Tooth-hurty

Q: When’s a good time to go to the dentist?

A: 2:30. Get it? Tooth-hurty?

Groan.

On Wednesday afternoon I’m heading in to see a new (to me) dentist to have a cavity filled. At least, I hope that’s all that has to be done.

I’ve had this decay in my back bottom tooth (molar) since I was pregnant with Julian. My dentist at the time said he’d fix it when I was no longer pregnant. Well, that darn tooth started hurting a lot one day so I made another appointment. By the time I was seen again (a few days after it started acting up), it was no longer hurting, and, because I was still pregnant, he said we should wait to do anything about it until I had the baby.

The baby is now nearly 7 months old and I’ve yet to go in and get that tooth filled. I’ve had a cleaning since Julian was born though, and talked to the dentist then about filling it. But I discovered at that time that he uses amalgam (i.e. mercury) fillings and something about that didn’t sit right with me.

I started doing some research about mercury fillings and found a bunch of information about why it’s not necessarily safe to have them. So why get them at all when alternatives (composite, gold, porcelain) are available?


Check out the “Smoking Teeth = Poison Gas” video from the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology. There’s a lot of good information on that site. Or read more here or there’s a ton of information on the Mothering dental forum.

One of the big concerns if you are a woman who has amalgam fillings and has had children is that you’ve likely passed mercury to your child in utero and then also exposed them to mercury while breastfeeding. (Of course, amalgam fillings or not, breast milk is still the best possible nutrition for your babies.) It is for those reasons that many women are having their amalgam fillings removed and replaced.

From HeartSpring.net: Elemental (metallic) mercury and its compounds are toxic and exposure to excessive levels can permanently damage or fatally injure the brain and kidneys. Elemental mercury can also be absorbed through the skin and cause allergic reactions. Ingestion of inorganic mercury compounds can cause severe renal and gastrointestinal toxicity. Organic compounds of mercury such as methylmercury are considered the most toxic forms of the element. Exposures to very small amounts of these compounds can result in devastating neurological damage and death.

For fetuses, infants and children, the primary health effects of mercury are on neurological development. Even low levels of mercury exposure such as result from mother’s consumption methylmercury in dietary sources can adversely affect the brain and nervous system. Impacts on memory, attention, language and other skills have been found in children exposed to moderate levels in the womb.

I feel fortunate that I’ve only had a couple very small cavities in the past and they were filled with composite fillings.

Anyway, I decided to find a dentist who didn’t use amalgam. I asked some friends and found one who accepts our insurance. So that’s where I’m headed tomorrow. *Gulp*

From what I hear, this dentist is pretty easy on the eyes. I guess if you have to have someone drilling in your mouth, they could at least be cute. ;) Still, I’m not too excited about this. Wish me luck.