Have you ever wondered where the expression ‘mad as a hatter’ came from? In the 17th century, hats made of felt were very popular. The process involved using a mercury solution to create the felt. Crafting these felt hats usually happened in poorly ventilated work rooms and with no protective equipment. The mercury vapors were inhaled and absorbed by the hatters which led to the neurological and physical symptoms of mercury poisoning only back then scientists didn’t know that mercury was toxic. Not only were the hatters plagued with mercury poison, but so were the felt makers who spent, even more, time handling and inhaling the substance. ‘Mad hatter’ disease was also referred to as ‘hatters’ shakes, misleads’ and later the ‘Danbury shakes’ after the town in America where the most hats were being produced.
Thankfully, over time our knowledge of disease has increased with breakthroughs in scientific research. Word has been spreading, especially over the last few decades about the dangers associated with exposure to mercury. Now that research has shown the poisonous nature of this chemical substance, many products have phased it out of the ingredients list and replaced it with alternative, safer materials.
One industry that’s split on its stance on mercury is dentistry. Dental amalgam is a filling agent that contains liquid mercury and other trace metals. While many dental health organizations claim it’s safe, critics assert that silver fillings release mercury vapors that can cause harmful side effects due to its toxic nature. The more amalgam fillings, the higher the levels of mercury found in the body. Of course, you may not recognize the name as they’re often referred to as ‘silver’ fillingmislead people into believing they are made entirely of silver, which isn’t the case.
Many dentists, like Spokane area cosmetic and family dentist, Dr. Ken Collins, are now replacing them for concerned patients with safer, more attractive white fillings.
“Because they want the peace of mind that comes from knowing their mouths are 100% free of toxic substances, many patients choose to replace their traditional metal fillings with white fillings that contain no mercury. These tooth-colored fillings are customized to match the color of surrounding teeth; so your repaired tooth is not only strong but beautiful as well.”
Mercury toxicity isn’t the only concern with these metal fillings. Another problem dentists and patients are facing are that cavities can often remain hidden under the fillings. X-rays can’t always see through the dense metal of the amalgam fillings, so sometimes cavities are missed until they have become really bad. Many materials used in white fillings can be seen better on x-rays and even the ones that don’t usually show noticeable signs of staining around the edge of the filling when there is a problem.
Amalgam filled teeth are more prone to cracks and fractures than those with composite fillings. The amalgam isn’t bonded to the teeth like composite so it doesn’t strengthen the tooth at all which can be problematic when it was weakened from the cavity to begin with.
All fillings age and after years of wear and tear will need to be replaced. It’s a personal choice whether or not to have amalgam fillings replaced for safety or cosmetic reasons before they need to be for structural or decay. Talking to your dentists and doing personal research is the best way to make a fully informed decision.
Or office in Spokane is located at:
3151 E. 28th Ave.
Spokane, WA 99223
Office phone # 509-368-7788