Many people in are becoming more concerned about the negative consequences of certain chemicals that are found not only in the environment, but in food, water, and everyday household products. In recent years, mercury is one such chemical element that has become a cause for concern.
Read on to learn why mercury is harmful and why you should ask your dentist about mercury-free dental fillings.
Use of Mercury in Dental Fillings
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), exposure to even small amounts of mercury can be harmful. This chemical is known to be toxic to certain parts of the body, including the nervous system and the kidneys, lungs, and eyes. Some of the most widely-used products that contain mercury include batteries, thermometers, and certain cosmetics.
For the past 150 years, mercury has even been used in dental amalgam, which is a material used for dental fillings. About half of the mixture in a dental amalgam is comprised of liquid mercury. Other elements used in a dental amalgam include tin, copper, and silver.
Some of the primary reasons dentists have been using dental amalgam for so many years is that they are strong, long-lasting, and inexpensive. Despite the benefits mercury dental fillings have offered through the years, many dentists are no longer using them.
When a tooth contains an amalgam, it has the potential to release mercury-containing vapors when chewing and eating, as well as brushing or grinding teeth. Even though the FDA has deemed dental amalgam safe for adults and children over the age of six, dental patients and dentists feel that this type of filling isn't worth the risk to their health.
Many dentists are switching to mercury-free fillings, not only because they do not pose any health risks but because of the other advantages of using this kind of filling.
Advantages of Mercury-Free Fillings
Advantages of Mercury-Free Fillings
If you or your child needs to get a cavity filled and you are concerned about fillings that contain mercury, the good news is, you can choose from other types of fillings. Some of the most common alternative fillings include:
- Composite resin
- Ceramic (porcelain)
- Glass ionomer
One other option is a gold filling. Gold was actually used before amalgam, but because a gold filling cost much more, dental patients began choosing the less expensive option. Today, some dentists still use gold fillings. However, other mercury-free fillings have additional advantages.
Attractive and Natural
Have you ever noticed someone's metal fillings inside their mouth when they laugh? One of the greatest advantages nonmetal and mercury-free fillings have to offer is that nobody will even know they are there. This is especially true of composite resin fillings that match the color of your teeth, thereby giving them a more natural look.
Nonmetal and Resilient
If you have a metal filling, you may be prone to toothaches due to sensitive teeth. If your teeth are sensitive to heat and cold, you will appreciate the fact that a mercury-free, nonmetal filling will cause less sensitivity.
Normally, metal fillings cause tooth sensitivity in the weeks after getting placed, but for some, this sensitivity never goes away. Nonmetal, mercury-free fillings are much more resilient and less sensitive to temperature changes.
Strong and Durable
Did you know that amalgam fillings can actually cause your tooth to crack and that tooth decay can go undetected underneath one of these types of fillings? On the other hand, mercury-free options, such as composite resin, are directly bonded to the tooth, which helps to increase the strength of the tooth. This in turn can prevent the tooth from cracking or fracturing.
If you are concerned about the mercury in your fillings and would like to replace them, our dentist Vicki Vida Kestler, DDS, would love to help you experience the many advantages mercury-free fillings have to offer. Call us today.