The use of mercury fillings in dentistry is a very hot, controversial topic, and every dentist has his or her own views. There are people who want their amalgams removed because they feel the mercury is making them sick. Metal-mercury fillings are even banned in other countries. However, the American Dental Association still states that for dentistry, amalgams are safe.
So, who is right and who is wrong? Let’s look at some of the realities.
On a national level, the American Dental Association feels that amalgams have proven their safety for more than 100 years. Dental insurance companies like amalgams because they are usually the cheapest and fastest way to fill a decayed tooth. The Food and Drug Administration is taking a closer look at the safety of these fillings due to the fact they are composed of 50 percent mercury and because the public is wanting answers.
Currently, the FDA maintains the following opinion: the best available scientific evidence has been reviewed to determine whether the low levels of mercury vapor associated with dental amalgam fillings are a cause for concern. Based on this evidence, the FDA considers dental amalgam fillings safe for adults and children ages 6 and above. They do warn that dental professionals use adequate ventilation when handling dental amalgam. Interestingly, the Environmental Protection Agency states that amalgam fillings are safe for people but not so safe for the environment and have published the following statement:
“If improperly managed by dental offices, dental amalgam waste can be released into the environment. Dentists should use dental amalgam separators to catch and hold the excess amalgam waste coming from office spittoons,” according to the EPA’s website. “Without dental amalgam separators, the excess amalgam waste will be released to the sewers via drains in the dental offices.”
There is no conclusive study showing amalgams to be safe or dangerous to the average person. It is also outside the scope of dentistry for a dentist to tell a patient they can be cured of diseases by removing all mercury/silver fillings. As it stands, there is no universally accepted scientific evidence that says removing amalgams will make people well, though there are people who are allergic to amalgam fillings and its components as well as other dental materials.
Our office is metal free and will stay that way for many reasons. We do not use metal mercury fillings not only because they are unattractive, but there are much more advanced dental materials available now.
The new tooth-colored bonded restorations allow dentists to be more conservative and remove less tooth. Bonded restorations also return the tooth close to its strength before the cavity began. Metal-mercury fillings require extra tooth to be removed in order to keep them in place. They expand and contract with temperature changes (i.e. consumption of hot and cold foods) causing stress fractures in the tooth or separation of the filling from the tooth. The stress fractures can eventually cause a tooth to break and need expensive treatment to save it, if it can even be salvaged. When the filling has microscopic separations from the tooth, it then leaks and allows bacteria to seep underneath and fester. This causes dental decay that is usually undetectable until it becomes very advanced.
In short, new developments in dentistry have created new materials that are much safer, stronger, and better looking than the old metal-mercury fillings. We can do much better for your tooth than placing these unsightly restorations of yesterday. If you are interested to learn how your old dentistry is affecting your oral health, call our office today at 417-887-5155 to set up your evaluation appointment.
Ready to take the next step? Call our dental office to set up your appointment today.