Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Dental Fillings -- You have options!

This is a little detour from my typical posts on food, but it does have to do with the mouth.  Does that count?

An example of amalgam fillings
Our four-year-old son needed to have a cavity filled today.  While we had to work through the emotions of a return trip to the dentist for a little person, my bigger concern was that they fill the cavity with a composite filling rather than amalgam.

Most dentist offices don't discuss filling options and certainly any potential risks associated with those options. Though amalgam fillings are deemed safe by the American Dental Association, some scientific research and anecdotal evidence counters that claim.

Amalgam fillings have been used in the United States since 1833 when two French brothers introduced it to Americans.  From the beginning it has been met with controversy.

Did you know that in your mouth, amalgam fillings are acceptable as a cavity filler, but out of your mouth the substance is considered a hazardous substance?  Denmark, Norway and Sweden currently ban the use of amalgam fillings.

Amalgam fillings are partially made of mercury.  Having a filling in your mouth exposes you to constant mercury -- especially when eating, brushing or chewing gum.

A 2005 review by Freiburg University Institute for Environmental Medicine found that mercury from dental amalgam may lead to autism, Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis to name a few prominent ailments.

Our dentist did not give the choice, however I felt there was adequate concern and research about long-term consequences to amalgam fillings that I chose to speak up and make sure to have a composite filling used for our son.  The dentist never questioned the request and stated that composite fillings are their first choice as well.  (Our kids go to a pediatric only dentist, our family adult dentist charges extra for a composite filling).

This may be something to consider when filling a cavity in your own teeth and certainly those of your children.  It's certainly worth a discussion with your dentist.

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