Amalgam has been used in dentistry since 1830, and it’s been divisive ever since its initial use in dentistry. Amalgam is mixture of metal powder (mostly silver with some copper and tin) and liquid mercury. After mixture, it forms a sort of paste that is molded and shaped into a tooth in which the decay has been removed. The silver mercury combination hardens to a hard filling.
However, there has always been unease about the mercury element. Mercury, as an element, is known to be toxic. For you that are historians, look up the contentious use of amalgam in the 1850’s.
To date, there is not a single credible, “peer-reviewed” report that links silver amalgam fillings to any medical problem. Currently, scientists have not linked the presence of silver amalgam to any disease. Nor have scientists proven that removal of amalgam will cure or prevent any illness.
And for those that believe that your government is looking out for you, the two government agencies that regulate mercury seem to be at odds. (Go figure!) The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has said that amalgam fillings are harmless.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has stated that mercury-silver amalgam scraps from dental offices is toxic waste and cannot be put in the trash or sewer.
Hence, which is it? Who do YOU trust? The FDA says it’s harmless to put in your mouth. But, the EPA says it’s toxic waste and shouldn’t be put in the trash or end up in the sewer.
Besides, some state dental boards will sanction or punish a dentist for telling a patient that silver amalgam is bad for them or should be removed for health reasons.
But, my reasons have nothing to do with this mercury argument. I believe that Silver mercury fillings expand and contract with chewing and temperature much differently than the flexible enamel that surrounds them. Over time, I’ve seen patients that have fractures in their enamel. These fractures can then increase deeper into the tooth, leading to intermittent pain to biting and temperature changes, crowns, root canals or the complete fracture of the tooth, leading to the tooth being amputated from the mouth.
I prefer composite resin for fillings, because it is a more careful and cosmetic choice. Silver amalgam requires much more removal of strong tooth structure to mechanically lock the material into the tooth preparation. Composite resin BONDS to the enamel and dentin. So, I can limit your cavity preparation to only removing decay and preserving as much healthy tooth structure as possible. The bonus: White composite fillings look fantastic compared to the silver or black colored mercury-containing fillings!
I like to tell people that scientifically, I can’t back up the routine removal of all silver amalgams with no defects, no fractures in the tooth, or recurring decay in hopes of curing or preventing any medical issues. I’ve personally had all of my amalgams removed and replaced, but I can tell you that I have not noticed any health changes. But I can tell you that I don’t have fractured teeth because of the old mercury-silver fillings expanding and contracting and placing internal stresses on my teeth. I personally choose to have my amalgams replaced with gold. The cost for gold is initially much more than composites, but the longevity for a well done gold restoration can be a lifetime.
It’s important to mention that any time we perform treatment on a tooth, it puts stress on that tooth. However, most of the time, replacing fillings does not result in any complications.
Sedona dentist Roy Daniels has performed mercury removal for residents of Cottonwood, Clarkdale, Camp Verde, Cornville, the Village of Oak Creek, and Flagstaff at his Sedona, AZ dental practice.
If you have questions about mercury removal, or would like a consultation, feel free to give us a call at 928-282-3246.