For more than 150 years, dental amalgam has been extensively used as a filling material for teeth. Also called silver filling, this material has helped millions of people evade the tormenting effects of tooth decay. It has been used by dentists all over the world, including those in prominent cities like Philadelphia.
Amalgams consist of 50% mercury along with a combination of silver, tin, and copper. Studies have found that the amount of mercury vapor from amalgams varies from 1-3 ug/day (micrograms/day), at the low estimation, up to 27 ug/day. This translates to 3% to 68% of workplace air quality standards that are allowable by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA, our federal environmental agency). What this means is that at the high level – and with continuous exposure – we could be at levels that OSHA says are unhealthy. The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that the exposure to mercury vapor can greatly increase beyond this number due to personal habits such as grinding of the teeth, chewing gum, and drinking carbonated drinks. This could lead to a fivefold increase in mercury levels after these activities.Mercury is considered a neurotoxin, and is associated with various cases of Alzheimer’s Disease and Auto Immune Diseases. The mercury in amalgam also has the potential to disrupt the body’s metabolic processes due to its toxicity when combined with sulfur, which is present in all proteins in the body.
As Dr. Levin points out, however, the American Dental Association (ADA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have said that amalgam is a safe restorative material because the amount of mercury vapor it releases does not reach a critical level. However, it cannot be discounted that amalgam fillings may indeed pose health risks, especially in combination with other factors, such as the age of the filling, the amount of filling in the mouth, and the user’s diet.
To avoid that risk, an experienced cosmetic dentist in Philadelphia like Gerald Regni, DMD recommends replacing amalgam fillings with biocompatible dental composite. As the name implies, biocompatible dental composite is a material that does not harm the oral tissues or diffuse substances that cause side effects.
Besides being safer, dental composite fillings perform better in strengthening the structure of a tooth. Because they are also tooth-colored, they look more natural than amalgams, resulting in a better smile. This aesthetic quality has made dental composite fillings the choice of practitioners of cosmetic dentistry in Philadelphia and other parts of the country.
(Source: Toxic Teeth: Are Amalgam Fillings Safe?, DoctorOZ.com)