Mercury-free dentistry involves using white or clear composite resin to fill cavities or removing mercury-based fillings and replacing them with resin. Several studies have shown that the mercury amalgam that has been used for several decades to fill teeth may actually be causing health issues. With health concerns in mind, many dentists have turned to more holistic methods of filling teeth.
What are Amalgam Fillings?
Dental amalgam is a material used to fill cavities. According to the FDA, “Dental amalgam is a mixture of metals, consisting of liquid (elemental) mercury and a powdered alloy composed of silver, tin, and copper. Approximately half (50%) of dental amalgam is elemental mercury by weight. The chemical properties of elemental mercury allow it to react with and bind together the silver/copper/tin alloy particles to form an amalgam.”
Although amalgam has been used for dental fillings for more than 150 years, there are risks to patients and dental staff due to the mercury vapor that can be released into the air and absorbed into the lungs. These risks include damage to the brain and kidneys.
While mercury does work as an effective material for amalgam fillings, the possibility that it causes other health conditions has not gone unnoticed in the medical communities. Severe headaches and allergic reactions are sometimes attributed to the presence of mercury in the teeth.
The FDA warns, “exposure to mercury may pose a greater health risk in the groups of people listed below, who may be more susceptible to potential adverse effects generally associated with mercury.
- Pregnant women and their developing fetuses;
- Women who are planning to become pregnant;
- Nursing women and their newborns and infants;
- Children, especially those younger than six years of age;
- People with pre-existing neurological disease;
- People with impaired kidney function;
People with known heightened sensitivity (allergy) to mercury or other components (silver, copper, tin) of dental amalgam.” (FDA)
Mercury vs. Resin
Resin-based sealants are safe and extremely durable. Otherwise known as composite fillings, they are made of ceramic and plastic. They do not degrade or wear away like mercury fillings. Because resin hardens into a non-permeable material that retains its shape and does not shift or wear away, it has proven itself a worthy replacement for mercury amalgam. There are health concerns about BPA in composite fillings and sealants. Rest assured that Ultimate Smile Design is a BPA-free dental practice.
Eliminating Mercury Over Time
Because mercury was used extensively in the past, a person may have several mercury fillings in their mouth. Regarding amalgam removal, many dentists who specialize in mercury-free dentistry recommend having them replaced over time. This allows the body to gradually adapt to not having the mercury present in the body. It also gives the person time to heal between each procedure.
Consider Mercury-Free Dentistry
If you have unexplained health issues, like recurrent headaches, sinus problems, or a metal taste in your mouth after eating certain foods, talk to your dentist about having your mercury fillings replaced. It may be the answer to many of your health problems that would have otherwise gone untreated. Contact us at Ultimate Smile Design in Palm Bay, Florida, to ask about mercury-free dentistry and find out if it is right for you and your family.
Related article: Safe Dentistry – Questions to Ask Your Dentist
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in July 2016, and has been updated for freshness, completeness, and accuracy.