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Despite our best efforts, most patients in our practice have had at least one cavity and filling in their lives.  If you are in your thirties or older, chances are your fillings were made of metal.  Recently these fillings have become a controversial topic in the health press.

This material, known as “amalgam,” is actually a combination of silver, tin, copper, zinc, and–at the top of all the controversy–mercury.

Many of us remember being introduced to mercury in elementary school science class.  As the only metal that is liquid at room temperature, it was always fun when the teacher showed us how an actual metal can flow inside a tube.  But drop that tube or break a mercury-filled thermometer and look out! As a toxic poison it had to be cleaned up with extreme caution.

If mercury is so dangerous, what the heck is it doing in your mouth?  While metal amalgam fillings do give off trace amounts of mercury vapor, most researchers, including the American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs, have concluded that unless these is a specific allergy, these types of fillings pose no personal health risk.

When you visit our office you will find that we will recommend doing “fillings” (also known as “dental restorations:) with other materials.  Why?  There are many reason.  Here are just a few.

1.) Beauty.  There is no doubt about it, silver fillings are not very attractive.  The modern materials we use today are tooth colored, and are closely matched to the color of your teeth.  Usually only your dental team knows your beautiful smile once contained a cavity or two.

2.) Bonding. While a traditional filling is simply wedged into your tooth (sometimes making it more prone to breakage), most of the more modern materials actually adhere to the tooth itself.  In many cases this means that when less healthy tooth is removed in order perform a proper restoration, these materials are less prone to “leak” in areas where decay and bacteria can easily form–at the junction between the tooth and restoration.

3.) Expansion and contraction. Ever have trouble removing a lid from a jar?  Run the lid under some hot water, and it comes off more easily.  Why? The heat causes the metal lid to slightly expand.  Well, the same thing happens with amalgam fillings.  Years of expansion and contraction from eating hot and cold foods and drinks can damage the tooth and restoration.  Choose modern materials and you don’t have to worry as much about this issue.

At Mendez Family Dental, it is our goal to help you prevent cavities and have a healthy mouth and beautiful smile. But if you should need treatment, be sure to discuss your options with us.  We use only the best, most modern materials to help you experience a lifetime of dental health.  Check us out online at www.mendezfamilydental.com.  If you should have a questions you can call us at (620) 231-6070,  or email us at mendezdental@yahoo.com.