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.

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

 

 

 

 

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