Do you have one or more amalgam fillings? These fillings have been extensively used to repair cavities and restore tooth strength for more than 100 years. They are comprised of powdered metals and mercury. Most people choose to remove them for cosmetic reasons.
Understanding Amalgam Fillings
Many dentists still use amalgam fillings, which consists of various metals, including copper, tin and silver, mixed with mercury. This mixture forms a putty-like substance that can be placed in the tooth where it rapidly hardens. These fillings are extremely durable and are least likely to break, crack or chip. They are also extremely cheap when compared to other types of filling materials. It is for these reasons that many dentists still use them to fill molars.
Why Amalgam Fillings Are Replaced
There are typically three reasons why individuals choose to have their amalgam fillings replaced, including tooth appearance, filling failure and concerns about mercury poisoning.
Amalgam fillings are gray or silver in color and can be unsightly, even when used on the less visible back teeth. Those looking to improve the appearance of their teeth and brighten their smiles may choose to have their amalgam fillings removed and replaced with a tooth-colored filling.
Amalgam fillings are considered extremely durable and typically last the lifetime of the individual. However, in some instances, the filling may start to crumble around the edges, especially if oral hygiene is not maintained and new cavities form around the filling. The filling, due to further tooth decay, may also come loose or fall out. In these instances, the remaining filling material should be removed, and the tooth should be filled with a tooth-colored filling.
If you have a lot of amalgam fillings, you may be concerned about mercury exposure. Mercury is considered a neurotoxin, and it can off-gas, resulting in small amounts of mercury entering the body. The ADA and the FDA still consider amalgam fillings to be a safe and affordable way to fill teeth with cavities, but our dentist office chooses not to use amalgam fillings due to the potential negative health effects.
There is research that suggests even the smallest amount of mercury may be harmful. For example, Dr. Mercola states that individuals with amalgam fillings may be at a higher risk for body-inflammation, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s due to the mercury in the fillings. The FDA even admits that amalgam fillings do release mercury vapor, but the small amounts of vapor are not considered harmful in individuals who are six years of age and older.
The ADA states that amalgam fillings do not contribute to Alzheimer’s. The research into the safety of amalgam fillings is still ongoing. If you have concerns about the mercury contained in your amalgam fillings, our dentist in Jacksonville can answer your questions and help you determine if they should be removed.
Replacing Mercury Fillings at Smiles by Shields in Jacksonville
Our dentist in Jacksonville, Dr. Tiffany K. Shields, can safely and effectively remove your amalgam fillings and replace them for health concerns and cosmetic reasons. We utilize SMART when removing mercury fillings, which stands for safe Mercury Removal Technique. This process ensures that no mercury is inhaled by the patient or the dentist and dental assistants and that the mercury does not enter the environment through the water supply. To help ensure safety, we make sure everyone is covered in gowns and face masks that filter mercury fumes and particles.
To ensure your safety further, you will be asked to drink either liquid charcoal or chlorella to protect against any mercury that may slip into the circulation system during the filling removal procedure, and you will be provided with either air or oxygen during the filling removal in order to further prevent accidental inhalation of mercury particles. Once the amalgam filling is removed, a new ceramic, tooth-colored ceramic or composite filling.
To learn more about our amalgam filling removal services or to schedule an annual exam or cleaning, call us at 904-731-0777.