Alternative Dental Fillings

SILVER AMALGAM FILLINGS

A silver filling contains copper, tin, zinc and mercury in addition to the silver. Silver fillings have their place in that they are strong and durable and they have saved a lot of teeth. However, they may not be suitable for everybody. This is very controversial topic and there are many studies demonstrating the pros and cons. Recently, an article in the Ontario Dental Journal by Dean Gordon Nikiforuk, past dean at the University of Toronto dental school, stated "The time has come where there are enough alternative fillings available which we can use that we do not necessarily have to work with silver fillings anymore."

Many people are beginning to ask whether the silver fillings are adversely affecting their health, but we cannot say unequivocally that silver fillings are responsible because there are so many varied symptoms that amalgam can cause, and not everybody is affected in the same way. Symptoms of mercury amalgam toxicity documented in the literature are: anxiety, confusion, depression, emotional instability, forgetfulness, inability to concentrate, irritability, nervousness, short attention span, tension, difficulty making decisions, unexplained twitching, unexplained suicidal thoughts, abnormal EKG, tachycardia, irregular heartbeat, pain in the chest, chronic headaches, convulsions, facial twitches, colitis, digestive problems, chronic low body temperature, chronic fatigue, low energy, allergies, asthma, Candida, immune system depression, metallic taste, acne, dermatitis, and skin rashes.

I stopped working with silver fillings eleven years ago, and I have learned that just taking out your silver fillings is not going to be your magic cure to getting well. A lot of the symptoms I have told you about could be due to a lot of other major life problems. So you need to research it, and not just say this is going to make me well. There are lots of people walking around with silver fillings in their mouths and they are in great health. But sometimes the silver fillings affect your weakest area if you are sensitive, and so everybody has different symptoms. But when people do have silver fillings out, all of a sudden, there is often quite a change in the quality of their health. We have had a lot of dramatic results. People have said to me. "I haven't felt this good for twenty years", "Now I can think more clearly, or "I have more energy".

A number of people have written books on this subject, and one I enjoy working with is Mercury Toxicity from Dental Fillings by Joyal Taylor. He follows the protocol of Hal Huggins who wrote a book called It's All in Your Head which was recently revised. It is a good one. Hal Huggins writes that the silver fillings affect not only your immune system, but your cardiovascular system and your neurological system as well.

ALTERNATIVE FILLINGS

Some people think that silver fillings are really great and that white fillings don't last forever, and they are absolutely right. They don't. They are not as hard as the silver fillings. But we do have materials with which we can get a very close hardness, and there are also different types of fillings.

(i) COMPOSITE We have regular composite fillings that we place in the tooth if it is a small area. There is a concern that they are not strong enough and that they do not wear well in the long term and that they may have to be redone. It is true, over time it may wear, but if it wears, you don't necessarily have to take the whole filling out. All you have to do is have it resurfaced, and that protects your tooth. But it does wear, and it does take maintenance. You can't come and get this done and drift away for five years or even two years. You need constant supervision to make sure everything is holding well. Some people have five-year-old fillings which look as beautiful as the day we put them in. Other people wear theirs heavily. So it depends on the individual, the grinding, the clenching, the types of foods you eat and the stresses in your life. If you are going to have silver fillings out, you should have it all out, not just cover it up leaving silver fillings under white. You have nerve and blood vessels inside the tooth, and the silver fillings can leach through the nerve into the blood stream. Your tooth is a living structure and it can pull it through. A lot of composite filling materials, either the regular or the baked ones, have metal components in them. The white filling materials are quartz microfilled particles with small particles of aluminum, barium or zirconium to give them extra strength. So the question is, does that leach out of your filling material? Perhaps, if your filling material wears, yes. However, I don't believe it does because it's really built into the structure. Recently there is a new product available that doesn't have any metal products at all called Conquest Crystal. We find that it works beautifully and we are really happy with it.

(ii) LAB-PROCESSED RESTORATION FILLINGS If you happen to have big fillings, which many of us do, we can take the white fillings and bake them in an oven, return them to the tooth, and cement and bond them in place and these are called lab-processed restorations. These are 30% harder than the regular white fillings. There is no shrinkage, they're adhering and cementing to the tooth and they are absolutely beautiful restorations. Research has shown that they wear equally to our enamel, so one doesn't abrade the other.

(iii) PORCELAIN FILLINGS Porcelains are all right, but they are susceptible to fracture a little because they don't have the elasticity that the composites do, especially the baked ones. And sometimes they are harder wearing on the opposing enamel than your composites. Some people are concerned about porcelains because they have aluminum in them. Of course porcelain does have aluminum oxide, but it gets baked in an oven; it is hardened, and all the molecules are fused together. So does it leach out or not? I don't know. I don't think it does. However, some people are concerned about aluminum and Alzheimer's Disease.

(iv) GOLD FILLINGS Gold is beautiful in the sense that it is inert. However, there are different qualities of gold, and different golds have different metals in them, such as platinum, palladium, copper, silver, zinc, tin, indium or others to give the gold its strength for crown and bridge work. Because the industry is aware that people are concerned about biocompatibility, they are looking at higher content golds which also have strength like we used to use in the old days, in the early 1900's. In the 1970's when the price of gold went very high, the dental industry came out with a lot of non-precious metals for crowns and bridge-work with high nickle and high copper contents. At that time we didn't know very much about biocompatibility, but now the industry is becoming more aware, so we are going back to our old original high quality gold materials.

PROTOCOL FOR REMOVAL There are different theories. Hal Huggins believes that you should remove the fillings in quadrants, and that is the way we usually do it. He says the safest way is to remove from the tooth with the highest negative to the lowest negative charge, and from the highest positive to the lowest positive. We work with oxygen and a rubber dam that protects you and we use high speed suction that all dentists use to make sure there is nothing residual to go into your system and tax you more.

CROWNS If you have a tooth that is really all filling and hardly any tooth structure left, you may want to consider a crown. There are porcelain over gold crowns; there are Conquest ceramic crowns and all porcelain crowns if you don't want to have metal.

TITANIUM IMPLANTS Five years ago, titanium was considered 100% biocompatible. Even Huggins said so, but now he has changed his view. Titanium is an inert metal, 100% pure and it's very soft. It's the only material used in implants now that I am aware of. There is a crystal implant in the States but I don't know too much about it, and I haven't seen any long term studies on it yet.

ROOT CANALS In the alternative world there are some people who don't believe that root canals are healthy for us either. But if you remove teeth with root canals, you are trading off good dental health because partial dentures are never as ideal as having your own teeth. I also believe that if your body is strong, you have the resilience to heal around things and then maybe you don't need to lose that tooth. Hulda Clarke would say you should get all your root canals out, and Hal Huggins firmly believes that. It is an individual question and an individual choice. When the nerve gets infected and abscesses, and you have a root canal, you take it out and fill the root with gutta percha. Gutta percha is a product from a gum tree and it is pink in colour. We don't put mercury in root canals.

POSTS Sometimes people have posts put in root canal teeth. The traditional posts are either gold or non-precious metal posts. There is a carbon post available that I am very happy with called Composi-post. You could mention these names to your dentists.

COMBINATIONS OF METALS IN THE MOUTH There is some controversy about combinations of different metals in your mouth, like silvers and golds and other metals together, which may set up electrical currents in the mouth and interfere with the body energy and body chemistry.

TESTING COMPATIBILITIES Many people like to have their compatibilities with dental materials tested by their naturopath, or do urine tests, blood chemistry tests, and hair analysis to check to see which metals and materials are compatible. In dentistry, we have over 170 different filling materials available to us, so it is always nice if people bring these tests to us. These tests are not definitive because they are done at a point in time, and as your body chemistry changes, they change; however, they give a general sense of what is best tolerated at the present time.

BONEY SOCKETS Hal Huggins believes that when we take out a tooth, not only should we just extract the tooth, but we should remove some bone around the socket of the tooth because there is often a bacterial invasion in and around the root, especially if that tooth was abscessed or infected and the bacterial inflammation around that could continue the progression of illness that you have. If a tooth is really infected and you have it taken out, it is good advice to clean out that socket and that is okay in traditional dentistry. There were studies done many years ago that show the importance of cleaning out the bone and getting rid of tissue there that isn't calcified structure. But Hal Huggins takes it one step further and literally removes some bone in and around that area. The Canadian and the American Dental Associations really feel that this is unnecessary. This is very controversial and some dentists have lost their licences because of this.

LASERS I work with a carbon dioxide laser in my practice which cuts and contours gums without bleeding and there is very little post-operative sensitivity. It isn't for all gum surgery, but it helps keep gums healthy and firm at a level where you can do good home care for them. I also work with a low level laser which initiates some healing within the mouth. It helps get rid of sensitivity around the gums, irritations, canker sores, cold sores or any vesicles. We just shine this laser and it removes most of the discomfort. So we use this a lot in my practice and it's nice to be able to use something to get rid of pain without having to cause pain.

TEETH STAINING Sometimes this is caused by coffee and tea stains or wine, or just food in general. But you can bleach it out and there are some very safe bleaching materials available. Get them through your dentist. The one I like the best is Opalescence. Night Bright is also good. They are expensive, but they work. You just do it four or five times, maximum seven times, and it is good for two or three years. There are specialized mouthguards to hold the bleaching gel.

OXYFRESH TOOTHPASTE AND MOUTHWASH There is a whole product line of mouthwash, toothpaste and gel called Oxyfresh which has all the ingredients listed, with no alcohol, no preservatives or dyes. It is a wonderful product that I really love and we have had great success with it for healing gum tissues because it works on the bacteria, as well as the toxins that the bacteria excrete, and it clears all the volatile sulfur compounds. When you wake up in the morning you don't have morning breath. Oxyfresh is stabilized chlorine dioxide.

Root canal material is composed of gutta percha, zinc oxide and approximately 3% barium sulfate providing radio-opacity. Some dentists will root canals without barium sulfate on request. In addition, calcium hydroxide may be used rather than zinc oxide.

Consumer Health Organization of Canada.

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By Dana Colson

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