San Francisco, CA (PressExposure) June 11, 2008 -- The presence of mercury in silver dental fillings leaves some dentists nervous. In a recent survey by dental marketing website The Wealthy Dentist, most respondents felt mercury was not health threat. However, a significant minority felt it to be either definitely or potentially dangerous.
Mercury has been used in dental amalgam for over a century. Made of a mixture of silver, mercury and other metals, amalgam was for many years the material of choice for dental fillings. Inexpensive, convenient, and relatively easy to work with, silver fillings were the norm for dental restorations for decades.
Many dentists are happy to stand behind amalgam, pointing to its long and noble history. "150 years have not proved amalgam to be dangerous," declared an Arkansas dentist. "Amalgams have saved billions of teeth!" pointed out a Washington dentist. "I sincerely believe some dentists are using mercury scare tactics to increase their 'busy-ness'," sighed a Texas dentist.
Of course, mercury opponents insist that it's purely a matter of health. Pure mercury is a known toxin and considered a hazardous material. Though some insist it's non-toxic when chemically bound to the other metals in dental amalgam, others point to evidence of mercury vapor released by amalgam fillings.
"Mercury is a known toxin," said a Louisiana dentist. "There are no safe levels. It should be banned." "If you're not supposed to touch it with your hands, why is it safe in the mouth?" asked a California dentist. "The effects of mercury from amalgams drives our health care system like no other factor," declared an Arkansas dentist.
Many dental patients prefer composite restorations. Though they are more expensive, these tooth-colored restorations are preferred in cosmetic dentistry. "We do live in the 21st century, and many other forms of filling materials are available. My question is, why is amalgam still being used today?" asked a New York dentist.
In today's world, however, dental fillings are fart from the only source of possible mercury exposure. Levels of mercury in the world's oceans are now so high that pregnant women are advised to avoid tuna. "Don't eat seafood," advised a Georgia dentist. "I have a mercury free practice, but I do remove a lot them," said a Louisiana dentist. "I just got tested for mercury. My levels were twice the maximum! I am decreasing my fish intake and plan to retake the test to see if it is from occupational exposure."
"This is one of dentistry's most long-running controversies," said Jim Du Molin, dental management consultant and founder of dental continuing education website The Wealthy Dentist. "In its elemental form, mercury is poisonous. Mixed with other metals to create amalgam, it's an amazing dental restorative material. I understand why dentists have such strong opinions on both sides!"