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.”

images

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

 

 

Advertisements

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!

images

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.

images-1

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…

Womenman-sleeping

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.

images

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

 

 

Freshen your breath in time for Valentine’s Day!

Unknown

Romance is in the air and Valentine’s Day is on the horizon.  But have you checked your breath lately?  Bad breath can happen to anyone, but the good news is that you can keep it away.  Courtesy of the American Dental Association (ADA), following are some of the causes of bad breath and some helpful tips on how to correct the problem. While many causes are harmless, bad breath can sometimes be a sign of something more serious.

Bacteria

Bad breath can happen anytime thanks to the hundreds of types of bad breath-causing bacteria that naturally lives in your mouth. Your mouth also acts like a natural hothouse that allows these bacteria to grow. When you eat, bacteria feed on the food left in your mouth and leaves a foul-smelling waste product behind.

Dry Mouth

Feeling parched? Your mouth might not be making enough saliva. Saliva is important because it works around the clock to wash out your mouth. If you don’t have enough, your mouth isn’t being cleaned as much as it should be. Dry mouth can be caused by more than 500 different medications, salivary gland problems or by simply breathing through your mouth.

Gum Disease

healthy-smile

Bad breath that just won’t go away or a constant bad taste in your mouth can be a warning sign of advanced gum disease, which is caused by a sticky, cavity-causing bacteria called plaque.

Food

Garlic, onions, coffee… The list of breath-offending foods is long, and what you eat affects the air you exhale.

Smoking and Tobacco

Smoking stains your teeth, gives you bad breath and puts you at risk for a host of health problems. Tobacco reduces your ability to taste foods and irritates gum tissues. Tobacco users are more likely to suffer from gum disease. Since smoking also affects your sense of smell, smokers may not be aware of how their breath smells.

Medical Conditions

Mouth infections can cause bad breath. However, if your dentist has ruled out other causes and you brush and floss every day, your bad breath could be the result of another problem, such as a sinus condition, gastric reflux, diabetes, liver or kidney disease. In this case, see your healthcare provider.

How Can I Keep Bad Breath Away?

Brush and Floss

images

Brush twice a day and clean between your teeth daily with floss to get rid of all that bacteria that’s causing your bad breath.

Take Care of Your Tongue

Don’t forget about your tongue when you’re taking care of your teeth. If you stick out your tongue and look way back, you’ll see a white or brown coating. That’s where most of bad breath bacteria can be found. Use a toothbrush or a tongue scraper to clear them out. Here at Mitchell Dentistry, we have the perfect tongue scraper if you need one – plus, we will instruct you on the most effective way to use it!OOLITT-7_thumbnail

Mouthwash

Over-the-counter mouthwashes can help kill bacteria or neutralize and temporarily mask bad breath. It’s only a temporary solution, however. The longer you wait to brush and floss away food in your mouth, the more likely your breath will offend.

Clean Your Dentures

If you wear removable dentures, take them out at night, and clean them thoroughly before using them again the next morning.

Keep That Saliva Flowing

To get more saliva moving in your mouth, try eating healthy foods that require a lot of chewing, like carrots or apples. You can also try chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free candies. Your dentist may also recommend artificial saliva.

Quit Smoking

Giving up this dangerous habit is good for your body in many ways. Not only will you have better breath, you’ll have a better quality of life.

Visit Mitchell Dentistry Regularly

If you’re concerned about what’s causing your bad breath, make an appointment to see us. Regular checkups allow our staff to detect any problems such as gum disease or dry mouth and stop them before they become more serious. If we determine your mouth is healthy, you may be referred to your primary care doctor.

Call us today if you have any questions.  And have a happy, romantic, kissable Valentine’s Day!

All the best,

Dr. Jim

 

 

Have a Sweet New Year…without Tooth Decay

HappyHolidays.JPG

This is the season for celebration, gathering with family and friends, and enjoying an abundance of holiday treats.  We understand that the last thing on your mind this time of year is dental care, but we would like to provide you with a few tips, especially when it comes to sugar free soft drinks and sugar free candy.

While your intention might be to avoid too much sugar during the holiday festivities, going sugar free can still do damage to your teeth.  A recent study done in Australia found that sugar free products with acidic additives and low pH levels harm teeth. Apparently, the chemical mix of acids in some foods and drinks may be equally damaging as sugar containing products.  Acids can lead to dental erosion.

Dental erosion occurs when acid dissolves the tooth’s hard tissues.  Erosion strips away the surface layers and tooth enamel, and if left unchecked can expose the soft pulp inside the tooth.

Of the eight sports drinks tested, six caused loss of tooth enamel. The researchers found that many sugar free candies contain high levels of citric acid and can erode tooth enamel.

Our recommendation is to enjoy the holiday season and just take some simple precautions.  Check product labels for acidic additives, especially citric and phosphoric acids.  Drink more water and fewer soft drinks. After consuming acidic food and drinks, rinse your mouth with water and remember to brush with a fluoride toothpaste when you get home.

images

Above all, have a happy, healthy and safe New Year!

Happy Holidays from Dr. Jim and the Mitchell Dentistry family