Options for Treating Dental Cavities

Options for Treating Dental Cavities

Almost every person has had a cavity filled at least once. Until recently the only choice for these fillings was an amalgam. This amalgam type of filling has been used for about 150 years by dentists but has come under fire recently because of one of its ingredients: mercury. Patients who have reservations about amalgams now have other choices including plastic composite fillings as well as more natural alternatives such as xylitol and ozone therapy.

Amalgams are made of mercury combined with silver, zinc, or palladium. Many dental experts claim that the amount of mercury found in these fillings is not toxic at the small levels released by these fillings, but nevertheless many patients find it unsettling to have a dangerous metal placed in their mouth. Despite claims of amalgam safety there have been numerous studies demonstrating the dangers of these types of fillings. One such study compared the amount of mercury in fetuses, babies, and young children, and it correlated these amounts with the number of dental amalgam fillings of the mothers and found that the amount of mercury in their bodies corresponded directly to the amount of fillings that the moms had.

Composite fillings are more aesthetically pleasing and do not contain mercury. They can be matched to the color of the patient`s teeth and are made of porcelain or glass particles embedded in acrylic. Because they are able to be bonded directly to the tooth, dentists can often be more conservative when filling a cavity and use a smaller filling than they would if using an amalgam. A disadvantage of these fillings is that they are less durable than amalgam fillings. On average they tend to last eight to ten years as opposed to fifteen years with amalgam fillings.

For those who decide against both options there are other more natural ways of dealing with cavities. Xylitol is a sweetener that has been used by diabetics for years. Many years of testing has shown that it is able to help prevent tooth decay and even stop, and in some cases reverse, existing decay. It comes in sugar-free gums and candies that can be used for this purpose. Xylitol has been endorsed by numerous national dental associations.

Ozone therapy is an alternative and controversial option for dealing with cavities. Specially made dental devices that produce ozone gas are used to treat the decay. Exposing the tooth to ozone is supposed to kill the bacteria causing the decay. No drilling or filling of the tooth is required. More research is still needed to determine the effectiveness of ozone therapy but many people find it an appealing option to dental fillings.

Sources:
Composite vs. Silver Dental Filling, (http://www.dentalfind.com/Composite…)

Mercury burden of human fetal and infant tissues, (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/…)

American Dental Association, (http://www.ada.org/public/topics/fi…)

http://www.xylitol.org

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~ by sunil khemaney on March 27, 2009.

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