Why I Replaced All of My Amalgam Fillings

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Why I Replaced All of My Amalgam Fillings. Should You Consider the Removal of Mercury Fillings in Lincoln, NE?

The fact is that many people have fillings. Some are tooth-colored fillings, while others are silver colored fillings. Silver fillings are also known as amalgam fillings. Fillings can be use for a handful of reasons outside of the most commonly known use, which is to repair a cavity. But what is an amalgam filling exactly?

Amalgam fillings, also known as metal or mercury fillings, are a mix of metal alloys, one of which is mercury. These fillings have been used in dentistry for many years and have been known to last for 20 or 30 years and beyond. So, why might someone have a filling?

One reason a person may have a filling is because of a broken tooth. What causes teeth to break? There are several factors. The most common contributing factor for a broken tooth is silver mercury fillings. These fillings have the unique property of enlarging as they age. So, there seems to be some outward pressure on the tooth, and if someone bites just the right (or wrong) way, you hear that crack! If the tooth has broken in several places at once, there may not be enough tooth structure remaining to save it, and the tooth may need to be removed. Thus, requiring an implant or bridge. Another type of fracture occurs when the outer portion of the tooth shears away. Luckily, in most cases, this type of broken tooth can be saved with a crown, granted there is no decay present.

The second most common factor is bruxism: the habit of grinding or clenching the teeth. Many bruxers break teeth that don’t even have fillings in them! The best advice is to call our dental office right away. Don’t wait until it hurts!

While having a filling or two, possibly even more, is common, it’s important that you are well-educated when it comes to the placement of any fillings or making any decisions that could effect your overall health. Some patients have silver-colored fillings still in place from years ago.  As a result, a good majority are often curious about replacement options.

The bottom line is that ultimately, replacement or removal of mercury fillings in Lincoln, NE is your decision. But, if you have any of the following conditions you may want to consider replacement more strongly.

  • Sensitivity to metals
  • Overall health concerns
  • Grinding or clenching
  • Cracked old mercury filling(s)
  • Cavity under old mercury filling(s)
  • Stained or gray teeth
  • If you want a whiter smile

“Over the last few years, many patients have asked me about the removal of mercury fillings in Lincoln, NE due to aesthetic and health concerns. With so much conflicting information present on the internet, many patients are confused and want answers from their dentist. I would like to share some information that influenced me to replace my amalgam fillings with metal-free dental materials.” -Kathryn Alderman, DDS

Amalgam Fillings Weaken Teeth

  • The manner in which a tooth is prepared for an amalgam filling requires that the dentist removes tooth structure beyond just the decayed part of the tooth. This is because amalgam fillings do not bond to the teeth. They are held into place by the undercut shape of the preparation. When restoring your teeth, the goal of your dentist is to preserve as much of your natural tooth structure as possible for the longevity of your teeth. Every time dental work is replaced, more and more of your tooth structure is removed in the process. White fillings allow your dentist to remove only the compromised or decayed part of the tooth. Dentists are able to place white fillings in a variety of ways on the tooth due to the chemical bond of the filling material to the tooth structure. If you have mercury fillings or are considering the removal of mercury fillings in Lincoln, NE, be sure to visit with your dentist to outline all of the pros and cons in their entirety.
  • Even though the amalgam fillings have been around for over a century, there are other materials that provide dentists and patients with better options for tooth fillings. Composite (white) fillings and porcelain crowns (caps) are both more aesthetically pleasing as they support the tooth. These materials require a skilled clinician and a few more steps to make them beautiful and long-lasting.

Health and Environmental Hazards of Mercury Vapor

  • Amalgam fillings certainly do emit mercury vapor at times, but the most exposure to mercury happens when these fillings are removed. The dust from the filling becomes airborne and this can be ingested by the patient, the dentist, or other team members. This is why we do not recommend removing any previously placed amalgam fillings unless a problem arises. If an amalgam filling does need to be replaced, the tooth is isolated and proper suction is used to limit exposure to the dust ultimately resulting in the safe removal of mercury fillings in Lincoln, NE.
  • Proper disposal and air purification during the removal of amalgam fillings in Lincoln, NE is critical to prevent introducing mercury amalgam particles into the environment.

Image of a tooth with a white filling after have completed removal of mercury fillings in Lincoln, NE

If silver fillings could be harmful to my overall health, why do dentists in the US still use them?

Many countries have banned the use of mercury/silver amalgam. At some point, they may be prohibited in the USA as well. In July 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a mandate regarding the handling, recycling, and disposal of amalgam. This mandate requires dental offices to install specialized equipment for the collection and disposal of mercury amalgam to prevent its entry into public water systems and the environment. Currently, the ADA and FDA do not recommend placement of silver/mercury fillings on expectant mothers, children, or patients with a compromised immune system.

Recently, environmental and health concerns have been propagated about these fillings releasing mercury vapors. It appears as though daily habits such as brushing, grinding, and chewing can cause these vapors to be released. Research has shown vapors are being released from these fillings, but not enough research has been done to prove the toxicity levels over time.

What other health concerns can amalgam fillings cause?

Mercury poisoning has also been known to cause serious health issues such as anxiety, autoimmune disorders, memory loss, and mood swings. Other problems such as tremors, problems with coordination, and the inability to concentrate have also been proven to come from mercury poisoning. It is one of the most neurotoxic substances that can suppress our immune system. Since there is not enough proof that exists on these fillings, the ADA is still allowing them to be placed in America at this time.

At Nebraska Family Dentistry, safe removal of mercury fillings by your Lincoln dentist is something we proudly offer.

Removing mercury fillings is generally a good idea, although it’s not mandatory. Not only does removing mercury fillings benefit the aesthetic appearance of your smile, but removing mercury fillings will also help rid your body of possible exposure to the harmful toxins they can put off.

Other Commonly Asked Questions About Metal Fillings:

Can mercury leak from amalgam fillings?

Silver fillings do release mercury vapor that can be inhaled and absorbed into the lungs.  High levels of mercury vapor are associated with many health concerns. The level of mercury vapor that is released from dental amalgams varies based on the individual. The number of amalgam fillings present and the condition of the fillings as well as habits like grinding or clenching of the teeth can accelerate the breakdown of metal fillings and lead to the necessity of removal of mercury fillings in Lincoln, NE.

Do I have to see a biological dentist to get an amalgam-free filling?

At least half of the dentists in the USA have discontinued using amalgam as a restorative material. This is simply due the fact that there are superior dental materials available today that require less invasive treatment methods. Several European countries have recently adopted restrictions on the use and disposal of amalgam filling material due to potential health risks as well as environmental concerns. It is expected that at some point in the future, amalgam filling material will be phased out completely. 

Can mercury dental fillings cause health problems?

This has been a topic of debate in recent decades. The FDA and ADA recommend avoiding placing amalgam fillings on pregnant or nursing mothers as well as children under 5 years of age. Also, the British Dental Association recommends avoiding placing amalgam fillings in children 15 years and younger as well as pregnant women, nursing mothers or patients with poor kidney function or metal allergies. At Nebraska Family Dentistry, we use only metal-free dental materials on patients of all ages to avoid introducing any elemental mercury that could contribute to existing health problems or metal sensitivities. There are vastly superior dental materials that pose no risk to the patient, and our goal is to improve the health of our patients. If you are looking for a dentist who truly understands the science behind biological dentistry, try Dr. Kathryn Alderman who can offer the unique approach of biological dentistry.

Should I replace my mercury fillings or consider the removal of mercury fillings in Lincoln, NE?

Generally, the removal of mercury fillings in Lincoln, NE is not advised for teeth that are intact and do not exhibit any signs of recurrent decay or fracture unless the patient has metal allergies or some other health concern that is related to metal sensitivity. At your dental exam, your dentist and hygienist carefully examine all of your existing dental work as well as the gums and soft tissues to determine if any of your teeth require treatment. A conservative approach is recommended when considering replacing old metal fillings because when the metal fillings are removed, mercury vapor is released. If your dentist recommends replacing your silver fillings, it is because of recurrent decay, tooth fractures or signs of gum disease or metal sensitivity in your mouth. At your appointment, your dentist will minimize your mercury vapor exposure as much as possible by utilizing the most advanced removal techniques.

Is a white filling better than silver?

Amalgam fillings were once the most durable dental material available. Often the patients we see who still have metal fillings have had them for decades. When the time comes for the removal of mercury fillings in Lincoln, NE and replacement of old metal fillings, many patients ask which material is better for the tooth. We have found it helpful to explain the difference in the the techniques used to place fillings with either material to help patients understand the pros and cons of metal versus white fillings. In order to place a metal filling, removal of additional tooth structure beyond the part of the tooth that is decayed is required for retention purposes. When the tooth is prepared for the filling, the dentist must drill out the tooth so that the base of the filling is wider than the top, making an undercut so the filling will stay in place. White fillings only require that the decayed tooth structure is removed, because white fillings are chemically bonded to the tooth for retention. Questions about the release of elemental mercury vapor into the body as well as metal allergies and other sensitivities make white fillings a better choice for patients with autoimmune conditions or chronic inflammatory diseases.

Do Amalgam Fillings Cause Fractures?

A disadvantage of silver fillings is that when patients chew or consume hot and cold foods, the tooth and the filling expand and contract differently, creating fracture lines through the tooth structure and eventually leading to fractured tooth cusps and more extensive treatment like root canals and crowns. White fillings are more compatible with the natural tooth structure. Furthermore, the chemical bond of a white filling holds the tooth together, preventing fracture.

Is there any benefit to using silver filling material?

It is likely that the main reason that dentists continue to use amalgam filling material today is that the material is inexpensive and long-lasting. It also takes less time and less skill for a dentist to place an amalgam filling than a white filling. Although scientific research has concluded that there is elemental mercury vapor released through brushing, chewing, temperature changes and grinding teeth every day, the levels measured when the fillings are intact have not been found to be close to toxicity. Scientists have been unable to prove any long-term negative health effects of amalgam fillings, making the continued use of amalgam controversial. At Nebraska Family Dentistry, your overall wellness is our top priority. We carefully choose dental materials based on the individual patient, taking into account any medical conditions or sensitivities they may have. Our goal is to do no harm to our patients but to help them live healthier and happier lives. So, if you are looking for a dentist who practices the safe removal of mercury fillings in Lincoln, NE, we may be just who you are looking for.

At Nebraska Family Dentistry, we make the removal of mercury fillings in Lincoln, NE as safe as possible. To do this, we follow a specific set of guidelines to ensure that you and every member of our team has minimal exposure and afterwards, we offer recommendations to aid in the detoxification process. This includes, but is not limited to, proper nutrition.

What else does Nebraska Family Dentistry have to offer? A state-of-the art air filtration system to help reduce the number of harmful aerosols that are created during dental appointments. This air filtration system helps remove excess mercury vapor that is released into the air during the removal of old amalgam fillings. In addition to this office-wide system, we have individual air-vacuum units at each of our locations. This vacuum, which is positioned in proximity to the patient’s face, helps pull in more of these vapors during amalgam removal.

If you are thinking about the removal of mercury fillings in Lincoln, NE but have concerns, please contact us. We would be happy to help. We promise to provide safe removal of mercury fillings by your Lincoln dentist. We can help you remove any or all of your mercury fillings in the safest way possible – Your health is our priority!

To learn more about release of elemental mercury vapor from amalgam fillings, you can click the links below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bf2t53ytNa8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zd7c_3-OWq8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKOrgMVfvFk

If you have questions or would like to request a consultation to find out if you would be a candidate to replace your fillings, contact us using online form:

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