In defense of silver dental fillings

by Niña Corpuz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 03 2014 07:06 PM | Updated as of Mar 04 2014 10:35 AM

UP College of Dentistry dean defends amalgam fillings

MANILA - UP experts want the public to know that amalgam or silver dental fillings are safe.

This was after the non-government organization Ban Toxics and the International Association of Oral Medicine and Toxicology called for a ban on 'silver pasta' because of its mercury content that causes brain damage and other diseases.

"Amalgam is a safe filling material. There is no evidence that connects 'silver pasta' to many diseases that have been reported," said Dean Vicente Medina III DMD PHD
of the College of Dentisty, UP Manila.

Medina clarified that mercury in itself is toxic but once mixed with another metal and transformed into a dental filling, it is no longer toxic, "it is already bound mercury, not free mercury."

"A good analogy is when you separate hydrogen and oxygen, both are flammable or it can easily explode but if it is already combined into H20, it becomes life giving liquid," added Medina.

Medina teaches dental materials and dental operations in UP and was one of the experts behind a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study that concluded dental amalgams are safe.

Medina added the recommended way of preparing silver dental fillings does not allow dentists to mix it themselves.

The mercury is now contained in sealed capsules and mixed by a machine.

It comes out already as a dental filling.

Patients must wear a rubber dam isolation guard where only the teeth is exposed, whether the filling is white or silver.

"Yung na re-release na mercury vapor, masyadong maliit. Ngayon naka capsule na. Wala na hong excess mercury na tinatapon," said Medina.

He advises patients not to have their silver dental fillings removed if they are in good condition. "Ang pagtanggal ng maayos na silver pasta, tinawag na unethical ng American Dental Association. Pag hindi maayos ang pagkatanggal, kayo po ay maeexpose sa mas madaming mercury vapor."

Thermometers and blood-pressure meters (sphygmomanometer) containing mercury have been banned in the country since 2010.

The Department of Health and even the United Nations/World Health Organization have not said anything about banning silver dental fillings for lack of evidence.

UP experts say it's better to focus on the prevention of cavities and take care of your teeth, so you won't need a dental filling in the first place.