As the general population becomes ever more health conscious and aware of their choices, traditional “silver” fillings are rapidly losing ground to white composite fillings as the treatment of choice for cavities.
What does it mean to be a “mercury free dentist”?
Dr. Currie’s office does not place amalgam fillings. This is certainly not an issue of training, as all dentists must demonstrate proficiency in amalgam filling placement. Rather, this is an issue of sensitivity to what patients want for their dental care and overall health.
Many people’s concerns are first and foremost cosmetic. Few people will dispute that white fillings are dramatically more cosmetically appealing than the dark silver of traditional fillings.
Which would you prefer in your mouth?
White Composite Fillings
But as we all know, looks aren’t everything. A growing proportion of the population is choosing white fillings because they do not contain mercury. Silver amalgam fillings contain almost 50% mercury, which is known to be toxic to humans. As of this writing no conclusive evidence is available establishing whether or not mercury fillings are toxic to the body. Some recent studies indicate that a small amount of mercury vapor is released when a person with mercury fillings chews, but it has not been determined whether or not that amount of vapor is toxic.
Finally, as a restorative technique, amalgam fillings come up short when compared to white composite fillings. Though the amalgam material in isolation is stronger than the composite material, the composite material when bonded to the tooth creates a stronger structural whole. Amalgam fillings actually weaken the teeth over time, making them more susceptible to fractures.
A Word of Caution
Chances are, if your current dentist does not place white composite fillings, it is because he has not taken the time to be properly trained in the technique, not because his patients are not asking for them.
If your dentist does not offer you the choice of mercury free white fillings or amalgam fillings, it may be because he or she does not know how to place them confidently. If that is the case, do not push your dentist to do something they are not properly trained to do. This could result in more treatment time, money and possibly pain for you if the procedure does not go as it should.
If your current dentist does not do white fillings and that is what you want, then it may be time to look for a new dentist.