Beryllium: The silent killer

Beryllium is a hard, silvery-white metal that is added to base metal alloys for use in dental crowns, bridges and partial denture frameworks. Beryllium has a very high melting point at 2349 degrees Fahrenheit and is very light in weight. The combination of its lightweight and high melting point, make it valuable for making metal alloys. With beryllium’s chemical properties and cheaper price, the material is often added to metal alloys instead of pricier precious metals in dental labs.

What is not so well known about beryllium is that it is a category 1 carcinogen, meaning that it is cancer causing to animals and humans. Beryllium produces a direct corrosive effect to tissue and exposure to its vapor or particles can cause a number of life threatening diseases. These diseases include contact dermatitis, chronic granulomatous lung disease, lung carcinoma and osteosarcoma. Beryllium disease can develop in a short period after initial exposure or remain latent for up to thirty years.

The risk of ingesting beryllium dust and particles is the greatest during the fabrication of dental crowns, bridges and partial dentures. So the people who are affected the most are the dental lab technicians. Symptoms of Beryllium disease include cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, weight loss, fevers, and night sweats. Because of these generalized symptoms the disease is often gone undiagnosed and therefore not treated for properly.

The general public should be informed about this cancer causing metal that could be in their mouth right now.  At Cosmetic Dental Associates we do not use any beryllium in the fabrications of our dental restorations. We have replaced this cancer causing material with titanium, which is a biocompatible and a precious metal. This is our policy not only because we care about the safety of our patients as well as our talented lab technicians Mingo and Sam. A good consumer is an educated one!

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