Dr. Isaac Comfortes of Total Health Dentistry in Encino, CA, is an integrated-health dental expert. “Many patients ask me about the safety of their old silver amalgam fillings,” says Dr. Comfortes. “Today, we know that the mercury in silver amalgam can result in the unhealthy escape of mercury vapor in the mouth. This unsafe, toxic vapor can then accumulate in the body, leading to allergic reactions and damage to the brain and kidneys. The good news is that there is a safe protocol for removing silver amalgam fillings and replacing them, and I have the technology in my dental office and the expertise to do this.”
Why Do Many of Our Patients Request Removal and Replacement of Their Silver Amalgam Fillings?
- Their older fillings no longer provide adequate protection for their teeth.
- They want the aesthetics of tooth-colored fillings.
- They are concerned about the health consequences of mercury vapor escaping from the silver amalgam.
- They have health issues and/or have elevated mercury in their blood and urine.
Why Don’t Silver Amalgam Fillings Last?
Silver amalgam expands and contracts with hot and cold foods and beverages, and the pressure of chewing and grinding causes the metal to flex. This flexure places outward pressure on the tooth structure surrounding the filling. In time, this surrounding tooth can weaken, crack, and sometimes breaks. Entry points for food and bacteria can occur around the fillings leading to decay along and underneath the filling. Eventually, the filling will need replacement, or if the tooth is significantly weakened, the tooth will need to be crowned. If the tooth becomes broken it may need to be removed and replaced with crown and bridge treatment or a dental implant.
Dr. Comfortes Has Chosen to Not Use Silver Amalgam
Prior to the 1980’s silver amalgam was the material most used to fill dental cavities caused by tooth decay. Silver amalgam is the lowest cost filling material, highly malleable, and durable for up to 15 years. The FDA has maintained that the health risks of using amalgam are minimal.
Until recently Dr. Isaac Comfortes used silver amalgam when patients wanted the least costly solution. Today, he uses only non-toxic, biocompatible dental filling restorations:
- Tooth-colored composite fillings made of an acrylic and fine glass composite,
- Tooth-colored porcelain inlays, and
- Gold inlays.
Today’s discerning patients prefer the aesthetics of tooth-colored, biocompatible fillings but there is an additional reason why Dr. Comfortes has decided to not use amalgam. In recent years, research has demonstrated that during normal chewing, grinding, and drinking, microscopic amounts of mercury are released from amalgam fillings into the mouth, inhaled, and absorbed by the body.
Mercury has been identified as a neurotoxin that can cross the blood brain barrier. Exposure to mercury vapor over time can cause adverse health effects on the kidneys and brain. Several research studies have been reported since the mid-1990s that indicate we should be researching the effects of exposure to mercury vapor from silver amalgam fillings, and the body of research evidence on mercury toxicity has been growing.
A recent U.S. research study published in Human & Experimental Toxicology in June of 2022 indicates that The median urinary amount of Hg (mercury concentration) per day among American adults with amalgams was about 2-fold significantly higher compared to American adults with no amalgams. Further, the daily amount of urinary Hg was significantly correlated with the number of amalgam surfaces.
Studies in Norway in the past decade have concluded that mercury concentration in both blood serum and urine is reduced after dental amalgam removal, and that people with unexplained physical symptoms had a significant reduction in health complaints after removal of their amalgam fillings.
What Does Safe Amalgam Removal Entail?
More than aesthetics motivate patients to have their older silver fillings replaced. As a silver amalgam filling ages, the amount of mercury vapor that escapes is likely to increase, increasing the risk of mercury exposure.
When silver amalgam is removed, it must be carefully done to minimize mercury vapor inhalation and prevent minute particles of the amalgam from being swallowed. Dr. Comfortes removes all amalgam fillings using a rubber dam and high vacuum suction that prevents aspiration or swallowing of filling particles and ensures safe removal of toxic particles and vapors.
Concerned About Silver Amalgam Fillings?
Total Health Dentistry of Encino is the right place to call. For the highest, safest standard of oral health care and a beautiful longevity smile, patients throughout the Los Angeles area and as far away as San Francisco place their trust in Dr. Isaac Comfortes—the dentist who genuinely cares!