November is TMJ Awareness Month

It’s not unusual to hear our patients say they are experiencing sore jaws, headaches, or popping and clicking noises when they bite or chew. These symptoms may be attributed to “TMJ Syndrome.”

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Based on the description from the American Dental Association, the temporomandibular joints, called TMJ, are the joints and jaw muscles that make it possible to open and close your mouth. Located on each side of the head, your TMJ work together when you chew, speak or swallow and include muscles and ligaments as well as the jaw bone. They also control the lower jaw (mandible) as it moves forward, backward and side to side.

Each TMJ has a disc between the ball and socket. The disc cushions the load while enabling the jaw to open widely and rotate or glide. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working properly may result in a painful TMJ disorder.

November is TMJ Awareness Month, so we are urging our patients to let us know if they are experiencing any pain or symptoms so we can help.

Possible causes of TMJ disorders include:

  • arthritis
  • dislocation
  • injury
  • tooth and jaw alignment
  • stress and teeth grinding

Before we treat the disorder, we will examine your joints and muscles for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty moving. Depending on the diagnosis, we may refer you to a physician.

There are several treatments for TMJ disorders. This step-by-step plan from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research allows you to try simple treatment before moving on to more involved treatment. The NIDCR also recommends a “less is often best” approach in treating TMJ disorders, which includes: 

  • eating softer foods – avoiding bagels, granola, other hard-to-chew foods
  • avoiding chewing gum and biting your nails
  • modifying the pain with heat packs
  • practicing relaxation techniques to control jaw tension, such as meditation or biofeedback.

If necessary for your symptoms, the following treatments may be advised: 

  • exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles
  • medications for example, muscle relaxants, analgesics, anti-anxiety drugs or anti-inflammatory medications
  • a night guard or bite plate to decrease clenching or grinding of teeth.

In some cases, we may recommend fixing an uneven bite by adjusting or reshaping some teeth. Orthodontic treatment may also be recommended. Come in and see us and we will discuss the next steps.

Here’s a helpful web page, along with a video:

http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/tmj

All the best from our family to yours,

Dr. Jim

 

 

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A Tribute to Dental IQ

Senior Couple In Bathroom Brushing Teeth

A high Dental IQ means prioritizing oral health care

As you might know, October is National Dental Hygiene Month, and this has made me grateful for many things. For one, it gives us an opportunity to recognize our amazing hygiene team at Mitchell Dentistry, and to give kudos to the great patient care they give all year round – care that goes way beyond cleaning teeth (although they are certainly experts at that!). Our hygienists watch for overall health issues – from oral cancer to high blood pressure, to indications of diabetes. They commiserate and they educate – I cannot say enough how much we appreciate their contributions to our practice.

On that same note, I am grateful to our patients who for the most part, make their oral health a priority in their lives. I call it “Dental IQ” – the ability to make that important connection between oral health and overall health, and to do something about it.

We are so fortunate to live here, not only in the U.S. but in the state of Florida, where we have access to the best dental care in the world. Dr. Yolanda and I have traveled near and far, and have observed many cultures where dental health is just not that important, and the long-term effects are obvious.

I read a study created by the American Dental Association in 2015 (ADA.org/statefacts) where they surveyed adults in the United States to see how they viewed their oral health. The resulting data indicated that:

*75% strongly agreed to the statement, “I value keeping my mouth healthy”

*71% strongly agreed to the statement, “Regular visits to the dentist will keep me healthy”

*61% strongly agreed to the statement, “I need to see the dentist twice a year”

While there is room for improvement, those stats are pretty good, and I would venture to say better than in a lot of other places in the world.

How is your Dental IQ? Here’s a fun quiz I found at MouthHealthy.org:

http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/dental-iq

Please feel free to provide your comments and feedback – I always look forward to hearing from you!

All the best,

Dr. Jim

Tips for Maintaining a Dental-Friendly Diet

Teeth are built to last, and with proper care they can provide us with a lifetime of great smiles. One way to keep teeth healthy and strong is with a dental-friendly diet.

Eat for Good General Health

Vitamins and minerals are essential for good health. These nutrients are best consumed through the food we eat. Many of these nutrients are great for oral health too, so a nutritious diet is a great start to taking care of your teeth. Teeth are a kind of bone tissue, so any nutrients that are good for your bones are good for your teeth, too. Look out for these vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin A is important for gum health and healing.
  • Vitamin C is vital for gum health, and helps protect the teeth against the earliest stages of gum disease.
  • Vitamin K is important in protein production, including proteins that are important for bone health, and the maintenance of bone tissue.

Snack on High-fiber Foods

Nutrient-rich veggies and fruits can be great for general and oral health, and they have an additional benefit for teeth and gum health. Eating crisp and crunchy foods such as celery, carrots, and other veggies helps keep your teeth clean between meals. The action of chewing these foods helps to clear plaque away while promoting saliva production, helping to neutralize acids from food and oral bacteria.

Avoid Sugars

As well as foods to choose, there are foods to avoid: the most important being those that are high in sugar. Feeding on sugars makes oral bacterial produce acids that break down tooth enamel, promoting decay and disease. To prevent this from happening, avoid sugary foods whenever possible. And when you do eat them, try and brush promptly afterward to mitigate the damage.

Choose the Right Beverages

Certain beverages aren’t great for oral health: in particular, sugary beverages, carbonated drinks, and alcohol lead to an oral environment that promotes tooth decay. Choosing water over other beverages whenever possible is best for oral health.

Water is a great choice for another reason: it’s the best way to stay hydrated. This helps ensure your mouth can produce enough saliva to stay moist and at the right pH to reduce bacteria growth.

Don’t Chew on Ice

Chewing on ice may be enjoyable, but it’s terrible for your teeth! Ice and other hard substances can crack the teeth. Even tiny, non-visible cracks make the teeth susceptible to further damage. Tiny cracks can become larger over time, eventually resulting in large chips or cracks, and even broken teeth.

How being mentored helped me become a better mentor

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With our family practice nearing its 37th anniversary, one of the greatest pleasures I have experienced is forming relationships with our patients that go beyond the typical “How are you?” and “How are your teeth doing?” We have the wonderful opportunity to get to know more about our patients’ lives, and to care for multiple generations. During many of these conversations, patients have asked me, “Why did you decide to become a dentist?” Here is my story (and I’m sticking to it!):

My mom was a nurse and my uncles were physicians so for me, so caring for people and going into the medical field was meant to be. At the same time, I really enjoyed working with my hands, being creative and making things. I thought of our family dentist, Dr. Abbott Kagan, and realized, “Yes, that’s what I want to be too.”

Dr. Kagan was more than a dentist to me. He was my scout master and my coach and guru when I took up competitive swimming.Unknown-1

He spent an immeasurable amount of time helping me excel – even to the point where I became an Eagle Scout and later when I achieved a college scholarship for swimming. He was a powerful mentor and guide, and I learned so much by shadowing him all through high school and college.

Unknown-2Dr. Kagan’s patience and guidance were infallible, and I certainly attribute much of who I am today to his efforts.

Dr. Kagan was quite an amazing person who set the bar very high. He opened his dental practice in Fort Myers in 1949 and retired in 1993 due to health reasons.

Excerpts from his obituary from the News-Press report, “In his 46 years of practice, he lovingly cared for anyone and everyone, day or night. He was the first dentist to provide dental services to farm worker families in this area. When it came to the children. Doc’s gentle caring spirit would shine it’s brightest. Recognizing all the obstacles they faced, his goal was to give them a smile. In addition to his professional efforts, Doc was actively involved in many organizations, including the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Kiwanis…For his many contributions, he was awarded the Silver Beaver Award and the Distinguished Citizen Award in 1995. In 1958, Doc organized AAU swimming in Fort Myers and worked for many years with the State AAU as swimming chairman for men and later as District Chairman for the entire state… Time and unconditional love were never in short supply. Assistance, strength and support were always at hand.”

I have always felt very lucky to have had Dr. Kagan in my life, and I have always strived to do better to make him proud. His guidance and mentorship have inspired me to be a better mentor to my staff and even to one of our patients, Andrew Grinsell who grew up with the Mitchell Dentistry practice. He ultimately interned at our office and just graduated from dental school. He was also inducted into the United States Navy – we are so proud of him!

I am grateful to Dr. Kagan for the foundation he provided for me that I can now pass on to others.

Feel free to respond with your stories of mentorship or with any other feedback – we love hearing from our patients!

Best wishes from our Mitchell Dentistry family to yours!

All the best, Dr. Jim

 

 

 

 

Effective Methods Commonly Used to Replace Missing Teeth

Stability, durability, and affordability are three factors to consider when looking to replace missing teeth. When you are in need of replacement teeth, it’s important for you to determine which factor matters most. Depending on your situation, there are an array of options to choose from that replace your teeth and improve your smile.

Tooth Replacement Options

Getting the gaps in your smile filled is the ultimate goal. It’s important for you to know your options and the different benefits that they provide.

Fixed bridges are porcelain restorations made to look like a short row of teeth. These restorations involve clasps connecting the bridge to teeth adjacent to the affected site. Many prefer this method because surgery is not required. With bridges, maintenance and replacement may be needed over time, and the surrounding healthy teeth are altered in order to affix the clasps to them.

Partials and dentures are mouthpieces made to look like natural teeth and gums that replace several missing teeth up to an entire arch. Dentures use gums for stability and sometimes require antibacterial denture adhesive to generate greater security.

Dental implants are the sturdiest, longest-lasting option to tooth replacement. While some of the other options come with limitations, like lengthier treatment or potential for slippage and discomfort, dental implants provide a comprehensive restoration of the tooth, from root to crown. Dental implants also allow for a single tooth to be replaced anywhere in the smile.

Restorations with dental implants can be made for crowns, bridges, and dentures for complete smile rehabilitation. This option uses titanium posts surgically placed where the tooth root once was. This provides a sturdy platform to attach the restoration to, eliminating many issues related to the respective restoration.

Why replacing missing teeth is important

The most obvious reason to replace a missing tooth is to reestablish the aesthetics and function your mouth. The gaps created by missing teeth often affect a person’s dental function and appearance, causing discomfort in situations such as eating and speaking. From a health perspective, not replacing the gaps in your smile can lead to deterioration in the jaw bone beneath the missing tooth, causing alterations to one’s facial structure. Also, when replacement teeth are not placed, the remaining teeth will misalign over time, causing jaw discomfort and further aesthetic and functional trouble.

Receiving dental implants and restorations can completely prevent the issues related to having missing teeth.

Contact Mitchell Dental Today!

If you live in the Fort Meyers area and are in need of teeth replacement, the experienced and diligent associates at Mitchell Dentistry would love to discuss your many options with you. Give our office a call today to set up an appointment!

FABULOUS FLOSSING

…The Right Way to a Flawless Floss

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At Mitchell Dentistry, we take every opportunity to guide and educate our patients on how to maintain their healthy, beautiful smiles. We are great fans of the “perfect flossing technique” and are happy to share it with you. And don’t worry if you struggle with your technique at the beginning, flossing is a learned skill and you will get better with practice.

Thanks for the American Dental Association and MouthHealthy.org for creating an easy guide to the proper way to floss.  Remember: at least once a day the right way to keep your mouth healthy!

Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty.
 

Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.

 

Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums.

 

When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.

 

Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions. Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. Don’t forget the back side of your last tooth.

Once you’re finished, throw the floss away. A used piece of floss won’t be as effective and could leave bacteria behind in your mouth.

Let us know if you have any questions about what types of oral care products will be most effective for you. Look for products that contain the ADA Seal of Acceptance so you know they have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy summer from our Mitchell Dentistry family to yours!

All the best, Dr. Jim

 

 

 

 

5 Dental Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Smile

A beautiful smile often takes hard work and dedication to maintain. Patients often experience detriments to dental health because of a lack of understanding their wellbeing or failure to stay consistent with their oral hygiene routine. With the help of these five dental tips, you’ll be on your way to maintaining a healthy set of teeth for a lifetime.

Brush and floss regularly. Your daily routine greatly influences your health. After 24 hours, any plaque on your teeth can harden into tartar, a source of several dental health concerns. Individuals that brush twice a day and floss regularly remove plaque before it can turn into calculus, preventing issues such as decay, halitosis, and periodontal disease.

Rinse with antiseptic, non-alcoholic mouthwash. Adding this to your daily hygiene routine helps to control the amount of bacteria in the mouth, improving your dental and overall health. Make sure that the mouthwash you rinse with is non-alcoholic, as options containing alcohol may cause dry mouth.

Visit your dentist regularly. While maintaining optimal oral care at home is important, a beautiful set of teeth needs the care from a professional. Scheduling an appointment every six months for routine examinations and cleanings ensures your teeth remain in tip-top shape. Additionally, your dentist can address problem areas in the mouth, improving and maintaining your dental health.

Avoid added sugar. Foods high in sugar lead to cavities and decay. The bacteria in the mouth feeds off sugar, producing acid as a result and breaking down tooth’s enamel. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables high in fiber, such as apples and cucumbers, act as interim tooth brushes, preventing plaque buildup.

Do not smoke! Smoking is a major risk factor in developing gingivitis, discoloration, and decay. Smoking weakens your body’s immune system, leaving plaque and bacteria on teeth. Eventually, the plaque and resultant tartar lead to receding gums and tooth loss. Exposure to cigarettes is also a primary cause of oral cancer.

Discover More

You can find out more ways to improve your dental health by scheduling an appointment with Drs. James, Yolanda, and Jim Mitchell. Call or visit our Mitchell Dentistry in Fort Myers, and let’s work on improving your dental health together.