Monday, October 10, 2016

American Dental Association confirms dental amalgams are safe

            There is much debate concerning the safety of using dental amalgams to restore tooth decay. These fillings are made from a mixture of mercury, silver, and other metals. The obvious concern is over the mercury content. A new study out of the University of Georgia confirms that while these fillings can contribute to higher levels of mercury in the blood, the levels are still well below the established safety thresholds set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Lets examine the findings more closely and see how that may affect you and your future dental treatment.
            After examining the findings of this study, the ADA acknowledges while there is astatistically significant difference in circulating levels of mercury, all the levels observed were within the lower 95% confidence limit set forth as safe by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences.” What does this mean? They are basically saying it is not something they are worried about. Even though the levels are slightly higher, it doesn’t appear to affect your overall health.
            What are our thoughts on amalgam fillings? I certainly understand and empathize with the concern over mercury exposure. But if you eat a lot of fish, you are exposing yourself to the potential of elevated mercury levels in your bloodstream. So we obviously do our best to avoid the use of amalgam fillings, but we do not recommend all amalgam fillings be replaced without cause. This causes additional trauma to the tooth which could lead to future sensitivity and more complex treatment.   
            There are a few situations where we may recommend the use of amalgam fillings. It is usually on a back tooth where keeping the area dry and isolated is challenging. Without total isolation from saliva, tooth colored fillings do not last as long. Amalgam fillings work more predictably when dry, but have a better prognosis than tooth colored fillings when saliva contamination is possible.
            If you have any concerns about the type of fillings you already have or will need in the future, your best bet is to have a discussion with your dentist. We can help walk you through the pros and cons of whatever option you are comfortable with.

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Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS

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