Metal fillings are made from an amalgam of materials including silver, tin, copper, and mercury. It’s that final element that has created quite a debate in the dental field over the past several years.
Now, more patients are now choosing white composite fillings over metal ones, and more dentist are offering only white restorations than ever before.
Why have silver amalgam fillings become so controversial?
Watching What You Put in Your Body
Mercury poisoning has been known to cause severe issues such as:
So why is such a controversial material used in dentistry? Metal fillings contain such a small amount of mercury because it allows the metal to remain soft and moldable. This way, a dentist can pack it into a tooth for a snug fit before it hardens.
Is Dental Amalgam Harmful?
Once the mercury is mixed and sets up in a filling, it’s really not going anywhere. Some studies have shown that traces of mercury can be released in vapors when the fillings wear down over time. But reviews of this research proves that the amounts are far too low to cause any problems.
Mercury toxicity happens when you’re exposed to this element for a long time. A true allergy to mercury is very rare with less than 100 confirmed cases. A couple dental fillings won’t make you sick, but a lifetime of mining the element without proper protection just might.
Even though your current metal fillings should be just fine, your dentist would probably recommend that you consider updating them to mercury-free white ones. White composite restorations are much more conservative and esthetic. Talk with your dentist for more information.
Posted on behalf of:
Rock Point Family Dentistry
115 S Lakeline Blvd #200
Cedar Park, TX 78613
Amalgam fillings have been used in dentistry for over 100 years, but many people are beginning to question the safety of fillings that contain an alloy of metals, which includes the use of mercury. Technically mercury is not considered to be a health hazard when it is no longer in its liquid state, but the link to some conditions is more than enough evidence for some people to avoid its use completely. One theory is that as silver fillings age, they begin to leak material into the tooth, including mercury.
Wonderful alternatives to silver fillings are tooth-colored fillings made of composite resin. The composite material is completely free of metal, including mercury, and is also the same color of tooth enamel. It can be used to treat new cavities, or to replace existing amalgam fillings. Composite fillings are smaller and less invasive than silver fillings, because the material bonds with porous tooth enamel. This means that a composite filling can be placed in areas that metal fillings cannot, benefitting the patient when other types of treatments were previously not available. Tooth colored fillings come in a variety of shades, allowing the material to match very closely to the shade of the tooth. It is similar to the shade selection process used in dental crowns and bridges.
Removal of metal mercury fillings is fairly simple. The dentist will also utilize a trap system to prevent residue from the amalgam filling entering into the environment, so that it can be disposed of properly. Careful steps should be taken to protect the patient during removal of the filling, so be sure to ask your dentist what procedures they use when they are performing mercury-filling removal.
Posted on behalf of Dan Myers
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