Originally developed in France and the UK, the use of amalgam materials as fillings in dentistry was first introduced in the US in 1826 and was considered a revolutionary concept or idea at the time. Amalgam fillings contained a variety of materials including copper, mercury, silver, tin, and zinc, the highest percentage of which was mercury at over 50%. Needless to say, the use of mercury erupted into quite a contentious issue and in 1859, the ADA (American Dental Association) was established as a result.
Unfortunately, the filling of choice is still an amalgam material containing a combination of roughly 50% mercury and 30% silver. Despite all of the scientific research that has shown its adverse effects and the FDA’s non-approval of amalgam as a safe practice in dentistry, it is still the primary material used in restorative dental procedures today. Current estimates state that roughly 100 million amalgam fillings are placed annually.
However, if you ignore all the research that has been done and simply apply common sense, there are 3 basic concerns to be aware of:
- First and foremost, mercury is hazardous to our environment well before it is even used as a filling material.
- Dentists are subject to EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) fines of up to $10,000 if they do not properly dispose of mercury fillings that are removed from a patient’s mouth. Consequently, it has to be removed and disposed of by a hazardous waste company.
- Obviously, how can storing this material in the mouth of a patient be considered a safe practice? So one has to wonder why so many dentists are still using mercury amalgam fillings in their restorative dental practices.
Are there benefits involved with biocompatibility testing? Absolutely, especially with patients that have specific allergies to certain metals or whose immune systems have been compromised. Therefore, having to cope with dental material allergies will only impede and worsen a patient’s condition. Additionally, patients whose immune systems have been compromised by existing health problems should seriously consider being tested for biocompatibility before any new filling materials are used to restore their teeth.
Holistic dentistry is a specific practice that takes the above into account in order to determine the effect that amalgam filling materials and their use in restorative dental procedures will have on a patient’s overall physical health. Your teeth are a very significant aspect of your overall health. Therefore, you can’t be as physically healthy as you are capable of being if your mouth is unhealthy.