Amalgam Filling Replacement
Safe Removal Harmful Amalgam Fillings
No issue is more important in dental health today than the safe removal of harmful old amalgam fillings, which contain mercury. Removal of these fillings is a controversial topic and one I feel it’s necessary to discuss.
A debate about the safety and proper use of mercury-containing silver fillings actually began in the 17th century. In the early 1800s, the Crawcour brothers first introduced amalgam as a filling material in the United States, bring it over from France. By the mid-1800s, a large percentage of New York dentists were using amalgam regularly. But it wasn’t long before the Dental Society of American Surgeons decided that using amalgam amounted to malpractice and prohibited its use among its members.
Can you believe that the controversy over amalgam fillings was already raging in the mid-1800s?
But just 12 years after the formation of the American Society of Dental Surgeons, it was disbanded. In 1859, the American Dental Association was founded, which exists today and sets standards for dentists. This group supported the use of dental amalgam. For decades, amalgam was the standard for fillings.
A Holistic Approach To Dentistry Arises
Now, the story moves to 2007.
In that year, an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services issues a ranking of the most hazardous substances and materials in use. Mercury – the crucial element in all amalgam fillings and what makes the material pliable enough for use – is ranked as the third most hazardous of the substances examined. Since amalgam fillings are 50 percent mercury, this created a real concern for some dentists.
And this isn’t something that’s all that surprising. Dental amalgam makers have included a lengthy disclaimer with their product for years that tells patients – if they ever see the disclaimer – not to ingest the product. Yet some ingestion is impossible to avoid if it’s in your mouth for decades.
In California, Proposition 65 warned that products with mercury are known to cause reproductive problems, including birth defects. Neurological problems have been linked to mercury as well.
So Why Is Amalgam Still Used?
Amazingly, some dentists still use dental amalgam despite the health risks, sometimes without informing patients of these risks.
I believe it’s still used mostly because it works.
From a physical point of view without regard to dangers or side effects, it’s a good material that has proven itself durable and cost-effective over time. Without a doubt, it’s strong, it resists abrasion and has other very positive qualities.
But it isn’t biocompatible, and that’s a deal-breaker for me. Some dental professionals have not taken enough care or enough time to understand the potentially harmful effects of dental amalgam and the mercury it contains.
But it doesn’t make sense to base a decision on what to put inside a human being only on the material’s positive physical properties. That’s why I’m very clear when people ask what I think about mercury fillings: I’m against them. How can something that contains a large amount of a toxic substance be recommended?
In my practice and for my patients, safe removal of amalgam fillings is an important priority.
We Don’t Need Amalgam Anymore
I don’t use amalgam fillings, and today there are plenty of good alternatives that work just fine. I’m able to do beautiful aesthetic dentistry that lasts for years without every needing to result to potentially harmful materials.
Amalgam has some other problems anyway. One is that it expands over time – or swells. This can cause teeth to develop cracks that can eventually result in irreversible damage. While not evident immediately, these cracks create the need for crowns, and that’s another good reason to get rid of any amalgam in your mouth. I’ve done many crowns to fix damage caused by amalgam, and if I can prevent the need for a crown by replacing your amalgam with a composite filling before any more damage is done, that’s what I prefer.
Almost every day, we remove old amalgam fillings and install new biocompatible restorations – because we believe it’s the right thing to do for your health.
If you’re weighing both sides of this controversy and wondering whether it really makes sense to get your amalgam fillings removed and replaced before the signs of their failure are obvious, consider this: it makes sense to err on the side of caution. It’s your overall health that’s at risk, not just your dental health.
Even if evidence later proves wrong those who believe as I do that amalgam fillings should be removed, where’s the harm? Today’s materials are better in many ways anyway.
Stop Playing With Fire
I believe that leaving amalgam fillings in your mouth is as dangerous as playing with fire. While you may not get hurt, the chances of injury are large. With people more and more concerned about their health and their environment than ever before, it just doesn’t make sense to overlook the mercury in your mouth.
I’ll never place an amalgam filling in your mouth, and I suggest you steer clear of anyone who wants to. Instead, err on the side of caution and get rid of any amalgam in your body.
At our dental practice, we practice gentle dentistry and can help you clean up your mouth and eliminate the harmful mercury from it. We help people with that every day. Why not contact us now for a free initial consultation?
We’re here for you when you’re ready to move forward with better dental health and better overall health too.
- Dr. Paige Woods, DDS
If you are interested in having your amalgam fillings replaced, call (619) 640-5100 for a free consultation with Dr. Woods.