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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.

Why Retainers are Essential to Orthodontic Treatment

orthodontics Battle Creek MICrooked teeth present more than just an aesthetic issue … areas for plaque to form and build can lead to dental decay and/or gum disease. In addition to correcting problems concerning your dental health, your morale can receive a much needed boost when you have your bite corrected and teeth straightened with orthodontics.

Children, teens, and adults … no matter your age or place in life everyone wants to look their best. A winning smile is important; and if you undergo the time and expense of wearing braces, you should do everything you can to protect that investment. One of those steps is to follow instructions to the letter when it comes to wearing your retainer following orthodontic treatment.

While you are wearing braces, your teeth are slowly being shifted to their correct placement. As teeth are moved, be mindful that their former position was there for your lifetime. So in order for teeth to form a memory of their new placement, they must find a way to be locked in that new place.

Locking teeth into their new occlusion is the work of the retainer. The word retainer has multiple meanings, but in the case or orthodontics, the retainer is a device or structure that holds something in place. So once your bite has been corrected, and teeth have been moved to their ideal location, the retainer is worn to “retain” this placement.

There are different styles of retainers … your orthodontist will recommend the one best suited for you. Along with the retainer, instructions for its use will be issued. Many patients are advised to wear their retainer 24/7 for a period of time; some patients are weaned from their retainer by wearing it at night only.

Patients who want their orthodontic experience to be over might be tempted to forego wearing the retainer as directed. But these patients must understand that wearing the retainer is actually the final step to their orthodontic program; not wearing it as advised prevents teeth from developing a memory of their new location allowing them to drift back to their original location – don’t waste months or years of treatment by skipping this final, important step in orthodontic care.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact the office of Dr. John Morris at 269-979-1500 today.

Gingivitis and Your Overall Health

family dentistry Battle Creek MIGingivitis is an inflammation of gum tissue and can indicate the onset of gum disease. There are various symptoms, but the definitive way to get a diagnosis is by a visit with your family dentist. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, a check-up may be indicated:

Red, swollen gums – Healthy gum tissue is pink and firm. If gums are enflamed or appear puffy, this is a sign that something is wrong.

Bleeding gums – Brushing too firmly with a hard bristle brush can result in bleeding gum tissue. If gums only bleed due to provocation, consider a soft bristle brush and less pressure. Teeth don’t need to be scrubbed to clean them sufficiently. You might consider an electronic tooth brush as they are a great tool in resolving many of the problems associated with aggressive brushing.

Receding gums – Often associated with harsh brushing, gum tissue that is pulling away from teeth is also a symptom of gum disease.

Discomfort – May be present.

Chronic bad breath – Certain aromatic foods and strong beverages can result in halitosis. But when bad breath is prevalent after brushing or using mouthwash, a more serious condition may be developing.

If one or all of these symptoms are present, you are at risk for developing the next stage of gingivitis: periodontitis. When gum disease reaches this stage and immediate care is not rendered, tooth loss is possible.

Gum disease does not have to be an all or nothing event – it may affect one or two teeth, an entire quadrant, a whole arch, or your entire mouth may be involved. Tooth loss in any number can have a life altering effect on your day to day living:

Diet – You may have to resort to a soft diet. Trying to chew without one or more teeth can eliminate many foods you like to consume.

Speech – Speaking patterns rely on tongue, teeth, lips and palate to work in unison. Tooth loss can make pronouncing certain sounds difficult.

Self-confidence – Eating, speaking and smiling in public can be embarrassing following tooth loss.

Gum disease and tooth loss is preventable. Do not smoke, brush and floss daily, and see your dentist every six months to help maintain great dental and overall health. If you’re concerned you might be suffering with gingivitis, contact our family dentistry team today!