Remove Amalgam Fillings (San Diego Podcast)
REMOVING AMALGAM FILLINGS: The Controversy
Hello, this is Dr. Daniel Vinograd, biocompatible dentist, and I’d like to speak today about amalgam fillings. Amalgam fillings are a very, very interesting and controversial topic, and so, I’m happy to discuss that with you today.
There’s been a great debate about the use of mercury-containing amalgam fillings for use in dentistry since the 17th century. Actually, in the early 1800s, a couple of brothers named Crawcour brought dental amalgam from France to the US, and by the mid-1800s, most dentists in New York were actually using it. Soon after, the use of the dental amalgam fillings by dentists in the US, the emergence of the Dental Society of American Surgeons, which was the most prestigious dental association, declared that the use of dental amalgam was malpractice and prohibited its members from using it.
We’re talking about mid-1800s and already this controversy beginning, and 12 years after its conception, the ASDS, The American Society of Dental Surgeons was dismantled. At that point, the ADA was founded in 1859, and it embraced, again, the use of amalgam fillings in dentistry.
The Holistic Dental Perspective
Fast-forward now to 2007, and the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry, which is an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services in the US government, ranks the most hazardous substances, the most hazardous materials. Mercury ends up being ranking as third most hazardous. Keep in mind that dental amalgam fillings are 50% mercury. So, that’s quite a high content of a substance that’s ranked as the third most hazardous substance by a US government agency.
Better Safe Than Sorry
In addition, dental amalgam manufacturers have posted a long disclaimer, and I quote: “Ingestion of this product” may cause neurotic and nephrotoxic. Furthermore, California Prop 65 warns, “This product contains mercury, a chemical known in the state of California to cause birth defects and other reproductive harm.” So, here we are, now, with these really ominous type of disclaimers, and dental amalgam, even though more and more dentists are moving away from it, still is one of the most widely used materials.
Why are we still using them?
The question is why has it been used for so long? The truth is that amalgam, from the physical point-of-view, is a very, very good material. From, a physics point-of-view, it has withstood the test of time. There’s no question about it. It’s strong. It’s resistant to abrasion, etc., and unfortunately, the biocompatible aspect of this material has really not been looked at with enough care, in my opinion.
So, even though we’re placing this on a human being, we’re really still looking at the physical characteristics of a material. So, I feel that because it has been so efficient physically, it has had a great deal of success. Of course, people ask me, “What’s your feeling?” I’m definitely against the use of amalgam fillings, and I feel that something with 50% mercury does not have a real upside. Safely removing amalgam fillings is a top priority in my practice.
Alternatives to Amalgam Fillings
Nowadays, we have a number of great materials that we could use, and I haven’t used amalgam fillings for decades. I do quite well, I think. In my practice, we do beautiful, aesthetic dentistry that is long lasting without having to do amalgam fillings.
Having said that amalgam is a good material from the physical point-of-view, there is a real drawback with the amalgam that is really not apparent for a long time. That is, after many, many years of the amalgam being in the mouth, amalgams have a tendency to expand, to swell, as you will. This swelling actually causes a crack or multiple cracks on the teeth, and it actually starts losing its integrity between itself and the tooth. In my office, we do multiple crowns every month from all the amalgam fillings that have swelled and have actually cracked or fractured teeth. We remove amalgam fillings almost every day.
Amalgam Fillings Composite Replacements
So, even if I was not a biocompatible dentist, I would take that hat off for a second, and I would start weighing both sides of this controversy as to whether to use it or not to use it. I would say it would just be common sense, even if I am wrong (or I don’t know if I’m right or I’m wrong), but even if there’s just a chance that I’m right, why would we want to use amalgam fillings anymore?
People say they’re safe. Other people say they’re not safe. In my opinion, we’re playing with fire here, and really, there’s no way in today’s environment and with the advent of new materials, there’s really no reason why we should be using amalgam fillings any longer.
Again, Dr. Daniel Vinograd. I hope this was helpful to you.