Reality Bites

Talk-radio hosts often chat with callers about sports or politics. Now there's a place for fans of bicuspids. Florida dentist Dr. Mitchell Josephs hosts a call-in radio show, "This Old Mouth" (www.thisoldmouth.net), now airing in 35 cities. Tip Sheet's Daniel McGinn gave him some questions to chew on:

Some dentists urge middle-aged folks to replace old silver fillings. Is that necessary?

It's a myth that the mercury inside silver fillings is dangerous. The only reasons to replace a filling are because of leakage or fracture, if it's so worn down that it's no longer making good contact on the biting surface with the opposite tooth or recurrent decay under the old filling. Some patients get tired of having people see dark-colored fillings when they smile.

What do you think of tongue brushes?

They're a good way to scrape plaque off the back of the tongue, which is a cause of bad breath. I use one.

What's the best way to whiten teeth?

We use a process that just came out called Zoom whitening. It's a UV light that shines on your teeth. In one hour it can whiten teeth from five to 13 shades, and you don't have to wear trays of gook in your mouth. We charge $650 for the whole mouth.

When is it worth getting a second opinion?

Many people are very loyal to their dentists, and they rarely seek a consultation elsewhere. But procedures that cost a lot of money (like a $10,000 porcelain veneer) or anything surgically invasive are good reasons to seek a second opinion. Also, if a dentist recommends extracting a tooth. Maybe it can be saved.