Dental amalgams have been in common use for over 160 years, affecting the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world.
Indeed, we are still using the same technology that was in use during the American Civil War. People were still reading by candle light, and the common modes of transportation were horses and sailing ships: that's how long ago we're talking about here. Many barbers were still doing dentistry procedures, as dentistry was not yet its own field, and the Victorian era was in full swing.
While some would argue that 160 years of use must signify a significant benefit of mercury amalgams over other filling materials, this isn't necessarily the case. In fact, mercury amalgam fillings have been strenuously rejected by many medical and dental health professionals since their inception.
You would think that, considering the vast amounts of research over the past 160 years, our dental technology would have progressed since the horse and buggy days. The thing is, the technology has progressed, but the dental profession has not always kept pace with the latest research. Admitting to the world that the dental profession has been systematically harming people for 160 years is bad business. Not as bad business, however, as continuing to claim that implanting mercury into people's bodies is "safe" when we know it isn't.
Mercury amalgam is the most common dental filling material ever used, and is still widely in use today. It's estimated that over 1 billion amalgam fillings are placed annually. Multiply that over 160+ years and you can get an idea of the scope of this practice.
The dental professional mixes the ingredients on site after the filling has been drilled and prepped. The liquid mercury and other metals come in small protective plastic capsules.
The capsule is placed, unopened, into a small machine called an amalgamator. The amalgamator "shakes" the capsule for a few seconds to amalgamate, or combine, the mercury and other metals.
The dental professional then packs and shapes the filling into the tooth to imitate the contours of the original tooth. It can take up to 2 weeks for the amalgam to fully harden and set, but an initial set is achieved in roughly 24 hours.
I earned certification in restorative expanded functions (RF), allowing me to place and contour amalgam (and other) fillings. I spent hundreds of hours earning this certification, and therefore have had a lot of experience working with amalgams. Right away, I realized there was something amiss when dealing with mercury amalgams. I'll relate my experiences here.
While I had never been a fan of mercury amalgam fillings before, working with and placing them brought my awareness to a whole new level. On one hand, we were taught that mercury amalgam was toxic waste to be feared and respected. On the other hand we were taught that it magically becomes "safe" when it's placed into the human body. What!?
While many conventional dentists would have you believe that mercury amalgam fillings are "safe," there has always been and always will be a plethora of evidence to the contrary. When amalgam fillings first hit the mainstream, they were strenuously rejected by scientists in the medical and dental communities. However, there was never a consensus, and the "debate" has only gained steam over the past 160 years.
The political clout of dental corporations and associations, and their hold over the dental profession and dental schools, has been a thorn in the side of forward-thinking dental professionals since the field began. Unfortunately, it seems clear that no matter how much evidence is presented to the dental community, the "powers that be" continue down the same path they've always taken. The good news, however, it that about 50% of dentists in the US now refuse to work with amalgam fillings, while some countries have passed legislation banning their use (Norway, Sweden, Denmark.) Despite the corporate dental associations pushing mercury amalgams as safe, the world at large is finally becoming aware of their dangers and acting accordingly.
Most commonly dentists and restorative functions-certified dental hygienists are using composite resin in place of mercury amalgam fillings. Composites come in varying tooth-colored shades, ensuring that they match the color of the teeth perfectly.
Composites don't release mercury into the body (or the environment), and are fairly easy to place and shape. They fully cure and harden after being placed, whereas mercury amalgams take up to 2 weeks to fully cure.
Biological dentists can use blood compatible reactivity testing to determine which type of composite is biocompatible with your body (will react best in your body.) Everybody is different, and this allows for a much more fine-tuned approach to filling placement and restorative dentistry.
While there are some drawbacks to composite fillings (they wear down faster and aren't as strong as metal fillings), there's no question that this is preferred over mercury amalgams.
Contrary to popular belief, removing amalgam fillings is not as simple as just drilling them out and replacing them.
In fact, the act of drilling mercury amalgam floods the system with huge amounts of mercury all at once. Many people do not recover from this type of heavy metal toxicity for years unless they go through serious detoxification (most people don't even think about it.)
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