My sister-in-law said her children’s pediatric dentist still does silver fillings. I was stunned. I wouldn’t think ANY dentists were still using those because of their mercury content, especially a pediatric dentist. I tried to tell her to switch, but she said her children love their dentist. Why are there still some dentists using the old materials?
I’d say there are usually three reasons dentists give for still doing these:
1. The leading reason dentists are still doing silver/amalgam fillings is the American Dental Association (ADA) still says the mercury released in the silver fillings is within safe health limits. This gives them no outside impetus to change, especially if their patients aren’t concerned.
2. It’s always served them well. They’ve been doing this for years and never had any problems. Some dentists just like doing things the way they’ve always done them. Here’s the problem with that. As medical practitioners, we’re supposed to constantly be learning and improving our care. What if doctor’s in the past had that mindset? “Well, my patients have always done fine with leeches….”
3. This one is regarding pediatric dentists. It is harder to do white fillings on children than adults. This is because the composite material has to stay completely dry or the bond will not hold. Children can be wiggly and sometimes have trouble controlling where they put their tongues. Now, is that a valid excuse? Not in my opinion.
Especially, when you work with children, you have to be creative. If you have a child who absolutely cannot stay still, there are still ways to make sure they get the best treatment possible. Most children do very well with sedation dentistry.
In fact, they don’t even need a strong form of sedation like Oral Conscious Sedation. They often fall asleep just using the mild form of sedation— nitrous oxide.
Of course, it is up to your sister-in-law who treats her children. However, if she starts to think about the mercury content and comes to you for advice, tell her there are great dentists who work with children which are also mercury-free dentists. That’s what she should be looking for.
This blog is brought to you by Auburn Family Dentist Dr. Raymond Bolt.