How many metal amalgam fillings do you have? Ever wondered whether the mercury in your fillings could be seeping into your body and causing problems? I have suffered from eczema, asthma and allergies ever since I was a child and have heard some of the hype regarding the danger of these old style silver fillings and a recent visit to the dentists has brought my fears back to the fore.
I would think most people opt for the new white fillings, most for cosmetic reasons. I have always asked for the new type of fillings as I feel they are safer for me and don’t contain any mercury. In the last few weeks I had to visit the dentists, having recently registered at a local National Health practice. I can’t afford private treatment now I don’t have the luxury of private dental health cover. I had an x-ray which identified a cavity beneath an existing white filling and I told the dentist I wanted a white filling again. She asked me why, saying she was playing devils advocate and suggested that amalgam fillings are not dangerous at all.
The view from most professional dentists is that dental amalgam is considered safe, affordable and durable; available evidence shows that there is no connection between degenerative diseases and metal fillings. However most of us still prefer the new white fillings for our own reasons, be they cosmetic or health. The dentist explained how the new white fillings, or composite to give them their real name, contain a much larger number of chemicals than amalgam, many of which are organic compounds and so much more likely to cause allergies compared to the elemental metals in amalgam. I had never heard this before and it did give me some food for thought. Am I jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire?
Composite fillings are made from a mixture of plastic and fine glass particles. Amalgam fillings are made from a mixture of silver, tin, zinc, copper, and mercury. Mercury is nearly 50% of the mixture. This was news to me; mercury is a poison in very small quantities isn’t it?
I still felt that there is no smoke without fire and asked to have a white filling. However the dentist had other ideas, and as soon as my tooth was drilled and the old filling removed she told me I had no choice but to have an amalgam filling. Surely plastic and glass are safer than mercury? I was furious, and I only did the research once I’d got home, complete with a shiny new mercury packed amalgam filling. What could I do? The metal filling went in and I couldn’t really do much about it short of bursting out of the surgery with a big hole in my tooth! I did ask the dentist if there were any other alternatives to metal or white fillings and apparently Gold fillings are the only allergy free solution. Yeah, right! Who can afford Gold fillings? They can cost six to ten times more than traditional amalgam fillings. Cast Gold fillings, made from gold and a mixture of other metals, should last for seven years or more. Gold foil, made from pure gold, should last for ten to fifteen years. Amalgam fillings should last at least seven years and usually longer. Composite fillings should last five years. This evidence does suggest that the new white fillings don’t last as long and who wants more visits to the dentists to have fillings replaced if they don’t need to?
Anyway to cut a long story short, I couldn’t eat on the tooth afterwards and wrote a letter of complaint to the dental practice. I phoned up to ask for another appointment the following day and also received a very well thought out, carefully worded and polite letter in response. They did take my concerns seriously but at the end of the day they still stand by the view that amalgam is completely safe and sometimes is the best treatment for the patient, in which case they would insist on the metal filling. They pointed out that of course I could opt out of the National Health for part or all of my treatment and pay for whatever treatment I wanted. I wish I’d been stronger and told the dentist I did not want the metal filling but we learn from our mistakes. They also sent me a print-out from the American Dental Association website: www.ada.org which aims to quell fears about amalgam fillings.
I know there is no absolute proof that my fears are founded on any fact but Norway, Denmark and Sweden all banned mercury amalgam fillings in 2008. To read about it visit the Goodness Direct Blog. In a prepared statement, Norwegian Minister of the Environment Erik Solheim said “Mercury is among the most dangerous environmental toxins. The Swedish ban is for both environment and health reasons.”
Here is another website which talks about mercury poisoning: Amalgam Illness Diagnosis and Treatment website. You just need to visit Google and type in ‘mercury filling allergies’ and a whole host of other websites come up.
The reason for insisting I had a metal filling was bleeding of some kind. Does anyone know if this is a legitimate argument for not having a white filling? The surgery agreed to see me the same day I phoned up and my appointment was with one of the practice managers. After a brief examination I was told that I could have a crack in the tooth, which explains why it doesn’t hurt until I bite down on food; the suggested treatment was to remove the amalgam filling and replace with a composite white filling with pins to hold the cracked tooth together. In the case of a cracked tooth composite would work better as it adheres completely to all surfaces of the cavity, thus giving a weak tooth more stability. So the good news I’m getting the amalgam filling replaced, but will that expose me to even more mercury than having the filling put in?
We should all stand up for what we believe. If no one questions anything we never move forwards. I will now insist on seeing a dentist that I am confident in for future visits but I’ve learnt a valuable lesson. Stand your ground, and don’t be scared to ask for a second opinion if you disagree with what your dentist is proposing. I’m not sure on the whole amalgam vs composite debate, perhaps all the hype is just that.
So what are your views on fillings? Do you think amalgam fillings, containing mercury, are dangerous to our health? Or are the white fillings just as potentially dangerous? What kind of fillings do you have when given the choice? Have you ever felt bullied into treatment you didn’t want? Should I bite the bullet and go back to private dental treatment? – no pun intended. Geddit? Bite the silver bullet! Do I really need to ask?
Please let me know your views on fillings and keep on brushing those pearly whites!