Amalgam Fillings

The History

Although the mercury free dental champions  have been espousing alternatives now for many years, amalgam has been around for quite some time, and so is difficult to remove from practice. The earliest evidence of amalgam fillings is from a medical text from approximately 659 AD Tang Dynasty China and was made from tin and silver.  There is also evidence that amalgams were used in Germany in the 1500s.  They were brought from France to the United States by the Crawcour brothers in 1833, and they quickly became very popular among American dentists.  The Dental Society of American Surgeons, formed in 1840, banned the use of amalgam fillings by its members, calling the use of mercury amalgam malpractice.  The organization was disbanded in 1856 and replaced by the American Dental Association in 1859.

amalgam & composite fillings composite

The Controversy

Amalgam fillings are fully half mercury.  Mercury has been recognized as toxic since at least 1823, when Dr. William Burnet published a report on the effects of mercury vapor.  The controversy didn’t stop dentists from using mercury fillings, and from the middle of the 19th century, the majority of dentists were using them.  Over the next several decades, the health most people gave little thought to what was being put into their mouths.  After all, a large percentage of the population have these things in their mouths, including children who are most vulnerable to toxic chemicals.  Anything that’s so widely used, even on children, must be safe, right?  Not so fast.

In 2007, mercury was ranked the third most toxic substance known by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease registry, part of the US Department of Health and Human Services.  Even makers of these amalgam fillings recognize the toxicity of these products.  Packaging for the material carries a disclaimer warning that ingestion of amalgam carries neurotoxic and nephrotoxic health risks.

As if these health risks weren’t enough, amalgam fillings tend to expand, placing pressure on the tooth and leading to fractures.  The material can also pull away from the surface of the tooth over time.

Bottom Line

All this means that, not only are people of all ages walking around with the third most toxic substance known the the US government in their mouths, but that even the manufacturers of these products are aware of the risks.

The good news is there are plenty of alternatives that are just as strong and long lasting as amalgam, but are far safer, don’t stress healthy tooth structure, and are biocompatible.  With all these things in mind, are there any arguments for amalgams?  Most holistic dentists will say no.

To read more about your alternatives to mercury amalgam fillings, visit:

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