Blog Welcome and Silver Mercury Fillings
Welcome to our first blog post! We thought it would be a fun way to chat a little about the things we encounter, study and think about every day in relation to not just teeth, but "bites", jaws, muscles, airways and whole bodies.
One thing we deal with daily is silver mercury fillings. This material had its time, as an alternative to losing teeth to dental caries (decay), but thank goodness we have alternatives now. Not only is it not pretty to look at, but silver filling material is 40 to 50% mercury in content, which may affect systemic health. It's also very hard on teeth... in most cases, if it is 10 or more years old, there is some cracking of the tooth structure around it, likely due to the thermocycling (expansion/contraction with extreme temps) that it undergoes. Cracks in teeth are threatening to the longevity of a tooth, as they can extend or propagate into the nerve area or down onto the root structure, necessitating extraction and loss of the tooth.
Care must be taken when removing old silver mercury from teeth so that the patient and staff are not exposed to the mercury aerosols and vapors. We use IAOMT protocol, which involves use of a rubber dam to isolate the tooth, a specially designed air filter that is positioned right next to the mouth, a high evacuation suction tip placed directly over the tooth, and nasal protection with nitrous oxide and/or oxygen delivery via a mask.
Composite resin filling material is kinder to the tooth structure, as it chemically bonds to the tooth to reinforce it, and can be placed in a very conservative manner (i.e. small amounts) and still be strong and stay bonded to the tooth. When the amount of missing tooth is a bit larger, porcelain is often the best to use to restore the tooth to its original shape and contour, and it is also chemically bonded to the tooth and has a high compressive strength and wear resistance.
We are living in an exciting age for dental options, which we can expand on in other posts, but our options to restore parts of teeth that are lost from decay, fracture and wear are better than they have ever been, and it's fun to see.