We've known for some time now that silver amalgam fillings containing the neurotoxin mercury pose health risks. But what about the alternative? The results of a newly released study suggest some white composite fillings could be dangerous, too.
Researchers at New England Research Institutes and the Harvard School of Public Health studied more than 500 children with different types of dental fillingsto investigate the health impacts of mercury amalgam fillings. What they discovered was surprising…at the five-year follow-up, children with white composite fillings displayed more behavioral problems than the children with silver fillings containing mercury.
Many white fillings contain bisGMA, a synthetic material that is created using bisphenol-A, or BPA, a hormone-disrupting chemical linked to many health problems, including autism and temper tantrums in kids. The new study published in Pediatrics suggests that as the composite fillings on chewing surfaces degrade, more BPA is released. While the children with silver amalgam fillings did not appear to suffer ill health effects associated with the fillings, kids with BPA-containing composite fillings were more likely to suffer from social stress, anxiety, depression, and difficulty forming relationships. These are similar problems previous researchers have associated with BPA exposure early in life.
BPA is also found in the lining of most metal food and drink cans, and in some No. 7 plastics.
Still, some dental experts say this study is preliminary and more research is needed before any conclusions are made. "There is no reason to be overly alarmed by this report. For about 20 years, there have been periodic heightened levels of concern raised regarding BPA in our diets and environment," says Jeffrey Stansbury, DVM, professor of craniofacial biology at the school of Dental Medicine at the University of Colorado. "However, it should be noted that earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration declined a petition to ban BPA-related coatings used in food packaging."
Other BPA experts suggests questioning your dentist to make sure the composite fillings were not made with or do not contain BPA, although many of the monomers used in composites, sealants, or bonds used in dentistry contain monomers in which the BPA chemical structure is part of the core structure. While Dr. Stansbury says this study does raise valid concerns but is no cause for immediate general alarm. He adds that allowing a child's tooth to continue to further decay without getting appropriate dental care would be more harmful.
Some dentists practice more holistic methods and conduct testing to see how each individual responds to the different chemicals used in dental procedures, and then uses materials that appear to be most benign to a particular individual.
Then there's the dietary side of dental health.
Ramiel Nagel, author of Cure Tooth Decay: Heal & Prevent Cavities with Nutrition, believes that minor tooth decay can be stopped, or even fixed, with proper diet. Here's what he recommends to eat and avoid to re-mineralize teeth.
1. Avoid high-fructose corn syrup because it is toxic to the body and
throws off your body chemistry.
2. Reduce your sugar intake. "In the U.S., we eat too much sweet food—even too much fruit," Nagel says. "Take all sugars and sweets out of the diet. Or at least reduce it significantly." As for fruit, he recommends eating only small to moderate amounts.
3. Reduce whole grain consumption. "Many whole grains are loaded with plant
toxins like phytic acid," he explains. "This is especially true for whole grain store-bought breads and crackers." Instead, he suggests high-quality sourdough bread made with unbleached flour.
Add to your diet:
1. Add butter from pasture-fed animals. It contains important vitamins to
2. Increase the intake of pastured-fed cheese to bump calcium levels. "Teeth are made up
of calcium and phosphorus, so have a few ounces of cheese made from grass-fed-animal milk."
3. Increase vegetable intake. Vegetables are a great source of minerals in our diet, and many of them even contain calcium. Try adding cooked bok choy, napa cabbage, or collard greens to your menu.