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Texas Dental Team Wants Patients to Make “Informed Decisions” on Amalgam Fillings

Posted on May 18, 2012

Dallas, TX (PRWEB) May 18, 2012 -- The dentists at FLOSS Dental have stopped using amalgam fillings for restorations and want patients to make informed decisions on the contentious debate over mercury in amalgam and its potential health impact.

“We know that most of these amalgam fillings will have to come out eventually,” says Clark Steffens, DDS, a FLOSS associate. “As a man-made substance, they can erode and that’s when the mercury gets dangerous.”

The issue centers on the mercury used in amalgam fillings - and its purported toxic effects on the body. Some research indicates that prolonged exposure to mercury can contribute to neurodegenerative disease, chronic illness and even birth defects. However, most health officials agree that there has not been enough conclusive evidence to warrant the complete elimination of amalgam from the dental industry.

“We want our patients to make informed decisions about the removal of any amalgam fillings,” says Dr Clint Herzog, CEO of FLOSS. “If a patient wants the amalgam removed, we can certainly do it. However, dental amalgam has shown to be an effective material with some real benefits – and there’s still a place in dentistry for a well-placed amalgam filling when no better alternative is available.”

One of the most popular alternatives to amalgam is composite resin. It's made of plastic reinforced with powdered glass. It’s environmentally safe and doesn’t require the removal of as much tooth structure as amalgam in most instances. Already, about half of U.S. dentists are mercury-free and a majority of patients, if given a choice, are electing mercury-free alternatives.

“We have simply chosen to avoid the potential risks altogether by using mercury-free alternatives in any situation where it is clinically acceptable to do so,” says Herzog. FLOSS has more than a dozen dental practices across Texas, where dental teams remove failed amalgam fillings daily, often replacing them with composite resin.

For patients who currently have amalgam fillings in good condition with no decay, the FLOSS Dental team agrees with the FDA and the American Dental Association in that immediate removal or replacement is unnecessary.

“It’s important to understand, though, that failing amalgam restorations can pose real health risks regardless of the mercury content dilemma,” says Justin Ramsey, DDS, and a FLOSS associate. “...including tooth decay, fracture and eventual tooth loss or systemic infection if left untreated.”

For several years, the FDA has vacillated its position on mercury exposure related to dental amalgam restorations, always adopting a fairly neutral position. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), however, there is no harmless level of mercury.

Physicians and scientists for the WHO have studied the effects of mercury fillings for many years and have indicated that dental amalgam contributes significantly to mercury levels in the human body.

“The real decision-maker here is the patient,” says Dr. Herzog. “Without a unanimous position from the government or the dental community, we try to provide every patient with the latest research and help them make an informed decision on their oral and overall health.”