Green dentistry is becoming more common these days, mainly because more and more people are looking for alternatives to traditional dentistry. Many dental patients are looking for green alternatives, making it so green dentistry choices are becoming more and more readily available.
A green dentist puts a focus on the overall health of their dental patients, also known as a green approach. This approach treats the whole patient instead of just focusing on their dental health. Since there are a number of advances in dentistry procedures that support green dentistry practices, there are now more green dentists practicing the natural dentistry methods.
Potentially harmful materials
The fact that traditional dental procedures still use materials that can pose a risk to one’s health is a large reason why there is a growing focus on green dental practices. When a dental patient is in need of restorative repair, there is often a wide variety of dental materials available. While these materials can help repair teeth, some are safer than others.
Hazard materials traditional dentists often use include:
- BPA from sealants
- Dental amalgams (dental fillings)
- Nickel, chromium
BPA from sealants
We often apply sealants to a patient’s teeth in order to protect them from the bacteria that can cause cavities. BPA (Bisphenol A) is a resin that other dentists use when making a variety of plastics and can produce harmful effects on one’s overall health. While dental sealants do not actually contain any BPA, they do contain the compounds that produce BPA once the sealant comes into contact with the patient’s saliva.
Dental amalgams aka mercury fillings
Dental amalgams consist of mercury, which is classified as a neurotoxin. The American Dental Association warns dentists to take precautions when it comes to the safe handling of mercury fillings since amalgams are toxic before putting them in a patient’s mouth and after taking them out. When this material is in a patient’s mouth, it releases a small amount of mercury vapor every day.
Dentists now have access to special tools and technology that allow them to remove the harmful mercury fillings without releasing any of the mercury. These tools also prevent any inhalation of the vapors. Safe dental material alternatives to traditional metal fillings include porcelain, ceramic, resin, gold and more.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, exposure to high levels of mercury can permanently damage the brain, kidneys and developing fetuses.
Dentists have been using fluoride for almost 80 years with a goal of preventing tooth decay. While low levels of fluoride are harmless, too much fluoride can become a carcinogen, according to the National Toxicology Program.
Allergic reactions to dental materials are an all too common issue with traditional dentistry methods. According to the International Journal of Dentistry, nickel sensitivity has been increasing for almost 40 years. In fact, nickel sensitivity is currently the most frequently detected allergen of patch tests on a worldwide basis. Chromium is also a common allergen and can cause dental sensitivity in patients.
Dental toxicity is a term used when certain dental materials that are utilized to treat a patient cause the patient’s immune system to react in a negative way. Similar to having a food allergy, many dental patients will experience an allergic reaction to a particular material used by their dentist. While the overall effects of the toxic materials dentists us to be minimal, the potential for long-lasting negative effects is real.
When a dentist decides to focus on green dentistry practices they are choosing to use dental materials that are biocompatible. Because there are so many potentially harmful dental materials used in traditional dentistry procedures biocompatibility testing is an option that determines how a patient’s immune system will potentially react to a certain material by performing a simple blood test.
The goal of biocompatible dentistry is to use dental materials that are free of all possible toxins, which is essential when it comes to supporting the overall health of dental patients. Biocompatibility tests are also recommended for denture wearers.
If you would like to learn more about green dentistry and the various treatments we provide, call (408) 657-4185 to schedule a consultation.
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