Dental Amalgam Facts by The Tooth Doctor

This is a video transcription for the dentist in Ellerslie from a YouTube video.

Dentist in Ellerslie | Dental Amalgam Facts

Welcome back to the Tooth Doctor’s YouTube Channel. I’m here with Dr. Peter Yoo, a.k.a, the tooth doctor, and today we’re going to be talking about dental amalgam facts.

So, here’s a great quote and I don’t know who said it, but it’s very common. You don’t have to brush your teeth, just the ones you want to keep. It’s kind of a funny one, but it’s so true. That’s would agree.

The US National Library of medicine says that dental amalgam has been used in dentistry for about 150 years. That’s a long time. Well, so there’s been a lot of negative talk about amalgam fillings because of the fear of mercury poisoning. You have any comments on that in the Ellerslie dental office? Do people still talk about that?

There is always going to be that, you know. In Europe, I know they don’t use amalgam fillings. Part of it is because of the waste that gets put into the water system. But there are so many things out there that people can serve up fluoride, plastics etc. 20 years ago I didn’t know what BPA was.

Right? So as we do more and more research and try and figure out what is safe, what is acceptable. Okay. So there’s an acceptable level of, of things, right. You know, you eat tuna, tuna has mercury, right. So, they say don’t eat too much tuna in a day. So there are various facts and advice that people give. You hear so many things, you know. I’ve been trying to do different diets and like, oh yeah, you shouldn’t eat tomatoes because they may do this to you.

You shouldn’t eat cashews because cashews can do this. I hear so many things. I tell people in moderation, and we try and do what we can in the safest level that we can at our dentist in Ellerslie.

Dentist in Ellerslie | What is dental amalgam exactly?

Dental amalgam is basically a combination. It’s a metal, obviously the main ingredient is mercury, but there are other metals such as like copper, tin, platinum, palladium, iron that blend. Okay. And so, amalgam is an alloy. It’s a mixture. It’s like stainless steel, stainless steel is a bunch of different metals that get heated and kind of formed together. Okay. And melted together. And that’s what makes the, the property of the strength, you know, prevent from rusting or corrosion and other stuff. Right. So that’s what we have amalgam and that’s what we use sometimes to restore dental, cavities. Okay.

So why is amalgam used then for filling material?

Before, when we didn’t know about what white fillings, you know, I heard that white fillings and the bonding for white fillings was actually from, an accident from NASA. They were trying to develop certain things for trying to fix things on the spaceships, from what I heard. And they develop this product that can bond to teeth. So it worked out well. So, but before that we had amalgams and that was the main treatment of choice. Um, there was no other treatment to fix the cavity at the dentist in Ellerslie. So when you had holes, yeah. There pulled the teeth out or you tried to fix them.

Is dental amalgam deemed to be safe by the Canadian Dental Association?

I will say yes. The Canadian Dental Association, the upper dental association and the tooth doctor, we all feel that there has been enough research to say that dental amalgams are within safety limits. Okay. Okay. If they are FDA approved, why would they, why would they allow it? Right. But again, everybody has different degrees of safety, right. We allow for, you know, genetically modified tomatoes and we still eat them. Are they safe? That’s for each person to differ.

Haven’t studies shown that mercury is released from dental amalgam and it shouldn’t be used?

They have studies. I remember reading an article about people’s brain function and their ability to think and all that stuff. The difference was very insignificant and what you’re going to get some people why yes, they do get effected. I’ve heard stories, patient gets like 15 to 20 amalgam fillings taken out, put it in white fillings and they’re feeling so much better.

They can, they feel like they can breathe better, better, they’re healthier. So no, I can’t say for every situation. Um, but I still do use amalgam at the Ellerslie dental clinic because I feel that it is still a good safe product and there are pros to having amalgam as opposed to white counts. Right?

Dentist in Ellerslie | So isn’t mercury a poisonous substance?

Mercury itself is poison if ingested. That’s like, Hey, let’s take some chlorine and ingest it. So, but we still go to swimming pools where they use chlorine to kill the bacteria in the water. But if your kid goes in and drink some chlorinated water, is that dangerous? Do you not let your kids go swimming in swimming pools? Do you know what, again, everybody tries to find the problems with, with issues, but again, there is enough research and studies to understand that amalgam mercury in itself is not safe. But the amalgam that we use at the dentist in Ellerslie office is a combination where it’s mercury and metal powder that blends together and makes a product that is solid.

Is there a health danger to most people with amalgam fillings?

I remember in dental school I met this elderly lady, she had these amalgams for 40 years. They’re great she kept all of her teeth. She didn’t have to wear dentures. She said that she would rather have these teeth than have to wear dentures. So there are some pros to having fillings done at our office. They last for a long time.

Is dental amalgam safe to use with every dental patient?

I try to use white fillings, composite fillings on most part because most people want to have nice white teeth, you know, they think it looks better. Right. And it’s just kind of part of the times. Um, but on the rare occasion where it’s difficult to get bleeding to stop or saliva control, in order to use a white filling, you have to have proper isolation. You can have any wetness. So saliva, things like that. So there are going to be situations where it’s too difficult.

Now some patients I will say, hey, you can put a silver filling on there and amalgam filling or we can look at putting a crown on, well not everybody can afford a crown. Uh, not everybody you know, wants to just pull their tooth out. Right. So we do what we feel makes the most sense from a longevity and a cost standpoint. All those things that play factors in terms of what we’re trying to do at the dentist in Ellerslie clinic

Why does it hurt when when another metal, like aluminum touches an amalgam filling?

Well, if you take two metals together and you slapping together a, there is something called galvanic shock where different atoms and ions from the two different metals as a tap, they kind of get kind of pass through each other. And that’s where this current in a sense happens and people get this tasting of metal or this kind of shock sensation when they accidentally bite into something.

I’ve never personally experienced it myself, but we have understood it from school where it’s like, oh, you’d have a crown on top and it’s still filling on the bottom and the possibility of people biting on them. There is always a possible risk of that happening. Right.

Should someone with amalgam fillings get them replaced with other materials at the dentist in Ellerslie?

Small little quote. If it ain’t broken, why fix it? Good. Okay. Yeah. I had a staff member once, she had a one little silver filling on her tooth and she’s like, Oh yeah, I want all my teeth to be nice and white. So this kind of bugs me. Can you change it though? I was like, sure, if you want to change, let’s do it. So I replaced your filling. Pretty Nice white filling. Everything looked good. I feel like it wasn’t too bad. She came back and it was bothering her. Long story short. Just by changing the filling caused some trauma to her tooth, which ended up causing a root canal.

So she needed a root canal and then she needed a cap. Okay. So whenever I replace fillings, I always ask myself the pro, what is the benefit of replacing it? Is it making the person sick? Is it necessary? You know, a lot of times it’s what the patient requests. But I wouldn’t routinely come to you and say, oh those, yeah, a bunch of silver fillings, let’s replace them with white ones. It’ll be better. They will do better. That’s not true. And that’s not the case. I don’t want to sound rude, but I’m going to be blunt that I personally feel it’s a money grab cause I would never do that to my parents, my sister, my wife, my kids, or any other patients at our dental office. They are filling and it’s doing okay, then it’s okay, you know? That’s a good attitude.

Dentist in Ellerslie | Do you still use amalgam then to fill cavities?

You kind of already answered this, but.I still do. On the rare occasion we have patients where, let’s say it’s a root canal tooth and we put a silver filling in cause a silver filling is stronger than a white filling. And then later on if excites, put a crown on it. So that’s an example. We’ve had some patients at the Ellerslie dental clinic where they have these very deep cavities and then try and fix it. I don’t want to pull the tooth.

I tell my patients my goal is to save as many teeth as possible for as long as possible for as cheap as possible? Yeah. Okay. So you know, we want to put silver fillings if it’s going to last long. If I feel that this is going to last a certain amount of time, maybe it buys you three or four years and then you can save up and get a crown or something like that.

That’ll be a better long-term restoration. Yes, we do use amalgams cause we do feel that at certain points in time it is necessary. And here at the tooth doctor Ellerslie dental office, we do want to care for our patients in the best way possible. And I think that just putting in white fillings all the time, uh, there are some concerns with white fillings to again, a cause for fear.

There again, it’s a certain limits and certain issues. Uh, there are certain, I guess you could say, uh, they are, you know, white fillings and certain things. There are certain standards that have become acceptable by the Canadian Dental Association and the other dentists.

Well, thank you very much for answering some of those, you know, very actually interesting amalgam facts. And thanks for joining us here at the tooth doctor Youtube Channel here in Edmonton. And don’t forget to subscribe to the channel like the video. Leave us a comment or two on what you’ve learned, what you want to know more about, and we’ll get back to you. Bye.