In the past, dentists used metal amalgams–or mixtures–to fill cavities and create restorative devices, such as dental crowns and bridges. Dentists created these dental amalgams by combining a powder made of silver, copper, zinc, tin, and other metals with equal parts liquid mercury.
Although all of these metals are found in nature, they can have significant health implications, especially mercury. That’s why Dr. Mina Levi of California Dental Innovations practices safe and effective mercury-free dentistry. In this article, we’ll discuss the risks of mercury exposure, as well as the benefits of switching to metal-free dentistry.
Risks of Mercury Exposure
We can find low levels of mercury in our environment, such as in some of the fish that we eat or old thermometers. However, while biomonitoring indicates that most Americans have minuscule amounts of mercury in their bodies, long-term exposure to mercury can be devastating. Common side effects of long-term mercury exposure include:
- Memory problems
- Tremors and other neurological problems
- A metallic taste in the mouth
- Rashes and skin irritation
- Numbness or tingling in the face, feet, and hands
- Fatigue and weakness
- Nausea and gastrointestinal distress
People with metal filling or restorations should have them removed as soon as possible to limit mercury exposure. Fortunately, Dr. Levi not only practices mercury-free dentistry, but she also safely removes dental amalgams. By safely removing harmful metals, Dr. Levi ensures that her patients are achieving optimal oral and overall health.
Historically, dentists used metal as a restorative material because it is strong and durable. Today, however, dentists use safer metal alternatives that are just as sturdy. These mercury-free alternatives include:
- Composite resin: Because this composite resin is so strong, Dr. Levi can use it to fill both large and small cavities. Furthermore, it closely matches the color of natural teeth, which means patients can continue to smile with comfort and confidence.
- Porcelain: Dental porcelain–also known as ceramic–is a strong, biocompatible material that dentists use in restorative crowns and bridges. Similar to composite resin, porcelain restorations have the same color and appearance as natural teeth. Therefore, patients restore both their function and aesthetic with porcelain crowns and bridges.
5 Perks of Mercury-Free Dentistry
By ditching outdated and harmful dental materials, you’re choosing to prioritize your oral and overall health. The benefits of mercury-free dentistry include:
- A more natural smile: Because composite resin and porcelain look natural, patients don’t need to feel self-conscious about their smiles after dental work.
- Environmentally friendly: Dentists who improperly store mercury risk leaking the heavy metal into the public water supply and polluting the environment.
- Safer for dentists and patients: Mercury is tasteless and odorless, which means that harmful exposure to it can go unnoticed. A mercury-free dental office ensures that both patients and dentists do not unknowingly expose themselves to harmful materials.
- Safer for pregnant women and children: Whatever a mother is exposed to, so is the fetus, and mercury is no exception. Therefore, metal-free dentistry is a safer, healthier alternative for both children and expectant mothers.
- Lower risk of expansion and contraction: Metal amalgam fillings are prone to expanding and contracting due to changes in temperature. When the filling repeatedly expands and contracts, the tooth may crack or fracture.
Safe and Effective Dental Care in San Francisco, CA
Whether you need a metal amalgam filling removed or you prefer metal-free restorations, Dr. Levi and her skilled team have everything you need for a healthy smile. Have questions about mercury-free dentistry or want to schedule an appointment? Call us at (415) 513-5066 or contact us online.