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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 7:43 am 
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Historical Overview of Mercury Use in Dentistry

As early as the 7th century, the Chinese used a "silver paste" containing mercury (Hg) to fill decayed teeth.

Throughout the Middle Ages, alchemists in China and Europe observed that this mysterious silvery liquid, extracted from cinnabar ore, was volatile and would quickly disappear as vapor when mildly heated. Alchemists were fascinated that at room temperature Hg appeared to "dissolve" powders of other metals such as silver, tin, and copper.

By the early 1800's, the use of a Hg/silver paste as a tooth filling material was being popularized in England and France and it was eventually introduced into North America in the 1830s.

Some early dental practitioners expressed concerns that the Hg/silver mixture (amalgam) expanded after setting, frequently fracturing the tooth or protruding above the cavity preparation, and thereby prevented proper jaw closure.

Other dentists were concerned about mercurial poisoning; because it was already widely recognized that Hg exposure resulted in many overt side effects, including dementia and loss of motor coordination. By 1845, as a reflection of these concerns, the American Society of Dental Surgeons and several affiliated regional dental societies adopted a resolution that its members sign a pledge not to use amalgam.

Consequently, during the next decade some members of the society were suspended for the malpractice of using amalgam. But the advocates of amalgam eventually prevailed and membership in the American Society of Dental Surgeons declined, forcing it to disband in 1856. In its place arose the American Dental Association, founded in 1859, based on the advocacy of amalgam as a safe and desirable tooth filling material.

Shortly thereafter, tin was added to the Hg/silver paste to counteract the expansion properties of the previous amalgam formula.

There were compelling economic reasons for promoting dental amalgam as a replacement for the other common filling materials of the day such as cement, lead, gold, and tinfoil. Amalgam's introduction meant that dental care would now be within the financial means of a much wider sector of the population, and because amalgam was simple and easy to use, dentists could readily be trained to treat the anticipated large number of new patients.

By 1895, the dental amalgam mixture of metals had been modified further to control for expansion and contraction, and the basic formula has remained essentially unchanged since then. Scientific concerns about amalgam safety initially surfaced in Germany during the 1920's, but eventually subsided without a clear resolution. At the present time, based on 1992 dental manufacturer specifications, amalgam (at mixing) typically contains approximately 50% metallic Hg, 35% silver, 9% tin, 6% copper, and a trace of zinc.

Estimates of annual Hg usage by US dentists range from approximately 100,000 kg in the 1970's to 70,000 kg today.

Hg fillings continue to remain the material preferred by 92% of US dentists for restoring posterior teeth. More than 100 million Hg fillings are placed each year in the US

Presently, organized dentistry http://www.dreddyclinic.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=5 has countered the controversy surrounding the use of Hg fillings by claiming that Hg reacts with the other amalgam metals to form a "biologically inactive substance" and by observing that dentists have not reported any adverse side effects in patients. Long-term use and popularity also continue to be offered as evidence of amalgam safety.

Lorscheider, F.L., Vimy, M.J., and Summers, A.O. "Mercury Exposure from Silver Tooth Fillings: Emerging Evidence Questions a Traditional Dental Paradigm" FASEB Journal (April 1995) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7737458?dopt=Abstract


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2016 7:46 am 
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