Mercury fillings, also called “silver fillings” in an attempt to subvert your attention away from the “mercury” component of the filling, became popular in usage back in the days of the Civil War because mercury was cheap and inexpensive to obtain, and mercury was not yet known to be poisonous. The use of mercury to fill cavities represented the most modern technology at the time, and they did save many people from having to loose their teeth. It served its purpose during a time when the only option was extraction if your tooth contained serious decay.
Have there been any advances in the dental field in the last 150 years since the Civil War? Of course. Not only have today’s dental materials, procedures and tools advanced to a far superior degree, but also we have advanced in awareness and knowledge of the human body and the effect of these materials on our health.
Mercury is now known to be one of the most poisonous substances on the planet. Mercury fillings are typically called “amalgam” fillings or even “silver” fillings, although they contain little silver. The fillings are composed of 50% mercury. So why are they not called “mercury” fillings? The main reason why is because no one would want the filling if they were aware that they were pouring hot molten mercury into their mouth to sit there for many years.
We were all taught as children not to play with thermometers or break thermometers because of the danger from the mercury. Even just the vapor from the release of the mercury can be dangerous. We would no sooner want arsenic or lead poured into our mouth than we would want mercury. Therefore, by calling it a “silver” filling, the public often is unaware of the nature of the substance that is being used in their filling, although public awareness is growing.
For this fact alone, the best Dentists avoid the use of mercury fillings, aka silver fillings or amalgam fillings, and seek instead the use of more superior and healthy modern materials. Here are some important facts that you should know regarding the use of mercury fillings:
- Amalgam or silver dental fillings are composed of fifty percent mercury.
- Mercury has been deemed as one of the most toxic substances on earth. In fact, there is a field of science that has developed called “mercury toxicology”. These toxicologists have learned that no amount of mercury vapor exposure is harmless.
- OSHA stands for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. They are a federal agency that enforces the legislation of safety and health. This organization has classified dental amalgam as a toxic and hazardous waste.
- EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) also has deemed dental amalgam as a hazardous material. Both the OSHA and the EPA require that all amalgam removed from your teeth has to be stored in a special container to prevent human and environmental exposure to mercury vapor.
- Scientific research is available that demonstrates the damage of mercury, even in relatively small amounts, on the brain, lungs, kidneys, nervous system, glands, heart, hormones, enzymes and blood cells. It also has been proven to suppress the immune system up to 100%!
Mercury has been proven to pass readily through the placenta in pregnant women and cause permanent damage to the delicate developing brain of the baby. After placing an amalgam filling in a pregnant woman, mercury has been shown to appear in the amniotic fluid just 2 days later, and the breast milk is also laced with concentrated amounts of mercury after the mother receives a “silver” filling.
Mercury vapor is released continuously from amalgam fillings, and is increased up to fifteen fold during chewing, brushing, drinking hot fluids, and eating foods that are acidic. The vapor released by mercury fillings is absorbed rapidly by the body and accumulates in your tissue.
Studies by the National Institute of Health have confirmed a direct link between the levels of mercury in a person’s blood, stool and urine, and the number of mercury fillings they have in their teeth.
In studies of human autopsies, a direct correlation has been discovered between the amount of mercury found in the brain, and the number of amalgam fillings in the teeth. The brains of individuals who died with Alzheimer’s disease were found to have high levels of mercury in the brain.
Amalgam fillings (mercury fillings) do not bond directly to the teeth. This creates 2 problems.
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- First, it means that a larger amount of healthy tooth structure must be drilled away in order to lodge the filling in place. This weakens the tooth unnecessarily.
- Secondly, it means that, because a tight bond is not created between the filling and the tooth, bacteria can more easily enter between the filling and the wall of the tooth, causing unseen decay to grow underneath the filling or alongside it.
Armed with today’s knowledge and advancements, there is no reason why modern day dentists should be stuck using 150 year old materials that are now proven dangerous. The best dentist today would offer and use the outstanding alternatives to mercury fillings that exist. They are far superior and actually look like real teeth. For smaller cavities, composite resin fillings that are tooth colored work excellently. For larger cavities, reinforced porcelain or even resin inlays or on lays are available. These are custom made in a dental laboratory. They are not only beautiful, providing a true restoration of your natural tooth, but they also are bonded directly to the structure of the tooth so that the final result is strong and more resistant to bacteria invading cracks.