National Gum Care Month is here!

unknownThe month of September brings our attention to back-to-school, football season and for those up north, autumn leaves. But did you know that September is also National Gum Care Month? Don’t laugh…caring for your gums is as important as caring for your teeth, and at Mitchell Dentistry, we’re excited that there is a whole month dedicated to creating awareness about this topic.

Healthy Gums Matter

We all tend to be more attentive to what we can see: are my teeth white enough? Are my teeth straight enough? But remember that it takes healthy gums to support your healthy smile. Many people are at risk of gum disease, or suffering from it already, and they may not even know. During the month of September, learn what to look for to keep your gums healthy.

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Protect Your Body

Unhealthy gums can lead to many afflictions, all over the body. Through periodontal disease, bacteria and inflammation can enter the bloodstream, which can cause problems with

  • the brain and nervous system
  • the heart
  • blood
  • joints

Your overall health depends on healthy gums. Learn what the signs of gum disease are so you can recognize them and take action:

Symptoms to Watch For

Here are some symptoms to look out for so that you can take the next steps, and make an appointment with our office. Hopefully we can address some of these symptoms early on, before it is necessary for us to recommend a visit to your periodontist for further evaluation.

The most common signs of gum disease are tenderness, swelling, or redness in the gums. If your gums are receded from the teeth or your teeth feel loose, it is also a signifier that your gums may be unhealthy. Of course, if you notice bleeding, you should make an appointment with our office immediately.

Knowledge is Power

Our goal is to help spread awareness about healthy teeth and gums throughout the year. Because September is National Gum Care Month, this gives us an extra opportunity to pass on helpful information to our patients.

As always, please call us with any questions or concerns. We love your feedback, so feel free to send your comments our way.

All the best,

Dr. Jim

 

 

To Floss or Not to Floss…

At Mitchell Dentistry, we encourage you to floss. In light of the latest news reports suggesting that there is little evidence that flossing works (http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/new-report-suggests-there-is-little-evidence-that-flossing-works-736960579572), we are compelled to let our patients and friends know that indeed flossing serves a very specific, and necessary, purpose.

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According to the American Dental Association (ADA), using an interdental cleaner (like floss) is an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also reaffirmed flossing as “an important oral hygiene practice” in an August 2016 statement.

The American Dental Association recommends cleaning between your teeth once a day. This is important because plaque that is not removed by brushing and flossing can eventually harden into calculus or tartar. Flossing may also help prevent gum disease and cavities.

For a lighthearted look at what you can do with your floss should you decide that it might be useless, take a look at NBC’s follow-up story here:

http://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/different-uses-dental-floss-now-it-s-useless-n622846

After you’ve finished with a little chuckle, here are some great tips from the ADA on how to floss correctly and effectively, along with a helpful video:

http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/f/flossing

Please take our advice and continue to floss – our team at Mitchell Dentistry only wants the best for you, and would never “string you along.”

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As always, please call us with any questions or concerns. And we love your feedback – how do you feel about flossing?

All the best,

Dr. Jim

Story Sources:

The above post cites information from NBC-TV News and the American Dental Association (ADA).

 

 

Protect your heart and brain with a healthy mouth

At Mitchell Dentistry, we continue to learn about the science-based connections between oral health and overall health. Paying attention to the whole person has often helped us notice many of the warning signs that have led us to advise patients to seek further diagnosis, in some cases culminating in life saving results.

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That’s why we were interested in a recent research study published in Science Daily describing how patients entering the hospital for acute stroke displayed an association between certain types of stroke and the presence of the oral bacteria (cnm-positive Streptococcus mutans).

The Link between Stroke and Oral Bacteria

Co-authored by Robert P. Friedland, M.D., the Mason C. and Mary D. Rudd Endowed Chair and Professor in Neurology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, researchers at the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center in Osaka, Japan, observed stroke patients to gain a better understanding of the relationship between hemorrhagic stroke and oral bacteria. Among the patients who experienced intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), 26 percent were found to have a specific bacterium in their saliva, cnm-positive S. mutans. Among patients with other types of stroke, only 6 percent tested positive for the bacterium.

Strokes are characterized as either ischemic strokes, which involve a blockage of one or more blood vessels supplying the brain, or hemorrhagic strokes, in which blood vessels in the brain rupture, causing bleeding.

The researchers also evaluated MRIs of study subjects for the presence of small brain hemorrhages which may cause dementia and also often underlie ICH. They found that the number of these was significantly higher in subjects with cnm-positive S. mutans than in those without.

The authors hypothesize that the S. mutans bacteria may bind to blood vessels weakened by age and high blood pressure, causing arterial ruptures in the brain, leading to small or large hemorrhages.

Oral Health is Important to Brain Health

“This study shows that oral health is important for brain health. People need to take care of their teeth because it is good for their brain and their heart as well as their teeth,” Friedland said. “The study and related work in our labs have shown that oral bacteria are involved in several kinds of stroke, including brain hemorrhages and strokes that lead to dementia.”

The cnm-negative S. mutans bacteria is found in approximately 10 percent of the general population, Friedland says, and is known to cause dental cavities (tooth decay). Friedland also is researching the role of oral bacteria in other diseases affecting the brain.

“We are investigating the role of oral and gut bacteria in the initiation of pathology in the neurodegenerative disorders Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s with collaborators in the United Kingdom and Japan.”

Extending a healthy life with a healthy mouth

Why are we sharing this information? Because our Mitchell Dentistry team is concerned for our patients – not just from the standpoint of their oral health, but for their health in general. Based on science, we know that helping you maintain a healthy mouth can extend your healthy life.

As always, please call us with any questions or concerns. In the meantime, enjoy a safe and healthy summer!

All the best,

Dr. Jim

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Louisville. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

 

 

 

A Breath of Fresh Air

 

imagesSummer brings longer days, weekend barbecues, and July 4th fireworks – at Mitchell Dentistry, it also brings a bevy of dental appointments with our patients who are college students. Home on summer break, they can catch up on all their obligations at home, including taking care of their oral health. For most, an exam, x-rays and a professional cleaning are all they need to go on their way. Others have more serious needs.  One issue that comes up time and time again is the question of bad breath, or halitosis. Whether a summer romance has blossomed, or time is spent in close proximity to their friends, this is a concern shared by many teens and college students. The good news is that bad breath can often be prevented with some simple steps.

Bad breath is caused by odor-producing bacteria that grow in the mouth. If you do not brush and floss regularly, bacteria accumulate on the bits of food left in your mouth and between your teeth. The sulfur compounds released by these bacteria make your breath smell.

Certain foods, especially ones like garlic and onions that contain pungent oils, can contribute to bad breath because the oils are carried to your lungs and out through your mouth. And in addition to several other negative effects, smoking is also a major cause of bad breath.

Based on our experience here at Mitchell Dentistry, and some helpful tips from the University of Florida’s School of Dentistry, here are some mythbusters that might help freshen your breath.

Myth #1: Mouthwash will make bad breath go away.

Mouthwash only gets rid of bad breath temporarily. If you do use mouthwash, look for an alcohol-free, antiseptic (kills the germs that cause bad breath) and plaque-reducing one with a seal from the American Dental Association (ADA). Also, remember to ask us for recommendations.

Myth #2: As long as you brush your teeth, you shouldn’t have bad breath.

The truth is that most people only brush their teeth for 30 to 45 seconds, which just does not suffice. To thoroughly clean all the surfaces of your teeth, you should brush for at least two minutes at least twice a day. Remember to brush your tongue, too — bacteria love to congregate there. It’s equally important to floss because brushing alone won’t remove harmful plaque and food particles that become stuck between your teeth and gums.

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Mitchell Dentistry emphasizes the importance of brushing your tongue to prevent bad breath.

Myth #3: If you breathe into your hand, you’ll know when you have bad breath.

We all do this, right? However, when you breathe, you don’t use your throat the same way you do when you talk. When you talk, you tend to bring out the odors from the back of your mouth (where bad breath originates), which simply breathing doesn’t do. Also, because we tend to get used to our own smells, it’s hard for a person to tell if he or she has bad breath.

If you’re concerned about bad breath, make sure you’re taking care of your teeth and mouth properly. Some sugar-free gums and mints can temporarily mask odors, too.

If you brush and floss properly and visit our office for regular cleanings, but your bad breath persists, you may have a medical problem like sinusitis or gum disease – so please call us if you suspect a problem.  We are here to answer your questions, and help you take care of it.

Enjoy your summer!

All the best,

Dr. Jim

 

 

The Joy of Designing Smiles

As Dr. Joe, Dr. Yolanda and I returned from this year’s AACD (American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry) Scientific Session in Toronto, we reflected on all that we learned about the latest advances for rejuvenating and restoring smiles. As long time accredited members of this prestigious organization, we have attended the annual conference for the past nine years, and we always come away inspired and eager to bring new ideas to our patients back home.

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Drs. Joe, Yolanda & Jim Mitchell of Mitchell Dentistry in Fort Myers attended the annual AACD2016 conference in Toronto to learn about the latest procedures and technology in cosmetic dentistry.

In Search of New Knowledge

Everyone on our staff is a lifelong learner, often on the leading edge of mastering the latest dental technologies.  Just looking at the AACD’s “teaser” videos before we left (http://www.aacd.com/conference) had us making notes about which sessions to attend.

Is it the concept of acquiring new knowledge that entices us? The possibility of adding new technology to our practice? The aspect of having a competitive edge by being among the first to learn new trends? Probably yes to all of the above.

Creating a Magical Smile

But the primary motivator for us is what happens when we apply our new-found knowledge to practical applications – to our patients. It is a magical experience when you see someone smile broadly, unselfconsciously, for the first time after they have had a restorative procedure. We hold up the mirror and right in front of our eyes, we see someone’s self-esteem shoot from 0 to a million – having the capability of bringing that kind of joy to an individual is truly amazing.

From the grandmother who can now smile at her grandchildren without them asking, “Grandma, why are your teeth so crooked?” to the highly trained business professional who credited achieving the job of his dreams with his restored missing teeth, we’ve played a small part in helping people transform themselves and transform their lives. It is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling parts of our practice.

So while I delighted in checking off the boxes on which hands-on workshops we planned to attend, and while we appreciated spending three days with the world’s most renowned experts on cosmetic dentistry, it’s the end result that is the most meaningful to us – seeing a bright, brilliant, brand new smile on a patient’s face.

Bringing Our Patients Breakthrough Technology

We learned so much and can’t wait to share new ideas and new technology with you! Let us know if you have any questions about cosmetic or restorative dentistry, and we will bring you up to date on the latest information.

All the best,

Dr. Jim

 

 

Farm to Table…to Dental Health

From our earliest training in dentistry, we learned about the connection between nutrition and oral health. Now more than ever, eating healthfully and mindfully has entered our universal consciousness, and most of us are paying greater attention to what we put in our mouths, and where our food comes from.

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In Southwest Florida alone, the number of farmers’ markets has tripled over the past couple of years, and many of our area’s best chefs have cultivated an interest in the “farm to table” movement, purchasing what is local, seasonal and fresh.

Here’s how some of that fresh, local food is helping maintain your smile:

Cheese

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If you love cheese, you will be happy to know that a study published in the May/June 2013 issue of General Dentistry, the journal of the American Academy of General Dentistry, reported that eating cheese raised the pH in the subjects’ mouths and lowered their risk of tooth decay. It’s thought that the chewing required to eat cheese increases saliva in the mouth. Cheese also contains calcium and protein, nutrients that strengthen tooth enamel.

Leafy Greens

You’ve heard it before, but leafy greens are chock full of vitamins and minerals while being low in calories. Leafy greens such as kale and spinach also promote oral health. They’re high in calcium, which builds your teeth’s enamel. They also contain folic acid, a type of B vitamin that has numerous health benefits, including possibly treating gum disease in pregnant women.

Apples

While the ADA recommends steering clear of most sweet foods, there are some exceptions. Fruits, such as apples, might be sweet, but they’re also high in fiber and water. The action of eating an apple produces saliva in your mouth, which rinses away bacteria and food particles. The fibrous texture of the fruit also stimulates the gums.ripe red apple with green leaf isolated on white

 Carrots

Like apples, carrots are crunchy and full of fiber. Eating a handful of raw carrots at the end of the meal increases saliva production in your mouth, which reduces your risk of cavities. Along with being high in fiber, carrots are a great source of vitamin A.

Celery

Celery acts like a natural “toothbrush,” scraping food particles and bacteria away from your teeth. It’s also a good source of vitamins A and C, two antioxidants that give the health of your gums a boost.

This is just a sampling of what you can discover at our local farmer’s markets or in your grocery’s fresh produce section. I recently saw a helpful link from SWFL Sustainability to a map and directory of  SWFL Farmers Markets: http://www.swflsustainability.com/swfl-farmers-markets/

So remember to eat your fresh fruits and veggies, enjoy the bounty of our community, and smile!

All the best,

Dr. Jim

 

 

Five ways to practice your passion

Last summer we mentored a young dental student who completed his internship at Mitchell Dentistry.  Our goal was to impart knowledge about practicing dentistry, but we also wanted to share the sense of fulfillment we get from our profession every day.  I realized that the things that have kept us excited and inspired over the last 30+ years apply to any career or lifelong interest.  Here are the top five ways we keep motivated, and we hope these thoughts will help you too:

Educate Yourself

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It’s true that knowledge is power, and the more you know about what you do, the more in control you are.  No matter how much we have learned in dental school and in our practice, we take time to attend yearly workshops and seminars to keep us on top of the latest in the industry.  Being educated in your field gives you the confidence and expertise to know you are bringing your A-Game to every patient, client, student or customer.

Keep Improving…Continuously

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Author Malcolm Gladwell wrote that it takes 10,000 hours of doing something to be an expert, and I know that each member of our Mitchell Dentistry team has exceeded that.  If you want to get better at something, you have to practice it…over and over again.  While it may seem repetitive, there is always something new and different to discover.  Plus, nothing can replace that feeling of achievement when you know you have done it right!

Revel in the Human Experience

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Whether you work in a research library or at the front desk of a medical practice, remember that you are not alone.  Sometimes we are so involved in our work that we forget to listen and share our experiences, but please believe me when I say that we love hearing about our patients’ children, upcoming milestones and what’s happening in their lives. Getting to know our patients is a special joy of our practice. Remember to connect with those around you.

Surround Yourself with Inspiration

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It may be a gifted teacher in your life, a talented mentor, or the latest book you read.  But everywhere you look, there are sources of inspiration to plant new ideas or take you to the next level.  For us, our family, our staff and our patients serve as our inspiration.  We are very fortunate to be surrounded by so many interesting and intelligent individuals who keep us on our toes every day!

Love What You Do

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Yes, everyone has their bad days – wishing they could stay in bed on a rainy morning, or struggling to overcome a difficult problem.  The key is to look at the big picture and take a measure of how you are doing overall.  Are you reaching your potential?  Are you continuing to learn, grow and thrive?  If not, what can you do to change?

Thanks to our patients and friends, Dr. Joe, Dr. Yolanda and I remain passionate about our practice and our profession.  What keeps you inspired?  Please let us know.

All the best,

Dr. Jim