Fillings made with amalgam, otherwise known as mercury fillings, are commonly used to fill cavities. While effective, the use of mercury fillings has raised concerns in recent years, mainly due to the use and presence of mercury. So, we have to ask ourselves, are amalgam fillings the right choice for me? Let’s take a look…
Mercury fillings consist of a combination of metals, including silver, tin and copper. Small amounts of palladium, indium and zinc can also be used. Mercury allows the filling material to be soft enough to mix and press into the teeth. The compound hardens quickly and is durable enough to withstand the constant pressure of daily activities, such as biting and chewing, making it ideal replacement material.
Dentists have used this combination of metals to restore teeth and fill cavities for more than a hundred years. While it no longer is the only material available, as tooth-colored materials have also become a popular alternative, mercury fillings remain a popular choice because it is generally cheaper and more durable. Now that we have a brief history, let’s understand why they would be given a bad image.
The United States Food and Drug Administration has stated that there’s no reason to limit the use of mercury, and have come to the conclusion that the fillings are safe for both adults, as well as children above the age of 6. There are groups, however, that believe that this conclusion should be reconsidered and reevaluated. The main reason for concern with mercury fillings is the effect of mercury in the human body. At higher levels of exposure, mercury has been proven to cause anxiety, irritability, memory loss, headaches and even fatigue.
In recent years, it’s been shown that as the mercury filling wears, which happens over time, very small amounts of mercury in the form of vapor are slowly released into the human body. Just how much this affects the human body, if it does at all, is debatable and there are experts that conclude that the amount of mercury released is very low to pose any threat. Still, there has yet to be any conclusion as to whether or not mercury fillings are truly safe.
Thankfully, there are alternatives. It’s also good to know that if you already have mercury fillings in your teeth, you don’t have to worry about having them removed. Doing so can cause do more harm than good and may even release more mercury. You only need to worry about having them removed when the teeth are already worn out, broken or if there’s decay present beneath the filling.
For other alternatives, you can choose from a wide variety of materials, such as composite resin, porcelain and gold. There are also dental amalgams that contain both iridium and mercury, as well as high-copper dental amalgams, both of which contain much less mercury compared to conventional dental amalgams or mercury fillings.
If you have questions or concerns regarding filling options, contact Dr. Anthony Yamada DDS at 310-546-2595 to schedule a consultation today. Or visit www.anthonyyamadadds.com for additional information.
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