The Mercury Controversy
Metal amalgam fillings are being used less and less. This is partly due to their unappealing appearance, but many people are also avoiding them or having them replaced because of the health problems they may cause. The medical community is currently divided on the issue.
Potential Risks of Amalgam Dental Fillings
Amalgam dental fillings contain mercury. Mercury is known to be a highly toxic substance. Mercury vapors are released from these dental fillings when they are placed, when they are removed, and even when you chew.
It is yet to be determined how much mercury is actually released by amalgam dental fillings and absorbed into the body. Some studies have been conducted, but the results have been conflicting. As a result, it is still unclear whether amalgam fillings place you at risk of mercury poisoning.
Some of the negative health effects of mercury poisoning include:
- Gum problems
- Loose teeth
- Mood swings
- Memory loss
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Birth defects
- Multiple sclerosis
- Kidney damage
The FDA created an advisory panel in 2006 to debate the safety of amalgam dental fillings. The advisory panel found that there was no evidence that amalgam fillings cause health problems in most people. But it recommended that the FDA reevaluate the literature, wanting more information about the effects on pregnant women, children, people who are sensitive to mercury, and on the exposure levels during placement and removal of amalgam dental fillings.
Lawmakers around the country have been trying to phase out the use of amalgam fillings due to the potential health risks and the environmental impact of mercury waste.
The Response of Dentists
Many dentists have decided to make their practices “metal free” partly due to the potential health risks of mercury, but also because amalgam dental fillings can damage your teeth. Today we have much better materials for dental restorations, such as composite or porcelain, which are more aesthetically pleasing, better for your teeth, and do not pose these potential health risks.
At this time we do not know for sure whether the amounts of mercury released into your body from dental fillings is dangerous. But with superior materials available, our Mesa dentists choose not to expose our patients to any possible risk. We are also happy to replace your old metal fillings with porcelain dental fillings to improve the safety and aesthetics of your restoration.