In Favor of Floss

One of our patients recently brought to my attention an article entitled “If You Hate Floss, It’s O.K. to Try These Alternatives.” As a strong advocate for daily flossing, my first thought upon reading the title was that I was going to hate this article. It turns out, however, that the author raises several valid points that make a lot of sense.


The link to the article appears below, but here is my take on the highlights:

The fact is that the American Dental Association (ADA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend flossing every day. That said, there are patients with manual dexterity difficulties, arthritis, or development disabilities that make it hard to floss the traditional way. And then there are those who simply hate string floss. So, as dentists concerned for your oral healthcare, all we can ask if that you do whatever you can do to disrupt the plaque between your teeth and stimulate your gums.

As long as you see the ADA Seal of Acceptance when shopping for interdental cleaners, here are some types you can try if string floss just does not work for you:

Oral irrigators – these are in essence water “flossers” that burst water between teeth to remove loose food. These have been shown to reduce gingivitis symptoms in the short term, but no evidence for overall plaque reduction.

Interdental brushes – these small, textured brushes made for cleaning between teeth may be easier to hold and maneuver than floss. This technique can reduce gingivitis symptoms and plaque in the short term. People with tightly spaced teeth may have trouble with these.

Toothpicks – we’re not talking about the ones you pick up at the diner, rather the wooden plaque removers with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. The wooden version can help reduce gingivitis but not plaque, while those made of synthetic materials may reduce plaque but not gingivitis.

Floss picks – this is a disposable tool with a toothpick on one end and a bit of floss held taught on the other. A side note here: I have seen an inexplicable number of these lying discarded in the street, making me wonder how they got there. The Journal of Clinical Dentistry found that these are at least as good as regular dental floss when it comes to removing plaque, but may be difficult to maneuver.

Tape floss – some people find that this wide, flat floss is more comfortable and easier to slide between tightly spaced teeth.

At the end of the article, I was glad that I read beyond the title. It reinforces the overall lesson that whatever method you choose, make flossing a habit. Try and power through for at least 10 days in a row before deciding what may or may not work for you. We have had patients ask about charcoal, tongue scrapers, oil pulling, and more – and nothing takes the place of flossing.

Believe me, once you get used to it, you will not want to miss a day! If after two weeks straight, flossing is still uncomfortable, come and see us so we can check for a more serious issue.

In the meantime, feel free to call with any questions – we always welcome your feedback.

Here is the link to the article in its entirety:

All the best,
Dr. Jim

Oral Health Care…It’s in Our Nature

With our range of dental experience on patients from all walks of life, the last thing we expected to be doing on a typical Tuesday afternoon was to be performing an oral procedure on a wild winged creature. Yet that’s exactly what happened when Rebeca, Kim, Patrice and I found ourselves in a unique situation right outside our office. Just before closing time, we spotted an anhinga through the window, struggling with its beak entirely wound with taut fishing line and an attached lure. The bird was clearly in distress, and most likely starving from not being able to open its mouth.


Our “M” team came to the rescue, armed with a surgical knife, scissors, and a blanket. We got to work and within a few minutes, successfully freed our new friend.


Still, he seemed to be in a weakened condition so we consulted CROW (, described on its website as follows:  “The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife is a teaching hospital and visitor education center dedicated to saving wildlife through state-of-the-art veterinary care, research, education and conservation medicine.”

Each year, CROW cares for approximately 3,500 wildlife patients including more than 200 species of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife in its veterinary hospital, which is one of the nation’s leading rehabilitation facilities for native and migratory wildlife.


The site provided us with the location of an after-hours emergency vet for drop offs, so we placed the blanketed bird in a box, and I dropped him off there for CROW pick up the next morning.

As of today, we are still trying to find out the bird’s condition – we wish him well and know that he is getting great care from the crew at CROW.

This experience serves as a great reminder to all of us to make sure we properly dispose of unwanted fishing line, fishing lures, or other trash – we have to protect our wildlife! As our patients know from our office artwork, photos, and even our logo, all of us at Mitchell Dentistry share a love of nature, wildlife, and our local waters. It was very rewarding to do our little part and help a bird in need.

For the most part, however, we prefer to practice dentistry on our human patients – so bring your “beaks” to us!

In the meantime, if you need a local resource to help a lost or injured animal, visit CROW’s site at:

All the best,

Dr. Jim

Smile…September is Healthy Aging Month


No need to be “long in the tooth”

 It’s true that there’s a “month” recognizing almost any topic, but September’s Healthy Aging Month is one that resonates for many of our patients. While some may be advancing in years,  most of our Baby Boomer patients continue to embrace the positive aspects of getting older. That includes traveling, staying fit, finding a new hobby or career, and identifying many ways to improve their physical, mental, social and financial well-being. Included in that realm is being attentive to one’s dental health which plays a significant role in overall health.

Senior Couple In Bathroom Brushing Teeth

Senior Couple In Bathroom Brushing Teeth

Have you ever heard the phrase “long in the tooth” referring to older people? It refers to a receding gum line giving teeth a longer appearance – a situation that can be completely avoided if you maintain good dental habits. As a matter of fact, none of the stereotypical oral health problems associated with old age is inevitable… if you take good care of your teeth.

Here are the top three tips from the Mitchell Dentistry family to keep your smile youthful:

*Make sure you keep your regular dental appointments

            *Stick to a thorough home care routine

            *Be mindful of good nutrition

Even with the best care, you might encounter challenges…things happen. For example, teeth may wear or break down over time. If they do, address the situation immediately. If you procrastinate and wait for three or four problems to arise, it will be more difficult to fix. Are you a teeth grinder? If so, let’s address grinding destruction right away and correct that issue before it gets worse.

One of the biggest culprits is periodontal (or gum) disease. This might cause recession – remember the phrase “long in the tooth?” Don’t despair – we can help turn this around!

Fortunately, that is the case for many dental conditions. With all the new, advanced techniques and technology we have access to, we have a myriad of new and exciting ways to address and fix damaged, missing, aging, or worn teeth.

Please ask us about any of your concerns – all of us at Mitchell Dentistry want to ensure that you continue to have a vibrant, youthful smile!

All the best,

Dr. Jim


Upcoming conference offers exciting topics & continuing education

As our patients know, Dr. Yolanda, Dr. Joe and I have a passion for continuing education to bring you the latest techniques, knowledge, and technology to keep your smiles at the top of their game.

UnknownI usually start getting excited about a major conference about a month in advance when we are selecting what courses to take. This time, when planning for the upcoming Florida Dental Association Convention in Orlando, I am really looking forward to the whole agenda, with a few specific classes we have identified as standouts.

First, the keynote and motivational speaker offers a unique presentation. Traci Brown, body language expert, three-time U.S. collegiate cycling champion and former member of Team USA, past president, National Speaker’s Association Colorado Chapter, and author of four books, will present “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire.” I find the description quite intriguing:

Can you tell when someone is lying? Let body language expert Traci Brown show you how! Are you winning the game of “Two Truths and a Lie?” You play every day and don’t even know it. Win the game with your team, patients, potential hires and vendors to dramatically improve your bottom line … and detect fraud before it happens…In this fast-paced keynote session, you’ll learn how to use Ms. Brown’s system to separate the lies from the truth in today’s headlines — and in your own life so you’re never deceived again. You can quit second-guessing your instincts and immediately tell fact from fiction!

On the dentistry side, a course entitled “Dietary Supplements and Oral Health” will provide the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Speaker Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, MD, Medicine Lodge Ranch, LLC has a medical degree from the University of New Mexico School of Medicine; clinical associate professor of medicine and fellowship director, Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine; internationally known speaker; author, “Life is Your Best Medicine,” National Geographic.

blur bristle brush clean

Photo by George Becker on

Since many of our patients do use dietary supplements, we will be eager to learn more about this. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nutrient shortfalls are more common than realized for numerous vitamins and minerals. The use of dietary supplements has become commonplace in the United States. Some nutritional supplements have been shown through scientific investigation to benefit oral and overall health; however, there remain concerns regarding safety and quality.

addiction chemistry close up colors

Photo by Pixabay on

We will become familiar with the evidence of safety and benefit for the most commonly used dietary supplements to enhance patient outcomes and reduce the risk of adverse events associated with dental procedures.

The three of us will also take a technology course on the latest software tips, new advances in root canals, and a class on bonding and adhesives. Can’t wait to share all we will learn with our team and patients!

Stay tuned for more details after the conference takes place June 27 through 29 at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando.

All the best,
Dr. Jim

Oh, Baby: Is it ever too early for dental healthcare?

girl holding white rabbit during daytime

Photo by Pixabay on

From our perspective, the answer to that question is “No.” Since baby teeth play a large part in the guiding and development of the adult teeth, our recommendation is to begin caring for those tiny pearly whites as early as possible. As adult role models, we have an opportunity to instill healthy habits that will last a lifetime. What exactly does that entail?

From infancy, parents can use special tooth and gum wipes that can establish a nighttime routine. Gently cleaning the gums, this will get babies used to the sensation of having something in their mouth.

For toddlers, caregivers can put a small bit of flavored toothpaste in the child’s mouth letting them chew on it a little, perhaps scrubbing it around to simulate brushing.

Once that pattern is established, purchase a child-sized toothbrush in favorite colors or featuring cartoon characters. You will also need the accompanying child-centric toothpaste with fluoride. A parent or caregiver can do the actual brushing, letting the toddler have a turn moving the toothbrush around in his or her mouth.

Feel free to incorporate songs and videos about brushing teeth – there are a lot of options! The point is to keep it all light and fun so that your child will want to embrace healthy habits as early as possible. These habits are increasingly important, especially because decay grows rapidly in baby teeth. Resulting early tooth loss can lead to malocclusion and other oral problems in adolescence and adulthood.

At Mitchell Dentistry, we recommend age three and a half to start with regular dental visits. Here is an excerpt from our past blog post about that milestone age of three and a half:

“Our patients who are new parents often ask, ‘I think our child has great teeth, so at what age should we start bringing our child to the dentist?’ I don’t hesitate for a second – three and a half. Why three and a half you might ask? Why not three? Or four? After practicing dentistry for about three and a half decades, I can assure you – three and a half is the perfect age to start a child’s lifelong relationship with dentistry in a fun and positive way. That is the magic age when the child understands what’s happening at the dentist’s office. Just tell your child that we are going to visit our friend the dentist and a simple explanation of why they are here and what they can expect.

As you can see, it’s never too early for good oral hygiene!

As always, please call us with any questions or concerns about caring for the beautiful smiles of your children and grandchildren.

All the best from our family to yours,

Dr. Jim



For Mitchell Dentistry, a photo shoot is a day at the beach

As our patients know, we enjoy sharing our love of nature in our practice. The color themes and artwork in our office reflect local wildlife and the hues of the sea. Our website ( also displays a beach theme. So when it came time to plan the staff photo shoot, what could be a more natural setting for us than our local beaches?

The overall goal is to update our website with the new photos featuring our highly talented hygiene team, amazing assistants, and fabulous front desk staff. Instead of traditional, in-front-of-a-screen headshots, we decided on a more natural approach. When it came down to the details, everyone contributed their suggestions – from what to wear, to the backdrops, to the water side location.

The day of the Friday photo shoot finally arrived, and all 16 of us set out to the Outrigger Resort  on Fort Myers Beach. The sun was shining, the water shone azure blue – you could not have asked for a better day. After a little touch up on hair and makeup, everyone was ready to go, and our talented photographer, Ilene Safron of Mainsail Productions started shooting individual and group shots of our entire staff.

As the sun rose higher in the sky, we took a fun and festive lunch break at the resort’s outdoor restaurant. The staff was friendly and accommodating, adding another enjoyable element to the day.

We closed the day with some fun shots at the water’s edge before everyone went home for the weekend.

group everyone

All in all, it was a productive and fun day. Not only will we have some great shots for the website and other marketing materials, we also had the opportunity to enjoy a beach outing with our Mitchell Dentistry “family.”

Watch our website for an updated new look coming soon!

All the best,

Dr. Jim



A Bright New 2019 at Mitchell Dentistry

The Christmas lights are down and the decorations are put away as we settle into 2019 at Mitchell Dentistry. We have had a few weeks to reflect on our goals for the year ahead, which include both in-office and out-of-office endeavors.

For us, new aspirations begin “at home,” and we have already begun to lighten and brighten our surroundings. Newly installed LED lighting is adding a fresh view of our work spaces and parking lot – with the added benefit of being good for our environment. We have also recently refreshed our sterilization and lab areas – remodeling with new countertops that update the look and feel of our space. Throughout the office, the refresh has given us a sense of renewal and recharged energy.

blur bottle bright building

Photo by Pixabay on

Taking this burst of energy to the next step, the Mitchells will continue to pursue professional and educational opportunities that offer our patients the most advanced care in the industry. In that spirit, Dr. Yolanda, Dr. Joe and I are eagerly anticipating the 107th annual Hinman meeting taking place in March in Atlanta. “The Thomas P. Hinman Dental Meeting is an annual tradition, providing dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, laboratory technicians and dental office staff with the latest and most comprehensive continuing education in dentistry today. The meeting is known for its Southern Hospitality, extraordinary educational programs, impressive roster of speakers, unsurpassed social events and all-inclusive technical exhibition. The Meeting is sponsored by the Hinman Dental Society, a non-profit organization, and all excess revenue is invested and then gifted in the form of scholarships to individuals and institutions that foster dental education. The society has provided nearly $8,600,000 in total giving to date.”

As a group, we love learning and continuing to grow as professionals to be the best we can be for our patients. A bonus this year is that Dr. Yolanda will have the opportunity to attend her milestone dental school reunion, taking place during the same week as the Hinman meeting!

We hope that your New Year is off to a bright, positive start, and that you will accomplish the goals you have set out for 2019.

Feel free to share your thoughts or comments below – we always welcome your feedback!

All the best,

Dr. Jim



Who is Dr. Piper?

At Mitchell Dentistry, most of our patients who visit our office around the holiday season are familiar with our Holiday Toy Drive to benefit the Dr. Piper Center for Social Services, a 100+ year old Southwest Florida organization that helps our region’s children and elderly. Year after year, you may have seen our playpen overflowing with gifts donated so generously by our patients and staff, you may have even donated yourself, and you may have seen signs in our office encouraging patients to donate.


We often hear the question, “Who is Dr. Piper?” At that point, we usually direct patients to the website, or we give a brief explanation of what we know. This year, we thought it might be more helpful to provide her official bio provided by the Dr. Piper Center. It is a most interesting story about an extraordinary person set in the fascinating history of the City of Fort Myers during extraordinary times.

For Mitchell Dentistry, with our families and practice rooted here in Fort Myers for many decades, our affinity for this organization is closely related to our broad and deep connection to our community. We appreciate the hundreds of volunteers who help our local children and elderly, and make our community a better place to live, work and play.

Meet Dr. Ella Mae Piper

Dr. Ella Mae Piper was born in Brunswick; Georgia (near the Florida line) March 8, 1884; the only daughter of Ned Bailer and Sarah Williams. Mrs. Piper died on June 13, 1954. She was a well-known civic worker and businesswoman, who established the first beauty parlor and chiropody office in Fort Myers 69 years ago. She attended Spellman College in Atlanta, Georgia and graduated from Rohrer’s world-famous Institute of Beauty Culture located in New York City.  She graduated August 25, 1915. Her name then was Ella M. Jones.  She majored in body massage and Swedish movements and was a well-known Chiropodist (foot doctor).

She arrived in Fort Myers in 1915 where she opened her first beauty shop located on Jackson Street across from Englehart’s Mortuary. Later the beauty shop was moved to Hendry Street where she also began the practice of Chiropody. In 1916, Dr. Piper moved her business to 1819 Evans Avenue near her home. She also owned the Big 4 Bottling Company located on Mango and Evans. The community enjoyed Big 4 soft drinks for five cents a bottle.


March 8, 1884 – June 13, 1954

Dr. Ella Piper held annual Christmas tree parties for children of Dunbar Heights. Her mother, Sarah Williams, started this event in 1915 while employed in the H. E. Heitman home. Thus began an institute over the years that grew from an original gathering of 15 little girls to some 600 boys and girls who romped over her lawn at 1771 Evans Avenue every December 25th.

​When Dr. Piper’s mother died in 1926, Ella carried on the Annual Christmas Party with the assistance of many churches, businesses, and many community friends who assisted with contributions and gifts for the youngsters. The annual Christmas Tree Party has continued uninterrupted since Dr. Piper’s death through the faithful efforts of local citizens.

In Dunbar Heights, she was a Grand Lodge Officer and Executive Board member for 26 years of the Elks Lodge. She also served as a state officer. She was the founder of the Tranquillo Temple and organized the Triple City Council and served as Deputy of the District. She was a member of Mt. Olive Church and the Pioneer’s Club. She assisted in building the Old Dunbar School in 1926.

​Dr. Ella Piper was known as a philanthropist. She was instrumental in helping young people in obtaining scholarships to attend Tuskegee College, using her personal money to help some of these students. Dr. Ella Piper was well-known throughout the community and often aided elderly persons, particularly the underprivileged and handicapped. It was this interest, along with the interest of children that led her to leave her property to the City of Fort Myers for the benefit of young children and senior citizens.

You can watch a video about Dr. Ella Piper, and learn more about the organization by visiting their site:

Thank a Waterpik for a happier, healthier smile

At Mitchell Dentistry, we know our patients are brushing, and most are flossing. But how many are using a Waterpik? This product has been around for more than 50 years, but the new and improved version is something we believe you should not overlook when it comes to overall oral healthcare.


It is rare for us to endorse a specific brand, but we feel pretty strongly about the Waterpik Water Flosser with the reservoir. Why? From the scientific standpoint, keep in mind that plaque is a super sticky substance, the byproduct of bacterial activity in the mouth. Brushing and flossing may get some of the plaque off, but there can be damaging residue left behind. Behold the Waterpik which washes the residue right out of there.

With the Seal of Acceptance from the American Dental Association, the Waterpik® Water Flosser has been shown to:

  • Help reduce plaque along the gum line and between teeth.
  • Help prevent and reduce gingivitis, often a precursor to periodontal disease.

This means when used daily, as directed, the Waterpik® Water Flosser is an ideal choice for improving and/or maintaining good oral health especially in people who struggle with dental floss.

With our own patients, we have seen market improvement among our patients who use the Waterpik daily.

So how do you use the Waterpik? You fill the reservoir with warm water. At the beginning, use the light setting until you get used to it. Place the flosser in your mouth before you turn it on. Then turn it on and let the water shoot between your teeth, all the way around until the reservoir runs dry.

I personally, like to add a capful of Listerine to the warm water before I start. We checked in with the Waterpik site and here’s what they say about that:

“We recommend using warm water. Water alone is proven highly effective in numerous clinical studies. However, patients can use certain agents with the Water Flosser:

  • Mouthwash – A small amount of mouthwash can be added to the water for flavoring and/or to enhance compliance.
  • Chlorhexidine and Listerine – Have been clinically tested for use with the Water Flosser. CHX can be diluted in varying strengths.

Any time an agent other than water is used in the Water Flosser, flush the unit by running plain water through it afterwards.

 We do not recommend bleach dilution; it shortens the life of the unit. We do not recommend pure essential oils such as tea tree oil; it destroys the product. (Formulated products that are commonly available, such as Listerine, contain essential oils in small amounts and won’t harm the product).”

We hope you will consider adding a Waterpik to your dental routine – we know you will be happy with the results.

As always, please ask us for more information or recommendations on this, or any other topic related to your oral health. Plus, we love your feedback, so feel free to send your comments our way.

All the best,

Dr. Jim



New study released this week reports on gum disease and high blood pressure

black sphygmomanometer

Photo by Pixabay on

A new study released this week (Oct. 22, 2018) indicates that gum disease may interfere with high blood pressure, or hypertension, control. (

Lead author Dr. Davide Pietropaoli, doctor of dental surgery at the University of L’Aquila in Italy, reported that researchers reviewed medical and dental records of more than 3,600 people diagnosed with high blood pressure. In comparison to people with good oral health, those with gum disease were less likely to respond to high blood pressure medications and 20 percent less likely to achieve healthy blood pressure targets.

At Mitchell Dentistry, we take these reports very seriously and will be even more vigilant when caring for our patients who are receiving treatment for hypertension. We urge our patients who have loved ones with high blood pressure to make sure they are also receiving good oral healthcare.

And on behalf of our Mitchell Dentistry dentists and hygiene team, we will continue to reinforce our daily routine recommendation to help prevent gum disease:

Daily Routine

We recommend brushing with an electric toothbrush at least two minutes in the morning, two minutes at night. The best regimen also includes flossing every night, and the optional water pick which will rinse everything out.

Knowledge is Power

Our goal is to help spread awareness about healthy teeth and gums throughout the year, and we always appreciate 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