Mercury in the dental office is becoming much scarcer, and it is strictly used for patients who are getting amalgam fillings. Not many dental practices offer amalgam fillings any longer due to the healthier and more natural looking alternatives available that do not utilize mercury.
What is mercury?
Mercury is a type of metal that is a semi-liquid when brought to the correct temperature. Dental professionals use the mercury as a bonding agent by placing it on the tooth to secure the amalgam filling. The bonding properties of mercury are very sufficient, which is why it was so commonly used to secure fillings. It is difficult to remove mercury after it has been bonded to the tooth, which can be both a benefit and a negative. Mercury is found naturally within the environment and is not man made, and must be kept in careful conditions to avoid any damage to the health of dental professionals and patients.
How can mercury be damaging to health?
In recent years, it has been discovered that mercury can be toxic to human beings. Mercury omits a vapor that can make it way into the lungs of patients and cause a variety of health problems. When absorbed into the skin mercury also can cause issues but it must be left upon the skin for a longer duration of time. The negative health effects caused by mercury in dental amalgam fillings is not 100 percent confirmed, but it is thought that when placing it in the mouth that patients may be subject to the poisonous vapors that can more easily reach the lungs. Additionally, if a dental professional mistakenly gets mercury in the mouth and it is consumed that it can be devastating the health of patients.
What are dental amalgam fillings?
Dental amalgam fillings are fillings that can be comprised of a combination of metals including silver, copper, tin and gold. All amalgam fillings use mercury as a bonding agent because it is the most secure way to hold the metal filling into place. These fillings have decreased in popularity within the last one hundred years due to their use of mercury as well as their unnatural appearance. Over time, amalgam fillings become dark and unattractive looking in comparison to their original shiny metal look, but they tend to be longer lasting than alternative fillings due to their toxic bonding agent.
What are alternatives to amalgam fillings?
There are a couple different alternatives to amalgam fillings, neither of which utilize mercury as a bonding agent. Porcelain and composite material fillings are the best filling options for patients due to their natural, tooth-colored appearance and safety benefits. Porcelain and composite fillings are used to fill cavities in a semi-solid state and then are cured using a special light. When the porcelain and composite fillings are cured they become a strong protectant against recurring plaque. Selecting an alternative to amalgam fillings is the best way to avoid any unnecessary poisoning that can otherwise occur.