People who are concerned about finding Holistic Dentistry are often concerned with having Metal Free restorations in their mouths. Progress in restorative materials had made that option much more accessible and the Metal Free restorations much better quality. The choice of materials is very diverse and also very different in quality, longevity and toxins.
The material most often used in replacement of Silver/Mercury Amalgam fillings is called composite resin. It is more difficult to place correctly than the metal fillings and the longevity is less as well. They are also going to be more expensive to use than Silver/Mercury fillings mainly because they take more time and effort to place. Composite Resins are also known to have some toxins; Formaldehyde and BPAs. Our governing bodies have deemed the toxin levels to be below the level of concern for use on humans but they are present.
There are metal free materials that can be used for fillings as well as crowns and bridges that are in the Ceramic family. There are many different Ceramic materials with a range of esthetics and strength. The current wonder material is Zirconia and can be used for fillings, crowns and bridges. There are no toxins given off by Zirconia! It is however bonded to the tooth in the capacity as fillings but the amount of surface area of bonding agents that can give off toxins is incredibly small if the filling is done with a high level of accuracy. Also there is more tooth removed to place Zirconia fillings than to place Composite Resin and again Zirconia fillings will be more expensive. The most amazing difference with Zirconia compared to other ceramics is the fact that it is virtually unbreakable if created by a top level lab and placed by a dentist with a high level of accuracy. It is all I use for inlays, onlays, crowns and bridges.
There are now Implants being placed that are not traditional titanium and guess what the material is; Zirconia! I must warn that these have just been introduced into the United States in the past year and a half and very few have been placed because they have very little proven track record and are not designed for all applications. They may prove to be a good option for some applications now but it is too soon to tell how they will do in the long run.
To your good health!
Michael F. Hughes, DDS