and Why It’s So Important
In the past, dentists frequently used a mixture of metals called amalgam in fillings. This mixture was the industry standard for the placement of fillings. Even today, dentists use amalgam fillings often, despite the fact that it is known to contain a dangerous chemical. This chemical poses significant health risks to our internal organs. So what is this chemical that is used so regularly inside patients’ mouths?
The answer is mercury. Even today, trace amounts of mercury exist in dental amalgam. Many people live with dental amalgam in their mouths, unaware of the silent hazard lurking within them. Instead of letting mercury into your body, find a dentist who only uses amalgam-free fillings.
Cue the metal-free dentistry.
What is metal-free dentistry?
Metal-free dentistry is any dental office that minimizes the use of dental amalgam in the placement of fillings. Dental offices do this to avoid exposing patients to mercury.
It’s important to note that metal-free dentistry doesn’t exactly mean a dental office that is completely free of metals. In fact, a dentist’s very instruments are made out of different kinds of metal. Similarly, a small amount of aluminum oxide is included in both porcelain fillings and composite resin fillings. And on top of these two examples, the list goes ever on. Thus, for the average person, it’s important to understand that metal-free actually means free from dental amalgam and mercury. After all, many metals have found success in the dental world without being unhealthy, like the titanium posts used in dental implants.
When looking for a metal-free dentist, you should be intent on the fact that the dentist does not use dental amalgam with mercury. Other metals used in dentistry do not pose the level of threat that dental amalgam does. Don’t hesitate to ask your dentist if they avoid the use of dental amalgam. If they do, you’re in good hands.
The idea of a biological dentist is similar to that of a metal-free dentist. A biological dentist only uses biocompatible materials. Biocompatible materials won’t harm a person’s overall health, unlike mercury. Biological dentistry comes from a branch of dentistry in the mid-1980s. At this time, dentists attempted to treat oral health in a way that encouraged the body to heal itself. This origin of biological dentistry eventually gave way to metal-free dentistry. Because amalgam inherently damages the health of our organs, it isn’t consistent with these dental philosophies. Instead, biological and metal-free dentists use materials that empower the body’s immune system.
Dr. Kathryn Alderman
is our biological dentist and is a proud member
of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology
The mercury in dental amalgam can have some serious effects on the body. These effects are both on the mouth, and on the body’s systems as a whole. Although the ADA still considers dental amalgam a “safe dental material,” a growing body of research is showing the dangers of amalgam. Some naysayers have said that the amount of mercury in amalgam is too small to affect the body. However, since we chew with our teeth, mercury vapors are released from dental amalgam over time. These vapors flow right into our bodies through our mouth. And because amalgam is made from metal, these kinds of fillings are at a greater risk of fracturing or breaking. If that happens, mercury vapor will surely be released.
The most common alternative to dental amalgam is composite resin. Composite resin is white and blends in perfectly with a person’s teeth. These white fillings are much better for you than amalgam fillings. They don’t contain any mercury at all. In fact, all of the materials used in white fillings are completely biocompatible.
The Benefits of White Fillings
- Good-looking. Compared to dental amalgam, white fillings are more aesthetic. They don’t draw attention to them like the shiny texture of amalgam. Instead, they’re white and blend right in with your teeth.
- Long-lasting. While amalgam fillings tend to expand and contract due to their metal, white fillings don’t. Because of that, white fillings last longer in most cases. They also avoid the risk of expanding and breaking your tooth.
- Mercury-free. Most importantly, white fillings are mercury-free. The composite resin in white fillings is made of completely biocompatible materials.
It’s up to each individual to decide if replacing amalgam fillings is for them. Personally, we think it can be worth it to replace these fillings with mercury-free fillings. The risk that mercury poses to the human body is simply too great to ignore.
Frequently Asked Questions about Metal-Free Dentistry
Why is dental amalgam still used so widely?
The ADA has still said that research is too inconclusive to rule that amalgam is unsafe. Because it’s slightly cheaper to make, dentists continue to use it. However, it also expands and contracts significantly more than white fillings. This is because amalgam is made out of metal, and thus conducts heat very efficiently.
How does metal-free dentistry affect patients with a compromised immune system?
An already-compromised immune system is placed at a greater risk in the presence of mercury. Our bodies can often resist the ill effects of mercury vapor. However, if an immune system is already compromised, the presence of mercury will make it work even harder to keep our bodies healthy.
Where can I find a mercury-free dentist near me?
Luckily for you, Nebraska Family Dentistry partners with a handful of locations throughout Lincoln. If you’re interested in seeing a mercury-free dentist, we can point you in the right direction. Click the links below to learn about that specific dentistry.
1320 West A St. Lincoln,
Lincoln Family Dentistry
5500 O St. Lincoln,
7940 S. 13th St. Lincoln, NE 68512
To schedule an appointment with us, you can call any of the locations listed above, or you can use the form below. Whatever you do, avoid exposure to mercury, and keep your eyes out for the next set of wellness tips and tricks.