Holistic means to view something as a “whole thing”, not simply as parts in isolation or disconnected from one another. With respect to dentistry this means viewing the mouth, teeth, gums, jaws and “oral environment” in “connection” with the rest of the body and the person. A person is an integrated whole and anything that happens in one part affects the whole person. Because of this we at Surry Hills Dental Care endeavour to follow a Holistic approach to dental care. This means taking into consideration the overall health and well being of a person in whatever treatment is done.
The health of the mouth, teeth and gums are an integral and important aspect of general health, and the presence of disease here can contribute to, or even cause other health problems. This is increasingly being recognised by health practitioners of all kinds. For example, it is now known that gum disease can be be a significant factor in heart disease. The idea that “low grade” or “minor” infections that one might not be aware of, in one part of the body, can affect general health or other parts of the body is actually not new and has been around for over 100 years and is being “re-discovered”.
The materials used to repair and replace teeth are also important with respect to their biological tolerance and compatibility. Toxicity and sensitivity to non-biological materials are things we at Surry Hills Dental Care believe definitely need to be taken into consideration, as these can vary greatly from person to person. For this reason at our practice we are very careful with the materials we choose to place in people’s mouths. We do not use Mercury Amalgam fillings as we believe there is sufficient doubt about its safety because of its Mercury content. Mercury is a highly toxic substance, and is scientifically proven to “leak” out of amalgam fillings. The amount leaking out of amalgam fillings is very small, but there is no recognised “safe” level of mercury in the body, as far as toxicity is concerned. There is also the matter of “sensitivity”, which varies greatly between people.
When removing amalgam fillings from teeth it should be done in a careful and safe manner, ie. to not expose a person to more Mercury. Surry Hills Dental Care specialises in the safe removal of amalgam fillings, and also use what we consider to be safer and more bio-compatible materials to repair teeth. We also believe that it is better to avoid placing any metals in the mouth. Metals can cause electromagnetic effects, which may also cause or contribute to health problems, especially where there is more than one metal present in the mouth. There can also be allergy and sensitivity issues associated with metals. With our approach, knowledge, experience and commitment to caring for our patients we are very much a 21st century dental practice, providing comprehensive, high quality care and efficient friendly service.
Prevention is definitely better than cure and the key to prevention is education. This is why we take care to also educate our patients. If you can acquire, understand and apply the knowledge and skills to maintain good dental hygiene and prevent problems, you can be in control of the health of your own mouth, and consequently need minimal help from professionals. This has to be good news! Please feel welcome to drop by for any friendly advice or for brochures which explain the huge range of procedures we offer. Take your time to browse our information pages on this site.
Dental amalgam (silver fillings) came into use in 1830. Dental amalgam is a metal alloy consisting of approximately 50% mercury, 40% silver and the remaining 10% is a combination of tin, copper and zinc.
In 1840 the American Society of Dental Surgeons prohibited its members from using amalgam because of the dangerous mercury content (Mercury being highly toxic). This prohibition directly led to the formation of the American Dental Association, which promoted this new cheap and easily-used material to the mass population. Prior to amalgam fillings, only wealthy people could afford the traditional gold fillings, which resulted in most people going without dental treatment.
Until recently, the official position had been that mercury within an amalgam filling cannot escape after the material has hardened. However, the opposite has been indisputably and scientifically demonstrated. Mercury vapour does escape from amalgam fillings in measurable and significant quantities whenever one chews or has a hot drink. Also if a person grinds their teeth, which is a very common involuntary action during sleep, called bruxism, then the level of mercury released can be much higher.
In addition, the quality of amalgam can vary greatly. High grade amalgam has a high silver content and low mercury content, whilst poor quality amalgam has low silver content and high mercury content. The low grade material tends to corrode easily and release more mercury, more easily. One very commonly sees very poor quality amalgam indeed which has very low silver content and quickly corrodes and disintegrates.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that the greatest exposure to mercury in the general population is from dental amalgam. The WHO has also stated that there is no accepted safe level of mercury in the body.
Mercury vapour released from amalgam fillings is inhaled into the lungs and then absorbed into the blood stream. It then accumulates in the brain, central nervous system and major organs. Mercury is a heavy metal ( like Lead and Cadmium ) and is not easily eliminated from the body.
The two levels of mercury poisoning are “Acute” and “Chronic”.
Acute poisoning develops from a single significant exposure to a relatively large quantity of mercury, such as a fractured thermometer or industrial spillage. The Victorians were well aware of the effect of prolonged exposure to significant levels of mercury because of their large hat making industry. Hence, the origin of the phrase “mad as a hatter”, due to mercury poisoning causing massive deterioration of the brain and central nervous system of the hat makers, who were continually exposed to mercury used in the hat making process. This is classic “heavy metal” poisoning.
Chronic mercury poisoning is due to sustained exposure to very low levels of mercury which can have a range of physical and mental symptoms. There is considerable variation between individuals regarding “sensitivity” to mercury and its potential effects at low levels. It is for this reason that many health practitioners of varying kinds consider it best avoided, though the official line of the dental community is that at such low levels it is completely safe. For many people it is safe, though for many it might not be and for some people it may be really quite dangerous. One simply cannot be certain of the potential effects of this material, hence in our view it is best avoided.
It is curious that it is against the law to paint your house with a paint containing higher than a certain level of mercury, or a factory may be immediately shut down for exceeding a certain level of mercury vapour in the air, yet it is considered perfectly fine for a dentist to place a material in your teeth that can create potentially far greater mercury levels in your mouth!
In removing amalgam fillings, the dentist needs to be very careful not to expose the person to increased levels of mercury. This happens if fillings are drilled into, as the heat causes the release of mercury vapour. Therefore, any dentist removing amalgams should take precautions against this. Dentists use several different methods to protect patients and staff against mercury exposure.
It is best that copious amounts of water aerosol from the dental drill are used to ensure cooling and to absorb any vapours. Also, it is advisable to use high volume aspiration to suck away any vapour and debris.
Basically, the dentist should be aware of the dangers of the material and the procedure and ensure as a far as possible there is no exposure to mercury to the patient and themselves and their assistants. Ideally, if having amalgam fillings removed, one should visit a dentist who is knowledgeable and experienced with the procedure.
Once amalgam has been removed from teeth, the materials for replacing the fillings should be as bio-compatible as possible. Most commonly used materials are Composite Resins (which are plastics) and Glass Ionomers. Other materials include gold and porcelain. Porcelain / ceramic restorations are the most bio-compatible material and also provides a very durable and generally much longer lasting tooth restoration. This is because the bond is strongest to the remaining amounts of tooth structure and the same flex and wear as the natural teeth.
It is important that one also have good quality dentistry and the best long-term restorations placed to minimize the amount of times teeth are “drilled and filled”, as this potentially quite traumatic to teeth ( particularly with large or deep fillings ) and increases the chances of negative consequences to these teeth. Teeth can only withstand a certain amount of trauma before nerve problems etc. start to occur.
Reach out to the team at Surry Hills Dental Care to find how we can help you. If you require urgent dental care, please call us immediately.
Monday to Friday: 9am to 6pm
Saturday: 9am to 3pm