No More Metal Fillings!

Metal CavityA few decades ago, dental cavities were filled with a mixture of different metals. Today, dentists are using more tooth-like materials that are safe and predictable to help create a natural and unnoticeable looking filling! Because the tooth filling is made up of resins and porcelains that mimic your natural tooth, the material is less susceptible to breaking. So while it’s best that you maintain a healthy mouth to avoid cavities, it no longer means obvious fillings.

About Your Teeth

One of the hardest natural materials for humans to produce consistently is enamel—that’s why it’s so important that you take care of your teeth to avoid enamel erosion. Tooth enamel is the hard substance found in the shell of each of your teeth that is visible when you look in your mouth. Below the enamel is dentin, a living material that is extremely sensitive. If your tooth has eroded, you may experience sensitivity that could indicate your need for a filling.

With dental porcelain fillings, our team can easily imitate the enamel of the tooth, eliminating a visible filling. If your enamel has eroded further into the dentin, we will use dental composite resins to fill in the part of the tooth where the natural dentin should be.

Why This Material Is Better

Metal fillings can cause further damage to teeth, not repairing the erosion or infection. We have access to tooth-colored fillings that mimic the same materials that your teeth are made of, therefore looking more natural and lasting longer than metal fillings. Using this new type of filling even requires that less of the tooth be removed in the process and possibly less pain during the procedure, which means you get to keep more of your natural smile!  To seal your teeth, we use a dentin resin coasting to seal and protect the surface of your tooth from bacteria and sensitivity.

The Process

If you feel you may have a cavity, make an appointment with our office right away. A technician will take X-rays of your mouth, then examine the X-rays, your teeth and gums to diagnose any issues. Based on our evaluation, we will provide you with a treatment recommendation.

If you just so happen to need a filling, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Once we identify the infected tooth, we clean the area thoroughly and remove debris. We then apply the filling solution into the missing area to provide more support to the tooth. A special light is held over the bonding material to harden the solution and bind it to the tooth.

The filling material can be shaped to match the contours of your natural tooth so that the relationship between the upper and lower teeth is preserved.

In some cases after a filling, you may experience intermittent pain. For the few days after you receive your fillings, it may be smart to avoid extremely hot or cold food or drink, as this may cause sensitivity.

Already have a metal filling? We can replace it with a more visibly natural and durable filling!  This is an easy way for us to improve your smile with a minimum amount of work.

Pefect TeethHow to prevent cavities

Some indicators that you may have a cavity can include a toothache, tooth sensitivity, mild or sharp pain when eating or drinking, visible holes or pits in your teeth, brown, black, or white stain on the surface of a tooth, and pain when you are biting down.

The easiest way to avoid cavities is by brushing your teeth at least twice daily, and flossing at least once a day. Flossing can help remove plaque and food debris that can breed with bacteria and cause erosion. You should brush with a soft bristled brush for at least two minutes per brushing. Using a mouthwash and toothpaste that contains fluoride will help protect your teeth- it is a compound that can help reverse the progress of early cavities and sometimes prevent the need for corrective treatment. Mouth rinses will help reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth, reducing your chance of infection.

If you are having any of the following symptoms, or would like to replace your metal filling with a more natural and durable filling, contact our office today! Our professional and experienced team looks forward to serving you.



A Toothache… Might be a Tooth Abscess

Girl with sore cheeckPatients may feel that their toothache is run-of-the-mill, however, if you have a severe, continuous toothache, you may have an abscessed tooth.

A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus that’s caused by a bacterial infection, usually occurring from an untreated dental cavity, injury, or prior dental work. In some cases, dentists will be able to save the tooth with a root canal treatment, but may need to be pulled depending on the condition of the tooth. Leaving an abscessed tooth untreated can lead to serious complications— a patient could even develop sepsis, a life threatening infection that spreads throughout the body. Patients with weakened immune systems are even more at risk for developing serious disorders from a tooth abscess.

The main symptom of a tooth abscess is a toothache, which could be described as gnawing, sharp, shooting, or throbbing. If you have a tooth abscess, you may experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Severe/persistent/throbbing toothache
  • Sensitivity to pressure of chewing, biting, or hot and cold temperatures
  • Fever
  • Swelling the face or cheek—extremely serious symptom
  • Swollen glands under the jaw or neck
  • Foul-smelling or foul-tasting fluid in your mouth and pain relief if abscess ruptures
  • Breath odor
  • Bitter taste or pain when chewing

Sometimes, there will appear to be swelling of the gum over the infected tooth, which could look similar to a pimple. Poor dental hygiene and a diet high in sugar can increase your risk of tooth abscess. It’s important to remember to properly take care of your teeth and gums by brushing at least twice daily and flossing once per day. Frequently eating or drinking foods high with sugar can contribute to dental cavities that turn into a tooth abscess.

The goal of our treatment is to cure the infection, save the tooth, and prevent any complications.

To treat the infection, we will need to evaluate your condition by doing the following:

  • Tapping on your teeth: a tooth abscess at its root is generally sensitive to touch or pressure. This is how we find out which tooth the abscess is associated with.
  • X-ray: an X-ray of the aching tooth can help identify an abscess.

Treatment options include:

  • Draining the abscess: the dentist makes a small cut into the abscess, allowing pus to drain out, then wash the area with saline water.
  • Perform a root canal: this procedure can help eliminate the infection and save your tooth. To do this, the dentist drills down into your tooth, removes diseased pulp, and drains the abscess. Then the dentist seals the tooth’s pulp chamber and root canals, and caps with a crown.
  • Pull the affected tooth: in some cases, the tooth may not be able to be saved.
  • Prescribe antibiotics: if the infection is limited to the abscessed area, you might not need an antibiotic. But, if the infection has spread to nearby teeth or other areas, the dentist may prescribe antibiotics to keep the infection from spreading further.

Once you have the treatment, there are some small things you can to do help the infected area heal and to ease discomfort:

  • Rinse your mouth out with warm water
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers, like Tylenol or Advil, as needed

Once the treatment has healed it’s important to take care of your teeth to avoid another infection from occurring. Our suggestions are:

  • Brush teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Use dental floss daily
  • Replace your toothbrush head every three months
  • Eat a healthy diet, with limited sugar and in-between meal snacks

If you are having symptoms that correlate with a tooth abscess, it’s important to see a dentist right away. Contact our office to set up an appointment! Click here or call us at 239-936-0597.


The Hard, Cold Truth about Sensitive Teeth

Most people are familiar with the sensation: you take a sip of hot coffee or dig into some frozen yogurt and experience a unique pain in your teeth. Healthy teeth have a layer of enamel that protects the crowns of your teeth (the part of the tooth above the gum line).

The enamel on your teeth can erode and expose dentin, which is a less dense enamel cementum that contains microscopic tubules (canals).Tooth decay exposes the root of your tooth to irritants, such as cold or hot drinks or acidic foods, causing pain. It is the interaction with the exposed dentin and irritant that causes a painful sensation that makes your teeth sensitive.

Guy in blue shirt with tooth pain

Sensitive teeth can be a symptom of a few different dental issues:

• Tooth decay or cavities
• Fractured teeth
• Worn tooth enamel
• Gum disease
• Exposed tooth root

Good oral hygiene, eating a well-rounded and healthy diet, and having regular dental checkups are the best ways to battle decay and keep your teeth at their healthiest. In most cases, proper oral hygiene is the most important step in alleviating your sensitive tooth pain. Additionally, some treatments include:

Desensitizing toothpaste is type of toothpaste contains compounds that help block the transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve. Most brands take more than a few uses for the desensitizing to actually kick in. A few brands you might find in your local store are Sensodyne and Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief.
Fluoride gel is a highly concentrated fluoride that dentists apply topically to a patients teeth about two times a year. Just a small amount will strengthen tooth enamel and reduce transmission of the senses.
Root Canal therapy is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or infected. If sensitivity and pain are severe and persistent, we may need to perform a root canal.

Green Apple and Dental Tools

Every day dental hygiene is very important in combatting sensitive teeth. Always remember to brush at least twice per day and floss once per day. Exposing nerves to certain foods can aggravate tooth sensitivity. We can help design a treatment plan for your sensitive teeth, but in the meantime there are certain types of food and beverages you should avoid:

Extremely Hot or Cold Liquids
While everyone needs to drink beverages, you should be choosing yours carefully. Hot liquids such as coffee or tea can cause pain, as well as very cold foods like iced drinks or ice cream. If you must have something cold or hot, try sipping it through a straw. (If the beverage is hot, be extra careful!)

Acidic Foods and Drinks
Fruits like lemons, grape fruits, and oranges are acidic and may cause pain to your sensitive teeth. It’s also wise to avoid things like lemonade or limeade, soft drinks, or foods with vinegar.

Hard Foods
Be weary of foods that you will need to crunch down on, like candy or ice. This can cause pain, but if your teeth are vulnerable from decay, it can cause a crack and you will develop more complicated dental issues.

If you are struggling with your sensitive teeth, please feel free to contact our office today to schedule a consultation. We can help provide a treatment plan to alleviate sensitivity and fix the problem at the root of the cause! Call us at 239-936-0597.

Frequently asked questions in a dentist’s world

Girl in dentist chairMany patients have similar questions when they come for a dentist visit. So today, we’re going to address some of the most commonly asked patient questions!

Q1. How many times can I floss per day?
You should be flossing your teeth at least once per day to achieve a healthy, gum disease free mouth! I doesn’t really matter what time of day you do it; before breakfast, after lunch or—as long as you are flossing every day. Flossing is important because it removes food debris and bacteria that can cause cavities or gum infections. You can actually floss your teeth more than once a day, but many times may cause the gums to be sore or bleed.

Q2. How many times should I brush per day?
Brushing your teeth at least once a day is recommended. Three times per day after every meal is optimum, but twice per day is the minimum number of times you should be brushing your teeth daily. When you brush your teeth, you should do so for two minutes or more. To make this easier for you, try to play one of your favorite songs that lasts just a few minutes, and brush for the entire song. The time will pass you by!

Q3. How do I get cavities?
When a tooth is exposed to acid frequently (if you eat or drink often) the repeated cycles of acid cause the enamel to lose minerals. An early sign of decay is when the tooth develops a white spot, this means that minerals have been list in that spot. At this point, the tooth decay can be reversed or repaired with saliva, and fluoride from toothpaste or mouth rinse.

If this decay process continues and more minerals are lost over time, the enamel becomes weakened and forms a cavity. From there, the dentist will have to repair the tooth with a filling. The good news is, with new technology, your filling can show up white, and no one will ever notice!

To prevent cavities, you need to protect your teeth with fluoride—this can be found in toothpastes or mouth rinses. When you visit our office and it appears as though the tooth has suffered a small amount of decay, we will apply a fluoride gel or varnish of the tooth surfaces to help seal the tooth.

Q4. Are dental x-rays safe?
May patients are concerned with the radiation associated with getting dental x-rays. Radiation can damage the body’s tissues and cells, and sometimes can lead to the development of cancer. The good news is, there is only a small amount of radiation a patient is exposed to when receiving x-rays. At our advances facility, we have low radiation machines that limit the radiation beam to the small area being x-rayed. We use lead-lined full body aprons to protect the body from possible stray radiation and place film-holders in-between the patient’s teeth.

Q5. What are dental sealants?
Sealants protect your teeth from decay. They are a thick plastic coating that is painted on the surface of the teeth where you chew, which is generally your premolars or molars. Sealant quickly bonds into the depressions of the tooth and serves as a shield over the enamel of each tooth. Those who benefit from sealants are generally children when they receive their permanent molars, and adults who have tooth decay or fillings.

Q6. Should I have an electric or manual toothbrush?
Selecting a type of toothbrush can be a challenge, but when you are choosing between manual or electric toothbrushes, it really just depends on your individual needs and comforts.
Manual toothbrushes are very reasonably priced and accessible. They are also

  • Easy to travel with because of the size and it doesn’t need to charge
  • Doesn’t put as much pressure on your teeth and gums (too much pressure can cause tooth enamel decay, sensitivity, and increased risk of tooth decay)

Electric toothbrushes are a great innovation. The key is to choose one right for you. Electric toothbrushes can sometimes clean harder to reach spots in your mouth, and is good for people with limited ability to move their shoulders, arms and hands because of the larger handle. Electric toothbrushes with bristles rotate together in one direction and then switch and rotate in the opposite direction (known as rotating-oscillating) appear to be more effective than manual brushes, because they spin in other directions, whereas a manual toothbrush only moves in one direction.

Q7. How often should I change my toothbrush?
Your toothbrush should be replaced every three months or when the bristles are no longer straight and firm. When replacing your toothbrush or toothbrush head, be sure it has soft bristles.

We hope this quick fact guide was helpful in answering all of your questions. At Shane McDowell, we are here for you and aim provide the best dental care for all of our patients! If you have any more questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call us at 239-936-0597 or email us at

The Ugly Truth About Canker Sores


What are Canker Sores?

Many people have canker sores on occasion, but most don’t really know what causes them. Canker sores, otherwise known as mouth ulcers, are normally small lesions that develop in your mouth or at the base of your gums. They can be uncomfortable and can cause challenges with eating, drinking, and talking, are not contagious, and usually go away within a week.

Canker sores result from bacteria, viruses, or fungi, which inflame the lining of the mouth, causing swelling, redness, and ulcer formation. The most common locations for canker sores include the inside of the mouth, on the tongue or lips.

What causes canker sources?

There is no exact cause behind canker sores, however, a few causes have been identified.

  • Minor injury from dental work, hard brushing, sports injury, or accidental bite
  • Dental care products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Sensitivities to acidic food, such as strawberries, pineapple, or even chocolate or coffee
  • Vitamin deficiency—lack of essential vitamins like B-12, zinc, folate and iron
  • Allergic response to bacteria in the mouth
  • Stress
  • Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections,
  • Hormonal influxes during menstruation

Types of Canker Sores

It’s a good idea to take a look at the canker sore and decipher what kind of sore it is. Canker sores have three different types:

  • Minor: minor canker sores are small and oval shaped, will not result in scarring, and will heal within 1-2 weeks
  • Major: these canker sores are larger and deeper than minor sores. This type has irregular edges and can take up to 6 weeks to heal
  • Herpetiform: this type of sore is not common. Most often, these sores are located in the posterior mouth, will have irregular edges, and may come with more than one sore. This will heal within two weeks, most likely without scarring.

When do I see a dentist?

If you develop any of the following, please call our office at 239-936-0597 to set up an appointment right away:

  • Large canker sores in your mouth
  • New canker sores before the old one heals
  • A canker sore lasting more than 3 weeks
  • Severe issues eating and drinking
  • Sores that don’t hurt
  • Mouth sores that extend to your lips

How can I treat a Canker Sore Myself?

If you don’t have any of the serious conditions or symptoms above, there are a few things you can do to help your mouth heal quicker.

  • Use a topical paste or gel, such as Orajel Ultra Canker Sore gel
  • Placing damp tea bags on your mouth or sore
  • Take nutritional supplements, such as chamomile tea, Echinacea or licorice
  • Using a rinse of saltwater and baking soda
  • Apply ice to canker sore
  • Placing milk of magnesia on the sore
  • Avoid foods that could irritate your mouth, such as citrus (oranges, pineapple) and spicy foods. Try eating whole grain foods and eliminating acidic fruits and vegetables until it clears up

At Shane McDowell, we care about you and your family’s dental health! If you are suffering from long-term, painful canker sores or have any of the severe symptoms listed above, contact our office or email us at to schedule an appointment.


Why Flossing is Important for your Dental Health

It’s difficult to reach the plaque and food debris that lodge between your gum line and teeth by just brushing alone. A survey conducted by the American Dental Association says that only 50 percent of Americans floss daily, and percent of Americans floss less than daily.

Girl Flossing

We understand that remembering or taking the time to floss can be challenging. But it’s really important for you to make sure you floss! Here’s why:

Reducing Plaque

According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), flossing is the single most important weapon to fight against plaque. You might think that statement is exaggerated, but floss removes plaque and debris that sticks to teeth and gums. It also polishes tooth services to help control bad breath.  Many people think that flossing is a way to remove food debris from between your teeth, but more importantly it removes plaque, the complex bacterial ecosystem that forms on tooth surfaces between cleaning.

Plaque can cause tooth decay, and eventually, if not properly taken care of, can result in tooth loss or gum disease. Flossing or using an interdental cleaner is the only effective way to remove plaque between teeth.

Tips on how to floss

The American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once a day. Even flossing 2-3 times a week is a better option than none at all, but always try to floss at least once per day. It’s hard to know the right way to floss if no one has ever showed you. Luckily, The American Dental Association outlined some tips and directions on how to floss properly:

  • 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 onto the gums
  • When floss reaches the gum line, create a C shape against one tooth, and gently slide it into the space between the gum and tooth
  • Hold the floss tightly against the tooth, gently rubbing the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions
  • Don’t forget the back side of your last tooth near your molars! The most decay will rest near the back of your teeth

Flossing should not be painful. When you first begin flossing again, you may feel some initial discomfort. With daily brushing and flossing, the discomfort will ease within a week or two. If this pain persists, please contact us for an appointment, for you may be at risk for gum disease.

Choosing Floss

We know there’s a lot of different kinds of floss on the market. How often you floss is actually more important than the type of floss you choose. So essentially, your choice of floss is based on your preference:

  • Multifilament floss: This kind of floss is made of nylon or silk floss. Generally, nylon dental floss will be more common. This type of floss also comes in waxed or unwaxed. Floss is coated in wax to help fit around your teeth. An example of this kind of floss is Johnson & Johnson’s REACH Fluoride Woven Floss.
  • Monofilament Floss: A newer kind of technology, this floss’ fabric is like nylon, but doesn’t rip or tear. Because it’s stronger, more patients feel that it is easier to pull in-between teeth. Some brands like Glide are made with this material (which of course is where it got its name!)

As long as you are taking the time to brush twice daily for two minutes each, and floss at least once per day, you are helping to keep your mouth healthy and free of plaque and potential gum disease.

At Shane McDowell, we love seeing our patients healthy and happy. We are committed to serving you with the best dental health care possible. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, contact us today at 239-936-0597 or email us at

ADA Seal of Approval: What it means and why it’s important

Teeth with toothbrush

With all of the different dental care products on the store shelves, we know that it can be difficult to decide on what is the best for you and your family. Luckily, the ADA Seal of Approval can make it easier for you!

What is the ADA? The American Dental Association is the nation’s largest dental association that represents more than 157,000 dentist members. They are the leading source of oral health related information for dentals and patients. For more than 125 years, the ADA has focused on their mission for improved oral health by promoting the safety and effectiveness of dental products.

ADA Seal of Acceptance

The ADA seal of approval certifies over 300 oral care products, including toothpastes, dental floss, toothbrushes, mouth rinses, denture adherents and chewing gum. As customers, this seal represents a symbol of safety and effectiveness.

The ADA has stringent requirements that the products must meet in order to receive an ADA Seal of Acceptance. The Seal is never sold, and is designed to help customers know that the claims made on the label of the products are truthful.

How does the ADA determine if a product qualities for the ADA Seal?

• Submit ingredient lists
• Conduct clinical trials within the ADA’s strict guidelines and procedures
• Supply objective data from studies that support the products safety, effectiveness, and promotional claims
• Provide evidence that manufacturing and laboratory facilities are adequate
• Submit product packaging for review

Not all dental products qualify for the seal of approval. Companies that seek the ADA Seal of Approval must:
• Submit ingredient lists
• Conduct clinical trials within the ADA’s strict guidelines and procedures
• Supply objective data from studies that support the products safety, effectiveness, and promotional claims
• Provide evidence that manufacturing and laboratory facilities are adequate
• Submit product packaging for review

The ADA seal is awarded for a five-year period. Companies must reapply to continue using the seal. However if the composition of a product changes, the company must resubmit the above.

The ADA employees approximately 100 consultants that review and declare oral care safe, effective, and worthy of the ADA Seal. Consultants represent positions from varying positions in the dental health field, from production, dental materials, microbiology, pharmacy, toxicology, and chemistry. Since 2005, the ADA only distributes the Seal of Approvals to consumer products, but also produces an evaluation newsletter for dental professionals.

Why is this important for you?
In order to make an informed decision n about the dental hygiene products you use, you should not only look for the ADA Seal of Approval, but you also look at the claims that the oral health product makes. Whenever you are inspecting a product that has an ADA Seal of Approval, be sure to look for the statement, “The ADA Council on Scientific Affairs’ Acceptance of (product name) is based on the finding that the product is effective in helping to prevent and reduce tooth decay, when used as directed.”

If you have any questions or concerns about whether you are properly caring for your teeth, schedule an appointment and we can help guide you to healthier teeth! Contact us today, at or call us at 239-936-0597.

So you have TMJ, what now?

TMJTMJ muscles, formally known as temporomandibular joints, are the joints and jaw muscles that make it possible to open and close your mouth. The jaw muscles are located on each side of your head and work together to help you chew, speak, or swallow and include muscles and ligaments as well as your jaw bone.

TMJ muscles also control the lower jaw as it moves forward, backward and side to side.Each TMJ has a disc between the ball and socket that cushions the load when enabling the jaw to move. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs, and bones from working properly can result in a painful TMJ disorder.

TMJ disorder can be caused by:
• Arthritis
• Injury
• Stress and teeth grinding
• Tooth and jaw alignment
• Dislocation

Symptoms of TMJ can include pain in your jaw including tenderness, headache, earache, clicking, popping, or difficulty moving the jaw. If you are experiencing symptoms of TMJ, call our office to set up an appointment at 239-936-0597 so we can evaluate you.

In the meantime, here are some tips you can try in your daily life to make your TMJ disorder a little more bearable:
• Eat softer foods that are high in flavonoids (plant-based antioxidants, known to reduce joint pain), such as cooked fruits and vegetables
• Avoid chewing gum and biting nails
• Avoid saturated fats, fried foods, and caffeine. These food can sometimes increase inflammation.
• Practice relaxation techniques like meditation or biofeedback
• Use heat packs to modify the pain

If symptoms persist, we may recommend exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles, medications such as muscle relaxants or analgesics, or a night guard to decrease clenching or grinding of teeth.

TMJ disorder treatment options are on a case by case basis, so if you suspect you suffer from TMJ and are in pain, talk to our office about the best treatment options for you. For an appointment, contact us at or call us at 239-936-0597.

Heart and Mouth Healthy

When you go in for your routine dental cleaning, you are not only helping to keep your mouth clean, but you are also helping your heart.

New research suggests that people who have had their teeth professionally cleaned at least once every two years were 24 percent less likely to have a heart attack, compared with those who skipped those professional cleaning. The findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting.

Researcher and head of this study, Zu-Yin Chen, MD, a cardiology fellow at the Veterans General Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan, reviewed the records of more than 100,000 people in Taiwan’s national health insurance database. About half had received at least one cleaning, finding that the other half has never had a cleaning. “Results showed that people who had more than one cleaning a year had the lowest risk of heart attack and stroke,” said Chen.

“Something as simple as having good dental hygiene — brushing, flossing, and having regular cleanings — may be good for your heart and brain health,” says Ralph Sacco, MD, head of neurology at the University of Miami.

The office of Dr. Shane McDowell wants to make sure your mouth and your heart are in the best shape possible. From examinations and cleanings to restorative procedures such as root canals, extractions and gum treatments, you can trust Dr. McDowell for all of your dental health needs. Dr. McDowell and his team provide the full array of dental care services with special attention to your comfort and health.

To make an appointment for your regular dental cleaning, please call (239)-936-0597 or go online to to make your appointment today!