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Are Amalgam (Mercury) Fillings dangerous?

 Dental Amalgam is made up of a number of metals mainly silver, tin copper and mercury, Studies show that Very tiny amounts of mercury are released from the surface of amalgam fillings, mainly as mercury vapor. This vapor can be increased by grinding and chewing. Some of this vapor is breathed out but some is also breathed in or dissolve in saliva and is swallowed, in this case some mercury can reach the rest of the body and accumulate in certain organs particularly the kidneys.

However the levels of mercury involved are very low and medical research organizations have found no specific evidence that the tiny amounts of mercury that can leak, are of any danger to our health. Research over decades, has found that people with silver amalgams have no less or no more medical problems then people without these fillings.  Many people these days decide to change their amalgam fillings for a tooth colored option as this is more aesthetically pleasing.

What could be causing the bad taste in my mouth?

A persistent altered or distorted taste with or without a taste stimulus present is called Oral Disgeusia.

The causes are varied including developmental factors, oral factors and systemic changes.

Developmental factors include congenital Ageusia or the loss of taste from birth. People with congenital Ageusia do not have taste buds on their tongues. Some people have a recessive taste gene that causes a reduced sense of bitter taste to substances such as caffeine and also a reduced sense of sweet taste.

Taste sensation can be disturbed by specific foods (e.g. curries, garlic), some oral mouth rinses and sometimes temporarily from dentures and other oral appliances.  Poor oral hygiene and periodontal disease (gum and bone disease) can contribute to distorted taste.  Oral or nasal infections can also lead to disturbance in taste sensation.

Radiotherapy can result in taste loss if the tongue is involved. Sometimes, clenching teeth or grinding them can result in persistent salty and electric battery tastes. Smokeless tobacco usage has also shown to cause altered taste sensation, with increased taste threshold to sweet, salty and bitter.

The chemical composition of saliva permits the sensation of taste and so a change in the quality or quantity of saliva can have profound effects on our ability to taste.

Systemic changes in the rest of the body can also cause disturbance in taste. These include a variety of drugs.  Some drugs have the side effect of taste alteration and others cause a dry mouth (e.g. those taken for hypertension) which also leads to distorted taste as explained above.

Changes in smell and taste to certain foods are often experienced by pregnant women and are hormone related.  These usually correct themselves after delivery. 

Conditions such as diabetes and gastrointestinal disease can also cause a reduction in taste sensitivity.

Will Diabetes affect my Oral Health?

Gum disease and diabetes may seem unrelated, but emerging science suggests that diabetes and gum disease may be linked. Not only does diabetes increase your chance of gum infection, but gum infection may make diabetes harder to control. What we know is that diabetics are significantly more likely to develop gum disease because of the way diabetes slows the body’s natural healing process. Of particular importance to diabetics is research that suggests advanced gum disease may have an adverse effect on your blood sugar levels. For these reasons, physicians and dentists say that the good oral care routine is vital for your diabetes. So the next time you visit your dentist and you have diabetes please let them know.

Can I have dental treatment if I’m Pregnant?

Treatment can be carried out during pregnancy if needed, however the safest time is after the first trimester. If you are having difficulties with your pregnancy, your dentist may want to discuss treatment with your GP before treatment commences. Local anesthetic in dentistry is considered safe to use during pregnancy. It’s important to treat any pain or infection to prevent a rise in body temperature, and prevent the release of bacteria poisons.  Preventative treatment such as examinations and cleaning should continue to be performed regularly whilst pregnant; you should take particular care to keep gums clean and healthy as they are more susceptible to infection due to hormonal changes you may find your gums may bleed often during pregnancy this is nothing to worry to much about and is considered normal.

What does smoking mean for my oral health?

While smokers breath and staining of teeth are the obvious consequences of smoking, it can also cause major dental and oral problems.Smoking greatly increases the risk of gum disease. Smoking reduces the blood flow to the oral tissues and gums, hence lowering the resistance to plaque bacteria. This increases the irritant effect on the gums and the risk of gum disease. It also reduces the signs of gum disease so the problem often goes undetected until the advanced stages.

Smoking is a major cause of oral cancers. Chewing of tobacco or betel nuts also cause oral cancer. Any prolonged ulcers or lumps in the mouth should be checked by a dentist.

Another interesting fact, is that the success rate of dental implants goes from 99% in non-smokers to 50% in smokers.

Why is my mouth dry?

Everyone has a dry mouth once in a while, especially if you are under stress, are taking certain medications, as well as certain genetic conditions.  But some people have it far more often. If you’re one of those people with frequent dry mouth, it’s not something you should ignore. That’s because saliva is one is one of your body’s natural defenses against disease-causing germs.

Without it, you are far more likely to develop cavities and gum disease-conditions that may worsen and lead to other health problems. Your first line of defense against dry mouth is drinking plenty of water and following a health oral care routine that includes brushing, flossing and rinsing with an antiseptic mouth wash. Both can help stimulate your salivary glands and wash away harmful germs. If you are concerned about your dry mouth talk to your dentist about it at your next appointment.