Are Amalgam Fillings Safe?

Fillings are typically composed of a substance known as dental amalgam.  This substance is a combination of several metals, most commonly silver, tin, mercury, and copper.

Dental amalgam has been the most widely used filling substance for the last 150 years, but in the last few decades some serious concerns have been raised over the presence of mercury in these fillings.

Mercury is a naturally-occurring element, one that most people have some degree of exposure to.  Traces can be found in the air, in water, in the soil and in food.  Very low levels of mercury exposure pose no risk to a person’s health, but rare cases of over-exposure – such as with workers handling mercury for their jobs – can lead to symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, memory loss, headaches, and fatigue.

Due to the fears that have been raised over the presence of mercury in amalgam fillings and the possibility of it resulting in mercury poisoning, the FDA began a series of studies.  In 2009, they concluded that from years of studies and research, there is no threat of amalgam fillings resulting in mercury poisoning.  In fact, the FDA pronounced the amount of mercury exposure originating from a filling to be less than the mercury one is exposed to simply by breathing the air.

As a result, the FDA affirms that the use of amalgam fillings is safe for all adults and for children over 6 years of age.

The only exceptions are pregnant women, people with a mercury allergy, and people who already have a greater exposure to mercury due to their job.

In these cases, there are several other options available when it comes to what a filling is composed of.  In the last several years, several tooth-colored fillings have been developed.  These are typically made of porcelain or composite resin.  However, these fillings are not nearly as hardy or durable as an amalgam filling.

If you have any questions or concerns over the quality of your own fillings, please give us a call!  At Montgomery Dentistry, your concerns are very important to us.  We would love to hear from you!

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The Truth About Wisdom Teeth

There seems to be a lot of mystery concerning wisdom teeth…

What are they?
Why are they often cut out?
Why in the world are they called wisdom teeth??

First of all, the term wisdom teeth is simply due to the timing of their arrival…usually during the mid-teen years.  During the age of gaining wisdom.  Hence, wisdom teeth.

The arrival of these large, back molars can trigger a few issues…most commonly, crowding.  When a third set of molars begins to emerge, space can become a major issue.  Many people simply do not have enough room in their mouth for another set of large molars.  Severe crowding in one’s mouth can lead to damage to the jawbone and even to nerves.

Wisdom teeth can also become implanted.  Wisdom teeth that are implanted never truly break through the surface of the gums.  Food particles become trapped in the thin layer of gum, leading to bad breath and possible tooth decay.

The best solution to these wisdom teeth issues?  Removing them.  And the sooner, the better.  If removed during a person’s youth, it is an easier procedure…the jaw bone is not as dense and the roots are not completely developed.

If you or your child are beginning to experience discomfort due to the arrival of wisdom teeth, the first step is to have your dentist x-ray your mouth.  From there, you and your dentist will determine what the best course of action will be.

Here at Montgomery Dentistry, we would love to consult with you about any questions or concerns you may have.  Whether you are interested in learning more about a major procedure such as wisdom teeth removal, or if you simply need to schedule an appointment for a cleaning, please give us a call!  We would love to hear from you!

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Are Dental Check-Ups Really That Important?

“I’m young and healthy.”
“I don’t have any tooth pain or unusual symptoms.”
“Going to the dentist twice a year seems a little extreme.”

“Do I really need to go to the dentist??”

It seems like a very logical train of thought.  Why would someone have their teeth checked twice a year if there seemed to be no need?

The truth is, though, that even the healthiest of smiles needs a regular inspection by a dentist.

Why, you ask?  Because there are preventative measures taking place in the exam room.  Measures that simply can’t be performed at home.

To forego a dental check-up, even once, puts a person at risk for developing a layer of tartar on their teeth…and tartar cannot be removed at home.  Left unchecked, tartar build-up can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

One of the many cleaning procedures that the dentist will perform during your check-up is the scraping off of any tartar on your teeth.  This procedure is known as scaling, and it is done with a special tool called a scaler.

Dental scaler

Not only will your dentist perform important tasks such as scaling and cleaning, he will also be scanning your gums, teeth, mouth, and tongue for any indication of more serious issues such as cancer.  This is reason enough to not put off or skip one of your dental check-ups.

Here at Montgomery Dentistry, we hope that you understand and believe in the importance of maintaining regular check-ups.  And regular means twice a year!

A check-up is much more than having your teeth cleaned…it is about securing a healthy smile and a healthy YOU.  Please call us to set up an appointment or to have any of your dental questions answered.  We would love to hear from you!

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Why Are My Gums Receding?

Have you ever had a sensitive tooth and looked in the mirror, only to discover that the affected tooth appears longer than the other ones?  If you have, then you might be one of millions of Americans suffering from receding gums.

Gum recession is the process in which the edge of the gum line that surrounds the tooth begins to retreat or wear away.  This exposes more of the tooth and the tooth’s root, causing discomfort and sensitivity.  Receding gums need to always be evaluated by a dentist because, as the gums pull back, hollow pockets can form underneath the gums.  These pockets are a perfect place for bacteria to grow, leading to potentially serious issues such as tooth loss due to tissue and bone damage.

Gum recession is not abnormal…in fact, many people have it and don’t even realize it!  This is because the degree of recession can vary greatly from person to person.  No matter how slight of a case of gum recession you think you might have, however, you always need to have it evaluated by a dentist.

There is a long list of reasons why a person might suffer from gum recession. 
Here are some of the most common reasons:

1) Gum disease – Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is the number one cause of gum recession.  Bacterial infections can become severe and destroy gum tissue and supporting bone, leading to various issues such as gum recession.

2) Smoking – Tobacco leaves a sticky film on a user’s teeth that is difficult to remove and can cause gum recession.

3) Hormonal changes – Studies show that the times in a woman’s life that involve intense hormonal changes, such as pregnancy and menopause, can make her more susceptible to gum recession.

4) Overly aggressive brushing – Brushing too hard or the wrong way can damage the gums to the point that they begin to recede.  If you are unsure about your own brushing technique, ask your dentist to give you some pointers.

5) Genetics – It is believed that some people are simply predisposed to certain dental conditions no matter how excellent their dental hygiene, gum recession being one of them.

6) Grinding and clenching teeth – Putting excessive pressure on the teeth can cause gums to recede.

The spectrum of gum recession ranges from unnoticeable all the way to severe, and the treatments have a proportional range of options.  Many patients simply require a deep cleaning, also known as a tooth scaling or root planning, by their dentist.  During this treatment, plaque and tartar are carefully removed and the exposed root area is gently smoothed back down over the tooth to help prevent bacteria from attaching itself in the future.  Another treatment plan, for more advanced infections, is administering antibiotics to the patient.  If the gum recession is severe, however, surgery might need to be performed.  Depending on the type and severity of the gum recession, one of several surgical procedures would be recommended.

If you have any questions or concerns about your own gum health, or you simply are interested in scheduling a check-up, please don’t hesitate to call us here at Montgomery Dentistry!  We look forward to meeting your dental needs!

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How Do I Choose A Toothpaste?

As you walk down the toothpaste aisle at the grocery store, do you become overwhelmed at the amount of options you have??

Extreme whitening, all-natural, tartar control, cavity prevention, enamel protection, and not to mention all of the kids’ varieties…how does one go about knowing what type of toothpaste is actually worth buying?

First of all, almost all toothpastes on the shelf share a common set of ingredients:

  • Abrasive Agents – these are scratchy materials that help remove food, bacteria, and some stains
  • Flavoring – to make your toothpaste taste better
  • Humectants – these help the toothpaste to not dry out
  • Thickeners – these are agents that add thickness to the toothpaste
  • Detergents – these are what cause your toothpaste to foam as you brush

Everything else – the guarantees to whiten, prevent cavities, assist sensitive teeth, etc – are features added to this common set of ingredients.

When choosing a toothpaste, there are 2 staple features that we here at Montgomery Dentistry highly recommend you look for in your toothpaste:

  • The toothpaste contains fluoride – Fluoride is absolutely essential when it comes to fighting cavities and tooth decay.  Your own enamel is actually composed of fluoride, so a toothpaste that contains fluoride is like adding an extra layer of armor to your teeth!
  • The toothpaste bears the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal – You know that your toothpaste has been given a thumbs-up by dentists if it bears the ADA Seal.  Avoid purchasing any toothpaste that does not bear the seal, as it could be lacking essential ingredients or have experienced less-than-superior manufacturing.

Apart from ensuring that your toothpaste contains fluoride and the ADA seal, the rest is up to you and your preferences!

And to take the guesswork out of what all those features are even guaranteeing, here is a break-down of what the various toothpastes offer you:

  • Whitening Toothpaste – Toothpaste that promises to whiten your teeth gives the impression that a mini-bleaching session is going to take place.  Not the case.  Whitening toothpaste contains agents that help to scrub away stains, but no whitening is actually going on.
  • Children’s Toothpaste – There is a special market for children’s toothpaste.  Celebrity cartoon figures, sparkles, fun flavors…all are designed to make the teeth brushing experience more desirable for children.  And because young children are prone to swallow toothpaste, the ADA recommends that children 18 months and younger use the training toothpaste that contains low fluoride, as an over-consumption of fluoride can result in fluorosis.
  • Sensitivity Toothpaste – Toothpaste that promises to cut down on one’s sensitivity issues is quite legitimate.  Sensitivity toothpaste contains agents that block the dentine tubules (the home of dental nerve endings), thus minimizing painful sensitivity.
  • All-Natural Toothpaste – Even though this toothpaste can boast in using all-natural ingredients, it has one major downfall:  all-natural toothpastes very seldom contain fluoride, the most important ingredient to look for in any toothpaste!
  • Tartar Control – Toothpaste that contains chemical compounds such as pyrophosphates and zinc citrate assists in dissolving those tough-to-remove tartar deposits.  If not dealt with, a build-up of tartar on your teeth and under your gums can lead to gum disease.
  • Enamel Protection – This particular toothpaste is a bit of a marketing gimmick, as the best protection that you can give your enamel is fluoride. Fluoride is already an essential ingredient in almost every toothpaste.

Here at Montgomery Dentistry, we want you to be confident and informed when it comes to making decisions about your oral health.  Brushing, flossing, and knowing which products to buy are all staples to a healthy mouth…as well as keeping up to date with your check-ups!  Feel free to call us to schedule an appointment or have your questions answered.



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The Surprising History Of The Toothbrush

Dental hygiene is anything but a modern-day concept.  Fresh breath and clean teeth have been coveted by all types of people for thousands of years!  Albeit, practice and technology have certainly changed and progressed.

What began as a “chew stick” over 5000 years ago has now become the tool universally known as the “toothbrush.”  The history of this staple of dental hygiene has a fascinating and surprising history!

The earliest-recorded predecessor to the toothbrush dates all the way back to the Babylonian Empire in 3500BC.  The Babylonians designed a twig with a frayed end, known as a “chew stick” to clean and scour the teeth.   The other end of the stick, sharpened to a point, was used as a toothpick!

Chew Stick

For nearly 4000 years, the “chew stick” was the sole method of maintaining dental hygiene…until the first “bristle brush” was developed in China during the Tang Dynasty, somewhere between 600 and 900AD.  Hog bristles were attached to bamboo or bone handles, creating a type of toothbrush!

Bristle Brush

Hundreds of years later, the bristle brush eventually made its way to Europe by way of travelers and explorers.  The first known use of the word “toothbrush” was in the autobiography of Englishman Anthony Wood in 1690.  Over time, the Europeans changed the coarse “pig bristle brush” to a softer horse hair brush.

The first mass-produced toothbrush was believed to have been manufactured in Europe by William Addis.  In 1770, Addis was imprisoned for having caused a riot.  While in prison, he tired of the modern-day method of cleaning one’s teeth: using a rag with salt and ashes to rub the teeth clean.  Saving a bone from dinner and obtaining some bristles from one of the prison guards, Addis he designed a very effective and easy-to-create modern-day toothbrush.

William Addis


Upon his release, Addis immediately built a business that mass-produced his toothbrushes and he soon became very wealthy.  His business, known as Wisdom Toothbrushes, stayed in the family until 1996!

In the 1900’s, celluloid handles eventually replaced bone handles and nylon bristles soon came to replace animal hair bristles.  It took over 5000 years of ingenuity, development, and creativity, but the end product is a tool that, if used properly and often, guarantees fresher breath, cleaner teeth, and healthier gums.


The toothbrush.  It has surely come a long way!

Here at Montgomery Dentistry, we believe in the importance of keeping your teeth and gums clean and healthy.  If you are need of a cleaning, or simply have some questions regarding your own dental health, please call us anytime…we would love to hear from you!

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What Are The Causes Of Dry Mouth?

Xerostomia – more commonly known as “dry mouth” – affects millions of Americans.

This condition can range from a mild annoyance all the way to severe complications due to an extreme lack of saliva.  Either way, dry mouth negatively affects a person’s quality of life.

Though most cases of dry mouth are found in women, the leading cause of dry mouth is due to a particular side effect of various medications:  the decrease in saliva production.

The medications that most often lead to dry mouth are:

  • Antihistamines
  • Antidepressants
  • Diuretics
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories

Also known to lead to dry mouth are these medical conditions:

  • Salivary gland diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Mouth breathing
  • Sleep apnea
  • Autoimmune disorders

The important thing to take into consideration if you suffer from dry mouth is that it is more than an annoyance.  Dry mouth (especially severe cases), if left untreated, can result in some major dental complications.

Dry mouth is the drop in production of saliva.  Saliva is the protective and cleansing fluid found in the mouth that performs many duties:

  • Protects oral tissues against ulcers, sores, and the effects of friction
  • Neutralizes acids
  • Provides antibodies against potential bacterial threat
  • Aids in the digestion of food
  • Helps teeth remineralize
  • Contributes to a person’s ability to taste

With the decline of such an important fluid comes some very uncomfortable consequences:  problems with eating, halitosis (bad breath), periodontal disease, and an increased number of cavities.

Experiencing dry mouth is worth the trip to the dentist so he can take a look!

What are the treatments for dry mouth?

A treatment plan for dry mouth depends entirely on what is causing it.  Is it due to the side effect of a medication that you are on?  Perhaps your doctor could modify the dosage.  Is your dry mouth a result of any of the previously mentioned medical conditions?  Then directly treating that particular condition would hopefully bring you relief.

But in the meantime, there are a few adjustments that you can make to help ease your discomfort:

  • Chew sugar-free gum
  • Limit your caffeine intake
  • Don’t use mouthwashes that contain alcohol
  • Forego all alcohol consumption
  • Sip water continually
  • Try over-the-counter saliva substitutes

Here at Montgomery Dentistry, we want you to know that conditions seemingly unrelated to dentistry are quite often worth having your dentist look into.

If you are experiencing conditions similar to that of dry mouth, please contact us.  We would be happy to answer any questions and invite you in for an exam!

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Why Your Check-Up Is So Much More Than Cavity Prevention

If a crowd of adults was asked why it is important to schedule regular dental check-ups, it would be reasonable to assume that almost everyone would mention something about cavities.

People typically associate dental check-ups with the infamous cavity, or prevention thereof.

And dentists would agree with that crowd of adults…cavity prevention is very important. Cavity prevention is the first line of defense against a lot of other nasty dental issues.

BUT, cavity prevention is not the only reason that you should keep your dental check-ups a routine thing. Not in the slightest.

Your dentist has a lot on his mind when you come in and sit back in his chair. He is thinking about things like gum disease, and root health, and…oral cancer.

Did you know that every time you visit your dentist, he is giving you a quick look-over for oral and throat cancer? The intense gaze that most assume is a search for cavities is actually a healthy inspection of all manner of potential issues. He has a lot on his mind as he peers into your mouth.

Your dentist’s experienced and professional assessment of your mouth and throat will determine whether you show any indication of oral or throat cancer. His review of your general oral history and palpation of the jaw and neck will also provide clues as to the amount of risk you may have for developing oral or throat cancer.

By maintaining your dental check-ups, suspicious changes or developments in your dental health will most likely be detected early by your dentist, ensuring you the best chance for treatment and recovery.

Along with your dentist’s careful and professional assessment, there are symptoms that you can be aware of as well. If any of these symptoms are persistent, get in touch with your dentist:

  • a sore or irritation that doesn’t go away
  • red or white patches
  • pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
  • a lump, thickening, rough spot, crust or small eroded area
  • difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving your tongue or jaw
  • a change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth

These are all symptoms that, if experienced over a lengthy amount of time, should be treated with concern.

Here at Montgomery Dentistry, we take your overall health very seriously. We are more than just a cavity prevention team, we are a concerned family of professionals determined to aid you in maintaining great oral and overall health.

If you have any questions or are ready to schedule an appointment, please call us at 334-279-0760.

Photo credit for header:  here

Bottled Water vs. Tap Water

As concerns have risen over the purity and integrity of our country’s tap water, so has the number of people who have begun purchasing and drinking from bottled and filtered water.

It seems like the logical and responsible thing to do, especially when it comes to the health and safety of our children.

But did you know that, according to an Australian study conducted between 1991 and 1995, children who drank solely filtered or bottled water had an increased rate of childhood cavities by over 52%.

This is due to the lack of exposure to the fluoride that is present in tap water.

Fluoride is a mineral that was added to our public tap water back in 1940.  It acts like a boost to one’s enamel, which is the substance that defends teeth against cavities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “the fluoridation of drinking water one of the top ten public health achievements of the 20th century.”  They also note that studies have shown that the consumption of fluoridated tap water reduces cavities in adolescents by 8 to 37 percent and in adults by 20 to 40 percent.

But this does not alleviate the problem of ingesting the less desirable trace elements that are present in some tap water (elements like perchlorate, lead, and hexavalent chromium).  Does one have to choose between ingesting fluoridated yet contaminated tap water and non-contaminated yet non-fluoridated bottled water?

Fortunately, no.

Not all filtered or bottled waters are totally devoid of fluoride.

Brita filters do not strip it out of tap water, and some bottled brands such as Nursery Water advertise that they actually add fluoride.  In order to encourage bottled water companies to provide fluoridated water, the ADA has introduced a certification program for foods and beverages that are beneficial to oral health, including fluoridated bottled water.

Filters to avoid, though, are the reverse osmosis water filters.  They actually strip out all minerals, including fluoride.

There are so many things to consider when maintaining the oral health of not only yourself, but your children as well.  Here at Montgomery Dentistry, we care a  great deal about the health of our clients.  We greatly stress that if there is only one decision that you are able to make regarding your dental and oral health, it is to stay up to date on your professional cleanings.

Please contact us if you ever have any questions about oral health issues.

Header photo by: Laenulf Ean

The Secret To Keeping Your Teeth For Life

Here’s a fact that’s a little tough to swallow:  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four Americans over the age of 65 have no teeth. 

A person with no teeth experiences a host of health problems, not to mention the feeling of a loss of dignity.  “Oral health and overall health is a two-way street,” says Denis Kinane, PhD, dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. “If you have poor oral health, it can make chronic conditions, such as diabetes, worse. And if you have a health problem like diabetes or heart disease, that can impact your teeth and gums.”

But losing your teeth doesn’t necessarily have to be something that is guaranteed with age.

Here are a few tips for safeguarding your teeth against falling out:

1.  Vitamin C is critical.  Studies have shown that adults who consume less than 60mg per day of vitamin C have a 25% higher chance of contracting gum disease, which is the major cause of tooth loss.

2.  Drink more tea.  Black and green teas contain antioxidants that help prevent plaque from forming on your teeth.  Tea leaves are also a natural source of fluoride, which acts as a protective barrier on your teeth.

3.  Avoid cotton mouth.  A mouth that is not producing adequate amounts of saliva can more easily contract the gum disease gingivitis.  Be careful when choosing medicines, as many produce the side effect of dry mouth.

4.  Exercise.  Studies have shown that those who regularly exercise experience improved dental health and are less likely to experience severe periodontal disease.

5.  Quit smoking.  Smoking is a major hindrance to quality oral health.  Not only does smoking increase your risk of a host of dental issues, but the habit also hinders many treatments.

6.  Eat more omega-3.  Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to assist in the healing of gum tissue.  Try to eat as much omega-3 – laden foods as possible, such as salmon, mackerel, and other fish.

7.  Keep up with your cleanings.  Make sure that you are visiting us regularly here at Montgomery Dentistry.  Professional cleanings throughout the year are so important to maintaining your dental health.

Here at Montgomery Dentistry, we take the whole you into consideration.  Oral health leads to overall health leads to confidence leads to peace of mind.  We love seeing our clients healthy and happy.

“Header photo” by:  Partha S. Sahana