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.

Have You Used Your Dental Benefits?

smiling girl with puppyThe end of the year is fast approaching. Before you know it, we’ll be making resolutions and writing 2018 on our paperwork. Take a moment and think – have you made the most of your dental insurance benefits this year? It’s time for an end-of-the-year benefits check!

The staff at our Georgetown dental office is here to help you maximize your dental benefits to be sure that you’ve received the treatments you need or want within the calendar benefit year. This includes your regular hygiene appointments every six months and taking care of any cavities that may have appeared during that time. But have you thought about other options, such as:

  • Cosmetic Dentistry like dental bonding to fix chipped or discolored teeth
  • Restorative Dentistry like dental implants to replace a missing tooth
  • Or even Invisalign clear aligners to straighten your teeth comfortably and quickly. In fact, if you start Invisalign therapy now, you may have the straight teeth you’ve always wanted before Christmas of 2018.

Don’t forget that your Georgetown dentist is also here to help with nightguards to help you stop grinding your teeth at night, especially at this time of year when life tends to get a bit more…shall we say…. stressful?!

Your Trade Winds Dental team is here to help you achieve and keep that healthy, happy smile that we love to see every time you walk in our door. So if you have a concern or a dental need, it’s not too late! Call our office today to discuss your end-of-the-year benefits status with our staff and also to answer any questions you may have about our services.

Different Types of Dental X-Rays

male dentist examines dental x-rayWe get asked a lot of questions at our dental office in Georgetown, and we don’t mind answering them one bit! We believe that the more our patients know, the healthier their smiles will be. One of our more frequent requests is for more information on dental x-rays – why we use them, different types, and especially their safety.

The 3 Most Common Types of Dental X-Rays

There are several different types of x-rays that your dentist in Georgetown may use to look at various parts of the mouth’s anatomy. Each type is used for a different reason and can show different problems. Let’s take a look at each one.

  • Bitewing X-rays. These x-rays are helpful in catching cavities early on as they allow the dentist to see places in between teeth that are not visible to the naked eye. Bitewing x-rays can also help identify variations in bone density caused by gum disease as well as help catch any excessive wear in restorations like fillings.
  • Periapical X-rays. Along with bitewings, periapical x-rays are quite common. The images obtained through this type of x-ray show the entire tooth — from the top of the crown to the tip of the roots. This allows your dentist to examine each tooth’s individual structure and bone level. Periapical x-rays can also help catch cysts and abscesses.  
  • Panoramic X-rays. Panoramic x-rays show the entire set of teeth, both top and bottom and from left to right, in one photo. They can also display the jaw joints as well as the upper sinuses. These photos can help determine if wisdom teeth are impacted and can even help diagnose a tumor.

Are Dental X-Rays Safe?

Safety is our top priority with everything we do, including x-rays. Advancements in technology have reduced exposure to the already low amount of radiation emitted by dental x-rays. Additional preventive measures, such as the use of lead vests, are also taken to help limit the exposure even farther. We try to follow the ALARA (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) principle which basically says that dental professionals should limit x-rays to only when necessary in order to achieve proper diagnosis and aid in successful treatment.  

How often you should get dental x-rays taken depends on a variety of factors. The team at our Georgetown dental office will take a look at your oral health and any history of dental problems to determine how often you should have x-rays taken. If there’s been a history of cavities or a higher risk of decay, x-rays twice a year may be appropriate.