Recent research examined the levels of mercury found in the blood of research participants in relation to the number of silver amalgam fillings that they have.(1) Not surprisingly, as the number of silver dental fillings increased, so did the level of mercury detected in their blood. In people who had 8 or more amalgam fillings, the mercury levels in their body were 150% that of those who had no mercury fillings. In the US, the average dental patient has 3 dental fillings and 25% of patients have more than 11. That leaves a lot of potential for there to be increased levels of mercury in a large portion of the population.
Over the years there have been numerous studies and groups going back and forth over whether or not the toxic mercury, which makes up 50% of silver amalgam fillings, is absorbed by patients over time and if it affects the health of the patient. Ironically, there is no controversy over whether the mercury in silver fillings is toxic. It is undisputed and everyone agrees that it is a very dangerous neurotoxin to which exposure should be absolutely avoided and its use is highly regulated by the EPA. So, why are we still discussing the use of silver fillings?
Its hard to believe now, but decades ago cigarette smoking was believed to have some health benefits and was even advertised as having the added benefit of weight loss, hence the name “Virginia Slims”. Today we would all look at that flawed belief system and wonder what they were thinking. But, at the time, I am certain that the general consensus was that smoking was not that detrimental to health and even physicians back then would have defended it.
Likewise, I believe many years from now, people will look back and wonder in the same fashion how in the world the dental profession allowed fillings with a known poisonous neurotoxin (50% by weight) to continue to be used routinely when there were non toxic better alternative materials. Not to mention the fact that dental mercury is the largest source of environmental mercury contamination.
The bottom line is this, never allow silver amalgam fillings to be placed in your teeth, ask for composite fillings instead. If you have them currently in your mouth and are concerned about your absorption of the mercury in it, and I personally would be, you should get them removed. The way in which they are removed makes all of the difference. Here is a quick breakdown of the safe silver amalgam filling removal criteria:
- You must have a rubber dam or similar barrier in the mouth that prevents you from swallowing or inhaling the amalgam
- Lots of water must be used to keep mercury from vaporizing
- High Volume Suction must be kept very close to the tooth by the assistant to capture mercury and its vapor
- You may consider taking a chelating supplement like Chlorella and probiotics in order to help rid your body of mercury already absorbed in it
Many patients researching safe removal of mercury amalgam fillings will find resources suggesting that patients find a biologic dentist or a holistic dentist. These are not specialties, but rather are dentists who are stating that they are versed in the safe removal of amalgam. I believe that as long as the procedures mentioned above are strictly followed, your exposure to it will be very unlikely.
In my Victoria, TX dentist office we are mercury free and offer either a rubber dam or isolite to our patients who will have amalgam removed and let them know that by doing so they will limit their potential for exposure. I have been surprised by just how many patients are unaware that silver amalgam fillings even contained mercury. After reading this, you should be ahead of the curve and can make in informed decision at to what you are putting into your teeth.