Did you know that the dental industry generates about 4 tons of mercury waste every year? That’s more than most other industries, and it all comes from fillings for cavities.
Mercury is a serious pollutant, and it’s found in our water, our food, and even in the air we breathe. It also makes up about 50% of the filling material in your mouth. Even though it’s called silver amalgam, it actually contains very little silver at all. It contains small amounts of other metals as well, but half of it is mercury.
At Really Smile, we care about the health of our patients and the health of the environment. Mercury waste will make its way from our office into the local water cycle. It starts in Carmel, IN but who knows where it will end up next?
One of the ways that we can make a difference as dental professionals is to reduce or eliminate the stream of mercury waste leaving our office. The best way for us to do that is to take the silver amalgam out of the equation when it comes to filling cavities. Amalgam-free fillings are better for the environment, and they have other advantages as well.
What’s the difference?
Silver amalgam is old technology. Very old, in fact: silver amalgam has been the standard filling material used to repair cavities and teeth damaged by decay for 150 years. It became popular because mercury makes silver amalgam very strong (so it’s able to handle the punishment your teeth dole out while you’re chewing) and it’s also pretty cheap.
They do have some problems though:
They require lots of drilling:
You’ve already got a cavity, but to get it filled, your dentist needs to use a drill to make the whole big enough so that the filling can be placed. The hole also needs to be shaped to make sure that the filling stays in place. All this drilling also means that you’re losing a lot of the tooth that’s still healthy.
Silver amalgam fillings aren’t called “silver” because they look that way. Silver amalgam fillings are very visible (as black marks on your teeth) and can have a negative impact on your smile.
They may even be dangerous!
In addition to being an environmental pollutant, mercury is a neurotoxin that can cause lots of health problems, including brain damage. If you have a silver amalgam filling, that dangerous toxin is in your mouth, and what’s worse, it slowly releases mercury vapor into your body the whole time it’s in!
Amalgam-free fillings, on the other hand:
Don’t require as much drilling, because they bond to the tooth itself; amalgam-free fillings don’t depend as much on the shape of the hole so they stay in place much better than silver amalgam fillings. That means that the process of installing an amalgam-free filling is much more comfortable for our patients!
Look much better than silver amalgam:
Looks are important, and amalgam-free fillings are just better looking than traditional fillings. In our practice, we offer tooth-colored composite resin fillings. Composite resin comes in many shades, and your dentist will select one that best matches the natural color of your teeth.
Safer than silver amalgam!
Amalgam-Free means fillings are also better for the environment by reducing the mercury in our office’s waste stream to zero. They’re also better for you and your family because they pose no risk to your health!
I need a filling or I’m considering replacing old ones. What should I expect in the office?
First, your dentist will give you a thorough examination to determine if you need to have your fillings replaced. Fillings that are old can lose their fit, and that will leave open space between the filling and the tooth. Food particles and bacteria enter this space and cause your already damaged tooth to decay even more.
After the examination, your dentist will help you to make the best choice for your smile and your specific needs (health and otherwise).
Your dentist will place your filling. Tooth-colored fillings are made of resin, a kind of plastic that’s strong enough and safe enough to be used in any tooth no matter where it’s located. Thanks to advancements in plastics technology, resin is now strong enough to be used in the back teeth, where most of the work of chewing and grinding food is done.
Make an appointment today!
A toothache can mean a cavity or worse; make an appointment now to avoid greater pain (not to mention expense) later!
You can reach us by phone at 317-451-4050, or you can click here to use our online appointment form.
Remember: the longer you wait, the worse it will get!