Tag Archives: Dental Health

The “F” Word is Back in the News

Too much of a good thing?

I know I just talked about this, but there has been a timely update to the fluoride debate, debacle, miracle, or whatever you want to call it. Seriously, I had no idea that the government was about to make new recommendations concerning the use of fluoride in public drinking water to help prevent cavities.

“So Dr. McGee, what’s the deal-e-o?” Turns out, the U.S. government has announced plans to recommend a reduction in the amount of fluoride in the drinking water.

“But you just told us that fluoride helps prevent cavities and is a good thing. So, Dr. McGee you must be a liar liar pants on fire!”

Hey! Why Are My teeth All Polka-Dotted?!

Actually no. It would appear that we may be getting too much of a good thing. With all the fluoride in the water, and in toothpaste, and mouthwash, etc we may be ingesting too much of the stuff. The problem with too much fluoride is that it causes the teeth to develop white spots and in severe cases can even turn them brown. Eeeew.
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I think a lot of this is due to the fact that Americans have many more sources of fluoride at their disposal than they did years ago when it was first introduced into water systems years ago.

All this may have you asking what the right amount of fluoride is. As far as drinking water goes, it’s about 1 part per million. Contact your local water utility to find out how much water you are getting.

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I Think There’s Something in the Water

Raise a glass of cavity fighting goodness

You may not know that a simple glass of tap water is one of the best means of maintaing good dental health.

“No way”, you say? Way. That’s because there is something in the water. Fluoride specifically.

“Oh yeah. I forgot about that Dr. Matt. So what’s the deal with it anyway?”

This is the cavity fighting molecule... or maybe just a stack of balls

Fluoride can actually be found naturally in the environment. Seriously. In fact, in the 1940’s people started noticing that communities with fluoride naturally occurring in the water had much less tooth decay than communities without fluoride in the water.

This discovery led to many communities adding fluoride to the public drinking water resulting in one of the greatest achievements in public health since it resulted in a drastic reduction in tooth decay.

So how does it work? Basically fluoride helps reduce the rate at which a tooth

Thanks Mr. Fluoride man for keeping me cavity free!!

breaks down due to tooth decay, and it also helps to remineralize (i.e. rebuild) a tooth after a small cavity has started.

It’s simple and cost-effective since it only costs about 95 cents per person per year… that’s a good deal! Plus it adds no color, flavor, or smell to the water. No spoon-full of sugar to make this medicine go down.

Lots of us have had fluoride in the water as a part of our lives for several decades. Some of us just assume that cavities are no longer a problem, but forget why we don’t have dental problems as much as people in the past.

we do not help fight cavities

Fast forward from the early days of fluoridation to now. Bottled water. I bet people from back-in-the-day would flip out if they knew that people are selling water. I mean I get it and all… pure (maybe), convenient serving size, nothing but hydrogen and oxygen, status symbol. That’s all fine and good, but you may be missing out on the good ‘ole cavity fighter fluoride.

Most bottled water companies are so excited about making their product pure, that they take out the fluoride. What happens next is that people stop drinking tap water in favor of bottled water, and in doing so they are no longer getting fluoride to help prevent cavities.

So why am I telling you this? I just want the good people of Nashville to know that if they are drinking bottled water, they may not be getting the cavity protection that they once were.

“Aw man!” you say. Fear not… there is a website that can tell you which bottled water companies put fluoride in their water. And here it is .

So maybe there is something in the water… or not. Check it out and just know how it affects your teeth.

Stuff That May Be in Your Teeth is Back in the News… Again

This stuff looks cool, just not in your toof...

Quicksilver. A brand of car. A god. A planet. The lead singer for the rock band

"Uh this thing... Amal-gam... I just... can't handle it..." Really, you're not supposed to touch it

 

Queen. Liquid metal. Toxin. Filler of holes in teeth. Mercury!! Depending on what you think of when you hear mercury, it may or may not be a good thing. And therein lies the problem… no one can decide if it’s a good or a bad thing.

I’ve talked about this before, and I thought that the Food and Drug Administration had settled the debate once and for all. Alas no.

 

Dentist or Mad Hatter. You decide. P.S. nice hair dude

Dentist or Mad Hatter. You decide. P.S. nice hair dude

Let’s recap shall we.  Mercury is found in lots of things: thermometers, blood pressure meters, various types of light bulbs, and your teeth. It also used to be used to make hats. The thought was that the mercury made the hat makers crazy and thus the saying “as mad as a hatter.” Mercury makes up approximately 50% of the filling material amalgam, which has been used to fill teeth since it was first introduced in France in the late 19th century.

We are molars and we are storing your mercury. Our cousin lives in a thermometer.

It’s also a toxin. Yup. Toxin as in it is bad for your central nervous system, kidneys, endocrine system, and other organs. Long term exposure to mercury has been linked to several syndromes and neuropathies. It’s bad stuff.

So the concern now is whether the mercury contained in your fillings are causing

ADA Headquarters. The mothership of dentites everywhere

 

any of these health problems. Some say yes, some say no. Those who say that mercury is harmless include organizations like the American Dental Association, the Food and Drug Administration (sort of), dentists (not all), and the amalgam making people (I assume).

Those who claim that amalgam fillings are bad include a bunch of health do-gooders, and now some scientists and doctors. They may be right.

So now I’ll get to my point. The previous statement by the ADA and the FDA was that dental amalgam fillings are ok except for maybe pregnant women and children. Well, as of this week they may be revisiting this. Lots of petitions have been presented and doctors are now saying that the vapors released by mercury containing fillings may be harmful to everyone. See, even Katie Couric thinks there may be a problem… watch the video here

I’m not sure what to tell you. As a dentist I’ve always been told that these fillings are ok, but if I spill amalgam in the office, I have to treat it as a hazardous substance. However, it’s sill ok to put it in your tooth.

I’ve never told anyone to remove their amalgam fillings because of the mercury

Look out! There's a giant ball of mercury right behind you !

 

content, but I rarely use the material to fill a tooth. If the claims that the vapor from this material is bad, you may actually release more vapor during removal of the filling. That stinks because I remove that stuff all the time… maybe I’ll turn into a mad hatter.

 

So I guess maybe the FDA and ADA are going to look at this whole safety of mercury fillings thing again. Who knows what they will decide this time but I assume it will be more waffling… mmm waffles.

Let me know what you think. Are you concerned about the mercury  in your fillings affecting your health? Do you want to replace them with a non-mercury material?

If you have questions about  mercury, hats, or would just like to get together and sing a few Queen songs, give us a call at 615-298-2385 or mosey on over to our website at www.MusicCitySmiles.com .

Floss on my friends, floss on…

 

 

 

A Mission Trip to the USA… Helping Those Who Can Not Afford Dental Care

Remote Area Medical (RAM) is an organization near and dear to my heart. It was founded in 1985 with the purpose of providing basic medical care to people in remote areas of foreign countries with no access to care. When RAM began, they airlifted doctors and dentists into the middle of nowhere to help people.

Nashville dentist Dr. Matt McGee with RAM founder Stan Brock

RAM founder Stan Brock has now realized that there is a health care crisis right here in America, and has focused RAM’s efforts on helping people here at home. Many of RAM’s “missions” are conducted in or near Tennessee and are often held in remote communities that are underserved by the health care community, and have a population that is very poor.

RAM relies on a corps of volunteers that include health care providers including dentists, physicians, optometrists, and veterinarians. Other volunteers are just workers to help with auxillary functions such as patient registration, instrument sterilization, and food prep. Mmmmm, loved those donuts.

Dental clinic at a RAM event in Harrogate, TN

The events are held in a large facility ,such as a gymnasium or a community center, which is transformed into a health care clinic for a weekend. Patients are treated on a first come first served basis and are permitted to see as many health care providers as needed.

Oh and by the way… ALL HEALTH CARE SERVICES ARE FREE! Zip. Nada. 0. So, you can imagine that there is a high demand, because it don’t get any cheaper than free.

The following videos had a big impact on me and moved me to volunteer with RAM. It was an amazing experience. PLEASE WATCH THESE VIDEOS!! You will cry (or you’re heartless), but it is so worth it…

RAM video part 1

RAM video part 2

Someone please get me a Kleenex. Ugh. This breaks my heart.

By the way, did you notice that Stan Brock was the dude on Wild Kingdom? He got to wrestle hippos and snakes and stuff like that so he’s a bad-ass.

Ok, here’s the good news… RAM will be holding an event here in Nashville. Now, Nashville isn’t exactly remote, but the service will be provided all the same. So as a Nashville dentist, I plan to participate.

Here’s the details…

Feb 19-20 Davidson County, Nashville, TN – McGavock High School D, Vis, M

D= dental    Vis= vision   M= medical… you get the idea.

They’ll need lots of volunteers so I hope you’ll sign up. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

Happy Late Thanksgiving… Why Your Teeth Are Thankful

Hi. Welcome back. How was your Thanksgiving? I got to travel to Memphis to stuff my piehole and hang out with family. We also saw the movie “Tangled” and had dinner at a place that used to be a beauty parlor. The hair dryers were still there. True story.

Did you think about your teeth on this day that celebrates chewing? Of course you didn’t, that’s what you have me for. And I did think about your teeth and all that you may have put them through. But his time I have good news. I stumbled on a report that tells of research that shows that some of our favorite Thanksgiving foods may actually help prevent tooth decay.

This little dude actually lives in your mouth!!

First the bad news. While you are feasting away on Thanksgiving, millions of little friends living in your mouth are feasting too. They are called bacteria, and they cause cavities in your teeth. So while you were watching football after a belt-loosening meal, the bacteria in your mouth were just getting started on their feast.

The real meanie in this group of microscopic gluttons is known as Streptococcus mutans. This bad boy is responsible for most of those bits of silver in your mouth. Ole’ S. Mutans takes the food you eat and turns it into acid which destroys the enamel of your teeth.

Pass the cranberry sauce please, because this Thanksgiving staple can help prevent damage to your teeth. Researchers have found that compounds in cranberries can actually help prevent our leetle friend S. Mutans from producing acid. Nice. So basically the glob of molded red gelatin can be our ally in the fight against tooth decay.

Take That! you cavity-causing bacteria.

But wait! There’s more. Sit down and pour yourself another glass of red wine because this magic elixir also helps in the fight against S. Mutans and cavities. See red wine contains alcohol, so the bacteria just get drunk and fall asleep on the couch. No wait. That must have been me. Actually the red wine helps because it reduces the amount of acid that S. Mutans produces. So you get tipsy and fight tooth decay. It’s a win-win.

Nashville dentist Dr. Matt McGee fighting cavities!!

 

Well, dear readers, betcha didn’t know all that. So what have we learned? The main bacteria that causes cavities goes by the moniker Streptococcus mutans. Cranberry sauce and red wine help to combat cavities. An that Nashville dentist Dr. Matt McGee enjoys said red wine and napping.

If you live in Nashville and would like to discuss other means of obtaining better oral health, please feel free to contact our office at 298-2385 or check us out on the information super-highway at http://www.MusicCitySmiles.com .

 

The 70’s Called, They Want You to Take Better Care of Your Teeth

If you grew up in the 70’s or early 80’s you should remember these. I’m always on the lookout for great ways to communicate dental health to patients, and I think that these videos are great!!

This first one had me rolling on the floor. Who knew that the germs that cause cavities sound just like Louis Armstrong?!

Check out the yuck mouth video here…

And in this one an animated Danny Zuko tells us to exercise our teeth. O…. K.

Finally, a talking, hat-wearing Pac Man gives us oral hygiene instructions

Man, the last time I heard those I was sitting in a den covered in shag carpet in my Star Wars Pj’s.

Anyway, if you have any questions about dental care, or more vintage videos to share, or if you need a dentist in Nashville, please contact us at 615-298-2385 or check us out online at www.MusicCitySmiles.com

Rinse and Repeat


Why should your hair get all the fun? The mouth needs a rinse too, right?

swish, swish, swishPeople ask me this all the time. “what mouth rinse should I be using Doc?” or “I’ve been rinsing my mouth with hydrogen peroxide for years…” or “My great grand pappy only used baking soda to clean his teeth.” Nice.

So what is the deal with mouth rinses. Are they all that, or just hype. There’s all sorts of old wive’s tales and crazy stories about the benefits of rinsing with peroxide, Listerine, or mop n’ glow, or diesel fuel. Well, I’m going to provide a dentists perspective and help you decide what is best.

First things first. Brush and floss your teeth. Mouth rinses are no substitute for brushing and flossing as a means of keeping your teeth clean. After you’ve done that, and if you want get a little extra credit, you can use a rinse that will give you an extra dose of fluoride, or one that fights gum disease, or one that will help you have fresh breath.

Listerine is at the top of my list and is my personal fav. This stuff has been around for ever, and is the only rinse out there that is actually considered a drug. That’s right my little yuck-mouthed friends, it actually attacks and kills specific germs that cause gingivitis… and none of us want gingivitis, right.. RIGHT! Ok,moving on. This is a great addition to your oral hygiene regimen , and I’ve seen it really make a difference for lots of patients. It’s burns like the dickens, but you gotta feel that burn to get results baby!!

If you are one of those who has a sweet tooth and like to eat a lot of candy, you could probably use some extra fluoride. Well then Mr. & Mrs. Sugarbug say hello to my leetle friend Act. I get on to people’s cases about not getting enough fluoride. As a dentist it is my obligation to fuss at the residents of Nashville for not taking care of their teeth. It’s part of the dental oath… :  ). Anyway, this is a nice little rinse to get a little extra fluoride. Why fluoride you ask? Because fluoride makes your teeth stronger and more resistant to cavities, and that means fewer trips to my chair for fillings. Wait, forget what I said. Fluoride is evil. It will turn your hair green and make you smell funny… and I need to buy my kids Christmas presents. Just kidding. Fluoride will help prevent cavities, and you should use it.

If it’s bad breath you’re wanting to eliminate, I have a suggestion. Don’t eat garlic… and try a rinse like Breath Rx. This stuff used to only be available in a dentist office, but now you can buy it at a pharmacy or grocery store.  Use caution though when purchasing a rinse for bad breath because some mouth rinses contain alcohol and that will dry your mouth and make the problem worse. Eeeew.

There’s other rinses out there, and these I have listed are not the only ones that are good. If you have any doubt or concerns about a mouth rinse, ask your dentist. If you live in Nashville, ask me, I’ll be glad to help and/or be your dentist. Feel free to contact us at 615-298-2385 or visit our website at www.MusicCitySmiles.com .