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Oral Piercings: The Hidden Risks to Your Oral Health

dentist Battle Creek MIAre you considering a trendy tongue or lip ring? While piercings are a common form of self-expression that many people enjoy, they do present hidden risks to your oral health. From accelerating tooth wear that might require treatment from a dentist to increasing one’s risks for oral infections, it’s important to evaluate the pros and cons of oral piercings before you make your decision.

Tooth Wear and Piercings

The materials used to construct oral piercings can literally damage tooth structure. When oral piercings repeatedly make contact with teeth, it can cause chips and fractures. Metal piercings making contact with teeth will also damage tooth enamel.

Damaged tooth enamel along with chips and fractures leaves teeth susceptible to tooth decay and further degradation, which requires professional treatment like restorations to protect teeth. Common restorations for damaged teeth include fillings, inlays, onlays, and dental crowns. Without these restorations, patients are at risk for developing decay, abscesses, and ultimately the need for tooth extractions.

Adding further insult to injury is the fact that many people develop habits of tapping their piercings into their teeth. Beyond the contact the piercing might make with teeth through normal oral function, excessive tapping where piercings hit teeth can accelerate permanent dental damage.

Increased Risks for Oral Infections

Many people think that oral piercings only increase the risk for infection while they heal but this isn’t true. Our mouths are home to millions of bacteria, many of which contribute to infections beyond periodontal disease and dental caries.

While piercings can develop infections as they heal, they still pose risks for infections once the healing process is complete. If you decide to accept this risk, keep in mind that the sooner you treat an infection the better. If you notice changes in your oral health such as persistent bad breath, a change in the appearance of your gums, and the development of sores, make an appointment for a checkup with our dentist.

Call the office of Dr. John Morris to ask questions about your oral health or to schedule a visit.

The New Era Of Cosmetic Dentistry

cosmetic dentist Battle Creek MIIn the past, patients may have been resigned to accepting aesthetic flaws in their smiles. However, today, a cosmetic dentist can correct a host of problems that detract from your smile, ranging from discolored teeth to those that are broken or damaged. Multiple interventions can be used to address these issues, and patients can either pursue a single intervention to upgrade their grin or consider a more comprehensive smile makeover. The possibilities are numerous, and the results often transformative.

A Hollywood Style Smile Is Within Reach

If there’s an aspect of your smile that is a drag on your self-confidence, you should consult with a cosmetic dentist to see what can be done to improve your smile’s aesthetics. You can end up with a movie star’s smile.

The process begins with an evaluation. Your cosmetic dentist will inspect your smile and may take photographs, dental impressions or x-rays to inform the treatment planning process. The dentist will also ask you about your smile goals and may be able to show you results achieved in cases similar to yours so that you will have an idea of what to expect.

Cosmetic Dentistry Treatments To Enhance Your Smile

Your dentist may recommend any of the following interventions, either individually or in combination, depending on the circumstances of your case.

  • Zoom! Teeth Whitening: Bleaching gel is applied to the teeth and activated with a specialized laser in order for the bleaching agent to take effect in as little as an hour. On your lunch break, you can leave our office with a smile that is 8-10 shades whiter than when you walked in.
  • Porcelain Veneers: Tooth-shaped shells made of porcelain can be bonded on top of your natural teeth to conceal defects like chips, cracks and deep stains that don’t respond to teeth whitening treatments.
  • Cosmetic Bonding: For minor flaws, this conservative treatment may do the trick. A small amount of tooth-colored bonding material can be applied to a tooth to cover up a minor chip or crack. The bonding material is then cured, and often this treatment can be completed in an hour or less.
  • Tooth-colored fillings: When you have cavities, the type of filling you choose can impact your smile’s appearance. Opting for tooth-colored composite fillings rather than dark metal ones will maintain a uniform appearance in your teeth.

If you are dissatisfied with your smile, cosmetic dentistry can give you the smile of your dreams. Schedule a consultation at the office of Dr. John Morris to explore your options and learn more about the possibilities.

Dental Implants for Renewed Self Confidence and Peace of Mind

The loss of one or more teeth can be a devastating experience. But you can remedy this condition naturally with dental implants. A consultation with your implant dentist will show you how this dental procedure can provide renewed self confidence and peace of mind to last a lifetime.

The Dental Implant Process

dental implants Battle Creek MIWhether tooth loss has occurred due to trauma, disease, or decay the opening where your tooth was can be filled with a natural looking, permanent restoration that will allow you to eat all the foods you love, speak without fear of embarrassment, and smile broadly as no one will know that this tooth is not your biological one.

A visit with the implant dentist will begin with a conversation about your overall health followed by a very thorough dental exam. This will include dental x-rays as bone strength where the implant is to be placed is very important. If it is determined that bone is insufficient, a procedure to augment bone can be performed.

The dental implant itself is a small titanium post. It will be placed in gum tissue where bone will begin to graft to it allowing the implant to become a permanent structure. The process where bone incorporates the implant is referred to as osseointegration. Ultimately, the implant is designed to perform much like the roots of your natural tooth providing support for the cosmetic restoration that will eventually be placed.

The restoration is made to match neighboring teeth, and will be tried in for fit and appearance. If needed, small adjustments can be performed for a perfect fit. An abutment will be attached to the implant, and the restoration can then be bonded in place.

Advantages of a Dental Implant

In addition to providing an ideal cosmetic enhancement, dental implants will allow you to function just as you did before tooth loss occurred. There are no foods off limits, and since your restoration has been firmly cemented into place, there will never be any concern about movement or slippage.

Dental implants are a permanent solution designed to last for your lifetime. Brush and floss daily, and visit our office for cleaning and exam … the same care you provide for all your teeth is all that is required.

Can my child still play sports during orthodontic treatment?

orthodontics Battle Creek MIOrthodontics is an important investment in your child’s oral health and wellbeing. While it takes some time to adjust to braces, there is nothing wrong with your child playing sports and living a physically active lifestyle during treatment. In fact, your dentist will likely encourage your child to continue playing sports because physical activity is great for his or her health, and team sports contribute to healthy social development.

When it comes to activities like contact sports, horseback riding, biking, or skateboarding, it is important to take some precautions. You should wear all recommended safety gear like helmets and chin straps. You should also invest in a mouthguard – preferably a custom one that accommodates orthodontic appliances.

Custom mouthguards are made specifically for a patient. Even though sporting goods stores sell “boil-and-bite” mouthguards, it’s better to receive a custom-made piece from your dentist. Custom mouthguards will fit comfortably, which increases the likelihood of your child wearing it often. They will also provide the best protection for teeth and gums if your child experiences facial trauma.

What happens if my child doesn’t wear a mouthguard?

Children, teens, and adults with or without braces should wear protective gear including mouthguards when recommended. Without mouthguards, you can incur serious and sometimes permanent damage to teeth and gums.

Wearing braces increases the risks for painful lacerations to soft oral tissue because there are appliances with sharp edges (brackets and wires) over teeth. These appliances can cut deeply into the tissue of the lips, gums, and insides of cheeks when worn. Braces can also hurt other children if contact is made during sports when mouthguards aren’t worn.

Facial trauma from blunt force is a common way that teeth become broken and knocked out. Mouthguards will help protect the placement of teeth and prevent the need for oral surgeries to correct facial trauma.

If you have questions about orthodontics, call the office of Dr. John Morris to reserve a consultation.

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.