Amalgam fillings aren’t actually bad for your health
Amalgam fillings are one of the more controversial common treatments that dentists either support or strongly disagree with.
There are a variety of reasons some dentists do not like to use amalgam fillings however the many and varied claims in relation to health are often unsubstantiated. Dr Roxanne Irani from Gentle and Caring Dentistry in Maroubra supports the use of dental amalgam fillings in some cases where composite fillings are not appropriate and does not advocate the removal of amalgam fillings for cosmetic purposes only.
The ADA and Amalgam Fillings
The Australian Dental Association has issued a document discussing the various concerns surrounding the metal amalgam fillings and why many dentists keep using them.
The main concern held by patients, health, is explained in the document, “Amalgam is not the same as mercury. There is mercury in amalgam, but not in pure form as it is bound in ‘intermetallic compounds’ of silver, tin and copper. Once the amalgam filling has set, there is no liquid mercury present, and it does not present a health risk.”
The US Food and Drug Administration in 2009 issued a statement outlining that the “FDA considers dental amalgam fillings safe for adults and children ages 6 and above. The amount of mercury measured in the bodies of people with dental amalgam fillings is well below levels associated with adverse health effects.”
Why don’t you always use composite or tooth coloured fillings?
Amalgam fillings have been used for over 100 years and have proven to be a safe and reliable long term solution. While we do endeavour to use composite fillings as often as possible for cosmetic reasons, there are times where these materials are not the best option available.
In cases where a composite filling may be more difficult to place or are at a higher risk of coming out an amalgam filling may be recommended instead.
I’ve heard that using amalgam fillings damages the environment?
If amalgam finds its way into the environment it may eventually break down and release mercury. For this reason the Australian Dental Association recommend the use of devices which trap any excess amalgam as a result of placing new fillings or removing existing ones.
By using a dentist who utilises a recommended system for the disposal of scrap amalgam you are helping to protect the environment from mercury contamination.
Why shouldn’t I remove amalgam fillings for cosmetic reasons?
In 1983-1984, amalgam was used in 68% of all fillings in Australia. By the late 1990’s this had reduced to less than 30%. For this reason there are many adults who have the dark coloured amalgam fillings who may want them removed for cosmetic reasons.
Dr Roxanne Irani does not believe in removing amalgam fillings for cosmetic reasons only as this can lead to potential harm to the teeth.
The ADA also advises against the removal unless the filling is damaged or loose as replacing a filling unnecessarily can result in additional loss of tooth substance, weakening the remaining tooth structure.
If you haven’t had a dental check-up for some time and think you may need fillings call (02) 9349 6668 to arrange an appointment with Dr Roxanne Irani.
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