You may think that the controversy involving the use of amalgam fillings is something new — or something that shouldn’t really be taken seriously. But although amalgam fillings were the standard dentistry for decades, they were controversial from the very beginning. Today biological dentistry offers many alternatives, but the deep rooted history of amalgam makes it hard to completely move away from it in the mainstream.
Controversy Since the 17th Century
Mercury-containing amalgam fillings have been in use since the 17th century, and the use of poisonous metal as a way to restore deficiencies in teeth was questioned in the very beginning. Any clear-thinking person would surely think twice before using any kind of metal in the body. And now that the dangers of mercury are proven, why is amalgam sometimes still used?
The idea of using poisonous amalgam filling in dentistry came to the United States from France in the early 1800s. By the mid-1800s, most New York dentists had started using the substance. Then, dentists across the nation started to accept it. The newly formed Dental Society of American Surgeons, however, called using amalgam malpractice.
But that organization disbanded a little more than a decade after it was founded and was replaced in 1859 by the American Dental Association. That organization accepted and promoted the use of amalgam.
Better Alternatives Are Available
What’s so silly about the continued use of amalgam fillings is that better-looking alternatives that work just as well are available and have been for years. Composite fillings are made of hard resins and other materials and in many cases aren’t even visible once properly put in.
In 2007, a sub-agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ranked mercury — the stuff that’s found in amalgam fillings but not found in composite — as the third most hazardous substance examined. But many people have this stuff in their mouths when there is a safer, better-looking alternative.
Does that make sense to you? And where’s the controversy with replacing something that’s clearly harmful?