It is clear that there is strong disagreement between the American Dental Association, Consumer and professional groups and certain physicians regarding the safety of amalgam fillings. According to each side, there is research that bears out their position regarding the use of mercury in amalgam fillings. This being said much of the research I have seen seems to question the use of amalgam fillings rather than support it.
Many say that the ADA is biased because they are trying to protect the profession from possible legal liability. It has been known since medieval times that mercury is a poison. A more balanced view is that dentists for the most part are a pretty altruistic group when it comes to watching out for the patient’s best interest. A big consideration for the ADA has always been cost and the availability of other treatment choices. There were simply not as many choices even 10-20 years ago as there are today. However today there are other choices and amalgam fillings are still widely used because of cost.
Despite this, there remains disagreement and controversy when it comes to amalgams that is likely to continue for quite some time. So what is a patient to do? Unfortunately, after hearing all the facts and discussing your individual situation with your health care providers, you are going to have to rely on your own good sense and decide for yourself.
Advantages of using Amalgams:
1. Cheaper than most other fillings
2. Relatively easy to place
3. Can be placed in presence of moisture
4. Lasts a long time
5. Resists new decay probably because it is hard and contains mercury
Disadvantages of using Amalgams:
1. Not very cosmetic looking
2. Tarnishes and corrodes over time
3. Releases mercury in small amounts
4. Weakens the tooth over time because of cracking
5. Causes galvanic (stress) reaction with other metals
6. Often stains underlying tooth black
Carey O’Rielly DDS has been a practicing dentist for 35 years. He went to USC Dental School and Duke University for his undergraduate degree. He grew up in Laguna Beach and now lives in La Costa with his wife Victoria, who runs his office.
He began his career by owning and operating a network of six offices in the San Francisco Bay Area. Presently he owns a private holistic practice in North County San Diego’s Encinitas.
Dr. O started looking for solutions to his health challenges that resulted from the stress and environmental toxicity that built up over a ten year period running his dental network. He has dedicated himself to learning about oral systemic problems and how dentistry can affect your health. He has applied what he has learned over the last twenty years to ensure he, his staff and his patients are protected from the chemicals and toxic materials found in most dental offices. He has produced an environmentally friendly office that is also peaceful and calm.
He is an expert on dental materials having looked at hundreds of biocompatibility lab tests over the years. He has identified the most bio-friendly materials to use in his practice and which dental materials can be used to replace metal fillings and crowns, including BPA free and fluoride free ‘white’ fillings. He also uses metal-free Zirconia or ceramic implants and PRF (platelet-rich fibrin) grafting materials which come from the patient’s own blood.
Dr. O’Rielly teaches C.E. courses on the systemic effects of gum disease. He is an expert in using phase contrast microscopy for analyzing dental infections, where he shows patients what kind of microbes, i.e. bacteria, amoeba, and yeasts like candida are populating the mouth and affecting the body as a whole.
He has an educational blog and is writing a book on dental health called ‘Hidden Dental Infections: Healing Root Canals and Infected Teeth with the Erbium Laser’ where he discusses dental nutrition, toxic dental materials and the effects of old root canals on inflammation and overall health.