What are the Benefits of Straight Teeth?

An aligned smile has multiple cosmetic and functional advantages. Our Fort Myers dental team wants to educate patients on how certain dental issues, such as malocclusion, impact their oral health.

Reduce the Ache

Misalignment can put stress on a patient’s jaw and surrounding facial structures, causing discomfort. Straightening teeth helps prevent this issue and avoids complications with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

Those with a TMJ disorder have frequent headaches and limited movement of the jaw. Problems with your temporomandibular joint also consist of tension in the neck, back, and temples, as well as occasional dizziness and vertigo.

Preserve Your Dental Anatomy

Since pressure is distributed unevenly, misaligned teeth are more susceptible to damage when chewing food. This can lead to teeth becoming prematurely worn and chipped, while an inability to properly chew food can also inhibit a person’s digestive system. Receiving orthodontic intervention protects patients’ smiles and helps stop future issues from arising.

Gums are also vulnerable to developing periodontal disease when teeth are not in their correct position. Misaligned teeth can be more difficult to effectively clean during your daily dental care routine, making it easier for harmful bacteria to spread. Depending on the severity of misalignment, those with very crooked teeth are susceptible to periodontal pockets forming beneath the gum line.

How can I achieve straight teeth?

Invisalign® clear aligners allow you to improve and maintain your oral health, as well as preserve your smile’s beauty.

These clear braces are known for their ability to go unnoticed by others. The Invisalign orthodontic system is a series of invisible trays that gradually shift teeth into improved positions. The clear aligners are custom-made to fit the unique contours of your teeth and require you to wear them for 22 hours a day. Invisalign trays do not place any dietary restrictions on patients as they are conveniently removable, simply take them out before eating.

If you would like to know more information about how straight teeth benefits you, contact Mitchell Dentistry! Dr. Mitchell enjoys helping patients enhance their smiles with treatments that bring them closer to reaching their dental goals. Call or visit our Fort Myers dental practice today!


Am I Too Old for Braces?

Braces are typically the best way to correct tooth alignment problems and most often kids and teens are seen wearing them. However, even though many adults would benefit from having straighter teeth, they feel they’re too old to wear braces. The truth is, you’re almost never too old to wear braces, and definitely not too old to enjoy the benefits of having straighter teeth.

One reason why children are seen wearing braces more often than adults is because it’s easier to correct tooth alignment problems in childhood rather than in adulthood, as alignment issues tend to become worse over time. The main reason, however, is that it’s better to prevent orthodontic problems in childhood than it is to treat those problems—and the oral health issues they cause—later on. Wearing braces as a child or teen means that teeth are properly aligned, and aren’t overcrowded upon entering adulthood. This prevents bite problems and makes it easier to keep teeth and gums healthy.

Why Age isn’t the Most Important Factor

While it’s definitely better to receive braces earlier rather than later, health is also a major factor that makes a patients a good candidate for braces.

If you want to have orthodontic work, it’s important that your teeth and gums are in good shape. This means no tooth decay, gum disease, or missing teeth. If you have problems with decay or gum disease, it’s necessary to treat those problems first before having orthodontic treatment. And unfortunately, if you’re missing several teeth, orthodontic work is unlikely to provide much benefit.

So, it’s not age that is the limiting factor for wearing braces, it’s your oral health. If your teeth and gums are in good condition, you can be a good candidate for braces at almost any age.

Your Options for Orthodontic Treatment

Modern braces are much more comfortable than they used to be. Thinner wires and smaller brackets make them easier to wear, and much less obtrusive. There are also options for tooth-colored or clear ceramic braces that are even less noticeable, so there are plenty of options for adults who want to correct tooth alignment problems.

While children generally wear braces, teens and adults have an additional option—clear aligners. These are customized oral devices that you wear around 22 to 23 hours a day. This treatment gradually straightens teeth over the course of 6 to 18 months. Clear aligners are suitable for correcting minor to moderate alignment problems and preferred by many people because they’re almost undetectable when worn.

No matter what your age, there is likely to be an orthodontic treatment that will work for you. For more information about orthodontic treatment and your options for braces or aligners, talk to your dentist today.

Children & Checkups: The magic age of 3 and a half


February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, the perfect time to share our thoughts on dental care for our littlest patients.

Our patients who are new parents often ask, “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. A simple explanation of why they are here and what they can expect immediately allays any fear they may be experiencing. They are also at an age when they want to cooperate, responding well to the request, ”Please open wide…like an alligator.”


Parents also want to know what will happen at this first visit. Our goal is to make their first appointment fun, laying the groundwork for a positive relationship and the knowledge that they will grow up in a dental practice that is always free of pain or stress. For some children, that means simply counting their teeth and calling it a day. For others, “Mr. Thirsty” may seem like a fun diversion while teaching children that this tool is used for “buzzing” cavity bugs off their teeth.

If all is still going well, we proceed with polishing those tiny pearly whites. Before the visit ends, we help parents learn to look for any signs of tooth decay or other oral health issues, and we provide parents with the best methods to help their children brush effectively.

What about a pediatric dentist you might ask? We support that option if your child has special needs like cavities at a very early age or any unusual issues – but for the most part, 80 to 90 percent of kids do great in our practice. As parents and grandparents, we are very kid focused, giving out child friendly toothbrushes and an invitation to our “Cavity-Free Club” where kids can put their name in a drawing for a Target gift card if their check-up is cavity-free. We also offer a selection of little toys to choose from after appointments – but no candy!

One of our greatest joys is watching children grown up in our practice, learning about their achievements, and seeing them become teachers, doctors, lawyers, and yes, even dentists. We give children a continuity of care so they never grow out of our practice. We are thrilled when the next generation comes along, and suddenly, we are caring for all three generations of a family. It gives special meaning to having a family practice.

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

We love your feedback, so feel free to send your comments our way.

All the best from our family to yours,

Dr. Jim



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.”


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:


All the best from our family to yours,

Dr. Jim



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:


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

All the best,

Dr. Jim


…The Right Way to a Flawless Floss


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.