By Mark Levy | March 29, 2013
On the Dr. Oz television show the other day the episode was all about the dangers of silver fillings. Silver fillings is really a misnomer because these types of fillings are actually called dental amalgam and are about 50% mercury.
The danger of this mercury content is what Dr. Oz and his experts were discussing. Mercury is a neurotoxin, it attacks your nervous system and can cause symptoms ranging from tremors to mood swings. Memory loss and fatigue are common signs of mercury toxicity.
The debate over mercury amalgam fillings has raged in the dental community for years. In the US about half of dentists use mercury amalgam fillings and the other half do not. Some European countries, including Sweden, have banned the use of mercury amalgam fillings for health reasons and because of environmental concerns. The mercury waste from these fillings can find its way into the water supply and mercury waste is considered extremely hazardous.
The American Dental Association feels that amalgam is a safe and cost effective restoration material. I will agree that it is cheap and easy to use – but as Dr. Oz’s guest explained, there are so many better filling materials available today. Why use a material that was invented 150 years ago? Newer material actually bond to the teeth to strengthen it even though it has a filling. Amalgam fillings, in contract, weaken the tooth structure and tend to expand and shrink when exposed to hot or cold, further weakening the tooth. A tooth colored restoration not only looks better, it is better for your tooth structure and your health – isn’t that worth a small extra price?
Should you have all your old amalgam fillings removed? One audience member had removed her fillings and many of her symptoms resolved or lessened. Because mercury fillings break down over time you may have to get them replaced as the years go by. When there is decay below the filling, when the filling has cracked or deteriorated it should be replaced.
Mercury vapors can be released by chewing or grinding your teeth. If you grind your teeth you may want to watch this demonstration of the release of mercury vapors simply caused by brushing your teeth. This may be one of the few reasons to go ahead and replace your old fillings immediately. Another reason may be unresolved health issues that no one seems to be able to diagnose – you may simply be more sensitive to mercury than others.
Find out more about your options for mercury free dental care by contacting Columbus cosmetic dentist Dr. Mark Levy today at 614-476-6696 to schedule an appointment.
By Mark Levy | February 27, 2013
When is the last time you saw a dentist? When is the last time you used your teeth for something other than eating? When is the last time you chewed on ice? If you are answering yes to these questions you have some bad habits that could cause dental health issues.
Did you know that 20% of us have one or more cavities – they aren’t taken care of because one of the bad habits that hurt your smile is avoiding the dentist! Here are a few more habits that may sound familiar:
- Crunching ice – Most people who chomp on ice don’t even realize they are doing it. Talk about something being a habit! Chewing on ice is especially bad for teeth because of the combination of cold and hard. The extreme cold can make our teeth more susceptible to breaking and frozen water is a really hard surface to bite into. The combination can have devastating effects on teeth including cracks, breakage and chips. Add in the fact that extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, make those old mercury amalgam fillings expand and contract and you are creating all sorts of problems. Stop crunching the ice and save your smile.
- Using teeth instead of tools. Raise your hand if you have ever used your teeth to open a bag of chips or to “tighten” a loose link in a necklace. Some people use their teeth instead of pliers for all sorts of things – even opening stuck bottle tops – ouch! If you use your teeth instead of the appropriate tool you will eventually break a tooth. Keep the scissors handy for those plastic bags and put some pliers in the kitchen junk drawer where they are within easy reach. A broken tooth can be painful and if it is badly damaged, may need to be removed. This means replacement with a bridge or a dental implant. Keep your teeth and use the tools instead.
- Sugary soda habit – Do you keep a can of soda on your desk and take little sips throughout the day? That is one of the worse things you can do for your smile. The acids from the soda soften the tooth enamel and the sugar feeds the oral bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. If you want to drink a soda then you should drink it as quickly as possible and rinse your mouth with water when finished. When your mouth is free of acid and sugar your saliva can start working to harden your dental enamel again.
One healthy habit for your smile is regular visits to your dental hygienist along with daily brushing and flossing. Please contact Columbus cosmetic dentist Dr. Mark Levy today at 614-476-6696 to schedule your next dental hygiene visit.
By Mark Levy | February 22, 2013
Researchers have discovered that our ancestors had many more types of oral bacteria in their mouths. While more bacteria sounds like a bad thing, the reality is just the opposite! A study of the evolution of human teeth over the past 7,500 years has shown that ancient diets were better for our teeth.
The research, which was published in Nature Genetics, involved researchers from the University of Aberdeen, Australia. They analyzed the DNA of calcified bacteria on human teeth throughout the past 7,500 years. The scientists explained that there were negative changes in oral bacteria as our diets changed when we moved from being hunter-gatherers to farmers. further changes occurred when people started manufacturing food during the Industrial Revolution. Lead author, Dr. Alan Cooper, said “This is the first record of how our evolution over the last 7500 years has impacted the bacteria we carry with us, and the important health consequences.”
Dr. Cooper also explained that “The composition of oral bacteria changed markedly with the introduction of farming, and again around 150 years ago. With the introduction of processed sugar and flour in the Industrial Revolution, we can see a dramatically decreased diversity in our oral bacteria, allowing domination by caries-causing strains. The modern mouth basically exists in a permanent disease state.” The scientists are now expanding their studies geographically and over longer periods of time, even including Neanderthals.
We have good bacteria and bad bacteria throughout our bodies and illness happens when the good bacteria are unable to keep the bad in check. Many of the good bacteria which protect our oral health were the ones wiped out by the dietary changes, this allowed the bad bacteria that cause tooth decay to thrive. Brushing, flossing and getting regular dental cleanings are necessary to fight these bad bacteria and protect against tooth decay. When decayed teeth need to be restored today we use tooth colored composite fillings which do not contain mercury. Avoiding mercury based amalgam filling material is safer for our patients and for our environment.
To schedule your next dental cleaning appointment please contact Columbus cosmetic dentist Dr. Mark Levy at 614-476-6696 today.
By Mark Levy | July 25, 2012
Dental amalgam is a type of filling material that has been used for over 150 years and like lots of things invented long ago there are problems. A key ingredient in dental amalgam is mercury. Mercury is a neurotoxin and can leach into the environment where it finally ends up in our food supply. Rising mercury levels in tuna and other fish is a good example of what can happen.
The EU is thinking about phasing out the use of mercury dental amalgam over a five year period because of these environmental risks. It is estimated that about 45 tons of mercury from EU dental offices end up in chairside drains every year. Only a small portion of this is captured and treated as hazardous waste. The rest ends up in the environment.
There are plenty of alternative restoration materials available for dentists to use. Sweden has already banned mercury filling material and Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Italy have reduced its use. Other countries have placed strict rules in place if dentists continue using this material.
Why do some dentists continue to use mercury based fillings? Usually it is because dental amalgam is cheap and easy to use – restoring a tooth using modern composite materials requires a higher level of skill and takes a little more time. Avoiding exposure to mercury for patients, staff and the environment is worth a little more time in the chair.
Please contact the mercury-free office of cosmetic dentist Dr. Mark Levy in Columbus, OH today at 614-476-6696 to schedule your next appointment.
By Mark Levy | July 12, 2012
Imagine no more cavities. The end of tooth decay may be in sight. Scientists from Yale University and the University of Chile have discovered a molecule that kills the bacteria that cause dental cavities. The bacteria called Streptococcus Mutans is common in everyone’s mouth and it turns sugar into an acid that damages tooth enamel.
Jose Cordova of Yale and Erich Astudillo from Chile named the newly discovered molecule Keep 32 in reference to the 32 teeth in the adult mouth. They hope the molecule can be incorporated into mouthwash or lozenge form which would kill the bacteria in about a minute.
About 73% of all people worldwide have cavities and dental caries is the most common childhood health problem. This research is aimed at reducing that number. Previously researchers at UCLA’s College of Dentistry had developed a mouthwash that eliminated almost all the decay causing bacteria over a 4 day period. No products based on this research have come to market yet.
Until we can effectively eliminate Streptococcus Mutans (without killing off the good bacteria in our mouths) we will have to rely on old-school prevention measures like brushing, flossing and getting regular cleanings.
Tooth decay used to mean an ugly mercury amalgam filling. StoneRidge Dental Care only uses tooth colored fillings. We are proud to be a mercury-free office. Remember that regular checkups enable us to catch tooth decay early!
To schedule your appointment or to learn more about cavity prevention please contact Dr. Mark Levy in Columbus, OH at 614-476-6696 today.
By Mark Levy | April 13, 2012
News stories in newspapers and on TV were talking about a study published by the American Cancer Society this week. The study linked frequent dental x-rays with a certain type of non-cancerous brain tumor called a meningioma. This type of tumor occurs in about 8 of every 100,000 people which makes it a rare disease although it is the most commonly diagnosed type of brain tumor. The Yale University study looked at more than 1400 people who were diagnosed with a meningioma. The age of the patients was 57 years on average.
The study showed that patients with the tumors were twice as likely to have had frequent dental x-rays since childhood. However, the study did not look at patient’s actual dental records to record the actual number of x-rays but instead relied upon the individuals in the study to remember how many x-rays they have had. Can you remember this accurately?
NBC Nightly News reported on this subject as well also noting that the subjects memories may not be completely accurate. NBC experts and others are reminding patients that due to the age of the study subjects much of the x-ray exposure occurred years ago when dental x-ray machines exposed patients to much higher doses of radiation. Modern digital radiography is now used by most progressive dental offices and offers very low radiation exposure.
We cannot completely avoid dental x-rays. A physical and visual examination by a dentist is not sufficient for us to detect all oral diseases – tumors, abscesses, cracked teeth, and decay all need x-rays for diagnosis. We do try to limit their use. You can rest assured that we order dental x-rays only when needed for diagnosis and treatment. Protective aprons and thyroid collars are used for the safety of our patients and we never use mercury based dental fillings. Your overall health is our highest priority.
Please contact StoneRidge Dental Care in Columbus, OH today at 614-476-6696 to schedule your next appointment.
By Mark Levy | February 14, 2012
Expecting a child? Thinking about it? Pregnancy causes lots of changes, including a shift in your oral health. Healthy teeth and gums are essential for both mother and baby and you should start by visiting your dentist as soon as you start planning your family. Starting out with healthy gums protects you and your baby.
The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can wreak havoc on teeth and gums. Even women who have good oral health can experience pregnancy gingivitis. This temporary condition causes the gums to become red, inflamed and bleed easily. It is common and usually disappears three to six months after delivery as long as good oral hygiene care is followed. If you start to experience these symptoms you should contact StoneRidge Dental Care as soon as possible.
It used to be thought that dental visits while pregnant were dangerous. Now we know that receiving dental care during pregnancy is not dangerous to the mother or baby. Avoiding your dentist at this time is a worse because several studies have linked the bacteria in gum disease to a higher risk of premature birth and other problems. Remember that no mercury fillings are used in our office so treating dental decay should not be a worry.
Please contact StoneRidge Dental Care in Gahanna, OH at 614-476-6696 today to schedule your next appointment. A healthy mom, healthy baby and a healthy smile!
By Mark Levy | August 26, 2011
Most people don’t think very much about the different parts that makeup a tooth – until something goes wrong. This blog will be a short description of the parts of a tooth.
The part of the tooth that we see above the gumline is called the crown. The part that we can’t see below the gumline is the root which extends down and anchors the tooth to the jawbone. Each individual tooth is made up of four types of tissue:
- Enamel is the hard substance that covers the visible part of your tooth. This translucent substance is hardest substance in the human body and protects your teeth from decay.
- Dentin is the layer found below the enamel. This substance is calcified and looks like bone. The dentin is not as hard as enamel and is likely to become decayed if the enamel is missing from the tooth.
- Cementum is light yellow in color and covers the tooth root and helps anchor the root to the bone. This substance is softer than dentin or enamel but is usually covered by the gums. If the gums are worn away or shrink because of disease or damage then the cementum can become the target of harmful bacteria.
- Pulp is the substance that forms the center of your tooth. This part of the tooth contains blood vessels, nerves and other tissues that deliver nutrients to your tooth.
Keeping your teeth healthy starts with good home care. This means brushing and flossing daily to remove harmful bacteria that can break down the enamel of your tooth. Using fluoride toothpaste helps rebuild damaged enamel.
Once decay has occurred your tooth cannot heal itself. The good news is that cavities can now be filled with tooth-colored composite restorations which allow you to maintain a beautiful, white smile. No more ugly, black, mercury amalgam fillings. These restorations are more than just cosmetically pleasing, they are also strong, durable and less reactive to heat and cold than old-fashioned fillings.
To schedule your appointment for restoration of a dental cavity please contact StoneRidge Dental Care today at 614-476-6696.
By Mark Levy | December 16, 2010
An advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) met on December 15 and recommended that the FDA examine all relevant evidence when it reviews the 2009 ruling it made that concluded that mercury dental amalgams were safe.
The panel said that the FDA needs to look “not at just certain studies but all scientifically sound studies” when undertaking the review. The panel also felt that while amalgam filling material is safe for most people there are existing studies that “there does appear to be a very sensitive subpopulation” according to panelist Susan Griffin, PhD. Several people with such sensitivities testified during the advisory panel meeting including patients with dental amalgam fillings and dental office workers.
High levels of mercury exposure can cause memory problems, tremors, mood swings, headaches and lead to brain and kidney damage. Some dentists still support the use of dental amalgam because it is a cheap, easily placed filling material for dental cavities. Modern, tooth colored dental fillings not only look nicer than amalgam fillings but are also not subject to cracking when exposed to heat and cold.
The dental practice of Dr. Mark Levy is mercury-free office conveniently located in Gahanna, Ohio. If you are concerned about mercury exposure due to the breakdown of your old dental fillings please contact us at 614-476-6696 to discuss your options for replacing your mercury-based fillings.
By Mark Levy | December 10, 2010
An advisory panel at the Food and Drug Administration will look at a study that claims that 67 million Americans with silver, mercury-based dental amalgam fillings are being exposed to levels of mercury that exceed EPA guidelines. The study was commissioned by a group promoting mercury-free dentistry. The review will focus on the potential risks to pregnant women, fetuses and young children.
Dental amalgam is made up of about half mercury and half other metals such as silver, zinc, copper and tin. The FDA has long maintained that dental amalgam is safe for use in children 6 years and older.
The use of mercury-based amalgam as dental fillings has been falling dramatically in this country in recent years and is only used for about 30% of all fillings. Sweden, Norway and Denmark have banned the substance because of potential risks to patients, dental professionals and environmental damage.
Another recent study about mercury risk was published in the November issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease which concluded that mercury may be a factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
StoneRidge Dental Care is proud to be a mercury-free facility. If you are concerned about the safety of your old mercury amalgam fillings please contact our Gahanna, Ohio office at 614-476-6696 to discuss your alternatives for safe dental restorations.