28 June 2007

Dental work

Originally posted 10/11/06

Okay, so my daughter had her teeth cleaned a month or so ago and the dentist said she has one tiny cavity. He said it isn't her fault; the bristles of her toothbrush are too big to fit in the groove of her molar. His suggestion was, of course, to get sealants and a filling for that one tooth. I said I would think about the sealants, as I wanted to know exactly what is in them before I put them in her mouth. (Yet another flare-up of my TFYS.) I asked what he would use to fill the tooth and he said amalgam. I said no. There will be no mercury going in her mouth.

"Oh, it's safe," was his reply.
"That's what they said about thimerasol, too," I retorted.
"What's that?" The man had no idea.
"The mercury that is in vaccines."
"Well, amalgam has been around longer than vaccines."
"That doesn't mean it is safe. What else can we use?"
"Resin. It's made from pretty much the same stuff as the sealants."
"How long do sealants last? Do they wear off or are they life-long?"
"Usually they are life-long."
"Then I want to research it on my own before I commit to anything." He gave me an eyeroll. Nothing worse than a parent who doesn't do as they are told, apparently.

So I came home and researched more about dental sealants, and discovered that the material they are made from contains a substance called bisphenol-A (BPA), an endocrine disrupter. (www.holisticdental.org/dentalsealants/DentalSealantToxicity.pdf ) My husband and I decided we would forgo the sealants and invest in a sonic toothbrush instead so we won't have to worry about how deep her grooves are. We still had to figure out what to do about the cavity. We don't want to leave it unfilled, because that can lead to problems of its own. We don't want to fill it with a heavy metal that is a known neuro-toxin, and we don't want to fill it with an endocrine disrupter that has been linked to infertility, and probably other things as well. So we decided to try silver. I called the dentist's office, and they said yes, they do silver fillings. I scheduled an appointment and told them we would skip the sealants and go with a silver filling.

So today we went to get her tooth filled. When I signed her in, the receptionist asked me to look over the paperwork to make sure it was right. It said I wanted amalgam. I said it was not right, I most definitely did not want amalgam because it has mercury in it.

"I wanted a silver filling, not amalgam."
"Silver is amalgam."
"No, amalgam is mercury. I want the metal silver, not the color."
"Silver is used in the amalgam."
"Then it isn't what I want. I will not put mercury in my child's mouth."
"What about the white resin then? It doesn't have mercury in it."
"No, I don't want that because it contains endocrine disruptors."
"Let me go speak to the dentist about it." A few minutes later she came back. "He says that all of our fillings are amalgam or white resin."
"Then I am sorry I wasted our time. Thank you very much." And I collected my children and walked home.

So now I am trying to find a dentist who will use something that does not contain mercury or BPA. I am discovering that this is no easy task. I searched holistic dentistry in NH and there was nothing. I tried Vermont (we are only ½ hour away from the border) and the only hit I got was in Colchester, which looks to be just north of Burlington - about 3-4 hours drive. So then I looked at Massachusetts (very close there, also), and got two hits - one in Groton and one in Brookline. I am going to guess that Groton is about 1.5-2 hours away, and Brookline is further. Then I tried another page and got something that looked promising in Concord (1-1.5 hours away). I called and asked if they can do mercury- and BPA-free fillings. She assured me they could. So I asked if they take Healthy Kids Gold (our state's version of Medicaid for children) and she said they don't see children. The youngest they see is young adult; they do mostly cosmetic dentistry. Of course. It couldn't possibly be that easy. So I asked if she knew of anyone and she gave me a phone number of someone who might.

I called this next office and certainly they have fillings that don't have mercury. I asked about BPA and she didn't know what it was. I told her and she said she didn't know if it did or not.
"If it is the same material used for sealants, then it does."
"I don't know if it is or not. Would you hold so I can ask?"
"Of course."
"The dentist said it is not the same material."
"Does this material have BPA in it?"
"We don't know."
"Well someone must."
"I don't know who would."
"Well, can you call the manufacturer? Whoever makes it would know if there is BPA in it or not."
"I will have the dentist get back to you on that."
"Thank you."

Ahhhh! Trying to find an acceptable cavity filler is like pulling teeth, to use an appropriate expression. So now I sit and wait and expect to hear that it does have BPA and then I will have to find some other alternative. Why can't they just use silver without the mercury?! Now do I really want to go to a dentist that seems so ignorant of the material he works with?

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