Many times each day we discuss with a patient the different options available for restoring their smile and bite to its proper form and function.
These days the subject of dental filling materials is certainly a ‘hot’ topic and is always a very important part of these comprehensive discussions.
As we do not offer silver mercury filling material as an option at our office, it is still a viable alternative for some and this is always made clear to the patient. Often, as part of these discussions, the subject of their existing fillings comes up….
The Top 10 Reasons That You Should Replace
Your Silver Mercury Fillings
1. Mercury (Hg)
This is the most abundant metal (approx. 50%) in your silver-coloured or amalgam fillings and the reason these dental fillings are most commonly referred to as silver mercury fillings. Mercury is a heavy metal, and is a potential neurotoxin meaning it destroys nerves and nerve tissue. The World Health Organization (WHO) says there is no level of mercury exposure that can be considered safe for human beings.
2. Silver (Ag)
This is the second most abundant metal (approx. 22%) in your silver mercury fillings. It has antimicrobial action, that is, it helps resist cavities on your tooth adjacent to the silver mercury filling itself. Unlike other “essential” elements like calcium, you do not need silver to survive.
3. Tin (Sn)
This is a metal and comprises approximately 14% of your silver mercury fillings. Tin is incorporated into your silver mercury fillings for its antimicrobial and anti-corrosive actions. A trace mineral, tin has not been shown to be an essential nutrient in humans though it does accumulate in our tissues over time. It is most often categorized as an environmental contaminant.
4. Copper (Cu)
This is also a metal and makes up about 8% of your silver mercury fillings. It is incorporated into your silver mercury fillings to resist their corrosion and tarnishing. Copper is indeed an essential nutrient for all living things and is a part of some 30 different enzyme functions in your body. Like any other metal though, too much copper can be harmful to us.
5. Expansion and Contraction
Your silver mercury fillings are a blend of metals which will naturally 1) expand when exposed to hot food and drink and, conversely, 2) contract when exposed to cold food and drink. This expansion and contraction will potentially weaken adjacent tooth structure thereby making your tooth more sensitive and prone to fracture.
6) Silver Mercury Fillings Give No Strength to Your Tooth
Unlike white or tooth-coloured composite resin fillings, your silver mercury fillings merely fill a space within your tooth and do not form as tight a junction or bond with adjacent tooth structure. As a result, the junction between your silver mercury filling and your tooth is more susceptible to breakdown and leakage. This leakage often results as a dark corrosion/ staining of internal tooth structure or as a metallic taste in your mouth.
7) Biocompatibility Issues
Your silver mercury fillings induce more potentially harmful side effects, such as allergies, when compared to safer white/ tooth coloured composite resin fillings.
8) Diagnostic Challenges
As viewed on a newer digital radiograph or standard radiograph, your silver mercury filling may mask the existence of a cavity. This is because, as a metal and being very dense, it doesn’t allow diagnostic x-rays to penetrate and show a cavity behind the silver mercury filling.
9) Optimal Functioning
As part of a comprehensive treatment plan to preserve your teeth in a healthier state thereby ensuring continued comfort and optimal functioning.
10) They Simply Look Bad!
Though this characteristic by itself is NOT an indication to remove your silver mercury fillings, they are the exact opposite of what a natural healthy tooth should look like.
There is no argument against the position that the days of placing silver mercury fillings in people’s mouths are numbered. Many European countries have already banned their use altogether and even Health Canada has restricted their use.
If you have metal toxicity concerns as determined by your family doctor or other integrative health professional please feel free to discuss restorative options with Dr. Cool or myself.