The standard treatment for cavities comprises of removal of the decayed portion of the tooth and then filling the crater formed on the tooth with dental amalgam often merely called filling. The treatment for broken or cracked teeth and even for worn out teeth resulting from misuse is almost similar by using dental amalgam. Although amalgam or silver amalgam which has been in use for many years, there are serious concerns about its safety for human health as it contains mercury. Mercury is harmful to human health, but dentists knowingly had to use it in the absence of suitable alternatives. However, things have now changed because new kinds of dental fillings are available that does not contain any human incompatible materials.
The approach of dentists towards the treatment of dental health has also changed as they now take a holistic approach that addresses the overall issues for the health and wellbeing of patients. Known as holistic dentistry, it ensures the safety of the overall health of patients with a focus on toxic-free dentistry by synchronizing the dental health of patients with their physical and emotional wellbeing. To achieve the right results, dentists use materials that are biocompatible and non-toxic and does not cause any harm to human health. It has resulted in dentists advising removal and replacement of dental materials that are detrimental to the health of patients by availing the services related to mercury filling removal. The procedures are fast gaining popularity as these healthier options that ensure the overall good health of people.
In this article, we will discuss the dangers lurking under dental amalgam, and what other safe options of dental amalgam are available that does not contain mercury.
Concerns about mercury in amalgam
Almost for 150 years, dentists have been using amalgam for dental treatment. As the name signifies, amalgam is a combination of metals with silver being the most dominant metal in the compound and commonly known as silver amalgam. Silver, tin, copper, and mercury are the metals used in amalgam and sometimes even small quantities of palladium, indium, and zinc. Although millions of people have used amalgam, the threats of mercury in amalgam have raised serious concerns among health experts. The concerns still prevail despite the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) declaring that there is no reason to limit the use of amalgam after evaluating several studies carried out to determine its safety. However, FDA is reviewing the decision taken in 2009 as requested by some groups that still have reservations about the use of mercury in amalgam.
If mercury is harmful, why use it?
You might wonder if mercury is so harmful then why people use it in amalgam. The reason is that the filling material or amalgam has to be pliable so that it becomes soft enough to mix the compound and press into teeth and mercury does this best. Mercury hardens very quickly and is hard enough to withstand the forces of chewing and biting. It makes the filling long lasting which is a primary requirement for the treatment because nobody wants to go through the process time and again.
The harm that can happen
Since mercury occurs naturally in the environment, all of us get exposed to it through drinking water, air, food, and soil. Although the metal, mercury is available in liquid form and it turns into gaseous form when heated. Aquatic animals especially fishes receive good exposure to mercury, and this poses a health concern for humans who consume fish. Mercury vapor mixes with air when industries emit mercury vapors. Mercury is polluting the environment in many ways.
Minimal traces of mercury in the body might not cause any harm, but for higher levels of mercury, there can be various health problems ranging from headaches and fatigue to memory loss, irritability, and anxiety. Mercury used in amalgam starts releasing in tiny amounts as the filling undergoes wear and tear. Since scientists do not yet know how much mercury the body can absorb safely, the concerns remain even if the amount of mercury is just too less.
To keep away from the possible health hazards of silver fillings, there are some other options available. Cast gold filling, tooth-colored composites and some other non-toxic and biocompatible materials can work well that dentists often recommend to patients by determining the overall health implications.
Cast gold fillings
The aesthetic appeal of gold often attracts people to cast gold filling provided they are ready to shell out extra money for it as it can be ten times costlier than silver amalgam. A gold filling is firm and can withstand the forces of chewing and biting; it does not corrode and can last for 10 to 15 years. It also takes a long time for applying the filling as it requires at least two sittings to complete the procedure. However, dentists can’t use the gold filling if the adjacent tooth has silver filling because it might cause pain in some rare cases.
Those who want the color of fillings to match with the color of existing teeth prefer tooth-colored composites. Composite resin filling adheres to the tooth structure and bonds nicely thereby providing support. The filling is perfect for treating broken, chipped, cracked, or worn out tooth and sometimes it may require less removal of tooth parts to apply the filling. It takes more time to apply the filling which is prone to chipping and might need two sittings or more depending on the type of procedure for onlays and inlays. The longevity is also less as compared to the silver filling.
Among other types of fillings, Ceramic fillings use porcelain, but the material is more abrasive than composite resin filling, is more resistant to staining with almost 15 years longevity and as expensive as gold. Glass ionomer filling is composed of acrylic and a particular type of glass and used for fillings below the gum line and children.
For mercury-free fillings, the above alternatives are available provided your dentist agrees that it matches with the health needs. You can seek dental expertise in FL for more information.