Are Amalgams (Silver Fillings) Safe? What About The Mercury In Them?

 

Although dental amalgam is a safe, commonly used dental material, you may wonder about its mercury content. It’s important to know that when combined with the other metals, it forms a safe, stable material. Be assured that credible scientific studies affirm the safety of dental amalgam. Study after study shows amalgam is safe and effective for filling cavities. The American Dental Association, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U. S. Food and Drug Administration and World Health Organization all agree that based on extensive scientific evidence, dental amalgam is a safe and effective cavity-filling material. The Alzheimer’s Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, Autism Society of America and National Multiple Sclerosis Society—all science-based organizations like the ADA—also say that amalgam poses no health risk.

 

The Mayo Clinic recently stated that dental amalgam is a safe and durable choice for dental fillings. They also note that "there are several kinds of mercury. The mercury [methylmercury] found in water that can build up in fish and lead to health problems if you ingest too much is not the same type of mercury used in amalgam."

The ADA supports continued research on all dental filling materials and would promptly inform the public if the scientific community and government regulatory bodies determined that any cavity filling material was unsafe for patients. Your dentist’s foremost priority is your health and safety. That’s why the ADA encourages you to talk with your dentist about your cavity treatment options and what’s right for you.

 

Do You Accept Insurance?

 

We accept the vast majority of insurance plans.  Zent Family Dentistry will also electronically submit your dental claims for you.  We are in network with Delta Dental Premier, Cigna PPO insurance, & Cigna Discount Savings Plan.  We also work with Care Credit and Lending Club.

 

How Can Parents Help Prevent Tooth Decay?

 

Parents should take their children to the dentist regularly, beginning with the eruption of the first tooth. Then, the dentist can recommend a specific program of brushing, flossing, and other treatments for parents to supervise and teach their children. These home treatments, when added to regular dental visits and a balanced diet, will help give your child a lifetime of healthy habits.

 

How Do Whitening Toothpastes Work & How Effective Are They?

 

All toothpastes help remove surface stains through the action of mild abrasives. Some whitening toothpastes contain gentle polishing or chemical agents that provide additional stain removal. Whitening toothpastes can help remove surface stains only and do not contain bleach; over-the-counter and professional whitening products contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide (bleaching substances) that helps remove stains on the tooth surface as well as stains deep in the tooth.

 

None of the home use whitening toothpastes can come even close to producing the bleaching effect you get from your dentist's office through chair-side bleaching or power bleaching. Whitening toothpastes can lighten your tooth's color by about one shade. In contrast, light-activated whitening conducted in your dentist's office can make your teeth three to eight shades lighter.

 

How Safe Are Dental X-Rays?

 

Exposure to all sources of radiation -- including the sun, minerals in the soil, appliances in your home, and dental X-rays -- can damage the body's tissues and cells and lead to the development of cancer. Fortunately, the dose of radiation you are exposed to during the taking of X-rays is extremely small.

 

Advances in dentistry over the years have led to the low radiation levels emitted by dental X-rays. Some of the improvements are new digital X-ray machines that limit the radiation beam to the small area being X-rayed.  In 2012, Zent Family Dentistry updated all of their x-rays to become digital.  Digital x-rays have up to 75% less radiation than traditional x-rays.

 

Also, the use of lead-lined, full-body aprons protects the body from stray radiation (though this is almost nonexistent with the modern dental X-ray machines.) In addition, federal law requires that X-ray machines be checked for accuracy and safety every two years, with some states requiring more frequent checks.

 

I Have A Terrible Fear Of Going To The Dentist, What Should I Do?

 

If you fear going to the dentist, you are not alone.  Many Americans state they avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear. The first thing you should do is talk with your dental team (your hygienist, assistant, and/or Dr. Zent).  If we don’t take your fear seriously, we are not doing our jobs. The key to coping with dental anxiety is to discuss your fears with us. Once we know what your fears are, we will be better able to work with you to determine the best ways to make you less anxious and more comfortable.

 

The good news is that today there are a number of strategies that can be used to help reduce fear, anxiety, and pain. These strategies include use of medications (to either numb the treatment area or sedatives or anesthesia to help you relax), application of a variety of mind/body pain and anxiety-reducing techniques (such as guided imagery, biofeedback, deep breathing, , and other mental health therapies), nitrous oxide (aka laughing gas), conscious/oral sedation, and perhaps even visits to a support group.

 
 

Is Fluoride Good? Do I Need To Use Fluoride?

 

Fluoride is a mineral that helps fight tooth decay. It is found in public water supplies, toothpaste and many other dental products. 

Often called, “nature’s cavity fighter,” fluoride helps repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay can be seen. Research shows that fluoride helps prevent cavities in children and adults by making teeth more resistant to the acid attacks that cause cavities. When you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, or use other fluoride dental products, you are preventing cavities and strengthening your teeth’s enamel. 

 

If you have a good chance of getting cavities, your dentist will apply fluoride varnish or fluoride gel during your dental visit. Your dentist might also tell you to use a special fluoride rinse, paste or gel at home.

 

What Are Dental Sealants, Who Should Get Them & How Long Do They Last?

 

Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. But toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by "sealing out" plaque and food. 

 

Sealants are a thin, plastic coating that is painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth -- usually the back teeth (the premolars, and molars) -- to prevent tooth decay. The painted on liquid sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and groves of the teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.  No anesthetic or numbing is needed when sealants are placed.

 

Typically, children are candidates for sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in depending on how deep the grooves are in these teeth.  In this way, the dental sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14.

 

However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants.

Sealants can protect the teeth from decay for many years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wear at regular dental check-ups.

 

What Should I Do If My Child Falls & Knocks Out A Permanent Tooth?

 

The most important thing to do is to remain calm. Then find the tooth. Hold it by the crown rather than the root and try to reinsert it in the socket. If that is not possible, put the tooth in a glass of milk and take your child and the glass immediately to the pediatric dentist.

 

When Should I Take My Child To The Dentist For The First Check-Up?

 

In order to prevent dental problems, your child should see a dentist when the first tooth appears, or no later than his/her first birthday.  Appointments for young children are tailored to their individual comfort level.

 

Why Do I Need X-Rays? What If I Am Pregnant?

 

Dental X-rays are a useful diagnostic tool when helping your dentist detect damage and disease not visible during a regular dental exam. How often X-rays should be taken depends on your present oral health, your age, your risk for disease, and any signs and symptoms of oral disease. For example, children may require X-rays more often than adults because their teeth and jaws are still developing and their teeth are more likely to be affected by tooth decay than those of adults.  We will review your history, examine your mouth and then decide whether or not you need X-rays.

 

If you are a new patient, the dentist may recommend X-rays to determine the present status of your oral health and have a baseline to help identify changes that may occur later. 

 

If you are pregnant, tell your dentist. During your pregnancy, you may need to have X-rays taken as part of your treatment plan for a dental disease. Use of the leaded apron and thyroid collar will protect you and your fetus from radiation exposure. Dental X-rays do not need to be delayed if you are trying to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.

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