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.

Enjoy your vacation, but please take care of your smile!

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Memorial Day Weekend heralds the official start of summer, and for many of our patients, that means vacation time. Sandy beaches, cool mountain tops and family reunions beckon, and our team at Mitchell Dentistry wishes you a warm bon voyage – with one caveat: please remember your oral health while you are away.

We want to make sure you have fun and fond memories of your summertime travels, without the worry of a dental emergency or other oral health issues as a result of being away.

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Here are 10 recommendations to make sure you have a great time, and return with your healthy smile intact:

BEFORE YOU GO

  • Schedule a regular dental checkup before you head out for vacation. Wherever you’re going, you’ll be happy to have a clean, fresh professional cleaning before you go.
  • Make sure to keep our contact information handy in your phone or datebook, In case of emergency while you’re out of town.
  • Pack small – the more compact your oral hygiene items, the more likely you are to keep them handy – and use them. Opt for foldable toothbrushes, mini toothpaste and small bottles of mouthwash that will fit in your purse.
  • Remember your electronic toothbrush. It may seem more cumbersome but they come with a travel case for a reason. Easy to pack into your suitcase, and so much better for your teeth in the long run!

WHILE YOU’RE TRAVELING

  • Forgot your toothbrush? Rinse vigorously with water, or use toothpaste on your finger just to tide you over until you can buy one.
  • Store your toothbrush in a sealable plastic bag for travel, but don’t forget to open the bag when you arrive to give your toothbrush ventilation, preventing against the growth of bacteria.
  • Brush teeth with bottled water if you aren’t certain the local water is safe for drinking.

DURING THE VACAY

  • Just as we try to keep up with our exercise regimen, it’s also a good idea to maintain oral health through twice a day massage of your gums and teeth by brushing and once a day flossing. Your summer will be worry free with a brighter smile!
  • You will likely be drinking more fluids to compensate for sweating, and there is no better fluid for your body and teeth than plain water. Soda and lemonade taste good, but those acids and sugars will cause erosion and decay. Water is best!
  • We all tend to snack more on vacation, but try to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and watch out for high fructose corn syrup – it’s not good for your teeth, or your waistline.

And one bonus tip for those weekend warriors who are highly active and athletic on vacation: remember a mouth guard for those sports where your mouth is at risk for injury. We want you to bring your beautiful smile back to Southwest Florida!

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

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

All the best, Dr. Jim

How dentistry can help patients with sleep disorders

Taking a deeper look at sleep…

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Have you ever taken such an interest in something that you have wanted to learn all you can about it?

At Mitchell Dentistry, we were among the first in our community to talk to our patients about the dangers of sleep apnea and how we might be able to help with this life threatening disorder. For several years, we have worked with area physicians, and have introduced ever evolving oral appliances to ease the situation for many patients. We’ve talked with many who are relieved about breathing better – and many more who are excited that their loved ones have stopped snoring all night!

All three of us, Dr. Yolanda, Dr. Joe and I, are excited about a three-day conference we will soon be attending in Arizona. We will amp up our education with the latest courses on aberrant breathing – when awake and asleep – and its impact on our patients’ health. This seminar will help us move beyond sleep appliances and into a new realm of sleep medicine.

We will learn to recognize breathing-disturbed sleep and the associated anatomic “choke points” of respiration. The world’s leading experts on this issue will help us enhance our solid foundation and give us even more tools for controlling and resolving airway issues with the newest techniques in restorative dentistry.

According to Spear Education, among the things we will learn to bring back to our patients include:

  • Understanding how breathing-related disruption of sleep is not limited to apnea
  • How upper airway flow limitation creates an environment for poor sleep and chronic stress
  • The causes and correlation between the top 10 dental problems and dysfunctional breathing
  • The importance of breathing disordered sleep on the systemic, neurocognitive, and craniofacial development of our pediatric patients
  • Understanding the importance of nasal breathing, the damaging sequela of mouth breathing, and the strategies to promote proper function
  • A systematic approach to controlling and resolving sleep-induced airway issues

Those of you who know us know how much we love learning, and applying our newfound knowledge in our practice. We can’t wait to share ideas with you when we return from the conference.

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

Best wishes from our Mitchell Dentistry family to yours!

All the best, Dr. Jim

 

 

 

 

The Truth About Sugary Drinks: From a Dental Student’s Point of View

At Mitchell Dentistry, one of our top priorities is educating our patients. A critical challenge is how to provide sometimes technical information that is clear, concise and easy to understand. Perhaps that’s why the American Dental Association (ADA) has a contest for dental students in health literacy. This year’s winner, Ida Gorshteyn, was just announced, and we understand why. Her essay entitled  “The Truth About Sugary Drinks and Your Smile” does an excellent job of presenting important information in an entertaining, informative way.

Ms. Gorshteyn says, “This essay was actually one of my first experiences with health literacy. It was eye-opening and educational to see firsthand how nuanced and actually difficult it is to write with a public health targeted audience and goal in mind.“

 We congratulate Ida Gorshteyn and hope you find her article helpful:

 The Truth About Sugary Drinks and Your Smile

By Ida Gorshteyn

UCLA School of Dentistry student

Winning Essay 2017

 Sweetened beverages have become a treat that many Americans have every day. The truth is that these drinks are not healthy, especially for our dental health and smiles. Everyone has harmful bacteria in their mouths that eat the sugars we consume. The bacteria get energy from the sugar, but in the process produce acid. The acid they make can damage teeth, causing cavities to form or erosion to occur.

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Some of the most common beverages that Americans drink actually have loads of sugar, even drinks that are marketed as “healthy” or “all natural”. If you think you’re safe with drinks like juice, think again! A glass of apple juice can contain a similar amount of sugar to glass of soda. According to the USDA, sugar should make up no more than 10% of your daily calories. For women, that is 10-15 tsp. per day. For men, it’s 12.5-18.75 tsp. Just one glass of that apple juice would put many people at (or just under) their entire daily limit.

Eliminating sugary beverages from our diets would be best, but reducing the number of sugary beverages you consume and substituting healthier options with less sugar is already a step in the right direction. Here is a list of drinks that are full of sugar and drinks that are better choices.

Lots of Sugar Better Choices 
 Soda Water
 Energy drinks Unsweetened tea
 Chocolate milk Milk
 Smoothies Plain sparkling water
 Fruit punch or juice Diluted juice

All of the drinks in the better choice column have little or no sugar. That means they won’t give the bacteria in your mouth a chance to cause trouble and make acid that can damage your teeth. Water can also contain fluoride, which protects teeth against cavities. The calcium in milk also helps keep your teeth strong. If you or your children are allergic to cow’s milk, try unsweetened milk substitute (such as almond, soy, rice) with added calcium.

If you find you can’t resist your morning cup of sweetened coffee, tea, or juice, there still are some things you can do to help protect your teeth. Here are some suggestions to consider.

  • Drink, don’t sip. Sipping gives the bacteria more time to eat the sugar and to create cavities. Drink quickly to give your body time to wash away the bad stuff. Try to drink sweetened coffees, teas or sodas in one sitting instead of sipping on them over a longer amount of time. If you give your child juice, have them drink it with meals only, and put only water in a sippy cup they might carry around during the day.
  • Fluoride is your friend. If your community’s water is fluoridated, drink tap water to improve your dental health. Fluoride protects teeth and has re-duced the number of cavities across the nation.
  • Brush and clean between your teeth. Brush your teeth twice a day and clean between your teeth once a day. Ask your dentist about the best way to do this. Help all kids under the age of eight to brush and floss well, and be sure to visit to your dentist regularly.

Knowing what drinks contain sugar and that sugar-sweetened drinks can hurt your dental health is a good start. Set some goals for your family to follow these tips. Good habits begin at a young age, so help your kids make healthy decisions about what they choose to drink. Set a positive example, and you will all have healthier smiles and a healthier future.

 

All of us at Mitchell Dentistry hope you take these suggestions to heart for your healthier, happier smile. As always, we are here for your questions and concerns. Let us know what you think about this essay, and if there are other topics you would like us to share with you.

All the best,

Dr. Jim