Did you know that mercury is the only metallic element on earth that is liquid at room temperature? That’s why it’s sometimes called quicksilver.
This extremely low melting point makes mercury particularly useful in many different tools, including thermometers, barometers, and fluorescent lights. For many years, one of the ways we used mercury to great effect was as a binding agent in dental fillings.
The History of Dental Amalgam Fillings
We have seen evidence for the use of mercury as a filling agent as early as the 600s AD in China, and the 1500s in Germany. Mercury was easy to use and cheap to get, so by the 1800s it became the most common material used in a dental filling.
It was mixed with an alloy of silver, tin, and copper. Together, this amalgam metal was strong, long-lasting, and easy to get inside a tooth without having to handle the other metals while they’re still too hot to use in a mouth.
However, even in the 1800s, questions arose about the safety of placing mercury inside the mouth. Those questions have only grown since then. We now know that the ingestion or absorption of mercury can be potentially toxic.
Small amounts of mercury are naturally occurring in many aspects of life. It is even present in everyday foods and products, usually in ways that won’t damage your health. But when those levels are elevated, it can become poisonous, causing symptoms such as:
- Memory problems.
Most of these symptoms build slowly over time. While the amount of mercury used in amalgam fillings is very small, modern experts now believe that our bodies may still gradually absorb it, causing slow poisoning.
Fillings Using Composite Resin
There are still debates on the exact level of danger presented by dental procedures that involve mercury, but we have some amazing news! With modern technology and understanding, we have an alternative to amalgam.
Modern filling material is made of a composite resin that delivers a number of excellent benefits.
Safety | First and foremost, composite resins contain no mercury at all. You won’t need to worry about absorbing any kind of toxicity from the resin.
Strong | Composite resin is just as strong and long-lasting as amalgam. Your modern fillings won’t suffer at all in quality or longevity.
Invisible | Composite resin can be color-matched to perfectly blend in with your natural enamel. Not only will they be safer, but they’ll be difficult to spot. Most people won’t even be able to tell you’ve got a composite filling.
Temperature | Most metals conduct heat. While mercury is not a particularly good conductor, silver and copper are. This means that any teeth with amalgam fillings will be a little more sensitive to heat and cold. Composite resin eliminates this inconvenience.
Mercury-Free Dentistry in Solana Beach
Our office takes pride in keeping up with the latest medical advances and equipment. To that end, we are excited to be able to provide modern dental alternatives that are completely mercury-free. Talk to us today about your non-mercury treatment options.