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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!

Subtle Straightening with Invisalign

Invisalign Battle Creek MIHave you always wished for a straighter smile? Perhaps you want to improve the placement of your teeth but you dread the conspicuous and uncomfortable nature of conventional orthodontics. There is a solution for folks who strive for straighter teeth in a more subtle way. Invisalign clear braces are an alternative to traditional orthodontics that are ideal for adults and teenagers. Made from clear plastic, Invisalign is an effective and comfortable treatment option provided by our dentist.

How Invisalign Works

Invisalign is a unique teeth straightening system that involves using removable oral appliances instead of cemented fixed appliances like archwires, brackets, and anchors. Like traditional braces, clear Invisalign braces apply consistent pressure to move teeth over the course of treatment. Invisalign is worn over teeth like a retainer except that it does not consist of any sharp, hard, or metal components. Patients will wear a custom set of aligners for two weeks. After two weeks, patients will receive a new tighter set of custom aligners to wear. As each set becomes tighter every two weeks, more force and pressure will be applied to facilitate tooth movement.

Benefits of Invisalign

There are a few unique advantages to choosing Invisalign treatment. First, the clear plastic used to fabricate Invisalign is very comfortable to wear. This means that patients will not experience scrapes and irritation to soft tissue caused by hard or metal oral appliances. Being clear, Invisalign is incredibly discreet. The subtle approach to teeth straightening means that patients can enjoy inconspicuous and practically undetectable orthodontic treatment.

An additional benefit to Invisalign is the fact that Invisalign is removable. This unique feature allows patients to eat meals comfortably and practice oral hygiene with ease.

If Invisalign interests you as a treatment option, we recommend scheduling an appointment with our dentist for a consultation. At your appointment, our team will evaluate the placement of your teeth and perform a thorough oral examination to determine if Invisalign is right for you.

Call the office of Dr. John Morris at 269-979-1500 today to reserve an appointment.

Do Genetics Play a Role in Overall Health of Teeth?

dentist Battle Creek MIAs with other systems and tissues in our body, genetics do play a role in the health of teeth but there are measures a person can take to enjoy vibrant oral health and prevent disease. The oral system’s health is connected to the rest of the body, too. Some conditions that predispose a person to diseases such as diabetes can have an effect on the health of teeth and gums. Following is some helpful information about genetics, preventive measures patients can take, and how our dentists can help safeguard your oral health.

Genetics and Oral Health

Sometimes, congenital and developmental abnormalities can affect the oral health system. Some folks are born without tooth enamel, for instance. Tooth enamel is the mineralized coating around teeth that prevents tooth decay. Without enamel, a tooth is susceptible to harmful oral bacteria forming caries. Other issues such as the growth rate of the jawbones or cleft palates can affect oral health as well. For example, if one jaw is denser and larger than the other one, it can result in a malocclusion, which can cause tooth wear, TMJ dysfunction, and a host of other problems.

If congenital or developmental abnormalities are present, they are most often easily detected through routine checkups with our dentist. Oral examinations and diagnostic technology can reveal potential problems in any of the oral cavity’s structures.

Protecting Your Oral Health

While genetic and developmental issues can affect the health of your teeth and gums, you can still take measures to prevent common oral disease. Commit to a thorough and consistent oral hygiene routine that involves at least twice daily brushing and daily flossing. We encourage our patients to limit sugar intake, drink plenty of water, and avoid bad habits such as chewing on ice cubes, pen caps, or one’s nails.

Preventive Dental Treatments

If your teeth or gums are at risk for disease, preventive services are available. To prevent gum disease, it is very important that patients schedule regular dental cleanings. For those whose teeth are weak, we can apply dental sealants or administer fluoride treatments. Broken or diseased teeth can be treated with restorations as well.

Contact the office of Dr. John Morris at 269-979-1500 today to reserve an appointment.

Signs Your Child May Need Orthodontic Treatment

orthodontics Battle Creek MIParents understand the value of orthodontic treatment for their children, but they may not be aware of the signs that indicate braces or some other orthodontic appliances may be in order. Here are a few issues that warrant an orthodontics evaluation:

  • Premature loss of primary teeth: If a baby tooth falls out early due to injury or advanced decay, the permanent tooth may erupt too soon. This can throw the alignment of the permanent teeth out of whack.
  • Delayed loss of primary teeth: Similarly, if a primary tooth stays in the mouth too long, it can prevent the permanent tooth from erupting in a timely fashion, which can also cause incorrect positioning.
  • Noticeable crowding or gaps: This issue can easily be corrected with braces or possibly interceptive treatment.
  • Signs of malocclusion: If your child’s teeth don’t meet normally or if there are problems with biting or chewing, it can suggest the presence of a malocclusion. This situation can also be improved with early orthodontic treatment.

Even if your child isn’t demonstrating any obvious symptoms of misaligned teeth or jaws, it’s recommended that he or she have the first orthodontic evaluation around age 6. At that time, enough of the permanent teeth have erupted to determine whether there may be any problems that require some sort of intervention. For some issues, early orthodontic treatment can prevent the need for more involved interventions at a later date. Additionally, it is easier to manipulate growth patterns in younger children, if that is a component of treatment.

This initial evaluation also provides a baseline for monitoring any changes in the alignment of your child’s smile. In fact, early orthodontic intervention is another compelling reason to make sure that your child sees a dentist every six months. These routine exams can detect the onset of issues with the proper alignment of the teeth so that those issues can be addressed promptly.

Don’t delay in scheduling an orthodontic evaluation for your child. It can save time, trouble and money in the long run. Schedule an appointment around your child’s 6th or 7th birthday to make sure that their smile stays straight and attractive. To learn more, contact the office of Dr. John Morris at 269-979-1500.

What causes white spots on my teeth?

 family dentistry Battle Creek MIWhite spots on teeth can originate from a genetic mutation; can be due to a mineral imbalance, or can signify dental decay. Your dentist can offer solutions that will minimize or correct the white spots utilizing cosmetic enhancements or dental restorations to help you achieve the appearance you desire.

Teeth form in the womb making some dental issues unpreventable as a result of the gene pool. But that doesn’t mean the problem can’t be resolved. A call to your family dental office to make an appointment with your provider to identify the source of the malady and possible solutions is your first step to a smile makeover.

Mineral imbalance – Those white spots might be due to demineralization. When dental bacteria begin to permeate the tooth’s enamel, the acids from the bacteria literally attack the enamel. The hard covering we know as enamel is damaged which can result in white spots. Your dentist can offer solutions how to correct the problem with this diagnosis.

The injection of fluoride into daily oral care actually strengthens dental enamel. However, if too much fluoride is ingested, the result can be tooth discoloration. Our nation’s water supply has been fortified with fluoride for more than a half century, but patients that rely on well or bottled water lose out on that benefit. For those who supplemented their vitamins with additional fluoride coupled with fluoridated water consumption, the result could be spots on teeth.

Active dental decay can appear as white spots on teeth.

The solutions for white spots can be multi-faceted. If your dentist determines they are due to an extrinsic problem, teeth whitening might be recommended. If this isn’t a viable solution or multiple teeth are involved, your dentist might suggest a minimally invasive cosmetic enhancement known as porcelain veneers.

Veneers are wafer thin shells that are made to match surrounding dentition; a small amount of enamel is removed on each tooth requiring repair. The veneer is permanently cemented to the front of the tooth altering the tooth’s appearance.

If white spots indicate dental caries are involved, your dentist may recommend repairing with a tooth colored composite resin.

If the spots are due to staining and involve just a couple teeth, a tooth colored bonding material may be used to blend away spots.

No matter the cause, white spots on teeth can be resolved. For more information, contact the family dentistry office of Dr. John Morris at 269-979-1500.

Sensitive Teeth: What could be the cause?

dentist Battle Creek MISensitive teeth can be frustrating and uncomfortable. If you’re suffering from this issue, you undoubtedly want to know the cause. Your dentist can gather information about your habits and your oral health history to determine what is at fault for your sensitive teeth and recommend an effective treatment.

Your teeth become sensitive when the enamel breaks down and exposes the underlying dentin, which is full of tiny tubules that lead to the tooth’s sensitive core that contains nerves. Any number of factors can erode the enamel. They include excessive consumption of acidic foods and beverages, such as soda and citrus fruits.

Grinding your teeth can compromise the enamel and cause sensitivity, as can tooth decay. Similarly, gum recession can expose the roots of the teeth, which are much more sensitive than the crown, causing discomfort for the patient.

Even a trip to the dentist can bring on tooth sensitivity. Certain treatments, such as teeth whitening or the placement of a crown, can make your teeth more sensitive temporarily. You may also develop sensitive teeth if you use an overly aggressive brushing technique that harms your enamel or your gum tissue.

Your dentist will examine your teeth and ask you questions about your habits in order to pinpoint the cause of your tooth sensitivity, which will then inform the recommended treatment. If receding gums are making your teeth sensitive, then a gum graft can help to eliminate the symptom. Dietary adjustments can halt enamel erosion due to acidic foods and drinks. Cavities can be filled. Patients who grind their teeth can be fitted with custom mouthguards to wear during sleep.

You may also want to switch to a toothpaste that is specifically formulated to address tooth sensitivity. This can help to reduce the severity of this symptom, too.

Patients who are experiencing tooth sensitivity should discuss the issue with one of our knowledgeable staff members to try to determine what is causing the problem and what can be done to relieve their symptoms.