Since its introduction to dentistry in the U.S. in the 1840s, mercury has been regularly used for repairing fillings. Mercury, however, is extremely controversial where physicians have been hawking it as a wonder product for treatments ranging from minor cuts to syphilis. Many doctors and dentists have stopped using mercury due to a health and environmental concern. However, there are many dentists that still use mercury in order to repair teeth.

What is Really in Mercury?
The shocking truth is that dental mercury will eventually re-enter the environment, and once out there it will convert to methyl-mercury. Mercury can also get into our water via sewers and it even seeps into the soil. The problem is that it is a serious contaminant, affecting the fish and meat we eat, and the crops we grow. Furthermore, it could even put young adults reproductive system at risk.

What are the Viable Alternatives?
It is always a good idea to talk to your Dentist before choosing any form of filling for your teeth. Fortunately, there are several non-mercurial alternatives that can be used, such as composite resins and glass ionomers for example. Then, of course, gold and porcelain are fine for use in fillings too, but at a price of course. Not one single filling material is going to be all things to all people and situations. Moreover none of the filling materials used in dentistry are bio compatibility tested to the same extent that medical drugs are.

Questions that you should be discussing with your dentist include:

• Do you want the cheapest filling?
• The longest-lasting material?
• The most aesthetic?
• The most tooth-conserving material?
• The one your dentist believes in most?

Other issues that need to be considered before dental work begins are potential allergies or reactionary tendencies to any particular material – and that includes mercury, as some people are allergic to it.

There are no clear-cut choices when it comes to safe and reliable forms of fillings for teeth, and every dentists will hold different views on the subject. However, if the evidence stacks up against dental amalgams such as mercury it is time to act responsibly. Consider that the use of tobacco is now considered unsafe and undesirable by many, but then again it has been around for more than 500 hundred years! Who of us today would argue that it is a totally safe product with no harmful side effects? Should we not be applying the same arguments to the use of mercury in dentistry?