What Are Mercury Free Fillings
Dr Penchas and his associates at Midtown Dentistry practice the safe replacement of amalgam fillings with composite fillings. There’s little doubt that tooth colored composite filings offer a more aesthetically pleasing restoration, but perhaps the real issue is more about ensuring long-term patient safety.
Amalgam fillings, sometimes called silver fillings, have been in use for many years, providing a durable and cost effective way of restoring teeth affected by tooth decay. The replacement of the decay with amalgam helped maintain the integrity of the remaining tooth structure.
Dental amalgam has been used for more than 150 years, in the mouths of hundreds of millions of patients throughout the world. It is an alloy, meaning it is made up of several different metals, including silver, copper and tin. Around 50% of the actual weight of an amalgam filling is elemental mercury.
The reason mercury is used is that it is very effective in binding all the other alloy particles together, forming a durable and long-lasting filling. It is the use of elemental mercury that is making amalgam an increasingly controversial choice of filling material due to the possible release of vapor. During recent years there has been quite a heated debate, as some experts believe its use could be hazardous to overall health.
The Controversy over Mercury
The FDA considers amalgam fillings to be safe for use in adults and children over the age of six, and doesn’t advocate the removal of fillings that are still in good condition. The American Dental Association also considers it safe for use. However mercury is regarded as being a poison and has to be properly disposed of. You cannot simply put it in the garbage, or even bury it in the United States.
It is a fact that mercury can be absorbed into the body through the mouth, and the issue remains as to whether or not there is enough mercury present in amalgam fillings to present long-term health risks to patients. The authorities in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Germany certainly seem to think there is, as they have passed legislation preventing or restricting the use of amalgam fillings. There are signs its use may one day be restricted in Canada.
Choosing Amalgam or Composite
Dr Penchas and his dental team are more than willing to discuss the use of amalgam and composite fillings with patients requiring treatment to stop tooth decay, or who need to have old fillings replaced. Modern composite materials are able to withstand considerably more chewing forces than in the past, and provide a minimally invasive dental restoration. The colors of these restorations blend in beautifully with natural teeth.
Composite fillings look more attractive than amalgam fillings, restoring the form and function of the tooth in a way that is cosmetically appealing while maintaining the health of the tooth. They are cost-effective and completely safe for anyone of any age.
Protocol for Safe Removal of Mercury Fillings in Midtown Dentistry
Dr Penchas and his dental team follow a strict protocol when removing mercury fillings and replacing them with composite restorations. These ensure the safety of both patients and staff. These include the following:
- Protective eyewear is provided, as well as barriers to protect and cover the patient’s clothing
- The teeth containing the mercury fillings are isolated through the use of a rubber dam that is placed over the patient’s mouth. This prevents the mercury material and vapors from being ingested by the patient.
- Release of mercury vapors are kept to a minimum through the use of an electric handpiece combined with a water/air spray. This enables Dr Penchas to keep the mercury filling material cool, so it can be removed in larger pieces rather than being ground into dust.
- High volume suction efficiently removes all loose pieces of the filling and any mercury vapor from the patient’s mouth, limiting any mercury exposure to an absolute minimum.
Midtown Dentistry always gives a patient’s health and safety top priority, and only uses the best quality materials combined with the latest techniques to restore smiles.