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Travel Tips For Your Teeth

dentist Battle Creek MIWhether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, you want to make sure that you’re prepared to take care of your smile while you’re away from home.

In many ways, good oral hygiene practices are the same whether you’re in your home or a hotel. However, you may need to take extra steps to be prepared so that you can brush and floss adequately while you’re away.

Before you travel, check in with your dentist for an exam if you’re due for one. It can be helpful just to touch base for some tips as well.

Taking Care Of Your Teeth On The Road

Although many elements of a good oral hygiene routine are the same at home and away, there are a few considerations for brushing and flossing while you travel:

  • Store your toothbrush properly. You may not be able to let it air dry as you would at home. A good alternative is to keep it in a plastic bag so that it doesn’t come into contact with other items in your luggage but still has room to breathe.
  • Use bottled water to brush your teeth if you’re in a foreign country. If your toothbrush gets contaminated by local water, replace it as soon as possible.
  • Keep the contact information for your dentist handy in case of emergency. If you’re travelling internationally and you experience an urgent dental issue, go to the U.S. Consulate for guidance on local dental care.

Planning Ahead Is The Key To Success

If you want to take good care of your smile while you’re out of town, you need to be sure to pack all of the tools and supplies that you need to do so. Pick up a travel toothbrush and travel-sized toothpaste at your local drugstore so that there’s ample room in your luggage.

Also, if you use mouthwash, transfer some into a three-ounce bottle that meets the requirements for liquids in carry-on luggage.

If you do forget anything you need for your oral hygiene routine, ask at your hotel. Often, they’ll provide toiletries and such at no cost. In a pinch, you can also put toothpaste on your finger to “brush” your teeth. However, you should still find a way to get a toothbrush for the entirety of your trip.

Don’t think that your vacation is a chance for a break from your oral hygiene routine. If you need more information about taking care of your smile while you’re traveling, call our office and speak to one of our knowledgeable team members.

5 Benefits of Invisalign

Invisalign Battle Creek MIInvisalign is a popular alternative to conventional orthodontia. This treatment option presents patients unique advantageous such as improved comfort and a discreet appearance. Straightening your teeth has numerous health and wellness benefits including a reduced risk for common oral health conditions such as periodontal disease and tooth decay.

Following are five benefits to choosing Invisalign.

Invisalign is Discreet

Invisalign treatment involves wearing clear braces made from plastic. Noticeable archwires or brackets are not utilized in the Invisalign treatment system. This means that straightening your teeth is virtually undetectable to others. Because of the discreet nature of Invisalign, this treatment option is ideal for many adults.

Effective Treatment

Like conventional braces, Invisalign is an effective treatment option for correcting the spacing and positioning of teeth. Those who complete Invisalign treatment enjoy straighter smiles and healthier occlusions. The positions of gapped teeth as well as crooked, overlapped, and rotated teeth can be improved by wearing Invisalign.

Enjoy Comfort with Invisalign

Patients who wear Invisalign report that their treatment is very comfortable – especially when compared to traditional braces. This is because the edges of Invisalign braces are smooth and do not scrape against soft oral tissue. By minimizing irritation with its smooth construction, patients do not have to rely on dental wax to maintain comfort.

Removable Aligners

Invisalign’s oral appliances are removable. This is a treatment benefit unique to Invisalign. Since Invisalign appliances are removable, patients enjoy the ability to eat meals and clean their teeth without obstruction.

Improved Oral Health

Completing Invisalign treatment will improve your oral health. Having your teeth aligned to straighter positions reduces the risks for developing gingivitis and dental caries. This is because properly positioned and spaced teeth are easier to clean through brushing and flossing.

Although Invisalign offers unique benefits to patients, there are still instances where conventional orthodontia is a more appropriate treatment option. If you are interested in evaluating your orthodontic treatment options, we recommend scheduling a consultation with our dentist. Our practice offers both Invisalign and traditional braces.

Call the office of Dr. John Morris today to reserve an appointment.

Break These Bad Brushing Habits

You may think that brushing your teeth every day and scheduling routine care at a family dentistry practice twice each year is all that you need to do to take care of your smile. But you may be wrong. If you’re using poor technique when brushing or using a toothbrush that it is poor condition, you aren’t getting the maximum benefit from your oral hygiene regimen.

Your Brushing Technique May Be Doing More Harm Than Good

family dentistry Battle Creek MIIf you are brushing too aggressively, you may actually damage the enamel of your teeth and/or your gum tissue. This can create the potential for oral diseases to develop and the need for more involved treatments at your family dentistry practice.

Additionally, if you’re not holding your brush at a 45-degree and not covering all of the surfaces of your teeth, you’re likely leaving plaque behind after brushing. This can allow the oral bacteria to proliferate and wreak havoc on your smile.

The timing of your brushing matters, too. If you brush too soon after a meal (any less than 60 minutes), the residual acids of that meal may weaken your teeth and brushing then can be harmful. You also need to be sure to brush your teeth for two minutes at a time to get them as clean as possible.

When you see your dentist for a routine checkup, it’s a good time to check in on your brushing technique to make sure that you’re doing everything right. You can touch base with either your dentist or your hygienist about this aspect of your oral health.

Keep Your Tools In Good Shape For The Best Brushing Results

Toothbrushes that are too old or too hard are not going to be the most effective tools for keeping your mouth clean. You should swap out your toothbrush every three months or so. A dirty toothbrush stored in an enclosed area can actually introduce more bacteria into the mouth rather than get rid of it.

It’s also important to consider whether a standard toothbrush or an electric one will best meet your needs. Do you have trouble remembering to brush for the entire two minutes? An electric brush with a built-in timer might give you the reminder you need to brush for a full session.

If you have any questions about optimal oral hygiene techniques and tools, ask our dentist at your next visit. We are happy to give you any guidance you need to keep your smile as healthy as possible.

Advantages Of Interceptive Orthodontic Treatment

braces Battle Creek MIYou may think that orthodontic treatment must involve braces consisting of brackets and wires that are worn for 18 months or more. However, early interventions, known as interceptive orthodontics, can actually reduce the amount of time a teen must spend in braces or possibly eliminate it entirely.

Keep in mind that the benefits of orthodontic treatment go beyond the aesthetic, so if your child is showing signs of any alignment problems in the teeth or the jaw after the first permanent teeth erupt, schedule a consultation with your dentist to explore treatment options.

Early Treatment Approaches In Orthodontics

While misaligned teeth can be repositioned using traditional braces or other treatment systems, interceptive orthodontics can manipulate early jaw development to either reduce the severity of or prevent the problem in the first place. Furthermore, it can help a patient avoid more invasive interventions, such as tooth extraction or orthognathic surgery, at a later date.

Your dentist may use a number of different appliances during the interceptive phase of treatment, such as palate expanders or space maintainers. The length of time that these appliances are worn will vary from case to case.

Your child may show signs of alignment problems in the smile shortly after the first permanent teeth emerge. As such, interceptive interventions can be implemented when a child is fairly young, around 6 or 7 years old, depending on the pace of your child’s dental development.

The Importance Of A Properly Aligned Smile

Of course, one major outcome of orthodontic treatment is a straighter, more beautiful smile. Indeed, this is a compelling reason to consider interceptive treatment or braces. However, properly positioned teeth and jaws are also more effective at chewing and less likely to bite and injure the soft oral tissues. Correctly aligned teeth also help people speak clearly. By pursuing early orthodontic treatment for your child, you can help your child gain these benefits.

Does your child appear to be developing a problem in the alignment of the jaws or the smile? Seek interceptive treatment as early as possible for the best outcomes. Call the office of John Morris, DDS, to schedule an evaluation.

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.