Amalgam: is it really harmful and what is the alternative?
Amalgam has been used as the standard material for dental fillings for over 150 years. It is cheap, easy to use, forgives manual errors, lasts relatively long and creates a micro flora that puts off the bacteria. However, there is a common assumption, amalgam, and the quicksilver it contains, can be harmful for health. The EU is now reacting to the debate and will forbid amalgam in 2018for children and teenagers under 15, pregnant and lactating women. Amalgam was never used at the Dental Clinic Dr. Pink | Dr. Wolferstaetter | Colleagues. The philosophy is clear: we work amalgam-free, bio compatible and innovative.
Amalgam: What is that and why is it used?
Amalgam is a metal alloy consisting of mercury (50%) and heavy metals (often silver, tin and copper). Compared to other fillers, amalgam is easy to process and cheap. A filling can last up to 10 years and is always covered by the German medical insurance, both private and statutary.
How harmful is amalgam really?
The problem is that amalgam slowly begins to dissolve in the oral cavity, so that after 10 years only half of the original mercury remains in the filling. It is assumed that the human organism absorbs the other half of the mercury. Abrasion is stimulated by several factors such as teeth grinding, hot, sour or sugary foods and drinks (coke, coffee or vinegar). A general increase in the acid content of saliva or constant gum chewing can also lead to the abrasion. It’s controversial, how harmful amalgam is in fact. There is research that clearly classifes amalgam as harmful for health and body, while other studies only question its use for kids and pregnant women. The fact is that from 2018 the EU wants to completely ban the usage of amalgam for kids and teens under 15 and for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
Do you use amalgam at Dental Clinic Dr. Pink | Dr. Wolferstaetter | Colleagues?
Amalgam has never been used at our Dental Clinic. Despite the fact that amalgam is cheaper and easier to work with, our team has always used bio compatible fillers, such as ceramic composites, ceramic and gold inlays or crowns – for the patients’ sake. Even if our work involves significantly more effort, complicated procedures and higher costs, the health of a patient is always at stake. Our alternative methods of treatment are just as long-lasting as amalgam fillings and – at the same time – health and eco conscious.
Pregnancy: Do amalgam fillings negatively affect the development of a child?
Patients with amalgam fillings have been proven to have higher mercury levels in their body organs and fluids than patients without amalgam fillings. Mercury releasing from amalgam fillings in form of vapour can pass through the placenta during pregnancy and pass on to the fetus. Low doses of mercury can also be detected in breast milk. It can penetrate into the body through food, environment or amalgam fillings. Therefore, amalgam should not be used during pregnancy or lactation. Removal of amalgam during this exciting time is also strongly advised against. This is because the removal procedure itself produces high levels of mercury, as if it was inserted.
The Dental Clinic Dr. Pink | Dr. Wolferstaetter | Colleagues consults pregnant and breastfeeding women in detail and recommends a dental check up during this beautiful time every 3 months, since the condition of gums and teeth can often change due to the hormone balance.
What are the potential side effects of amalgam?
It can take up to 15 years, until a patient with amalgam fillings shows the first symptoms of mercury intolerance or toxicity. Since the toxic effect is not dramatic or acute, such frequent illnesses as cold or headaches are quite often not associated with amalgam and the mercury it contains. Nevertheless, there may be specific leading symptoms such as severe fatigue and exhaustion, pain or cramps in the jaw, metallic taste in the mouth, pain in hands and feet, shaky hands, reduced muscle strength, strong and fast heartbeat after minimal physical activity, dizziness and much more. In these cases a complete removal of amalgam must be reconsidered immediately.
Strong critics of amalgam attest to that. Whats’ more: neuro-scientists suggest the following illnesses can be connected to amalgam as well: nervous disorders, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, memory problems, dizziness, depression, rage attacks, shyness, stammering, learning disabilities, dyslexia, impaired vision and hearing and tinnitus.
Should every amalgam filling be replaced?
There is no general answer to this question. Regarding the fact that amalgam fillings last about 10 years and will have to be removed or will fall out at some point, we recommend the earlier removal. What kind of amalgam-free filling can be considered as an alternative to amalgam, depends on the size of the carious defect and the the patient patient’s requirements. In any case, there is a thorough examination and evaluation of the old fillings, as well as a detailed consultation, on the basis of which an individual treatment and cost estimate is prepared.
Amalgam: how does the mercury effect the environment?
Another reason for banning amalgam is its disposal. The amalgam removed from the teeth must be disposed of as hazardous waste. According to studies, 75 tons of mercury are used in the mouths of Europeans as a result of the fillings alone; in Germany the number is around 2 tons. For the sake of the environment alone, a general ban on amalgam should be considered.
We would love to consult you at Dental Clinic Dr. Pink | Dr. Wolferstaetter | Colleagues in Munich on amalgam-free solutions, amalgam removal and amalgam during pregnancy.