Metal Mouth: The harmful affects of mercury in fillings
Dental amalgam has been used in dentistry for more than 150 years. Many dentists use amalgams to fill cavities, which have used in hundreds of millions of patients. The main concern of dental amalgams lies in the fact that it contains mercury. While the FDA currently claims that the amount of mercury used in dental amalgam is safe, they admit that health risks exist. This article will help you to better understand what dental amalgams are and the potential health risks they pose. At Sunrise Dentistry, we offer safe alternatives to dental amalgams that are always mercury free.
What is Amalgam and Why is Mercury Used?
Dental amalgam is more commonly known as a silver filling; however, silver is only a small part of what makes up dental amalgam. 43-54% of dental amalgams are mercury, while other components include silver, tin, and copper with possible amounts of zinc, indium, and palladium.
Mercury is used in dental amalgams because it makes the material pliable. When mixed with an alloy powder, it is soft enough to press into the tooth. It also hardens quickly, can withstand biting and chewing, and lasts for 20+ years.
Issues in Dentistry
Mercury in amalgam is considered harmless, and continues to be used daily in dentistry. However, many health issues can arise from amalgam. First off, mercury is a neurotoxin, which when used for fillings is placed one inch away from your brain. As the filling wears over time, small amounts of mercury can be released in the form of vapor. This can lead to mercury build up in body organs.
In 2010, the FDA warned against the use of amalgam within vulnerable populations. These populations include children, pregnant women in regards to the fetus, hypersensitive people, and people with kidney impairments. While low levels of mercury don’t cause ill effects, higher levels can result in anxiety, irritability, memory loss, headaches, and fatigue.
Other alternatives exist that do not contain mercury. These include composite resin, glass ionomer cement, porcelain, and gold. While amalgam use has decreased over the years, it is still the most widely used material due to the fact that it’s the cheapest option and holds up well over time. Composite resin, however, is a suitable alternative. Its cost is considered moderate and is either white or adjusted to match the color of your tooth enamel. Composite resin also adapts better to any cavity size, whereas amalgam struggles to adhere to smaller cavities. Therefore, amalgam can damage healthy areas of a tooth in order to cover a cavity. Amalgam also can tarnish or darken the tooth over time.
Aside from direct effects in dentistry, amalgam has shown to impact the environment as well. Amalgam accounts for 240-300 tons of mercury entering the market every year. U.S. dental offices are the second largest user of mercury; the first is power generation.
Dental amalgam pollutes land, air, and water. Land is impacted by mercury through landfills, burials, and fertilizer. Air is infected through cremation, dental clinic emissions, sludge incineration, and respiration. Lastly, water comes in contact with mercury by way of dental clinic releases as well as human waste. Both of these issues are responsible for the largest source of mercury in our wastewater. The form of mercury used in amalgam is considered elemental. Once this mercury is exposed to the environment, however, it converts to methylmercury. This form of mercury is what is commonly found in the fish we consume. Therefore, amalgam impacts not only an individual, but the environment as well.
Sunrise Dentistry strives to provide not only dental health, but whole body health as well. By eliminating mercury from our practice, we are helping you to live a happier and healthier life. We offer biocompatible dental fillings, mercury level testing, and mercury removal. Call us at 970-247-3303 (Durango) or 970-533-7204 (Mancos) to schedule your appointment today!
The Use of Ozone Therapy Treatment and Sterilization in Dentistry
What is Ozone?
To begin understanding the basics of Ozone Therapy Treatment, one must first have a grasp on what exactly ozone is. As most of us know, ozone makes up one of the protective layers of the earth’s atmosphere that helps to reduce direct exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. At the same time, however, ozone is simply a molecule of three oxygen atoms (O3). Besides in its naturally occurring form in the earth’s atmosphere, ozone has a variety of uses for everyday life. Ozone is particularly touted for its sterilization and filtering effects, often being used by municipal water treatment plants for water purification, to clean fruits and vegetables for sale in supermarkets, and to filter commercial bottled water.
Sunrise Dentistry is proud to offer ozone therapy for many of our dental procedures as a sterilizing agent as well as a treatment for head and neck infections including sinus issues.
Introduction to the Dental Field
Ozone was first used in the medical field in the 1900s and has since been used as a method of speeding up the healing process for wounds and certain types of diseases. While ozone treatment was originally developed in both Europe in the United States, the medical community in Europe has more widespread adaptation of ozone therapy treatments. Since then, ozone (in lower concentrations) has been found to be a powerful combatant to certain bacteria, viruses, and fungi while avoiding damage to more complex human cells, meaning it can be applied in a large number of areas. This discovery ultimately led to its introduction into the field of dentistry.
The first recorded use of ozone in dental applications was in 1930 in Zürich, Switzerland by Dr. E.A. Fisch. Medical-grade ozone that is used in dental procedures is created by passing oxygen through a corona discharge generator, resulting in pure ozone that can be used in both liquid and gaseous forms. A third form, known as ozonated olive oil, is made by filtering ozone through olive oil to make a thick ointment that can then be directly applied to the targeted area. All three forms of medical-grade ozone can be used for dental applications, depending on the intended target of treatment.
Uses in Modern Dentistry
- Periodontal disease – ozonated water flushed below the gum line can help to treat and reduce periodontal disease over time. Additionally, ozonated gas can be used to treat gum tissue around the affected area
- Root canals – ozone’s sterilization properties come particularly in handy when undertaking root canal operations. Ozone can kill any bacteria in the area of operation to create a sterilized root canal system and help speed up recovery time.
- Sensitivity – For those suffering from tooth sensitivity, ozone gas can be applied to help recalcify teeth to help remove sensitivity.
- Post-operation pain – patients sometimes feel a certain degree of pain or extreme sensitivity after having a cavity filled or crown installed. This pain is often caused by an inflammation caused by a buildup of bacteria in the inner pulp of the tooth. The application of ozone before the crown is placed or the cavity is filled has been known to reduce the amount of bacterial buildup and thus reduce the risk of needing further dental work to deal with pulpitis.
- Extractions- ozonated water can be flushed in the dental socket immediately after extractions to dramatically reduce the pathogens that may be in bedded in the bone, tooth or periodontal ligament. This will reduce post-operative pain and help speed up healing recovery.
As mentioned before, ozone is simply a molecule containing three atoms of oxygen. Because oxygen is necessary for everyday life, it is impossible to be allergic to ozone. In addition, there are no known reactions or side effects of ozone with any kind of medication.
Sunrise Dentistry offers a unique, holistic approach to dentistry that focuses not only on the health of your teeth and gums, but also on how dental health can affect the overall health of your entire body. We are committed to the highest quality dental care possible, while always keeping in mind the larger context, the interrelated organic systems within the body that dental care is inseparably part of. Ozone treatment therapy is only one part of our approach to safe and comfortable dentistry experience.
Five Foods that are Incredible for Oral Health
Your mouth is affected by your diet just as much, if not more than the rest of your body. Certain foods will affect your mouth positively in ways that no other food can. On top of drinking lots of clear fluids, the following are great foods to keep your mouth happy and healthy. At Sunrise Dentistry, we value overall health just as much as we value the health of the mouth.
Almonds contain a good amount of calcium and protein and are low in sugar. These little nuts are a convenient food because you eat them in so many different ways. A handful with any meal can be a good idea, you can throw them on top of a salad, or you could get your fill of almonds out of an almond butter.
Yogurt contains high levels of calcium and protein making it ideal for maintaining the strength of your bones and teeth. Studies have also shown that the consumption of yogurt can cut down on plaque, bad breath, and gingivitis. When choosing which yogurt to add to your daily diet, lean towards a plain type of yogurt without any added sugars.
Crunchy fruits and veggies like apples and carrots cause a heightened production of saliva. In theory, this helps rinse your mouth out, which can reduce the likelihood of cavities. Apples act as a great lunchtime dessert, just throw a bag of apple slices in with your sandwich to get your mouth nice and clean after your midday meal.
Green tea is home to some marvelous antioxidants that have been shown to lower the risk of gum disease. The more of this magical concoction you gulp down, the lower the risk becomes. The study to back this information was performed in Japan.
The acidic environment created by eating fresh citrus fruits discourages the growth of bacteria in the mouth. The vitamin C found in these fresh fruits is also a preventative measure for gingivitis and gum disease. These benefits apply to all fruits and veggies high in Vitamin C like berries, melons, and peppers.