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Your Dental Crown May Be Dangerous

Metal Is Durable, But Can Be Harmful

CLEVELAND, 11:17 a.m. EST March 1, 2001 -- If the dentist tells you that you need a crown or bridge, the first question is, how much it is going to cost?

toothbrushBut it may be better to consider what is in that crown, and if it is safe.

Before a crown ever enters your mouth, it is created at a dental laboratory, where it's cast, and then shaped to precision. The metal may be gold, or it could be non-precious and contain 1 - 2 percent beryllium. This variety is hard and durable, but dangerous if the dust gets into lungs.

"There is no reason in the world we should be working with beryllium at all," Tom Muzic of the Universal Dental Studio says.

Muzic says that there are safer alternatives that don't put his staff at risk, but they're five times more expensive, NewsChannel5 reports.

And there is plenty of pressure to keep dental costs down.

"With the entrance of insurance industry, sometimes practioners are forced to make decisions on economics alone," dentist Terrence Messerman says.

Like Muzic, Messerman has made the decision never to use beryllium. But a recent survey conducted by the consumer watchdog group Citizen Action found that a number of dental labs in this area do use beryllium, and many were unaware of the potential hazard to the lungs of workers.

"What I'm looking for is a quick solution to a dangerous problem," Amy Ryder of Ohio Citizen Action tells NewsChannel5.

Citizen Action wants beryllium producers like Brush Wellman to stop supplying the dental industry. The company chose not to be interviewed for this story, but says it's proactive in communicating the potential health hazards.

Opponents argue that communication is not necessarily getting to the person most at risk.

The American Dental Association endorses nickle-beryllium as a dental alloy.

Copyright 2001 by NewsNet5. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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