Do You Have Mercury Fillings? Here Are Some Things to Be Aware Of

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Amalgam fillings go by other names, such as silver fillings and mercury fillings. This material has been used by dentists around the world for more than 150 years to help people keep their teeth when a cavity develops. Rather than having to yank a tooth because of decay, dentists can fill it and restore its strength.

You or someone you love might even have a mercury filling in one or more of your teeth already. Unfortunately, despite their long history and widespread use, there is quite a bit of controversy and concern surrounding the use of mercury fillings. So, what are some of the things that you should be aware of so that you can make more informed decisions when you’re at the dentist and told that you have a cavity? Check out the info below to learn more.

What Are Amalgam Fillings?

Do amalgam fillings contain mercury? The answer is yes, they do. But there’s more to it.

Beyond mercury, which makes up roughly half of the filling, other metals are used to create a durable material that will last a long time and withstand pressure from chewing. Those metals include copper, silver, and tin.

Because these fillings are visible, thanks to their silvery appearance, many people today opt for composite fillings instead because they’re tooth-colored and, therefore, not obvious when you open your mouth. But newer fillings can be more expensive, and they may not be appropriate in all cases, so amalgam is still commonly used.   

Why the Big Fuss Over Mercury Fillings?

According to the FDA, if you get an amalgam filling, the great thing about it is that there’s a lower chance of it breaking compared to other materials. Plus, it’s the most affordable of the options available. But experts do admit that there are some potential risks to consider before you and your dentist decide to go with amalgam.

So, here’s the thing: because these fillings have elemental mercury in them, a low level of mercury vapor is released. And that vapor can, indeed, be absorbed by your lungs when you inhale. Okay, that’s kind of scary, right? But it gets worse: if your body is exposed to high levels of this vapor, the kidneys and brain might also be affected. It’s no wonder that there are so many concerns about mercury fillings!

Then there’s a little something known as bioaccumulation, which is the term used for the buildup of a chemical within the body. You guessed it—mercury, even from a filling, is considered bioaccumulative. Basically, the vapor from these fillings can build up in certain tissues, including those in the brain and kidneys, even though the vapor is absorbed mostly by the lungs.  

But, Wait, You Can Rest Easy About Amalgam Fillings After All

That’s a lot of bad news about amalgam fillings, huh? But there’s something else that you should know: the FDA has stated that they’ve reviewed available evidence in an effort to figure out if a low amount of mercury vapor from a filling would really be harmful to human health.

Bottom line: experts have concluded that these fillings are safe after all. In fact, children from age 6 and above, as well as adults, of course, can get a mercury filling without having to worry about it having an adverse effect on their health.

On top of that, clinical studies in kids and adults haven’t been able to find any link between health problems and the mercury in dental fillings. Phew!

And you know how it could bioaccumulate? Well, studies haven’t been able to prove that this causes any actual damage to the body’s organs. That’s a relief, right?

Allergies to Mercury? Yep, It Can Happen

It’s worth noting that some people may be sensitive to mercury, or they might even be allergic to it. Beyond that, some individuals might not be the right candidates for an amalgam filling because they’re allergic to the other metals within it.

Symptoms of an adverse reaction to an amalgam filling include contact reactions and oral lesions. Ouch!

The best way to avoid these reactions is to let your dentist know if you’re allergic to any of the components in the fillings. Don’t worry, modern dentistry offers so many great alternatives that will help you get your teeth strong and healthy again.

Should You Bother Having Your Mercury Fillings Replaced?

With newer filling materials available, you might be thinking, “Should I just replace my old amalgam fillings?” According to experts, the short answer is, no, you don’t really have to, unless you’re sensitive or allergic to the mercury or the other metals in the amalgam.

Also, if your fillings aren’t holding up anymore, or if there is decay under a filling, you can have an old filling removed and replaced with a different material, such as a composite filling. But if your fillings are still in good shape and your teeth are fine, there’s likely no need to go through the trouble—and expense—of having them replaced.

Plus, when you have an amalgam filling removed, more vapor will be released in the process. And your dentist will have to remove more healthy tooth, too. So, as you can see, it might not be worth it. But, ultimately, this important decision will be up to you and your dentist.

Still Have Questions About Mercury in Dental Fillings?

If you’re still concerned about mercury in fillings, or if you’re pregnant and you need to have dental work done, it’s best to consult with your dentist to learn about the pros and cons of amalgam. You can even let your dentist know that you’re interested in learning about other, newer filling materials that contain less mercury or no mercury at all. No matter what, you have options, whether you choose to go with good old amalgam or an alternative filling material to restore the health of your teeth.

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Food for Healthy Teeth: How Nutrition Impacts Your Dental Health

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They say you are what you eat, but did you know about the impact that nutrition has on your pearly whites, in particular? A lot of people don’t realize that food not only promotes the health of your skin, bones, and organs, but also the health of your teeth and gums.  

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Waterpik vs. Floss: Which Is Better

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Flossing is an integral component to any great oral hygiene routine. If you are brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day, you’re on the right track towards maintaining healthy gums, strong teeth, and fresh breath.

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Exercises for TMJ Pain

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If you’ve been diagnosed with TMJ, you know how painful it can be. But you don’t have to live with the discomfort. In addition to working with your dentist to determine what treatment options would be right for you, there are also easy exercises for TMJ pain that you can do at home. A few of those exercises are described below to help you get started.

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Mouthguards | What Are They and Why Do You Need Them?

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Participating in activities like sports and martial arts can be a lot of fun, as well as a smart way to exercise, but it could also be risky, particularly when it comes to your teeth. And that’s where a good mouthguard can come in to provide the protection that you need.

What are mouthguards, and why would you need to use one? We’ve got you covered with some helpful information below.   

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Bad Breath | How To Break the News

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Bad breath is unpleasant and embarrassing. No one wants it, and no one wants to smell it either. But, sometimes, the person who has it isn’t even aware of the problem. So, what can you do to break the news gently to someone who has halitosis so that you can both get relief?   

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Tooth Sensitivity | How to Handle

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Tooth sensitivity is a literal pain. And even though it is temporary, arising suddenly before subsiding after a few moments, no one wants to deal with the discomfort that comes with sensitive teeth, especially while enjoying tasty foods and drinks. Thankfully, there are some things that you can do to handle sensitivity in your pearly whites, so a few easy strategies and treatments are listed below to help you get relief.  

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Selecting A Toothbrush | What You Should Consider

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Walk into a store that sells dental care products and you’ll be inundated with a range of toothbrushes, from manual to electronic, and from soft to hard bristles. Sometimes, having so many options is a good thing; other times, it only makes shopping for the right product all the more confusing.

When it comes to shopping for a toothbrush, how do you know that you’re choosing one that will really keep your teeth and gums healthy, without causing irritation? To help you make the right decision, we’ve compiled a short list of things that you should consider.

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Oil Pulling | What Is It?

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If you’re the type of person who is all about doing things naturally, you have likely come across something known as oil pulling.

What is oil pulling, and how can it affect your dental health? Should you give it a try, or are you better off sticking with basic brushing and flossing to maintain clean, strong teeth and gums?

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Toothache Symptoms and Remedies

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If you’ve ever experienced a toothache, which is pain that’s felt around or in your tooth, you aren’t alone. This is a common problem, but a lot of people aren’t sure about what causes a toothache and what can be done to get rid of the pain. That’s why we’ve compiled some helpful information about the symptoms of a toothache, along with tips on what you can do to feel relief.

Let’s Start with What Causes a Toothache, Shall We?

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Connecting the Dots | Tooth Decay & Hearing Loss

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You’ve learned about the connection between dental health and heart health, right? But have you read about the link between tooth decay and hearing loss? It’s true; taking care of your chompers may also help you maintain your hearing!

Continue reading to learn about yet another interesting way that the various parts of your body are connected.

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Dental News Review – 2018

2018 year in review

Every year, new research in the world of dentistry opens our eyes to information that can help us gain even greater control over our oral health. Whether you’re learning more about the connections between the health of your mouth and the well-being of the rest of your body, or you’re accessing new tips on how to address a range of common dental problems, there’s always some fresh insight to look forward to. And 2018 definitely did not disappoint. Check out our dental news review below to learn about a few of the top headlines from the last year.

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GERD: What Is It and How You Can Protect Your Oral Care

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GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. If you’ve been diagnosed with this disorder, it means that the contents of your stomach end up moving back up your esophagus because the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) doesn’t close like it should.

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Wisdom Tooth Removal

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Wisdom tooth removal: it’s surprisingly common, yet it does make people super nervous. So we’ve compiled a short guide to what you can expect when you need to have one or more of your wisdom teeth extracted.   

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Sparkling Water | Does It Affect Your Teeth?

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When you aren’t in the mood for plain water, sparkling water might seem like the next best choice. After all, it isn’t sugary soda or juice, right? But it turns out that this water might affect your teeth in negative ways. How can this be possible? We explain it all below.

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How To Prevent Morning Breath

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Nobody likes morning breath. Unfortunately, everyone gets it, thanks to the fact that, while you’re off in dreamland, your saliva production decreases and your mouth gets dry, allowing bacteria to multiply. But there’s hope! To help prevent that offensive odor, try out the simple strategies below.

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Holiday Healthy Teeth Snack Ideas

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The holiday season is sugary sweet, what with all of the cakes, cookies, and candies to be had. But we don’t need to tell you that all of that sugar can wreak havoc on your teeth.

To keep those pearly whites cavity-free as you feast your way through the holidays, consider the following healthy snack ideas that are sure to satisfy.

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Depression and Oral Health | The Connection

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Depression can negatively affect so many aspects of your health, but did you know that it could even adversely impact your teeth and gums? And did you know that, on the flipside, poor oral health might also have an adverse effect on your emotional state as well? Don’t worry, we’ll explain it all below.

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The Causes of Bleeding Gums

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Have you noticed that your gums bleed, especially when you brush or floss? If you’ve ever wondered why this happens, you aren’t alone.

Although this is a common problem, it’s important to know that the reason for it may be serious, so keep reading to learn about a few of the main causes of bleeding gums, along with what you can do to remedy this oral health issue.

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Teeth Whitening: The New Trends

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Stained teeth are unattractive, so it’s no surprise that there are so many whitening products and techniques available today. Whether you want to take a DIY approach at home or you prefer to leave it up to the pros at your dentist’s office, whitening your teeth to the perfect shade is possible.

To help you discover more about what your options are, we’ve compiled a list of the latest teeth whitening trends. Check them out below.

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