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




Year in Review @ Mitchell Dentistry:

Now that the holiday season is over and we are back to our usual routines, we have had time to reflect on 2017 and set goals for the new year. For many of us, 2017 was a most unusual year – filled with ups and downs, sunshine and hurricanes, triumph and tragedy.

At Mitchell Dentistry, we dealt with the loss of a beloved member of our dental “family,” braved Hurricane Irma with minimal damage to our office rooftop, adopted several new technologies, and welcomed new staff members into the fold. It was quite a year – and as a group, we can say that we are all the stronger for what we have shared.


Roof repairs following Hurricane Irma

As we set our goals for 2018, we reflect on a few of our accomplishments and celebrate all we have to look forward to in the New Year, personally and professionally.


Taking the lead in dental technology to enhance patient care, we recently added a specialized 3D printer to the practice. The Moon Ray 3D printer makes it possible to print precise dental models from intraoral or 3D scans.

We can now provide patients with more speed, accuracy and durability when designing dental models, without having to send scans out to a lab.

“We researched many options before selecting a 3D printer system designed especially for dentists,” said Dr. Joe. “The layered scans are significantly more accurate than traditional models, and offer our patients speed, convenience, and extremely accurate results.”


As many of our patients know, Mitchell Dentistry was among the first in our community to talk to 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!

Our continuing education over the past year enables us to help our patients with:

  • 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

This fall, we welcomed the newest addition to the Mitchell Dentistry team, Patrice Schiop. Patrice stepped in for April Fox who moved to Gainesville to care for her aging parents.

IMG_1301A skilled and experienced dental hygienist for more than 38 years, Patrice graduated from Prairie State College in Illinois. Originally from Chicago and Michigan, Patrice has been a Southwest Florida resident since 1995. She avidly attends continuing education courses in dental hygiene, and obtained her anesthesia license in 2014. Patrice is excited about building one-on-one relationships with her patients at Mitchell Dentistry, and looks forward to the opportunity to educate them in their oral health.

Patrice resides with her husband and her two cats. During her time off, she enjoys traveling, searching for sea shells, and spending time with her friends.

  1. ON THE RADAR FOR 2018
Always a top priority, continuing education will always continue in our practice. Workshops, seminars,

conferences, and hands-on training will take place throughout the year to keep us on top of our game,

bringing our patients the latest tools and techniques to enhance their oral health.

Our staff is growing, so be on the lookout for introductions to skilled, talented professionals as we

continue to add to our team.

Community involvement is also a key factor: Dr. Joe performs his duties as president of

the Lee County Dental Society; Dr. Yolanda speaks to various groups throughout Southwest

Florida; and our entire team continues to volunteer for the annual Head & Neck Cancer 5K, donating toys

to the Dr. Piper Center, and gathering toothbrushes and toothpaste for hurricane victims both in

SWFL and Puerto Rico.



As we conclude, here are six resolutions courtesy of that you can adopt to keep your mouth healthy in 2018:

  • Start brushing 2min2x. Always brush twice a day for two minutes for healthier teeth, good breath, fewer cavities, and to avoid painful dental problems.
  • Floss daily. Flossing is part of being mouth healthy.
  • Chew sugarless gum. Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay.
  • Eat a healthy dietEat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.
  • Drink fluoridated waterFluoride helps prevent cavities by making teeth more resistant to the acid attacks that cause cavities.
  • Visit Mitchell Dentistry. Regular dental visits will help you be Mouth Healthy for Life.

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 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 ( 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

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.


…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 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





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


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.


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


  • 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!


  • 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.


  • 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