Non-toxic dental fillings are dental treatments that protect the health of the human body while restoring the shape and function of patients' natural teeth. While amalgam fillings and cheap composite fillings have been used for a long time in dental work, they contain potential health hazards, which is why top dentists in Beverly Hills opt for safer biocompatible materials.
The Problem with Traditional Dental Materials
Silver and mercury amalgam fillings have been used for more than a century as a cheap and easy way to fill gaps in teeth and halt decay—especially on the back teeth where the dark color of metal amalgam fillings is less visible. Many dentists still use mercury today as part of dental amalgam fillings, along with copper, nickel, and other metals like tin.
What Is the Biggest Problem with Amalgam Fillings?
The problem with mercury fillings is that mercury vapor is highly toxic and mercury exposure over time can lead to mercury poisoning and health problems. Dental research shows that mercury toxicity from fillings can lead to:
Chronic fatigue syndrome
How Is Mercury Released from Fillings?
While amalgam fillings aren't toxic in their solid form, they can release mercury vapor when you do things like drinking hot liquids, drinking acidic liquids, chewing food, and/or grinding teeth. The American Dental Association (ADA) claims that the amount of mercury vapor released from dental amalgams is safe. However, the research studies linked above indicate that it does appear to be problematic for some.
Other Disadvantages of Dental Amalgam Fillings
In addition to posing health risks, dental amalgam fillings only last 10-15 years and may lead to the natural tooth cracking thanks to their tendency to expand and contract. Silver fillings and gold fillings placed close together may also react with each other, leading to galvanic shock. Every time you get mercury-containing silver fillings replaced, the mercury in the fillings can release more mercury vapor.
The Importance of Entrusting Filling Replacement to an Expert
As mercury vapor can be released when amalgam fillings are placed and removed, it's important to see an experienced dentist who can remove amalgam fillings safely and dispose of them in an environmentally responsible way.
If you are worried about the mercury vapor released during removal, remember that you will no longer be exposed to the mercury vapor released every day when you eat, drink, and grind your teeth. In many cases (see the studies above), removing amalgam fillings has led to improvements in the patients’ health.
Cheap Composite Fillings
What Is Composite Resin Made Of?
The other most common kind of material used in dental procedures is composite resin. Composite resin fillings are typically made from a combination of plastic and glass materials. However, not all composite resin fillings are created equal. Early composite resins contained chemicals including BPA, and many still contain BisGMA, BHT, HMBP, DPCL, TPSb, HEMA, and TEGDMA, which can also be toxic to the human body.
What's the Problem with BPA?
BPA has been linked with issues relating to endocrine disruption, including problems with fetal development, reproduction, and growth. If you need dental bonding to fix a chipped tooth or treat very minor tooth decay, be sure to ask your dentist to use a composite resin that's BPA-free—and if possible, one that is also free from the other chemicals listed above.
Non-Toxic Dental Fillings
Fortunately, there are non-toxic materials dentists can use to look after your dental health. Many dental professionals, including Dr. Glosman, offer non-toxic dental fillings made with porcelain (ceramic), an inert, non-toxic material that doesn't leach any substances into the body.
Porcelain fillings come with several advantages over both silver fillings and composite resin fillings:
There is very little chance of allergic reactions or adverse health effects.
These tooth-colored fillings can be matched to the exact color of your teeth.
Porcelain fillings complete your natural tooth structure, offering the same (or superior) strength compared to your natural teeth.
Porcelain fillings typically last for at least 15 years and often longer, making them the longest-lasting biocompatible dental fillings that exist in dentistry today.
How Porcelain Fillings Are Placed
To place a porcelain filling, your dentist will first clean out any tooth decay and take an impression of the area of the tooth that needs to be filled. If the cavity or damage is located inside the tooth, you will receive a porcelain inlay. If the damage is on the outside of the tooth, you will receive a porcelain onlay.
After taking impressions, your dentist will send the impressions to a dental lab where your porcelain inlays and onlays will be made. Once your customized additions are ready, your dentist will complete the final restoration by cementing the new additions to your teeth.
Other Porcelain Dental Additions
While porcelain inlays and onlays are fairly well-known, ceramic has a variety of other uses in dental care as well. If the damage to your natural tooth structure is too extensive for fillings, porcelain can be used to make porcelain crowns and bridges and even dental implants. As with porcelain fillings, other additions made with porcelain take at least two steps to complete. However, the durability of the restoration is well worth the wait!
Cost of Non-Toxic Dental Fillings
The main reason that toxic materials are used in dental care is their comparatively lower cost (according to industry averages). Silver fillings typically cost $50 to $300, and composite resin fillings can cost anything from $90 to $450+. While these options are much cheaper than porcelain inlays and onlays—which can cost between $250 and $1,500—the adverse health effects of cheap fillings can end up costing you more over time.
The good news is that there are ways to pay for your porcelain fillings even if you don't have the cash up-front. Dr. Glosman, for example, offers payment plans to help his Beverly Hills patients receive the safe, high-quality treatments they need. A low-interest loan from Care Credit is another option for many patients.
Porcelain Fillings Are an Investment in Your Health
The dangers of mercury toxicity and BPA in fillings are becoming more widely known by patients and dentists around the world. If you have metal amalgam fillings or low-quality composite resin fillings and think they may be compromising your health, replacing your metal fillings with porcelain inlays and onlays is a great idea.
Not only are non-toxic porcelain dental fillings safe, but they are also stronger, more stain-resistant, and longer-lasting than any other filling material. An investment in porcelain inlays and onlays is an investment in your long-term physical and oral health that can be well worth it in the end.