What’s the Big Deal About Metal Fillings?

woman asking whyYou may have seen us mention the danger of metal fillings (we call them amalgam fillings) in our social media posts or even heard us mention it during an exam at your Georgetown dental office. Even though our office is GreenDoc Gold-Certified, believe it or not, the environment isn’t the only thing that we’re trying to protect by not using metal fillings. We’re also worried about your overall health.

What exactly is in an amalgam filling?

The mixture that is used in metal fillings is made up of liquid mercury and a powdered alloy mix of silver, copper, and tin. About 50% or so of the total mixture is mercury, and when that liquid mercury reacts chemically with the powdered items, it binds all those particles together to form an amalgam (hence the name).

Liquid Mercury — like in old thermometers?

YES, exactly right. Most newer non-digital thermometers use alcohol or another non-toxic substance in them, but those older ones that you remember, perhaps from your childhood, contain about .61 grams of mercury. If you break one of those thermometers, or otherwise accidentally spill liquid mercury, it rolls itself into a sphere shape (like a ball-bearing) and requires hazardous materials training to clean it up. You also have to contact the local health department to dispose of the mess, and keep people and animals out of the area for at least 24 hours. No, we’re not kidding.

YIKES. So that’s why it’s bad for my health?

That’s only one reason it’s bad for your overall health. Mercury can also leech out of amalgam fillings in the form of a vapor as it gets older and wears down. People who are more sensitive, like children or people with existing health problems can develop what’s called “mercury poisoning” from the toxins being released into their bodies. Women and mothers who are breastfeeding are especially susceptible to it’s effects. In fact, the UK, Canada, and Australia have all banned the use of amalgam fillings in pregnant women.

So, what do I do?

Your dentist in Georgetown only uses ceramic and tooth-colored composite materials for dental fillings…. NEVER amalgam. If you have existing amalgam fillings that may be old or damaged, talk to us about replacing those fillings with safer composite materials. We use a special amalgam separator during the removal process to be sure that none of that toxic material enters our water supply, which is a whole other realm of environmental danger that we addressed in a previous blog.

At Trade Winds Dental, we’re concerned with not only your oral health, but also your overall health today and well into the future. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

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