A god, a planet, an element.
The fastest, smallest of our solar system and closest to the sun. Not much bigger than the moon and named by the Romans after the fleetest of their gods.
This terrestrial planet is one of only five visible to the naked eye; along with Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Ancients charted their positions with incredible accuracy, and astronomers deemed Mercury a planet, not a star, in 1543 when Copernicus developed his model of a Sun-centric Solar System.
With the Sun, and not Earth at the centre of the Solar System it meant that both the Earth and Mercury were planets. This was confirmed in 1631 when Harriott and Galilei first turned a telescope onto the planets and saw Copernicus’ prediction.
While the planet was named after a god, the element was named after the planet because of the swift flow of its liquid form. Mercury is the only element to retain its alchemical name as its common name; its symbol Hg is from the Latin hydragyrum meaning liquid silver. Known to ancient civilisations, vials of pure mercury have been found in Egyptian tombs dated 1500 BC.
Typically, mercury sulphide is found in the form of cinnabar, a common ore. Pure mercury is extracted, ground, and heated with oxygen to a temperature of 580 degrees Celsius (1,076 degrees F). Mercury vapour escapes and sulphur dioxide is removed. The metal is condensed, purified with nitric acid, and then distilled.
Dental amalgam for fillings is a powdered alloy of silver, copper and tin mixed with mercury, used it as a dental restorative and filler in 1826 after ten years of developing melted silver coins and a small amount of mercury. Its unique liquid property at room temperature means it bonds well with the alloy powder. Almost a hundred and forty years later, the formula was changed when in 1963 it was discovered that a higher copper component improved the strength.
“Silver fillings” have been used for almost 200 years on millions of people worldwide because they’re tough, dense and durable. Surface moisture of a large filling makes it difficult for resins to bond and dental amalgam doesn’t have that issue.
Nor is it an expensive.
Dental Mercury Can Cause Cracking Of Your Teeth: And It’s Painful
A hot piece of baked salmon cracked a patient’s tooth as mercury expands when heated – and he was in great pain. Mercury’s volume coefficient of expansion is 0.00018, so it expands by .018 percent in volume for every degree of temperature increase.
Like mercury in a thermometer, silver fillings without exception, microscopically expand and contract. Over time, the enamel of the tooth fractures, which leads to a fracturing of the entire tooth structure. The oscillation of temperature response compromises the seal between the filling and the tooth, allowing cavity-causing bacteria to colonise below the surface and eventually creates decay.
Cavities alongside mercury fillings grow more slowly because exposure to the filling kills the bacteria. However, the bacteria grows in large enough number to negate this effect, and new tooth decay is often difficult to recognise on a routine dental x-ray because the metal distorts the immediate view around the filling. If the margin of the filling isn’t smooth and perfect, a cavity has already begun. The tooth may eventually break, and an extraction or root canal may be necessary.
Practitioners differ in opinion in regard to refilling with composite or porcelain if the tooth is remaining structurally sound; but given the behaviour of the amalgam over time it seems inevitable that further damage will occur. Other dentists believe that all metal fillings should be removed, particularly with current restoration materials being of comparable strength and longevity.
The dental amalgam controversy debates whether dental amalgam should continue to be used. Proponents insist it’s safe, effective and long lasting. Critics argue that since the1840s, claims have been made that amalgam causes mercury poisoning and other toxic responses.
What we know with certainty is that dental amalgam is incredibly detrimental to the health of the tooth. Sudden temperature change can split a mercury filled tooth; drinking cold water to sooth the burn of a scorching drink or hot mouthful of food can crack a compromised tooth faster than a politician’s reputation.
Give your amalgam fillings more than a fleeting thought. Talk with your dentist about the best solution and strategy for you. With Mercury the god of communication and commerce, it’ll be a fortuitous discussion that in the longterm, you’ll be glad you had.
Note: All content and media on the Elevate Dental website and social media channels are created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.