Hi, this is Dr. Antolak from thegentledentist.com in Shelby Township, Michigan. (586) 247-3500 is our phone number. I’d like to just discuss something that’s a little bit on the controversial side of dentistry, and that is the difference between silver amalgam fillings, which contains about 50% mercury and the tooth colored composite material which are a plastic material.
Dental amalgam has been used for over the last 100 years. It is a very effective way of restoring teeth. It contains about 50% mercury, and that mercury is when it’s mixed up and then placed in the teeth. It creates an alloy, so it becomes part of an amalgamation, or an alloyed material then it hardens up. Most everybody’s who’s listening to this now has dental amalgam in their mouths. It’s been used for years very effectively.
The disadvantage of amalgam is that dental amalgam #1 contains mercury. We all know the effect that mercury has on our brains, and on the developing body. This is kind of controversial, because we know that in the Scandinavian countries, amalgam is completely banned. The American Dental Association in our country said it’s okay to use. The FDA was on the fence not knowing what to say about it. But the amazing part is, is that we are required by law that if we place dental amalgam, that the scraps that are left over have to be disposed of in a certain way. This is because they wouldn’t want it to get in our water systems. Now, does that make sense to you?
Say it’s okay to keep it in your mouths, where the mercury vapors continually are evaporating. You know the vapor state is the dangerous part, but yet they say that it’s safe there, and it’s not safe to throw away in the trash, or put in our water systems. Now, I’m not condoning putting it in our water systems, that’s pollution. We have what’s called a mercury separator in our dental office in Shelby Township, Michigan. We take any of the amalgam stuff that goes into our suction unit, and that all gets disposed of properly, like I’m describing. But I’m just saying the position doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me as far as being safe in the mouth, but yet being unsafe in other environments.
Another problem with dental amalgam is that dental amalgam does not bond teeth together. Over time, it actually starts expanding. During that expansion process, teeth will actually start to become fractured. We’ll see cracks in teeth that will take place from the dental amalgam.
On the other side is composite resin. First of all, it’s kind of the doughy material, and we can place it and bond it right onto the tooth structure. It helps to bond the weaker parts of the tooth together. Dental composite is a plastic material, so it hardens up right away with our little ultraviolet light that we use that will help to set the reaction. The thing about it, is that it helps to bond the teeth together.
Now, there are some questions about if, composite materials will, over time, reach other certain materials. The studies are a little inconclusive with that, but we believe that they’re very safe.
There’s a third option, and it’s called glass ionomer. Glass ionomer is a type of material that is a very positive material. It’s good for people who have dry mouths, and are really prone to having dental decay.
There are a number of different options out there. Unfortunately, insurance companies want to pay for the cheapest alternative. That means that dental amalgam for the back teeth, they’re gonna pay you for that, and only that.
It’s much faster of a technique. It’s much more technique sensitive. The teeth can be wet; you can still put amalgam in there. When you look at composite, or even the glass ionomer, the teeth cannot be wet. They have to be treated a certain way. The technique takes a lot longer, therefore the fee is a little higher with the composites compared to the dental amalgam.
Do you want something that has mercury in it? I don’t know, it’s your own decision. Also, the aesthetics of it is when you smile, you show a bunch of black teeth, and it doesn’t look so great. Comparing that to having the tooth colored, where people think it’s all natural; it looks natural, it looks nice, and it’s bonded together. That’s my choice. That’s what I have in my mouth. That’s what I have in my children’s mouth, and what I have in my wife’s mouth.
If there’s any questions about this, I’d be more than happy to answer them for you. My phone number is 586-247-3500, and we are the thegentledentist.com. Thank you.