities – Something as simple as biting into something hard can result in a breach in the protective covering of the tooth. Over time, bacteria can penetrate the tooth … what might have been caught very early and easily repaired can evolve into a major repair.

Gum disease – Your entire mouth does not need to be involved to experience gingivitis. It can impact one or two teeth, a full quadrant, an entire arch, or most of your teeth. Some of the symptoms of gum disease include: 

  • Red swollen gums (healthy gum tissue is pink and firm).
  • Unprovoked bleeding gums – brushing too hard or with a hard bristle brush may lead to bleeding gums. The right tools may correct the problem.
  • Chronic bad breath – Strong foods and beverages can give you halitosis; if a breath mint or gargling with mouthwash still leaves you with sour breath, you may have an oral infection.
  • Teeth feel loose or gums appear to be pulling away from teeth.

Pain or sensitivity – When you bite down, do you feel pain in one or more teeth? Or when subjected to hot, cold, sweet, or sour do you get a zinging sensation? You may need a root canal resulting from what could have started as a hairline tooth fracture. This may have been caught on a diagnostic x-ray during a regular dental visit. 

Bruxism – This results when the patient grinds their teeth during periods of sleep. Your dentist will catch this during a regular dental exam, and provide treatment or an oral appliance to prevent further damage to your teeth.

Preventive care in the way of fluoride treatments and dental sealants are available for children and adults.

Brushing twice every day with a fluoridated toothpaste and flossing daily to remove what your toothbrush could not reach are great ways to manage your oral health. But to help maintain excellent dental health, you should see your dentist every six months for teeth cleaning to remove plaque buildup and undergo a thorough dental exam. Call the office of Dr. John Morris at 269-979-1500 to schedule your visit.

Do I have sleep apnea if I snore?

sleep apnea treatment Battle Creek MIHas your family and loved ones complained of your snoring? Perhaps you have heard about sleep apnea and its symptoms. Snoring is one of a few common sleep apnea symptoms. While snoring can certainly indicate a risk for sleep apnea, not all people who snore have sleep apnea. The best way to determine if you need sleep apnea treatment is to schedule a consultation with our dentist. At your appointment, we will perform a physical evaluation, take X-rays, and help make arrangements for you to have a sleep study so that you can receive an accurate diagnosis.

What is sleep apnea exactly?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that involves breathing cessation during rest. Caused by airway obstruction, episodes of apnea can last for about a minute until the brain recognizes that breathing has stopped. To reinitiate the breathing cycle, the brain will send waking signals to rouse the sleeper. Even though the sleeper wakes slightly, it is enough of a disruption to stop the natural progression through each stage of sleep. Cycles of apnea and wakefulness can occur hundreds of times in an eight-hour sleeping period. Sleep apnea causes sleep deprivation over time because it prevents a person from achieving the rejuvenation he or she needs to function optimally.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

Symptoms can vary but some of the most common include persistent fatigue, memory loss, irritability, and depression. Some folks wake up with dry mouth and headaches, too. Many times, patients don’t notice that they might have a sleep disorder. It is often a person’s bed partner noticing a sleeper wake up gasping for air that precipitates the need for treatment consultation.

What kind of sleep apnea treatment do you offer?

Our practice provides oral appliance therapy to treat sleep apnea. While surgical and CPAP treatment are two other common options, oral appliance therapy is well-liked by patients because it is quiet, comfortable, and easily portable. This type of treatment involves wearing a mouthguard-like appliance that slightly pushes the lower jaw forward to widen the airway.

Contact the office of Dr. John Morris at 269-979-1500 today to reserve a sleep apnea consultation with our dentist.

How does the orthodontic process work?

orthodontics Battle Creek MIPatients who want a properly aligned smile may not be familiar with the steps in the process. Here is an overview, so that if you’re considering orthodontic treatment, you can have a better idea of what you can expect.

Before you can get your dental braces, you must first complete an initial consultation. At this first appointment, you’ll get a chance to explore how orthodontic treatment can improve your smile and what kinds of results can be expected in your case. A specialist can identify the need for an intervention in patients as young as 6 or 7 years old, and early orthodontic treatment can reduce the amount of time spent in dental braces at a later age.

Older children, teens or even adults who want to enhance their smiles can benefit from a consultation to begin their treatment process as well.

If you decide you want to move forward with treatment after the consultation, the dentist will conduct a complete exam, taking some combination of x-rays, photographs and dental impressions in order to capture the baseline for treatment and inform the treatment plan. You will learn more about the anticipated costs of your dental braces at this appointment, as well as the projected timeline and your options for appliances, as well as financing plans, if necessary.

The next step is getting your appliances, whether they are conventional brackets and wires or Invisalign trays. If you’ve chosen the former, you will come to the office and have the dental braces bonded to your teeth. You’ll return every few weeks so that your provider can continue to make the necessary adjustments to guide the teeth into the desired positions.

Patients who choose Invisalign will receive the trays, along with instructions for wearing them and the schedule for changing to new trays. These patients will return for office visits less frequently so that their progress can be monitored.

After you are finished with active treatment, you will receive a retainer designed to maintain the proper positions of the teeth. You will begin by wearing this appliance all of the time and then slowly decrease the number of hours it is worn each day.

Do you have additional questions about the orthodontic treatment process? If so, call the office of Dr. John Morris at 269-979-1500 and speak to one of our knowledgeable, experienced staff members.

Possible Benefits of Orthodontic Treatment

braces Battle Creek MIPatients often pursue braces in order to improve the appearance of their smiles, and that is certainly an important benefit of this treatment. However, patients get more from braces than attractive grins. There are a number of other positive effects that orthodontic intervention has for your smile.

Misaligned teeth can actually place strain on each other because they are subjected to forces that may be stronger than those they are designed to absorb. Teeth that overlap can potentially damage each other with friction. They also may not be positioned to distribute chewing forces proportionately, which can increase the risk of damage to your teeth.

When your dentist realigns your teeth with braces, it will also be easier to maintain your oral hygiene. It can be difficult to brush and floss crowded or otherwise misaligned teeth, and it may even be challenging for your hygienist to clean your teeth if they are overlapping. Plaque and tartar can accumulate in areas that are impossible to reach, giving bacteria the opportunity to proliferate. If that happens, you will likely face a greater risk of cavities and gum disease.

You may be able to gain all of these advantages without even needing to conceal your smile with metal brackets and wires during the orthodontic treatment process. A newer orthodontic treatment option called Invisalign straightens the teeth using clear plastic trays rather than standard orthodontic appliances. Those trays are nearly invisible, so you can appreciate the results of your treatment in real time. Additionally, the trays can be removed at meal time and for brushing and flossing, which makes Invisalign a more convenient treatment option.

Keep in mind, however, that in some cases, traditional braces may be more effective in achieving the desired results. Your dentist can educate you on the option that will best meet your needs.

Want more information about the benefits of orthodontic treatment? Call the office of Dr. John Morris at 269-979-1500 to ask any questions you may have or to schedule an evaluation to learn how braces may benefit you.

Sleep Apnea: Looking for a CPAP Alternative?

sleep apnea treatment Battle Creek MISleep apnea is a condition where an individual suffers from their soft oral tissues collapsing during periods of sleep that block their airway … this results in the potential of oxygen deprivation to the brain and numerous interruptions every night that prevent the patient from getting a good night’s rest.

There are different sleep apnea treatments, but a visit to see your dentist for a solution may provide the most comfortable option that will be a wonderful alternative to the bulky, noisy, and uncomfortable CPAP you may be using.

Since sleep apnea occurs during periods of sleep, your dentist can fabricate a customized oral appliance that you can easily slip in for a quick nap or when you retire for the night. It resembles a clear mouth guard; and since your dentist will customize it to fit your specific needs, it will be comfortable and can be modified until it fits perfectly.

This oral appliance works by slightly repositioning the lower jaw forward preventing soft oral tissues from collapsing and obstructing airways so the patient can breathe properly during sleep. Without a sleep aid, the patient can experience sleep interruptions up to hundreds of times every night.

The dangers of sleepless nights are obvious … extreme daily fatigue can interfere with your job and things we take for granted like driving a car. Over time, overall health and oral health can be in serious jeopardy.

If you are already using CPAP, you have likely received a diagnosis of sleep apnea. But for those patients that suspect they may be suffering from sleep apnea, a confirmed diagnosis usually requires a formal sleep study be performed.

But if you believe sleep apnea is robbing you of a good night’s sleep, a visit with your dentist is a good place to start. A customized oral appliance will not do any harm, and may be just what is needed to restore your ability to get an uninterrupted night’s rest.

Other tips to help include sleeping on your side (difficult to do with CPAP); avoid caffeine; and do not drink alcohol or take sleep aids as they further relax those tissues that contribute to sleep apnea.

A good night’s sleep is something many take for granted … a custom made oral appliance may be all you need to enjoy sleeping well again.

For more information, contact the office of Dr. John Morris at 269-979-1500 today.

5 Reasons You Can’t Afford to Neglect Your Oral Health

dentist Battle Creek MIOn-going research continues to link overall health and dental care … if you want to keep your body healthy, you should do everything you can to maintain great oral health as well. In addition to brushing and flossing every day, you should visit your dentist every six months for a teeth cleaning and dental exam. Failure to follow this protocol can lead to plaque build-up and the following dental maladies:

  1. Dental decay – Cavity prevention is a reality. Following a healthy diet that limits sugary snacks, foods, and beverages will aid in limiting plaque build-up. Your dentist can provide preventive measures as well including fluoride treatments and dental sealants.
  2. Inflammation – Did you know your gum tissue can suffer from inflammation leading to red, swollen and bleeding gum tissue? This is often an early sign of gum disease.
  3. Gum disease – In addition to bleeding gums, other symptoms that indicate you may be experiencing the onset of gingivitis include chronic bad breath, discomfort, gum recession, and one or more teeth feeling loose. If not treated, this early issue can escalate into periodontitis and the potential for tooth loss.
  4. Tooth loss – This is not to be accepted as natural. Missing teeth can impact how you speak, what foods you can comfortably eat, and how you appear to others. With the exception of a traumatic loss or a genetic/hereditary issue, tooth loss should be thought of as preventable
  5. Lifestyle considerations – there are many wonderful dietary choices you can make every day that will support great dental health. But conversely there are some bad choices that aren’t diet related. Smoking and tobacco use are detrimental to overall health, and smokers are much more likely to suffer from gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancer. Illicit drug use and abuse of alcohol can do significant damage to both overall and oral health.

Enjoy your life, and do the things you know will enhance your day to day life’s experiences. These include the things that will help you maintain great oral health: brush at least twice every day with a fluoridated toothpaste; floss every day to remove what your toothbrush missed; and visit your dentist every six months for cleaning and exam.

If it’s time to schedule your next dental exam, contact the office of Dr. John Morris at 269-979-1500 today.

How can I protect my child’s teeth during sporting events?

family dentistry Battle Creek MIAthletic events can pose a major hazard for your child’s oral health, but you can take steps to reduce the risks associated with playing sports, especially those that involve contact (like football or wrestling) or other activities that are associated with a risk of falling, like skateboarding.

To take advantage of this protective measure for your child, your first step should be to have a family dentist design a mouthguard tailored to your child’s unique mouth structure.

Wearing a mouthguard is essential to protect children’s smiles when they are playing sports. The mouthguard absorbs forces that could otherwise damage the teeth or even dislodge them. Mouthguards may also reduce the likelihood of injuries to the soft oral tissues, and there is also some evidence that a well-fitting mouthguard can offer some protection against concussions.

Parents have different options when it comes to mouthguards, however. It’s important to know the pros and cons of the different products.

When a dentist makes a mouthguard to fit your child’s unique smile, it offers greater protection than a boil-and-bite model that you would buy in a sporting goods store. The fit is more comfortable, which means that your child is more likely to wear it. Additionally, because it fits better, it’s more likely to prevent an injury.

Although boil-and-bite mouthguards may seem to be a bargain in comparison to custom-designed ones, it’s important to consider the long-term costs that may be associated with the cheaper models. If they offer less protection because they don’t fit as well, your child could still suffer a dental injury and that could end up being quite costly.

Keep in mind that mouthguards aren’t the only devices that can protect your child’s smile during sports. Helmets and chin straps can be helpful in some circumstances, too. Encourage your child to wear all recommended protective equipment.

A custom-designed mouthguard offers an excellent way to safeguard your child’s oral health while he or she is participating in sports. If you have an athlete in your family, call the office of Dr. John Morris at 269-979-1500 to schedule an appointment.

Sleep Apnea: Causes and Treatment

sleep apnea treatment Battle Creek MIObstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition that can go undetected and untreated for a long time. This is because the condition’s effects occur during rest. Fortunately, more people are getting sleep apnea treatment since public awareness of the condition has increased.

Although sleep apnea is hard for the individual to detect, one can look out for some symptoms. Common symptoms of sleep apnea include waking with dry mouth and headaches, fatigue even after what seems like a full night of rest, excessive snoring, irritability, and memory loss. Our dentist offers sleep apnea treatment with oral appliance therapy.

Causes of Sleep Apnea

OSA is caused by tissue in the oral cavity blocking the airway during sleep. This blockage can be a result of bulky throat tissues caused by oral abnormalities or excessive weight. Sometimes apnea can be exacerbated by smoking, drinking alcohol, or taking certain medications like antihistamines or sedatives.

When the airway is compromised, patients are not able to breathe properly because they are sleeping. As breathing ceases (apnea), the brain signals the body to wake slightly so that breathing can be resumed. These cycles of apnea followed by wakefulness can occur hundreds of times throughout the night. The cycle of apnea and wakefulness causes sleep deprivation because it prevents people from progressing through each phase of sleep. Over time, untreated apnea will affect a person’s energy levels and overall wellbeing.

Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

There are few ways to treat OSA. Sleep apnea treatment involves both surgical and non-invasive methods. In the past, the most common treatment protocol was the use of CPAP machines. These machines emit a stream of air into the oral cavity to keep the airway clear. While this treatment is effective, it can dry out the mouth and prevent patients from sleeping because the machinery can be noisy and its accessories bulky.

The most comfortable option for sleep apnea treatment is oral appliance therapy. This involves patients wearing a custom oral appliance that resembles a small mouthguard. This appliance will widen the airway by positioning the jaw forward.

Oral appliance therapy is comfortable, affordable, and portable. Call the office of Dr. John Morris at 269-979-1500 today to reserve a consultation with our dentist.

New City, New Dentist: What to Look For in a Dental Provider

dentist Battle Creek MIHave you recently relocated? Moving is tough; you are likely inundated with tasks. Everything from having your mail forwarded to your new address to unpacking can be daunting. One thing some people forget to think about ahead of time is finding a dentist. When it’s time to look for a dental provider, consider the following tips on what to look for.

Prioritize Your Oral Healthcare Needs

Do you need a general practitioner who provides comprehensive services? Or perhaps you are looking for specific treatments like cosmetic dental services or a practice with advanced technology so that you can monitor your progress with a previously diagnosed condition. We recommend making a list of your most important needs so that you can narrow your search.

Call Your Dental Insurance Company

If you have dental insurance, you will want to call your coverage provider for a list of dental practices they work with. This is important for those who want to maximize their dental benefits.

Search Online

The Internet is essentially the new phonebook. Simply type the specific services you require into your favorite search engine with your city or neighborhood to find a list of dentists. Write down their practice names and phone numbers. If available, look for practice websites for healthcare providers you are interested in learning more about. A dental practice’s website will likely have a wealth of information about their services along with office hours and contact information.

Ask for Recommendations from People You Know

While you live in a new city, you likely have a few people you could ask for a recommendation. Consider asking your coworkers or a neighbor you have met. This can be a good way to get started on your search as well.

Our practice is currently seeing new patients. Contact the office of Dr. John Morris at 269-979-1500 today to ask questions or reserve a checkup and cleaning.