Is it dangerous to swallow amalgam during filling removal?

I recently made a choice to have my old metal fillings replaced with mercury-free tooth-colored fillings. While my dentist felt is wasn’t absolutely necessary, he agreed to do it because my old fillings were worn down a bit. During the procedure, I felt a large piece of one of the fillings fall on my tongue. The dentist retrieved it, but now I am wondering if I could have swallowed pieces that were too small to see. If I did swallow some, is it bad for me?  — Rich in Idaho

Rich,
If your dentist is a traditionalist, he likely doesn’t worry much about possible side-effects of mercury or amalgam fillings because he follows the guidelines of the ADA (American Dental Association) and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). The ADA quotes the FDI (Fédération Dentaire Internationale/ World Dental Federation) and WHO (World Health Organization) on their website by saying, “the small amount of mercury released from amalgam restorations, especially during placement and removal, has not been shown to cause any adverse health effects.”

Today, there are a growing number of holistic dentists, doctors and patients who have concerns whether this statement is accurate. There is no evidence endorsed by a government agency that suggests patients will experience any adverse health effects from  amalgam filling removal, nor does any major agency question the safety in having or placing amalgam fillings. It does, however, sound like your dentist was trying to follow the best practice of removal which includes removing them in large pieces to reduce the total amount of aerosol, as well as keeping the large suction and water sprayer on the tooth the whole time to minimize vapors.

A holistic dentist would do things much differently. Not only would he or she likely use a rubber dam to keep particles and debris from falling into your mouth, they would have used additional suction, air movers, oxygen sources, supplementary barriers and other tools to ensure safety and protection of everyone in the room.

Based on current governmentally-endorsed evidence, you have not ingested enough mercury to become ill. If you are concerned, you may want to seek out a holistic dentist and discuss those concerns before your next procedure.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about Find out why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.

My teeth still look stained — even after Zoom whitening

I was so excited to get Zoom whitening, but it’s been two days since I had the procedure and I am kind of disappointed. I guess I had much higher expectations, but overall, I feel like my teeth still look brownish and I was expecting a bright, white smile. Did my dentist do something wrong, or is there a limit to how white Zoom can make my teeth?  — Alyssa in Memphis

Alyssa,
Zoom whitening usually produces very rapid, drastic results — so much so that it’s often used on the many of the television makeover shows.

Because it’s so powerful, your dentist has to be careful that you are not getting too much at one time to minimize sensitivity. Depending on how heavily stained your teeth were before treatment, it could take a couple of sessions to get the results you desire. Professional-grade systems like Zoom can also take a couple of days for the color to stabilize. You should actually notice your teeth becoming a little whiter as long as you try to avoid things that will stain them again.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about Find out why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.

What can I do to cover tetracycline stains?

I have had gray stained teeth as a result of tetracycline for many years. All I really want is to have nice, white teeth. I’ve seen and heard a lot of negative stories about porcelain veneers and Lumineers. I’ve also researched bonding. What procedure would give the best results for my situation? — Adrianna in Tennessee

Adrianna,
Tetracycline stains the teeth from the inside out and are very difficult to remedy – particularly with traditional teeth whitening. The best procedure to mask the stains is probably porcelain veneers. While Lumineers might be a cheaper option, keep in mind that they are very thin and the dark enamel might show through. You’ll have similar problems with cosmetic bonding, plus bonding is also susceptible to staining and it is not as durable as porcelain veneers.

Porcelain veneers will give you the best result because they will completely mask  and cover the dark enamel. What’s even better is that the procedure is much less invasive compared to other treatments (i.e. porcelain crowns) and if you have them done by an expert cosmetic dentist,  you shouldn’t have any pain or sensitivity. The result will be a beautiful, natural-looking smile you will be proud to show your family and friends.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about Find out why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.

I think I developed TMJ after getting a crown

I recently had a crown placed on one of my molars. It was a very long process from prep appointment to when the crown was cemented. I spent a lot of time in the dental chair with my mouth wide open and now my bite doesn’t feel right. I’ve been having headaches, stiffness in my jaw and pain in my face. I’ve researched my symptoms and they sound a lot like TMJ. Could getting the crown have started this? — Steve in Montana

Steve,
There are several things that can create joint/muscle symptoms, and that includes a poorly fitted crown or other dental restorations. Even if your dentist says your crown is properly fitted, it changes the bite and can cause TMJ (which is usually the result of malocclusion or the misalignment of teeth). Be sure to have your dentist check the tooth in question and do a complete bite evaluation. If he can make any slight adjustments, that may fix your problem. When your bite is even on both sides this keeps the disc of the jaw joint in a natural, comfortable position. It may not even be the restoration, but rather the amount of time you had to keep your mouth open during the appointments that put strain on the muscles and disc in the joint.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about Find out why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.