Serenity Dental Clinics defines itself as a Metal Free Clinic and definitely does not prescribe any silver mercury fillings for its patients. We believe there are much safer materials to restore your teeth with. Silver Mercury Fillings is an inexpensive and outdated way to restore a small amount of tooth decay.
Modern dental technology has made it possible to avoid the use of mercury fillings entirely. Serenity Dental has elected to not place mercury silver fillings and instead focus their care on more effective, state-of-the-art tooth colored restorations.
A silver (or amalgam) filling is a mixture of approximately 50% silver/tin alloy and 50% mercury. After tooth decay is removed and cleaned, this gray colored material is packed into the tooth and shaped. Just like in a thermometer, the mercury part of the filling expands and contracts. These expansion and contraction cycles wedge the tooth apart. Eventually the tooth will fatigue, crack and split. Repairing a cracked tooth usually requires either a root canal and/or a crown.
Silver fillings have been used for more than 150 years. Their biggest advantage is that they are quickly and easily placed, making them relatively inexpensive. They are also relatively durable.
Traditional mercury fillings turn teeth dark and gray, age the appearance of your smile, and often weaken the teeth they were meant to protect. Mercury-silver fillings do not bond (stick) to the tooth structure. This requires the dentist to wedge the filling into the tooth to keep it from falling out. However, creating this wedge effect requires the removal of excessive amounts of healthy tooth structure, weakening the tooth and predisposing it to cracks and fractures.
The lack of a bond between the filling and the tooth also permits bacteria to leak underneath the filling. This creates decay that is often not detected until the tooth has been further damaged.
By volume, amalgam fillings contain over 50% mercury — one of the most toxic substances on earth. Just like in a thermometer, the mercury part of the filling expands and contracts. These expansion and contraction cycles wedge the tooth apart. Eventually the tooth will fatigue, crack and split. Repairing a cracked tooth usually requires either a root canal and/or a crown.
Mercury amalgam technology is ancient by modern medical standards. Mercury amalgam was standardized for manufacture in 1895 — over 100 years ago, and dentists have been using it to fill teeth for at least 160 years.
In contrast to mercury fillings, modern tooth-colored restorations are adhesive, highly cosmetic and mercury-free. These esthetic restorations are strongly bonded to the tooth using a state-of-the-art technique that intimately binds the material to the surrounding tooth structure. Using these advanced materials and techniques we can restore the original strength and beauty of the tooth.
Composite (white) fillings are an excellent alternative, limiting the removal of healthy tooth structure and posing no known environmental risk.
In cases of extensive decay, inlays/onlays or crowns are a much better restoration.
For more information about existing mercury fillings, read the answer to our Frequently Asked Question, Should I have my silver fillings replaced.
What are the alternatives to Mercury Silver Fillings?
Why do we at Serenity avoid the use of Mercury Silver Fillings?
Serenity dental is commitment to state-of-the-art, advanced dentistry, precludes the use of silver filling material (called amalgam) to restore your teeth. These are some of the reasons why:
Amalgam or “silver” dental fillings contain 50% mercury.
Mercury is a one of the most toxic substances known on earth. World renowned mercury toxicologists state that no amount of exposure to mercury vapor can be considered harmless.
There are no studies proving that amalgam is safe when placed in the human body. In fact, amalgam has never been subjected to FDA testing. If it were being introduced today, it is highly unlikely that it would ever receive FDA approval as a dental device.
OSHA and the EPA classify dental amalgam as a hazardous and toxic waste. They mandate that all amalgam removed from your tooth must be stored in a specialized container to prevent personal and environmental exposure to the continuous release of hazardous mercury vapor.
Scientific research has demonstrated that mercury, even in small amounts, can damage the brain and nervous system, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, thyroid gland, pituitary gland, adrenal gland, blood cells, enzymes and hormones. Mercury is also known to suppress the T-cells of immune system by as much as 100%.
Mercury readily passes through the placental barrier in pregnant women and can cause permanent damage to the brain of the developing baby. Mercury appears in the amniotic fluid just two days after placement of an amalgam filling in a pregnant woman. Mercury is also concentrated in breast milk.
Mercury vapor is continually released from mercury dental fillings. The release of mercury can be increased as much as 15-fold by chewing, brushing, eating acidic foods and drinking hot liquids.
The World Health Organization has concluded that the daily intake of mercury from amalgam fillings exceeds the combined daily intake of mercury derived from air, water and food (including fish). Studies by the National Institute of Health confirm a direct correlation between mercury levels in a person’s blood, urine and stool and the number of amalgam fillings in their teeth.
Mercury vapor released from amalgam fillings is rapidly absorbed and accumulated in body tissue.
In human autopsy studies, it has been found that there is a direct correlation between the amount of mercury found in the brain and the number of mercury fillings in the teeth. Scientific research has shown high levels of mercury in the brains of individuals dead from Alzheimer’s disease. Mercury has been shown to effect the brain in ways similar to Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Autism and Alzheimer’s disease.
Placing amalgam fillings often requires drilling away large amounts of healthy tooth structure. These fillings can profoundly weaken the tooth and often lead to the placement of much larger fillings, crowns and, in many cases, root canals.
Modern dental materials now exist that are more biologically compatible than dental amalgam. When placed with meticulous attention to detail, the new materials are highly cosmetic and can reinforce the tooth. By using these techniques, we may be able to prevent fractured teeth and the need for some root canals and crowns.
Should I have my Mercury Silver Fillings replaced?
Our recommendation is that you never allow another amalgam filling to be placed in your mouth and definitely not at Serenity Dental Clinics. The decision to replace amalgam fillings that are already in your mouth needs to be carefully considered. You should consider the many reasons to replace your existing amalgam fillings:
Many of our patients come to us because their physician feels that they may have some health problems where mercury exposure or accumulation may be part of the problem. As an adjunct to their medical treatment, the physician recommends having their amalgam fillings carefully replaced with a more biocompatible material.
Some people come to us because they have read and learned enough about mercury issues that they have decided they don’t want this material in their mouths anymore and request that we replace it.
Still others understand that mercury silver fillings are an obsolete material. They have learned that these fillings will eventually damage the underlying tooth structure and have elected to replace them with modern materials before irreversible damage has occurred.
In our opinion, any of these is a wise and valid reason for replacing the old mercury amalgam. We won’t take the position that everyone in our office should replace all his or her previous amalgam fillings. We do, however, feel a responsibility to educate everyone on the issues surrounding mercury fillings and to let them know that a mercury-free mouth is always available in our office. It’s always your choice—however, we think it’s a pretty good choice for most people.
Please notice, we are not saying that if you replace your amalgam fillings you will experience any specific health benefit. However, many of our patients report they have experienced significant, positive health changes when they have followed closely the amalgam replacement protocols described below. But that experience is by no means universal, and we want to be clear that we are making no specific health claims for replacing amalgam fillings. At the very least, you’ll be reducing your body burden of a known toxic material, updating your old fillings with modern materials and preventing the eventual tooth related damage caused by amalgam silver fillings.
How do we remove your silver mercury fillings safely?
Safe mercury amalgam replacement is more complex than traditional metal based dentistry. If you decide to replace your mercury amalgam fillings, have it done by a dentist who is experienced with, and committed to, mercury-free dentistry.
Amalgam fillings contain over 50% mercury. During the removal of amalgam fillings, the mercury component of the filling is vaporized and the patient can be exposed to amounts one thousand times greater than the EPA allowable air concentration. Amalgam removal needs to be done cautiously to protect the patient from exposure to additional mercury during the course of the dental procedures. This is a very important point and one that is likely to be overlooked by most dentists who are not committed to mercury-free dentistry.
Your health and safety are our primary concern. We take every precaution possible during amalgam filling replacement to protect you, my dental team and myself from additional exposure to mercury. We adhere to the following protocol established by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology. These steps have been shown to greatly reduce everyone’s exposure to mercury during amalgam filling replacement.
Keep fillings cool—Remove fillings under copious amounts of cold-water spray to minimize the heat-induced release of mercury vapor from the fillings. Our dental drills spray water from 3 ports rather than the standard single port.
Section and remove the filling in large pieces.
Use a high volume suction aspirator to evacuate mercury vapor as it is released.
Pre medicate using natural chelating agents such as selenium and vitamin c.
Use a rubber dam. A rubber dam is a latex shield placed over the tooth that helps prevent breathing or swallowing mercury vapor or fragments during filling removal. All particles of mercury amalgam that collect on the rubber dam are washed and vacuumed away as soon as they are generated.
Keep the room air pure—All dental offices using or removing mercury fillings should install room air purifiers. You would be alarmed at the amount of mercury vapor in the air of a typical dental office. It enters the air each time a mercury amalgam filling is placed into a tooth or removed from a tooth. Our dental office is equipped with a state of the art clean air system that collects any mercury vapor that escapes into the air during amalgam filling removal. This protects everyone who enters our dental office from being exposed to airborne mercury vapor.
So if you want to safely remove your old Amalgam fillings, Call us at any one of our Centres to schedule a time at Blairgowrie (servicing Jhb. North) 011 326 0938 or Bedfordview (servicing Jhb. East and Jhb. South) 011 615 9352 (located close to the airport) Johannesburg South Africa.