Ask the Dentistry Expert Christopher Baba

dentistry christopher

Ask the Dentistry Expert Christopher Baba


According to YouTube and Google, fluoride is poison and perhaps used for mind control by Hitler or communists.  The truth is that fluoridated drinking water is identified as one of the 10 greatest public health measures of the last century. It alone can reduce dental decay, the most prevalent chronic disease effecting children and adults by 25-35%.  Fluoride is recommended by every medical and dental association in North America as well as the World Health Organization and has a 70-year track record.

But is it safe?  Like anything else the answer is that it depends on the amount.  Too much salt in our diet is bad for us but with too little salt and we will die.  Similarly with fluoride, if someone were to ingest too much, they could end up with white/brown spots on their teeth or increased risk of bone fractures.

At the levels found in most drinking water (1 part per million or less) fluoride causes no side effects.  Any products that have fluoride such as toothpastes, mouth rinses, or gels do not cause any negative side effects as long as you spit them out.  If a child is unable to spit out toothpaste, a “grain of rice” amount of fluoride toothpaste should be used. That amount is safe and helpful for a child or infant to swallow.  Since Medicine Hat does not have fluoride in the water it is very important that everyone including infants have some source of fluoride.


There is no doubt that at high levels mercury is toxic but again we have to consider that amount of mercury that we are exposed to.  Silver amalgam fillings have mercury in them that is continually released as we eat and drink but the amount is extremely low.  In 40% of Canadians, mercury levels are too low to be detected even though many of those people have silver dental fillings.  For silver fillings to cause a harmful effect, a person would need to have silver fillings in nearly every one of their teeth (assuming they have a full set of teeth). They would also need to be eating or drinking other sources of mercury.

The amount of mercury that the average Canadian is exposed to in the air or from eating fish is significant.  This type of mercury is an organic type that is absorbed by the body six times better than the inorganic mercury from dental fillings.  For the record, dentists are exposed to about four times more mercury than the average Canadian is!

I think that we should be practical.  When we remove silver fillings, more mercury is released then if we leave them alone.  There are ways we minimize our exposure to mercury, but we are always exposed to significant mercury when we remove silver fillings. If a silver filling is working well, we shouldn’t touch it.  If we are going to put a new filling in, my preference is to use a white filling that does not have mercury in it.  When placed correctly, white fillings will work as well than silver fillings in most situations, and sometimes they work even better than silver fillings work. In other situations, a silver filling may work better than the white filling, but this is a conversation to have with your dentist.


White fillings aren’t perfect either.  Before they harden up, they release a compound called Bisphenol A (BPA) that can mimic the effect of estrogen, which is a hormone.  Once the filling or sealant is placed it should be polished or cleaned to remove the surface that contains the most BPA.  BPA exposure from dental fillings is small and does not last very long. BPA exposure from other sources like canned foods, plastic containers, or sales receipts is much greater.  For patients who are concerned about BPA exposure, porcelain crowns or partial crowns can be used but they are more expensive and time-consuming to place.

Fluoride with oral hygiene helps prevent cavities.  If you get a cavity, it has to be fixed or you could end up with an infection.  With all chemicals or medications there is a risk/benefit that has to be weighed before using them.  At Sun City Dental, we believe in giving patients options and allowing them to make choices about their own healthcare.

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