Dental crowns are devices that help restore and protect your teeth. Depending on the patient’s needs, they can be made of porcelain, gold, or other materials. But did you know that some dental crowns contain toxic substances such as mercury and nickel? We will explore the dangers of some of these materials and what you should know if you or a loved one needs a dental procedure.
A dental crown is a cover placed over the top of a damaged or decayed tooth. Dental crowns improve the appearance, shape, and size of the tooth, and they also help make your teeth look more uniform in size.
Tooth decay occurs when the enamel, an outer protective layer, wears away. A lack of enamel makes it harder to eat certain foods, especially tough, chewy foods. Dental crowns prevent further damage, and they also help prevent cavities from spreading because the top of the tooth is covered, protecting it from food particles and sugary substances that can affect your oral health.
Dentists use metal dental crowns for various reasons. For example, if an individual’s teeth are too short or irregular to fit with porcelain, a dentist may use metallic materials such as gold, silver, or platinum.
Dentists may also add these metals when additional support is needed, like large bridges that need strengthening from eruption points where decay has eaten away over time. Another reason is for strengthening weak areas and normalizing remaining healthy tissue.
Mercury and nickel are two common materials found in dental crowns. But what many people may not know is that these materials can be toxic to your health. Mercury, in particular, is a dangerous substance that can cause serious health problems if the body absorbs it. Nickel is also harmful and can damage the natural tooth tissue around the implant site.
Mercury is used in dental restorations because it is easy to work with and possesses natural antimicrobial properties. Although mercury can be found naturally in the environment, most mercury exposure today comes from artificial sources such as coal-burning power plants, mining/metal processing, and products such as dental amalgam. Mercury is a neurotoxin, meaning it can damage nerve cells and even cause brain damage.
Mercury exposure depends on how much mercury is absorbed into the body and the length and intensity of exposure. Some of the short-term effects of exposure include:
Some of the long-term effects include:
Pregnant women and young children are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of mercury exposure. Mercury can cross the placenta and enter the unborn baby’s brain, where it can cause damage. It can also accumulate in breast milk, which means that nursing infants are exposed to the harmful effects of mercury.
Nickel is a common metal found naturally but has been increasingly used as an alloy with other metals such as chromium and cobalt to make them more flexible for dental use. Nickel is a metal that’s linked with respiratory problems. However, these effects only occur when individuals are exposed to high nickel concentrations over long periods.
Some individuals are more sensitive to nickel than others. People who already suffer from allergies or asthma can be at an even greater risk for health problems from nickel exposure.
Symptoms of excessive exposure to nickel include:
Occasional exposure to nickel can cause symptoms such as:
You don’t have to settle for toxic materials for dental crown treatment. There are certainly safer alternatives out there.
One of the most popular is porcelain. Not only is porcelain non-toxic, but it is also super resistant to bacteria. This makes porcelain a safe and durable material that can last for years.
Zirconia is one of the lesser-known materials. Zirconia crowns are manufactured from zirconium, a very durable type of metal that’s related to titanium. It is known to be among the most robust materials on Earth, and it’s resistant to corrosion and breaking under pressure.
What should you do if you are concerned about the mercury or nickel in your dental crown?
– Ask your dentist if they use any materials that contain mercury or nickel in their dental crowns. If they do, ask if any alternatives can be used.
-Get a second opinion. If you are not comfortable with your dentist’s materials, you can always get a second opinion from another one.
– Look for dentists who specialize in mercury-free and nickel-free dentistry.
There are a growing number of dentists who are choosing to use mercury-free and nickel-free materials in their dental procedures. You can find a list of these dentists, like our own Dr. Richard Chang on the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) website. You or a loved one can stay safe at the dentist’s office by asking the right questions and being informed about potentially toxic materials.
Evergreen Dental Care
937 E Main St
Alhambra, CA 91801