Last month, the Berkeley City Council proposed that the city should regulate dental amalgam in order to protect its citizens. They entertained several proposals about how much dental amalgam should be limited, but have not yet decided on which proposal they will pursue.
Why Berkeley Is Acting Now
Although there have long been concerns that mercury exposure from dental amalgam fillings could lead to serious health problems, evidence has been conflicting up to this point. Although there are alarming facts–such as newborn children of mothers with amalgam fillings show mercury levels consistent with neurological damage–there has been little direct evidence that people are harmed by mercury amalgam fillings.
However, in 2012, researchers did a careful analysis of a large dataset of children in Portugal, showing that for boys 8-12 with a particular chromosome, there was definite evidence of neurobehavioral effects. This type of evidence seems to have pushed a teetering public over the edge on mercury amalgam fillings, and they are now seeking to set limits on the dangerous material.
The California Dental Association (CDA) has come out against the measure. The CDA has long maintained that mercury amalgam fillings are safe and that they give patients an affordable and durable filling option. The CDA wants to stop the measure in the name of patient choice, and point out that there are few studies that demonstrate a convincing connection between mercury amalgam filling and health problems.
Berkeley would not be the first California city to “ban” amalgam fillings. The first city to do so was Costa Mesa, just up the road. After passing its resolution, Costa Mesa shared the text of the resolution with other Orange County cities and encouraged them to pass similar resolutions, but the CDA opposed this. However, it seems that Berkeley may be looking to draft a resolution with greater force than Costa Mesa’s nonbinding one.
Many Reasons to Avoid Metal Amalgam
Although debate still rages about the safety of metal amalgam fillings, there’s one thing that everyone can agree about: metal amalgam fillings are unattractive. They begin as a silver colored filling, which means they are highly visible. Then they darken with time, often turning completely black and looking as bad as the cavities they are intended to cover.
At Rice Dentistry, we don’t use metal amalgam fillings. We use highly aesthetic composite resin fillings or durable and attractive ceramic inlays and onlays. We can use these for new fillings or use them to