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

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

 

 

 

 

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