Thursday, September 29, 2011

Silver fillings and Behcet's (don't worry about them, they are fine!)

The silver fillings debate rears its ugly head on a fairly regular basis. As a dentist, I solved that debate very easily in my practice by not doing silver fillings for the last 12 years. You can request to have the white composite fillings and don't need to have them in silver, thus eliminating the potential for you personally (Actually they are silver amalgam fillings and the controversy is over the mercury that is in the fillings. Mercury makes the filling material soft so it is able to be packed into the cavity. When it hardens it is because of the chemical bond that takes place between the silver, mercury and a few other metals that are mixed together. Being chemically bound is what makes it unable to be free to get into your body and cause problems.)

As far as silver fillings you already have: They are safe, in my opinion. This is also the official word from the American Dental Association. The other side of the debate would have you think that the ADA and dentists in general are just saying that because it is self serving to the dentists. That is just simply not true. But there are many other scientific sources that have research to support the opinion of it's safety also that is independent from the dental community.

One of the most convincing things for me on this subject, however, happened several years ago. The TV show 20/20 (or one of the shows like that) ran a story saying that silver amalgam fillings cause or exacerbate Multiple Sclerosis (MS). They had testimonials from people with MS that they had had miraculous remissions of their MS symptoms after having all of their silver fillings removed. And of course they found various "experts" to support their claims. What happened after the show, however, was the most interesting part.

The MS Society came down hard on 20/20 saying: How dare you put this kind of story out there to MS sufferers. It is unsubstantiated and false information and is giving out false hope to people that already have many challenges in life to deal with. This kind of report will encourage MS sufferers to have unnecessary and expensive dental work done that will place an uncalled for financial burden on people that are already saddled with high medical bills from their appropriate treatment. It was irresponsible reporting and they demanded a retraction, which 20/20 did issue a retraction and an apology. 20/20 is not the kind of show that issues a retraction easily. (This is not an exact quote from the MS society, but the general idea that I remember from watching the show about 10 years ago, so if you look this up and it is not 100% exact, forgive me.)

What my thought is what I have said many times here and will say again. In autoimmunity, inflammation in one part of the body causes inflammation every where else there is inflammation from the disease. So these people that had these miraculous recoveries probably really did have help from having the fillings replaced. But not because of the silver amalgam, but because in having them done they removed inflammation from the mouth. They probably had over hangs on the fillings removed. Some of those fillings probably had a bit of decay under them that feeds the inflammation in the gums and that was removed. A very big side effect of having dental work done is that you become aware of things that you may have ignored for years. So those people, whether they realized it or not, probably started to brush and floss better and more consistently thus reducing their periodontal disease. This is the part of the story that doesn't get told. I would bet you $1000 that the people they quoted on that show had periodontal disease before starting in on removing all of those "evil fillings" and that their periodontal condition was greatly improved by the time they were done with the fillings. Their great improvements in their MS were from removing inflammation from their mouths, not from having the silver removed. (In my humble but very passionate and biased opinion based on 4 years of study, observation and consistent thought on this concept. Sarcasm intended towards the 20/20 reporters).

So if you want to remove the silver filling to make it look better, great! Go ahead. If you want to take it out to help your Behcet's get better, don't count on it, you are wasting your money, in my opinion (And that is coming from someone who makes a living and has financial gain from taking fillings out and replacing them).

David Petersen DDS

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