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Some thoughts on mercury poisoning and amalgam replacement
Silver filling before CEREC replacement | ACD

Mar 15, 2015

Mercury poisoning and amalgam replacement been a controversial topic for decades now. The reality is that the elemental mercury is one of the most potent toxins present in nature. The majority of our mercury poisoning is from air pollution. Burning coal releases mercury into the air which comes down to the sea in the form of rain and becomes concentrated in the food chain. Marine animals that are apex predators, Shark (Flake), Tuna and Dolphin can have very high concentrations of mercury. Mercury traces can be found in other food sources as well.

Some thoughts on dental amalgams and mercury poisoning,  do amalgams need replacement?

They are also the most widely used dental material in the world and are still the main means of controlling dental disease in many countries. Dental amalgam or silver fillings contain an inorganic form of mercury which according to dental regulatory bodies is safe to use as it does not get past the “blood-brain barrier” (as opposed to the organic forms of this compound).

However, mercury vapour can be released during placement and removal of the material. The debate between mainstream dental bodies and alternative health practitioners continues.

Other options exist

In my opinion, the age of dental amalgams regardless of their health concerns has come to an end, at least in a country like Australia where other materials are affordable. Australians have very low decay rate since water fluoridation was introduced in the 70’s. People under 40 have very limited decay experience and whatever decay they have is controlled quickly using modern materials in a non-invasive manner.

CHOICE and final consent remains with the patient.

The first thing that every dental practitioner needs to bear in mind is that the CHOICE and final consent remains with the patient. When it comes to our health regardless of whether we are concerned about mercury poisoning or not, we have to know that we have the power to make the choice. To me as a dental practitioner it is important to consider the well-being to the person as a whole including their peace of mind. It is also very important to make sure I am not further damaging a tooth by replacing a filling if everything is Ok otherwise.
What I observe on a daily basis however, is that apart from their unsightly appearances, amalgams fillings often cause cracks in teeth. Teeth that are heavily filled with amalgams can develop cracks and can sometimes break. A phenomenon called cusp fracture. If the cusp fracture is simple the tooth can be treated, but if the cusp fracture extends to below the gum line or down the length of the root then the tooth may be lost.

So now you are asking: what do I do about my amalgam fillings?

Depending as to how strongly you feel about the potential of mercury poisoning you may want to change them all. If you feel that you are likely to get more exposure from food and air and are not bothered too much about your amalgams, I recommend that you at least get the teeth checked to see if everything is in good order. Chances are that some of your amalgams need to be changed in order to improve the stability and appearance of the tooth.

In the next article I will give you tips about different types of white fillings as they are NOT all the same.

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