A dental filling (amalgam) is made by mixing mercury, silver, tin, and copper.
Mercury being the key word there. If you drop a thermometer at work and it breaks, government guidelines recommend: "the room be sealed until Hazardous Materials experts can decontaminate the scene." If your child swallows a watch battery, your next phone call better be to the Poison Control Center. Surprisingly dentists still use the mercury amalgam fillings today, which leaves the decision up to the patient as to whether the fillings are safe or not. The American Dental Association would have us believe, mercury in the amalgam supposedly combines with the other metals to render it stable and safe. According to the ADA, "There is no "free" mercury that can enter the blood circulation where it could cause damage to the nervous system, our biggest concern." The ADA further states, "While questions have arisen about the safety of dental amalgam relating to its mercury content, the major US and international scientific and health bodies, including the National Institutes of Health, the US Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization, among others have been satisfied that dental amalgam is a safe, reliable and effective restorative material." Surprised? Now there is a Dr. Richard Edlich who said in a related statement that "On December 14th and 15th 2010 the Dental Panel of the FDA had a meeting in Maryland to discuss the dangers of mercury amalgam. All members of the panel agreed that mercury amalgam should never be given to pregnant women as well as young children." Despite the uniform agreement of the panel, unless I've been out to lunch, the FDA has not alerted me or the rest of the country to the decision of that dental panel. Dr. Murray Vimy, a research dentist at the University of Calgary, has proved that mercury migrates from the teeth into nearly all body tissues, especially the brain, kidneys, and liver.
Also consider this, the average dentist handles two or three pounds of mercury annually. According to Consumer Reports, and up to 10% of dental offices have mercury vapor levels exceeding 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air. This is the upper limit considered safe for eight-hour workplace exposure, and a study at the University of North Texas that found, neuropsychological dysfunction in 90% of dentists they tested. The female dental personnel tested had a higher spontaneous abortion rate, higher incidence of premature labor, and elevated perinatal mortality, which has been substantiated by the EPA to be characteristic of women chronically exposed to mercury vapor. Stillbirths are significantly correlated with maternal blood mercury levels. Methyl mercury, the organic form of mercury that forms after oral ingestion of mercury, is 100 times more toxic than elemental mercury. Methyl mercury easily crosses the placental barrier and builds up 30% higher red blood cell levels in the unborn child than the mother. Dr. Murray Vimy is certain that every time you chew, brush, or most likely grind your teeth, you absorb mercury. However, he councils against panic and suggests that mercury fillings be replaced with non-mercury materials like resin composites, porcelain, or gold, as needed. There is some risk that mass replacements could expose the patient to more mercury than if old fillings were left alone. There are alternatives to the mercury amalgam:
Composite Resin fillings are a mixture of glass or quartz filler in a resin medium that produces a tooth-colored filling. Also referred to as composites or filled resins, they match teeth, transmit light well and can make imperceptible tooth restorations; however, they are subject to stain and discoloration over time. They provide good durability and resistance to fracture in small- to mid-size restorations that need to withstand moderate chewing pressure. Composites can also be physically bonded to tooth structure, often allowing a more conservative repair. Their cost is moderate depending upon size
Glass Ionomers are translucent, tooth-colored materials made of a mixture of acrylic acids and fine glass powders that are used to fill cavities, particularly those on the root surfaces of teeth. When the dentist prepares the tooth for a glass ionomer, less tooth structure can be removed, often resulting in a smaller filling than that of an amalgam. They are primarily used in areas not subject to heavy chewing pressure. And because they have a low resistance to fracture, glass ionomers are mostly used in those fillings between teeth or on tooth roots. One consideration is they also release a small amount of fluoride.
Resin Ionomers are also made from glass filler with acrylic acids, fine glass powders and acrylic resin. They are used for very small fillings between teeth and are only moderately resistant to fracture, making them useful in non-biting surface areas like tooth root surfaces. Both glass and resin ionomers mimic natural tooth color but lack the natural translucency of enamel and experience high wear when placed on chewing surfaces. They are well tolerated by patients with only rare instances of allergic reaction.
According to Dentist.net, The following are theories based on studies done by mercury toxicity experts and medical researchers on what effects mercury has when released into the body through an amalgam filling. These possible effects are thought to occur several years after exposure to the metal.
It's believed that mercury can also increase a patient's risk of developing, adrenal disease, Alzheimer's Disease, Hodgkin's Disease, leukemia, lupus, multiple sclerosis, mononucleosis, scleroderma, as well as negatively affect the body's immune system. Mercury is a known poison. It is, in fact, one of, if not the most toxic of all the elements known to man. It's fact that mercury is fully one-half of the mass of the filling you see when you look at any "silver" filling. It is fact that mercury vaporizes in the mouth and that the vapor is inhaled and also directly absorbed into the body. It's fact that mercury travels to all body tissues and concentrates in tissues where it can do damage in several known ways. Consider this, how can a dentist feel comfortable using a substance designated by the EPA to be a waste disposal hazard. It can't be legally throw it in the trash, thrown on the ground, or put it in a landfill, but they say it's OK to put it in people's mouths. That just doesn't make sense. The ADA recently announced that their researchers are developing a composite to replace mercury fillings. Really? Can't help but wonder why they would be researching it at all if mercury were really safe, like they are saying. It is difficult to reconcile that in this age of space-age technology we are still using the exact same materials dentists of the 1800's used, and that one of them is a known toxic metal. Removing an old amalgam generates a lot of free mercury as the drill cuts the silver filling into a powder, so it might be best to have one changed out at a time, rather than all at once if that is your choice, as was mine.
- Oral Effects: a metallic taste in the mouth, mouth sores, gingivitis an excess of saliva, and bleeding gums.
- Gastrointestinal Effects: abdominal cramping, diarrhea, constipation, and sensitivities to certain foods.
- Cardiovascular Effects: abnormally high or low blood pressure, irregular heart rhythm, and congestive heart failure
- Neurological Effects: behavioral changes in mood and motor function, tremors, anxiety, depression, memory loss, and headaches.
- Fertility Effects: Infertility, and a presence of mercury in breast milk as well as in the tissue of a maturing fetus.
- Other Possible Effects: Impaired kidney function, a disruption of bacteria normally present in the digestive tract, dermatitis, thyroid complications, chronic fatigue, excessive perspiration, unexplained anemia and allergies.
In the end the decision about what to use and when, is best determined in a consultation with your dentist. You should discuss your concerns and the risks / benefits of all filling materials available. So you can maintain good oral health. Good Luck...
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