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5 Things You Should Never Do To Your Teeth

family dentistry Battle Creek MIYour teeth are made of enamel, which is the hardest substance in the body. Nonetheless, it’s not indestructible, and you should do everything possible to protect it. Your dentist can give you some tips on how to avoid damaging your teeth.

Of course, the most important steps that you can take to preserve the integrity of your teeth is to practice good daily oral hygiene at home and visit your family dentistry practice twice a year for checkups and cleanings.

Top Five Smile Don’ts That Can Harm Your Teeth

Your dentist will caution you against any actions that can damage your teeth. In particular, patients should avoid:

  • Using teeth as tools
  • Chewing on non-food objects (such as pencils or fingernails)
  • Using tobacco
  • Consuming excessive sugar
  • Using poor oral hygiene techniques

The dangers of these actions can harm the teeth in different ways. For example, using the teeth as tools can increase the risk of breaking them, while tobacco use is associated with inflammation and oral diseases. Harmful cavity-causing oral bacteria can feed on excess sugar residue.

If you want to minimize the care you’ll need from your family dentistry practice for issues like cracked or chipped teeth or tooth decay, it’s important to follow this advice.

Maintaining Your Teeth in Optimal Condition

In addition to avoiding the don’ts listed above, you can take steps to be proactive in safeguarding your oral health, including keeping your teeth in optimal condition. A robust daily oral hygiene routine is the foundation of these efforts and should include:

  • Brushing two times a day, for two minutes each session, using a brush that is no more than three months old
  • Fluoridated toothpaste with an ADA seal of approval
  • Daily flossing, using floss threaders to navigate appliances when necessary

Some patients who are prone to the accumulation of oral bacteria may also want to add an anti-bacterial mouthwash as an extra measure to boost oral health.

Your home oral hygiene habits are only one part of the equation, though. The other is adequate professional care, which includes semiannual cleanings by a dental hygienist at a family dentistry practice, along with exams by a dentist.

Such professional care helps to keep your teeth as clean as possible and gives you the best chance of having any oral diseases diagnosed and treated early before they can do extensive damage. If it’s been more than six months since your last checkup, call the office of Dr. John Morris today to schedule and get back on track.

How To Prevent Dry Mouth While Sleeping

family dentistry Battle Creek MIWaking up with a dry mouth or morning breath is unpleasant, but you can do something to change it. Patients who are experiencing this symptom should visit their family dentistry practice to be evaluated for the causes of dry mouth and possible treatments for the condition.

In fact, if you don’t work with your dentist to address dry mouth, your oral health may suffer consequences as a result of this condition, as sufficient saliva is necessary to keep your mouth clean and wash away harmful oral bacteria.

Potential Causes of Dry Mouth

Dry mouth can result from a number of causes, including:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Other types of snoring
  • Side effects of medical treatments, including medications, chemotherapy and radiation
  • Nerve damage
  • Health conditions, such as Sjogren’s Syndrome
  • Use of drugs or alcohol before bed

Visiting your family dentistry practice for an evaluation is the best way to have the cause of your dry mouth diagnosed and treated. A thorough evaluation will point toward the most effective treatment option in your case.

Interventions and Home Care Practices to Prevent Dry Mouth

The interventions recommended to eliminate dry mouth in your case will depend on the specific factors causing this symptom. For example, if you are suffering from sleep apnea, you may need to wear an oral appliance while you sleep to eliminate this condition.

In other cases, you may not be able to eliminate the dry mouth but instead must focus on managing it. Drinking adequate amounts of water (but not so much that you wake up throughout the night to use the bathroom!) and using artificial saliva products can be helpful.

Dry Mouth: Consequences for Your Oral Health

Regardless of the cause of your dry mouth, it’s important for you to discuss this symptom with your dentist so that it can be treated. Insufficient saliva causes big problems in the mouth. It allows bacteria to proliferate and wreak havoc, causing cavities and gum disease, along with other oral health concerns.

Ultimately, dry mouth is an oral health issue and our dentist can help you to manage or eliminate this symptom. Be sure to ask about this issue at your next checkup, or call the office of John Morris, DDS, to discuss with one of our knowledgeable staff members.

Common Oral Health Concerns of Seniors

family dentistry Battle Creek MISeniors have unique oral health concerns. That’s why our family dentistry practice strives to anticipate potential problems with thorough dental exams. With early detection, many potential issues can be mitigated with preventive treatments and improved oral hygiene at home. Following are a few common concerns that mature patients should know about.

Dry Mouth

Dealing with dry mouth can be more than uncomfortable. Persistent dry mouth could put your oral health at risk. The oral cavity should be a moist environment. Without proper saliva production, our soft tissue will dry out. This could lead to an increased risk for gum disease and dental caries.

Unfortunately, dry mouth can disproportionately affect seniors. This is because many medications affect saliva production. Moreover, a number of common health conditions such as diabetes contribute to this condition, too.

If you struggle with dry mouth, consider increasing your water intake and practicing vigilant oral hygiene. Discussing dry mouth symptoms with our dentist is important. We can help determine the underlying causes of dry mouth and prescribe oral rinses that help keep oral tissue moist.

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer can be deadly. Fortunately, early detection can help you preserve your health and your life. Seniors have a higher risk for developing oral cancer – especially if they have smoked, drink frequently, or have been exposed to HPV. Our family dentistry practice provides thorough oral cancer screenings during routine checkups.

Gum Disease

Gum disease can affect patients of any age but seniors do possess higher risks for developing it. Advanced gum disease destroys precious oral tissue and is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults. As with other conditions, detecting and treating gum disease as early as possible reduces damage to a patient’s oral health and controls the disease’s progression.

Bone Loss

Losing bone can wreak havoc on your oral health. Bone deterioration commonly affects seniors – particularly women. You can protect your bone health by receiving routine checkups and cleanings, practicing thorough oral hygiene, and by avoiding alcohol and cigarettes. Some patients can offset bone loss with supplements containing calcium and vitamin D.

Our mission is to help our patients enjoy a lifetime of vibrant oral health. Call the office of Dr. John Morris to schedule a cleaning or checkup.

Healthy Ways To Satisfy A Sweet Tooth

dentist Battle Creek MIWhen the need for something sweet strikes, your thoughts might go to candy, cookies, ice cream, or any of the thousands of yummy treats available. But did you know that you can find other great tasting, satisfying treats that will be much better for your oral health (not to mention your waistline)? Overindulging in sweet treats might result in an unexpected visit to the dentist.

Alternatives are out there!

You can get creative and mix up something that is healthy and sweet; or you can go with the basics such as:

Fresh fruit: Also referred to as nature’s candy, there are many ways to enjoy these tasty, grab-on-the-go treats. And the variety is endless. Apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, berries, etc. Or you can spend a few minutes to prepare a fresh fruit salad using kiwi, strawberries, fresh pineapple, and bananas.

Fruit smoothie: Try adding healthy proteins like chia seeds to your smoothie. Use a sugar substitute if you absolutely must make it sweeter, but the healthier version will rely on natural sweetness.

Cottage cheese: Not usually considered sweet on its own, add fresh fruit and enjoy.

Frozen grapes: These provide a fabulous, cold treat. And you’re not limited to grapes … many fruits freeze well. In fact, frozen bananas placed in a blender makes a tasty ice cream substitute.

Yogurt: Look for low sugar varieties. They are just as tasty. Or get industrious and make your own yogurt.

Sugar free candy and gum: Try sucking on sugar free mints or chew sugar free gum. Very often cravings will subside.

Prunes and dates: These can be high in sugar, so they must be consumed on a limited basis. But they are high in fiber and deliciously filling.

Other Ways to Beat a Sweet Tooth

In lieu of eating something sweet, try drinking water flavored with your favorite fruit (watermelon infused water is delicious). You can make your own, but if you decide to buy already prepared flavored waters, check the label for sugar content. Some are healthier than others.

Brush your teeth: May not be as satisfying, but might help to curb your cravings.

Make sure your meals contain foods you will enjoy that are also high in protein. This might help you to feel less hungry throughout the day.

Finally, visit our family dentistry practice twice a year to help maintain great oral health.

4 Fun Teeth Facts

family dentistry Battle Creek MIIt can be fun to explore some of the mysteries of your teeth that go beyond your ability to chew, speak and look good. Here are some interesting tooth facts that you may not have learned in your visits to a family dentistry practice, along with some tips for making the most of your smile.

Interesting Facts About Teeth

Did you know this about your teeth?

  • Your teeth are unique, like fingerprints: Each tooth has a unique design. No two canines, incisors, or molars are identical, even in a single person’s smile.
  • Your smile’s blueprint is in place from birth: When you are born, the crowns of your baby teeth are already in place, preparing to erupt into the smile within 3-6 months. At the same time, your permanent teeth are starting to form so that they can eventually make their debut.
  • Your teeth reveal many bits of information about your life: Your teeth have a collection of data from your lifetime, shedding light on where you’ve lived, your nutrition, illnesses and even times when you’ve been stressed out.
  • Ancient societies recognized the importance of good oral hygiene: They may not have been able to go to a local family dentistry practice, but early humans did understand the importance of oral hygiene. They used rudimentary toothbrushes made of twigs to clean the teeth, and concocted substances to polish their teeth from materials available to them.

Keeping Your Smile In Optimal Condition

Fortunately, the oral hygiene tools and techniques that we have at our disposal are far more effective than those used by our earliest ancestors. It’s important that you use them consistently to maintain your smile.

At a minimum, patients should be brushing twice each day and flossing daily. Make sure that you’re using proper technique and a brush that is in good condition. You should switch to a new brush every three months or so.

Adequate professional care is also essential to good oral health. Visit your family dentistry practice twice a year for checkups and thorough professional cleanings to keep your smile in tip top shape.

To learn more about the marvels of your teeth, ask us at your next cleaning and checkup. We are always happy to share our knowledge with you!

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.

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.

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.

Treatment Options to Improve Smile Symmetry

family dentistry Battle Creek MIA symmetrical smile is a more attractive smile, but sometimes misalignments or other aesthetic flaws can compromise that symmetry. Porcelain veneers are an excellent cosmetic treatment option for restoring and enhancing your smile.

Porcelain veneers are thin, tooth-shaped shells made out of ceramic materials that are bonded atop your natural teeth to conceal a variety of flaws. In addition to creating the illusion of proper alignment, veneers can hide issues like cracks, chips, or stains that can also detract from your smile. An undersized tooth can also affect your smile’s symmetry, and porcelain veneers are useful in such cases to bring the affected tooth into the proper proportions with the rest of the smile.

Getting porcelain veneers is a two-step process. The first phase is your initial consultation where your family dentist will examine your smile and gather the information needed to design your veneers, which will then be created in a laboratory. At this appointment, photos or dental impressions of your teeth might also be taken. You will also discuss the desired shade of the veneer, along with any teeth whitening you may want to pursue on your biological teeth.

You may also need to have your teeth prepared for veneer placement at that first session. Depending on the thickness of the veneer, it may be necessary to remove a thin layer of enamel to make space for the veneer. You can wear temporary veneers until the permanent veneers are ready.

After the lab has crafted the veneers, you’ll return to the office to have them bonded to your teeth. Your dentist can make further adjustments to the shade and shape of the veneers, if needed, so that you are pleased with them before they are placed. After that point, no further alterations can be made.

Porcelain veneers are a good option for enhancing your smile’s symmetry with a relatively minor investment of the patient’s time or money. If you want to conceal a flaw in your smile, contact the dental office of Dr. John Morris at 269-979-1500 to schedule a consultation.

Negative Effects of Brushing Too Hard

family dentistry Battle Creek MIYou may think that you’re giving your teeth a boost by brushing them twice a day, but people who are overly vigorous with their brushing technique may be doing more harm than good. There are several negative effects of brushing too hard that could land you in the office of your local family dentistry practice for more extensive treatment.

Your tooth enamel may be the hardest substance in your body, but that doesn’t mean that it’s impervious to wear and tear. Brushing too hard may accelerate this process and cause enamel to break down prematurely. This process can make the teeth more susceptible to decay as well as breakage, which could require a restoration, like a filling or a dental crown.

In addition to potentially damaging your teeth, overly aggressive brushing can also lead to gum recession. It’s important to have adequate gum tissue to protect the roots of the teeth from infection.

The roots of the teeth also are more sensitive when exposed to the oral cavity. In fact, you may notice increased tooth sensitivity as a result of enamel breakdown or gum recession. This is another potential consequence of brushing too hard.

If you have any questions about your brushing technique or feel like you might want a refresher, you can check in with the hygienist or dentist when you visit your family dentistry practice for a routine check-up or cleaning every six months. This is an important supplement to your home oral hygiene routine. It gives your dentist the opportunity to monitor your teeth for signs of oral disease. Plus, regular professional cleanings help to remove any plaque or tartar buildup that can still be a problem even if you’re brushing and flossing on a daily schedule.

Are you a little too enthusiastic about your brushing? Check in with one of our knowledgeable professionals for tips on using the proper technique to keep your smile as healthy as possible. Contact the office of Dr. John Morris at 269-979-1500 today.