Mercury Fillings: Amalgam use in Dentistry in Barbados

Recently I had the displeasure of visiting the dentist office here in Barbados, after my tooth filling became dislodged and fell out. The dentist was in total shock when he examined my mouth and saw metal, or what is also know as amalgam fillings. He proceeded to call members of his staff to see the other fillings, which I currently have.

The dentist explained that he had stopped using the metal fillings over twenty years ago, because it contains mercury which is damaging to the nervous system, and prefered to use the composite type of fillings, because of its relative safety, and aethetics. He also seemed very surprise that dentist in Barbados were still using mercury containing fillings.

I have since done some research at some dental clinics in Barbados, and most dentists offer both types of fillings, but the composite one is a bit more expensive. The metal filling is therefore the choice of most persons, but do they understand the risk that mercury in the filling might posse?

Some research on the internet has shown that amalgam is an alloy containing mercury. The term is commonly used for the amalgam employed as material for dental fillings, which consists of mercury (50%), silver (~22-32% ), tin (~14%), copper (~8%), and other trace metals.

For centuries, mercury was an essential part of many different medicines, such as diuretics, antibacterial agents, antiseptics, and laxatives. More recently, these drugs have been substituted and drug-induced signs of mercury toxicity are rare. Mercury toxicity in environmental pollution is a major concern because of increased usage of fossil fuels and agricultural products, both of which contain mercury.

Mercury poisoning is usually misdiagnosed because of the insidious onset, nonspecific signs and symptoms, and lack of knowledge within the medical profession.(emedicine)

The mercury in amalgam fillings, called elemental mercury, releases small amounts of mercury vapor - a substance that at high levels can be toxic to the brain.

Some symptoms of mercury poisioning include, irritability, anxiety/nervousness, often with difficulty in breathing, restlessness, fits of anger, with violent, irrational behavior, loss of self confidence, numbness and tingling of hands, feet, fingers, toes, or lips, ataxia, tremors/trembling of hands, feet, lips, eyelids or tongue. (mercurypoisoned.com)

The dental profession in Barbados seems to beleive that the mercury content of amalgam fillings is negligeble and therefore posses no real concern, but is this the correct stance to hold.

In July, 2009 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its Final Regulation on Dental Amalgam. The regulation reclassified the mercury component of dental amalgam from Class I (low risk) to Class II (moderate risk). By classifying a device into Class II, the FDA can impose special controls (in addition to general controls such as good manufacturing practices that apply to all medical devices regardless of risk) to provide reasonable assurance of the safety and effectiveness of the device. (fda.gov)

On speaking to another dentist he mentioned that his clients are starting to request the composite filling though it is not as long lasting as the amalgam. This writer has also chosen the composite filling due to hits hogher safety level.

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