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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.

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.

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!

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.

Purposes of a Dental Sealant

family dentistry Battle Creek MIDental sealants are among the most common treatments provided in a family dentistry practice. They are plastic coatings placed on top of the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Dental sealants are most often placed on the premolars and molars because those teeth have larger chewing surfaces along with deeper cracks that can trap food particles, harbor bacteria and be more likely to develop decay. The sealant helps to keep food and bacteria out of the tooth’s grooves, reducing the risk of cavities.

Pediatric patients are the most likely to receive dental sealants at a family dentistry practice, but the treatment may also be recommended for adults who seem to develop cavities frequently. This is less common, however. Sealants also are usually placed on permanent teeth that have erupted, but in certain cases they may be placed on primary teeth, as well.

A dental sealant can be placed in a short appointment. The dentist first prepares the tooth by cleaning and drying it thoroughly. An acidic solution is then placed on the tooth to create an environment that is more conducive to bonding with the dental sealant. Then, the dentist places the liquid sealant on the tooth and hardens or “cures” it using a light specially designed for that purpose. Patients can resume chewing on the tooth as soon as the sealant is fully hardened.

Dental sealants can last for years, and they can be replaced if that becomes necessary. After you get a sealant, it’s still important to maintain a robust oral hygiene routine at home and appropriate professional care in order to limit cavities on other surfaces of the teeth.

Dental sealants can help to protect the teeth, especially the large teeth at the rear of the mouth, from the effects of tooth decay. If your teeth seem particularly vulnerable to cavities or you have a child who is cavity-prone, you may want to consider this treatment option to help boost your oral health.

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

4 Important Steps to Keep Your Teeth Healthy

family dentistry Battle Creek MIA healthy, beautiful smile will boost your self-esteem and enhance your overall well-being. Here are four steps that you can take to keep your pearly whites in tip-top shape.

  • Establish a relationship with a family dentistry practice: At a minimum, you should be examined by a dentist and get a professional cleaning from a dental hygienist every six months. Some patients will need to go to the dentist more frequently than that. These routine screenings can help your dentist detect potentially harmful oral diseases, like tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancer, in their earliest stages, when they are most treatable. Additionally, when you are a regular patient with a dentist, it will be easier to be seen when you face a dental emergency.
  • Keep up with a good daily oral hygiene regimen: Your semiannual sessions at the family dentistry practice are a keystone of a healthy smile, but not sufficient on their own. You must put enough effort into maintaining your teeth and gums between those visits. You should be brushing twice a day, for two minutes each time. You may want to consider using an electric toothbrush if you accumulate a lot of plaque. Floss daily and consider an anti-bacterial mouthwash if your dentist recommends one in your case.
  • Eat a nutritious, varied diet and limit sweet treats: Sugary treats can leave behind an ideal nutritional source for oral bacteria that can damage your teeth and gums, especially if they’re of the sticky variety that can cling to your teeth.
  • Quit smoking (or don’t start in the first place!): Smoking causes inflammation and can increase a patient’s risk of developing gum disease, not to mention leaving an unsightly yellow tinge on the teeth and causing bad breath. If you give up this habit, you can do your smile a world of good.

If you ever have any questions about preserving your oral health, you can consult with any of the professionals at your family dentistry practice. These experts can give you tips on proper technique for brushing and flossing, monitoring your gums for signs of periodontal disease and other important steps that protect your smile.

Patients who are serious about their oral health should be seen regularly at a dental practice. If you’ve fallen off track with this, call our office at 269-979-1500 to schedule an appointment with us and get back on a six-month schedule.