For years, some of the materials being used in dentistry have come under controversy. Most famously, communities battle with whether or not to include fluoride in their water supply. While fluoride does offer many benefits, there are some risks associated with fluoridation that are worth assessing. Another potentially hazardous material used in dentistry is amalgam, which is used in fillings, and can contain up to fifty percent mercury. These materials may have a questionable track record, but dentists and scientists alike, say their benefits far outweigh their risks. There’s plenty of research to support the fact that these materials which are commonly used in dentistry, provide more help than they do harm.
The Safety, and Benefits of Fluoride
Fluoride comes from the mineral fluorite, and is commonly found in toothpastes, and used in a number of dental applications. Its efficiency at preventing cavities and tooth decay is undisputed among those in dentistry. What is up for debate, is whether or not to include it in community water supplies. Some feel the benefits don’t outweigh the risks. These risks include: allergic reactions, bone and teeth damage, arthritis and many more.
Current safety standards require a dose of fluoride that is said to be small enough that it’s beneficial, and not harmful. Some people doubt these claims however, which is why communities like Portland, Oregon, are still hotly debating whether or not to include fluoride in the city’s main water supply. When it comes to conclusive evidence, research is on the side of the dentists. More studies prove fluoride’s effectiveness than its risks. That said, the side effects are real, and worth assessing when considering fluoride ingestion or treatment.
The Use of Amalgam in Dentistry, and is it Safe?
Another material used in dentistry that comes into question, is amalgam. Amalgam is used by many dentists for fillings. The reason it is still used in fillings, despite its high mercury content, is because it’s said to make fillings last longer, and it’s safe to use. In a report regarding the safety of fillings published on Mouth Healthy, brought to you by the American Dental Association, it’s explained how Amalgam has been proven to be safe.
“Although dental amalgam is a safe, commonly used dental material, you may wonder about its mercury content. It’s important to know that when combined with the other metals, it forms a safe, stable material. Be assured that credible scientific studies affirm the safety of dental amalgam.” The article reads. The article goes on to explain that there’s a multitude of research supporting amalgam’s safety and that The American Dental Association, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U. S. Food and Drug Administration and World Health Organization, all deem amalgam as safe for use, based on massive scientific evidence.
The Final Say on the Safety of Fluoride and Amalgam
Nothing of medicinal value, is without risks. Even antibiotics, which are a staple in life-saving Western medicine, have their side effects. Dentistry is no different. Materials such as fluoride and amalgam may have their risks, but science has proven time and time again, that they are safe to use.
Emily Manke is a travel, health, and business blogger out of Portland, Oregon. To read more of her work, visit the website of Dr. Amanda Tinkle, general dentist in Vancouver, WA.