Tag Archives: fillings

Out With The Old, In With The New…

It’s a new year, and everyone has resolutions to make changes in their lives. Teeth are no exception in the whole make-changes-for-the-better thing. They need a makeover too! Here’s a few teeth that recently achieved their New Year’s Resolution by getting a makeover. We removed the old silver/mercury amalgam fillings and replaced them with white composite resin fillings. The old fillings were no longer sealing the tooth and they were leaking all kinds of bad stuff underneath them. Yuck.

The before. Teeth full of silver fillings


... and the after. Ta-Da!

I think it is worth noting that these fillings were replaced before the teeth started hurting. This is important because teeth may feel fine even though they need some attention. Typically teeth don’t hurt until there is some sort of damage to the pulp tissue on the inside of the tooth. The pulp tissue is where the nerve lives, and if it is damaged we are talkin’ root canal or removal of the tooth. Boo.

So take care of those teeth before they hurt!!

If you live in the Nashville area and have questions about teeth or if you want to develop a plan for a New Year’s Tooth Resolution, please give our NAshville dental office a call at 615-298-2385 . We are also on the web at www.MusicCitySmiles.com .


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…




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 .


Another Report About the “Hazards” of Dentistry

An article was recently published by the American Academy of Pediatrics concerning the use of certain dental materials. It seems that there is some concern over some dental materials containing bisphenol-A. What is bisphenol-A (BPA) you ask? Well, it is a chemical found in products such as plastic bottles and the lining of metal cans that can have an effect on the body similar to estrogen. The concern is that some dental materials may break down and release small amounts of BPA which could possibly be ingested. The article went on to suggest that dental sealants in particular may pose a health risk because they may possibly release BPA.

BPA is apparently released in minute amounts into saliva for up to 3 hours after placement, and then those levels drop off to essentially nothing. The amount of BPA that was absorbed by the body and whether any adverse affects could be attributed to this BPA could not be determined.

The article concluded that the benefits of dental sealants outweigh any potential risks associated with potential BPA release, and that dental materials pose less of a threat than other products such as plastic bottles and metal cans.

Several reports in the media have shed light on this report which may raise questions about the safety of dental materials. USA Today and MSNBC have reported the findings of this study, and also have input from a professor at the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, Dr. Burton Edelstein who urges people to not “be scared by this.”

So what is my take on this? Just what Dr. Edelstein says, don’t be scared by this. Dental materials (including the mercury containing amalgam) have been used for years with no studies showing a link between them and toxic effects on the body. Our office recommends products that are FDA and ADA approved and that we believe are safe. If you ever have questions concerning the safety of any of the products that we use, please do not hesitate to ask.

In the meantime, I would be more concerned about the link between periodontal disease and heart disease and stroke if you need to worry abotu something dental related.

Um, there’s a little extra crunch in my cereal this morning…

Has this ever happened to you: you’re just minding your own business and chewing your food and …CRUNCH! Uh Oh. This can’t be good. Your tongue does a quick assessment of your mouth and discovers there’s a little more crunch in your Captain Crunch. Your tongue has also discovered that one it’s enamel covered neighbors is missing something. Then it sets in… I’ve broken something. At least it doesn’t hurt. I’ll just wait until I see my dentist at my next cleaning. NOooooooooo.

Here’s the culprit, a broken filling. This can happen to even the most diligent of brushers and flossers. I actually saw this tooth this morning.

“But Dr. McGee, I don’t have time to come in and take care of this. Anyway, it doesn’t hurt, so why bother?” Well, our patient this morning did the right thing and came in to take care of this ASAP.

People often delay dental treatment because they aren’t experiencing any pain, but this almost always ends up leading to bigger and more painful problems.

Teeth are designed to have a specific shape and size to ensure that food and other debris does not collect between and around them and develop cavities. At your regular dental cleanings, we check to make sure that your teeth and filling are all intact and are free of fractures that could lead to additional problems. So even if your are not experiencing pain, your teeth may need a little reconstruction.

So what became of the little tooth that was broken? Well, it’s owner did the right thing by coming in and restoring it back to it’s full size before it was subject to further damage.

“What should I do if I break a tooth Dr. McGee?”

1) Avoid chewing in the area of the broken tooth if possible.

2) Keep the are as clean as possible

3) Call your dentist ASAP!!

What’s in those fillings anyway?

IMG_1548Patients often ask me about their silver fillings. “Hey Doc, do these old fillings need to come out?” , they might ask. It’s a valid question. Usually they are referring to their amalgam fillings they had placed when they were a kid, or maybe even fairly recently. Most people just don’t like the way they look. They’re often silver or black, and don’t look at all what a tooth should look like.

Others are more concerned about what’s in the filling, in particular does it contain mercury and is it harmful. Well, yes it does contain mercury. It also contains other metals such as silver, tin, and copper. But, yes, it contains mercury. That mercury. The stuff in thermometers. Quicksilver.

Is it harmful? Well, first a little history. Mercury has been used as a component of dental amalgam, and has been placed in teeth since the 1800’s. It has it’s uses. Strictly from a restorative perspective, it fills up a hole in a tooth quite nicely. Recently it has come under scrutiny because mercury is toxic. No one has really produced any scientific evidence as to whether the mercury in all those fillings are causing problems. On the other hand, anecdotal evidence has reported that patients who have had their mercury-containing amalgam fillings removed have been cured of varying ailments and diseases. However, no scientific studies have been produced to support these claims.

The American Dental Association and the Food and Drug Administration recently issued a statement on the safety of dental amalgam. According to Dr. Susan Runner acting director of the FDA’s Division of Anesthesiology, General Hospital, Infection Control, and Dental Devices, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, during a July 28, 2009 press conference “the best available scientific evidence supports the conclusion that patients with dental amalgam fillings are not at risk for mercury-associated health effects.” The FDA went on to state that with reference to developing fetuses, breast-fed infants, and children under the age of 6 “the scientific evidence that is available suggests that these populations also are not at risk.”
So what’s all the fuss about. As a dentist I see statements like this and think, no big deal. On the other hand, as a dentist, if I spill amalgam, I am supposed to dispose of it properly … like a hazardous material. But apparently I can put it in someone’s mouth and that is a perfectly fine place to put it.

I’m confused.

So here’s what I think: I am not going to tell someone to take all the mercury containing amalgams out of their mouth because they are at risk of health problems. I just haven’t been convinced that the mercury in your fillings will make you sick. You’re likely to have more exposure to mercury from eating certain types of fish. But over time, these fillings break down. They leak, and do not seal the tooth effectively. Crack and fractures form around them in the tooth. The time will come when they need to be replaced and I will replace them. But I will replace them with something other than amalgam.

Why? I just think that there are better options. Composite resins do not contain mercury, and when properly placed can be a great option. Why take the risk. Laboratory made restorations made or ceramics or gold, yes gold, are excellent alternatives as well. And just so you know, my wife has amalgam fillings that are still in her mouth, but she has one that needs to go, and I will replace it with a lab made restoration.

To see the FDA’s statement on its Web site, visit http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm173992.htm .
The ADA has comprehensive information on ADA.org for both dental professionals and consumers regarding the safety of dental amalgam. To access this information, visit http://www.ada.org/prof/resources/topics/amalgam.asp

What do you think? Do you feel like you are at risk by having mercury-containing fillings in your mouth? Would you want to have them removed?