More than 100-million Americans have silver-colored mercury fillings in their mouths.
They've been used since the civil war, but just how safe are they?
The metal in your mouth that's designed to relieve your tooth troubles, could be harming your health.
As a kid, Sharon Cloer had close to 10 fillings.
As an adult, she believes they made her sick and even changed the taste of food.
"Every now and then, I would get a metal taste,” she said.
But since having most of the fillings removed, Cloer has been able to enjoy more foods, has more energy, and she said her respiratory health has improved.
"I've gone off of my asthma medicine."
Dentist James Hardy said mercury that leaks out of traditional silver fillings may cause serious illness.
"It affects your brain. It affects your kidneys. It affects over 200 different systems in your body."
Mercury exposure can cause memory loss, tremors, mood swings, anxiety and arthritis, but Dr. Hardy said these symptoms can often be reversed when the fillings are taken out.
"I had them removed, and my eyesight actually improved and my memory improved."
Mercury fillings are banned in several European countries.
But in the U.S., the FDA maintains they are "safe for adults and children ages six and above."
The ADA agrees.
Sandborgh Englund, who practices in Sweden where the fillings are banned, said studies on mercury fillings are inconclusive.
He said patients shouldn’t be concerned if they have mercury fillings.
But Dr. Hardy believes the FDA needs to classify mercury fillings as dangerous.
"If it's dangerous outside the mouth, it's dangerous inside the mouth,” said Dr. Hardy.
Hazardous or harmless?
A dental debate for you to chew on.
Instead of mercury fillings, Dr. Hardy offers patients composite fillings.
They match tooth color - but are more expensive.
Dr. Hardy said another interesting fact about mercury is it has an electrical ability to pick up frequencies.
He even had a patient who could pick up a radio station.
The patient could hear it through his ear because the nerves that supply his teeth run through the ear.
HISTORY OF THE CONTROVERSY: Around 1830, a revolutionary new dental restorative material called "amalgam" was introduced to the United States. This amalgam was developed in England and France and contained silver, tin, copper, zinc and mercury. The amalgam fillings were not openly embraced by organized dentistry in America, and in 1840, members of the American Society of Dental Surgeons were required to sign pledges not to use mercury fillings. Several New York City dentists were suspended from this organization in 1848 for malpractice for using silver mercury fillings. In 1859, a new organization was formed as a result of the internal strife over the use of mercury in dentistry - the American Dental Association. (Source: Drwolfe.com)
DIFFERENT STANCES ON MERCURY: The World Health Organization, O.S.H.A., N.I.O.S.H., etc. all agree that mercury is an environmental poison and have established specific occupational exposure limits. The Environment Protection Agency has declared amalgam removed from teeth to be a toxic waste. Even the American Dental Association warns that amalgam filling material is hazardous to dental office personnel, but is safe in patients' mouths. (Source: Drwolfe.com)
FILLING ALTERNATIVES: Composite resin fillings are the most common alternative to dental amalgam. Also known as "tooth-colored" or "white" fillings, composite resin fillings are made of a type of plastic (an acrylic resin) reinforced with powdered glass. The shade of composite resins can be customized to closely match surrounding teeth. Its advantages are that it blends with surrounding teeth and requires minmal removal of healthy tooth structure for placement, but it may be less durable than dental amalgam and may need to be replaced more frequently. It is also more expensive.
Glass Ionomer Cement Fillings are also another alternative. Like composite resins, glass ionomer cements are made of an acrylic resin and often include a component of glass that releases fluoride over time. These fillings are also tooth-colored but are not as close to tooth-colored as composite resins. The composition and properties of glass ionomer cements are best suited for very small restorations. Their primary advantage is their appearance. Their chief disadvantage is that they are limited to use in small restorations.
Gold Foil Fillings, another alternative, are used to restore cavities on biting surfaces. The advantages of gold foil fillings include their strength and durability. The disadvantages include their cost and appearance (they do not match tooth color). (Source: Drwolfe.com)
For More Information, Contact:
James E. Hardy, D.M.D.
Health Centered Dentistry
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