We have all been in situations where we have been informed “your safety is our highest priority,” or something along those lines. It might strike you as just a thing to say, or maybe you’ve seen or heard it too many times for it to hold any real meaning. The thing is, it really is true; especially in the dentistry field, where the focus is on complete patient care.
We (the office of Lance D Ogata, DDS) are committed to providing informed, long-term oral health care that improves the quality of patients’ lives. We respect our patients and we are committed to ensuring their safety. So, with that in mind, we would like to share a few reasons why we are committed to operating amalgam free.
Moving away from Amalgam fillings
Amalgam is a metal fillings mixture containing, liquid mercury and a powdered alloy of silver, tin and copper – it is used to plug a hole in the tooth, there is no seal. The mixture is silver in appearance, and it is also called “silver fillings”. However, 50% of the mixture consists of elemental mercury – its purpose is to bind the alloy components of silver, tin and copper.
Concerns regarding the presence of mercury exist due to the damage ingesting mercury can do to internal organs and body systems, including the liver and the kidneys. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “Dental amalgams contain Hg which may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous system of developing children and fetus.” It also recommended that pregnant women and people with sensitivity to mercury exposure should discuss options with their health practitioner, as opposed to agreeing to treatment involving dental amalgam.
Composite fillings are a safe restorative dental treatment
Thankfully, alternatives do exist! A mixture of glass and plastic, known as a composite filling, provides a safe alternative to metal fillings and benefits the patient in many ways.
- The absence of mercury, which removes the health risks outlined above.
- Composite fillings seal and water-proof the teeth.
- In appearance – the composite filling more closely resembles a natural tooth in both its coloring, and its luminosity (shine). This is particularly beneficial when a front tooth needs a filling!
- The composite material can be shaped to look more natural and tooth-like.
- Unlike metal, which is sensitive to temperature, a composite filling will not expand and contract in response to heat or to cold. Metal fillings that expand and contact can cause further damage by causing the tooth to break and crack.
- Composite fillings don’t require much of the tooth to be filed down prior to fitting. Metal fillings require more filing and larger sections of the tooth to be removed; with composites, only the diseased part of the tooth needs to be drilled.
While there are ample arguments for the use of composites, this option is not available to all patients depending on their needs, and some patients might not benefit from composite fillings alone. Please take the time to speak with Dr. Ogata about composite fillings and other best dental practices to solve your oral health conditions.