Ottawa, ON, dental clinic patients ask, “What is mercury free dentistry?”
Posted by Dr. France Chevalier
For many years, patients who received a dental filling, received a silver filling. It was common dental practice because it was effective, easy, cheap, and durable. However, the silver filings are made with mercury, a metal that has dangerous effects on the body. Because of the risk to patients, many dentists, including Dr. France Chevalier, in Ottawa, ON, are committed to offering mercury-free dental clinics where their patients are protected from potentially dangerous materials.
The effects of mercury on the body
Mercury is found in many sources, including air, water, soil, and food, especially fish. As with many substances, the degree of risk to the body increases with higher amounts of exposure. Low exposure of mercury is thought to be safe for most patients. However, higher exposure to mercury can have dangerous effects on the body, causing irritability, anxiety, headaches, memory loss, and fatigue. Additionally, some patients have adverse reactions to even the smallest amount.
Mercury has been used in teeth fillings because it is long lasting and is cheaper than composite fillings. What many people don’t realize, however, is that the most common form of mercury exposure is due to amalgam, a combination of silver and mercury that has been used since the 1860’s to fill cavities. In fact, it is estimated that at least 85 percent of Americans have at least one filling that is amalgam. In the past, dentists and researchers thought that the exposure risks stopped once the filling was in the tooth. Recent studies have shown, however, that the toxicity levels rise when the material is heated through activities such as brushing, eating, or professional cleanings.
Should mercury fillings be removed?
Patients who have metal filings and then learn about the risks often ask if they should have the filling removed. In some cases, patients may believe that they have symptoms that are related to the mercury exposure, while in others the filling is cracking or becoming damaged.
If a patient does want to have the filling removed, it is important to find a qualified and trained dental professional to perform the removal and replace the restoration. Dr. Chevalier has been educated and trained to ensure that silver fillings are removed in a way that doesn’t put the patient, the dental team, or the environment at risk. She follows a strict protocol that includes using a high suction vacuum that removes the vapors and mercury particles from the air, using rubber dams inside the patients’ mouth to keep them from inhaling or swallowing mercury particles, masks are worn by Dr. Chevalier and her team, and a special waste disposal process keeps the mercury from being released into the environment.
Alternatives to metal fillings
in recent years, composite fillings have become more popular and are the restoration of choice by many patients and dentists. Not only are composite fillings safer, they are more aesthetically pleasing than metal, because they match the patient’s tooth. Advances in technology have also made the composite restorations nearly as strong and durable as traditional metal fillings, so patients can rest assured that their filling will last.
Protecting your dental health
After the filling is complete, caring for the tooth only requires the same oral hygiene practices as before. While the filling will remain intact, the area surrounding the filling is still susceptible to decay. Patients should be sure to brush and floss the restored tooth, as well as all the other teeth. Brushing and flossing removes food particles and bacteria from the teeth and gums. If not removed, the bacteria can lead to breakdown of the enamel and additional cavity issues. The best way to protect the health of your mouth is to continue to follow good oral hygiene habits at home and maintain regular visits with the dentist.
For more information
If you have questions about the effects of mercury on your dental and overall health, call the office of Dr. France Chevalier today. Dr. Chevalier believes that the health of your mouth and the health of your body are connected and sets strict standards for her office. She will take the time to talk with you about your decisions, address any concerns or questions, and discuss your options for removal or restoration. For more information, call +1 (613) 233-1118 today.