Why We Choose Mercury-Free Dental Fillings
Dental fillings are a standard procedure. An increasing number of people with older amalgam fillings are concerned about possible health risks and seek to have them replaced. Amid global efforts to restrict the use of mercury-based fillings, it’s an important topic to discuss.
What Are Amalgam Dental Fillings?
Dental amalgam is a blend of metals used to fill cavities. Some amalgam fillings contain upward of 50 percent mercury and other metals that may include silver, tin, copper, zinc, indium, and palladium.
Mercury helps keep the amalgam material pliable when placed in the tooth. When mixed with an alloy powder, mercury makes a compound that is soft enough to mix and press into a tooth. Mercury is extremely durable, allowing amalgam fillings to withstand the forces of biting and chewing.
Although amalgam has been used in dental work for centuries, and mercury-based amalgam fillings have been around for at least 150 years, there has been mounting worldwide concern about the potentially toxic effects of mercury in dental fillings.
The Effects of Mercury
We’re all exposed to trace amounts of mercury through our air, water, soil, and food. In many ways, it’s useful. But mercury is also a neurotoxin that can result in life-threatening adverse effects.
Depending on the form and amount of mercury and other individual factors, the Environmental Protection Agency states that mercury exposure can cause:
- Loss of peripheral vision
- Loss of coordination
- Muscle weakness or twitching
- Changes in nerve responses
- Behavioral changes
Excessive levels of exposure can lead to kidney failure, respiratory failure, and even death. The risks of complications spike when a child is exposed to mercury and can include long-term cognitive disabilities. Despite this, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Dental Association (ADA) support the use of amalgam fillings for those 6 and older.
Slow to Act on Mercury
Three countries have banned the use of mercury-based amalgam fillings. Studies linked mercury levels in fetal tissue to mothers’ mercury fillings, and many leading health organizations have recommended that amalgam fillings not be used in children. Dozens of other studies have demonstrated the hazards of mercury poisoning. And notwithstanding the official stance on amalgam fillings from the FDA and ADA, dentists who administer or remove amalgam fillings must adhere to strict guidelines regarding the handling and disposal of mercury fillings as hazardous waste.
So why isn’t the use of amalgam fillings restricted in the United States? The FDA states that there is insufficient evidence to support that the amount of mercury vapor released by amalgam fillings poses a health threat. Some studies, for example, have been based on low sample sizes, while others are constrained to a demographic group. However, the US is now a signatory of the Minamata Convention. This international agreement calls for reducing global mercury usage, including the phasing out of metal amalgam fillings. The treaty hasn’t had enough ratifications to go into effect yet, but we may soon see greater moves toward eliminating these fillings.
If nothing else, the existing research indicates this is an issue deserving of deeper examination. We should err on the side of our health when considering fillings. Besides, there are durable, beautiful, metal-free alternatives.
Natural-Looking Dental Fillings
For a moment, never mind the potential health risks of amalgam fillings. They’re also just plain unattractive and have the potential to harm your teeth further.
These traditional dental fillings may restore some bite functionality, but their dark coloration makes them highly visible. There is also evidence that mercury fillings cause more damage to your tooth. They also gradually expand over time, causing pressure on your tooth, leading to cracking and wear.
At élan Tulsa Cosmetic Dentistry in Tulsa, we offer tooth-colored fillings made with natural-looking composite resins. This material won’t expand over time, so there is no risk of your tooth cracking in the future. For even greater strength and beauty, we also offer ceramic inlays and onlays—fillings that can strengthen your teeth. Many people wonder about the durability of tooth-colored fillings compared to amalgam fillings, but there’s no reason to worry. Tooth-colored fillings last just as long, if not longer.
These state-of-the-art fillings allow you to keep more of your tooth than amalgam fillings, and they help support the tooth structure. Many patients replace amalgam fillings with resin fillings because they blend seamlessly with their smiles.
Replace Your Old Metal Fillings for a Healthier You in Tulsa, OK
It’s common to hear that people want to replace their old metal fillings with tooth-colored ones. With all the benefits of tooth-colored fillings, it’s easy to see why. To schedule your appointment, please call élan Tulsa Cosmetic Dentistry at (918) 528-3330 or make an appointment onine.
élan Tulsa Cosmetic Dentistry
10031 S Yale Ave #104
Tulsa, OK 74137