Thursday, December 18, 2008

Least Toxic Denistry

Mercury fillings, dental sealants, and root canals may be linked to health problems. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe.

When you visit the dentist, you’re probably hoping that you’ll get a clean bill of dental health. Keep in mind, though, that you should also be looking closely at the health of your dentist’s office. Many dental procedures that have been used for years—from fluoride applications to amalgam fillings to root canals—are now under scrutiny for their possible role in causing health problems. Learning about the issues surrounding these procedures can make you a more informed and safer dental patient.

The Fuss About Fillings

Amalgam, or silver, fillings, which have been widely used by dentists for more than a century, are about 50 percent mercury; the balance is made up of other metals, mainly silver, copper, tin, and zinc. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), amalgam is an ideal substance for dental restorations because it’s durable, easy to use, highly resistant to wear, and cost-effective.

The ADA claims that the presence of mercury in fillings is not a problem, because the fillings release only minute amounts of mercury vapor, and such low-level exposure has not been proven to be harmful.

A growing number of dental professionals disagrees. “The ADA warns that amalgam is toxic before placement and after removal, so dentists have to take precautions with these procedures,” says Dr. Robert Johnson, a biologic dentist who heads the Natural Horizons Wellness Center in Fairfax, Virginia.

“There’s no reason for amalgam to suddenly not be toxic once it’s in someone’s mouth.”There’s little dispute about one thing: everyday activities like brushing your teeth, eating, and drinking hot liquids cause amalgam fillings to release mercury vapor.

The ADA acknowledges that chewing and grinding teeth may cause amalgam fillings to release one to three micrograms of mercury per day, while the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the average amount is actually three to 17 micrograms per day. Read the entire article.

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