For decades, silver (amalgam) fillings have been the standard material used for restoring teeth damaged by decay. Today with advances in biological sciences people are far more concerned with what they are placing inside their body, including dental materials. Not everyone is comfortable putting materials in their mouth that also contain mercury, and understandably so.
If you need a filling placed, it’s important to take into consideration the factors that can determine your reaction to mercury. After learning about them, you just might be more likely to choose mercury-free dentistry in Middletown.
What Type of Mercury is Used?
Not all mercury is created equal. For example, mercury found in fish products is considered to be methylmercury and is not the same as elemental mercury. Elemental (metallic) mercury, which is used in silver dental fillings, is the same material that was previously used in certain types of thermometers. Today, these varieties of thermometer are largely banned due to the toxic nature of elemental mercury vapor.
How Does Mercury Affect the Body?
Mercury has the ability to be absorbed by the lungs and passed to other areas of the body, including the brain, liver, kidneys and gastrointestinal tract. It’s also capable of permeating the blood-brain barrier, allowing it to bond to proteins and amino acids throughout the body. Dental fillings have significant potential to expose people to elemental mercury, even more so than what the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers “safe” in terms of daily intake.
Are There Delayed Effects to Consider?
Speaking of traveling throughout the body, mercury has the potential to cause problems much later in life. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “many chronic diseases are characterized by long latency periods of 20 to 30 years or longer.” This quote references (OSHA) requirements for employers who hire individuals working in environments with toxic substances. Since dentists are far more likely to be exposed to this sort of material, their risk for exposure is high as well.
Do You Have a Preexisting Allergy or Genetic Predisposition?
If you aren’t sure if you carry a metal allergy, it’s best to tell the dentist so they can set up a biocompatibility test. These tests are designed to confirm which materials are safe to use in your body, including the most commonly utilized materials in dentistry.
Furthermore, several studies have explored the adverse effects of mercury exposure and certain genetic traits. Genetic variations like coproporphyrinogen oxidase exon 4 (CPOX4) and apo-lipoprotein E4 (APOE) both have the potential to put certain individuals at higher risk of symptoms related to mercury vapor exposure. These symptoms include decreased movement of coordination and visual perception by the brain, depression and memory loss.
Why Everyone Should Consider Going Mercury-Free
For many, removing any complications from treatment is a simple as never using materials containing mercury in the future. Not only do you reduce your exposure to potentially harmful mercury vapor, but you can also get a filling that fits better and blends in more effectively with your existing teeth. Tooth-colored fillings don’t sacrifice durability for protection and even allow us to save more of your existing tooth structure in the process.
Have more questions on amalgam fillings? Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with a dentist in Middletown today!
About the Author
Dr. Scott Udoff earned his dental degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. He practices mercury-free dentistry in order to remove all doubt from patients considered about the short- and long-term effects amalgam fillings pose. To learn more about his practice or treatments, you can contact him through his website.