Kids Exposed to Mercury, Lead at Risk for ADHD

Dental Fillings in Kids

Story at-a-glance -

  • Children with the highest concentrations of mercury in their blood had more trouble paying attention – and were three times as likely to display symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – than those with lower levels
  • The presence of mercury in seafood prompts urgent warnings from the FDA and other groups, but they refuse to address concerns about placing dental amalgam, half of which is mercury, directly into the mouths of children and pregnant women
  • There is overwhelming evidence showing mercury from dental fillings is released in the form of vapor each time you eat, drink, brush your teeth or otherwise stimulate your teeth
  • Along with avoiding contaminated seafood, avoiding mercury “amalgam” fillings is also important to protect children’s health

By Dr. Mercola

Mercury has no place in anyone's body, let alone a child's.

As you're probably aware, mercury is a neurotoxin, exposure to which is linked to brain and nervous system damage, kidney damage, autoimmune and other health effects.

Children, including those still developing in the womb, are most at risk because of their small size, their more permeable blood-brain barriers and the fact that they're detoxification systems are not yet capable of effectively removing toxic challenges.

Now new research is highlighting the very real risks that occur when this toxic metal is ingested.

Mercury From Seafood Linked to ADHD

Inuit children in northern Quebec, Canada, eat a diet rich in beluga whale meat, which is typically contaminated with high levels of mercury. After analyzing umbilical cord blood from nearly 300 children, and years later getting detailed information about their behavior, researchers found those with the highest concentrations of mercury had more trouble paying attention – and were three times as likely to display symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – than those with lower levels.1

Those with low to moderate lead levels were also more than four times as likely to have hyperactivity problems than kids with lower levels (Inuit children are exposed to lead from eating shot pellets in geese and ducks).

Separate research has also revealed that babies exposed in the womb to higher levels of mercury, due to their mom's fish-rich diet, scored lower on skills tests when they became infants and toddlers.2 So it's quite clear that this toxin has a serious impact on your brain function...

Where are the Warnings About Mercury Dental Fillings?

If the presence of mercury in seafood and skin cream is tied to concerning study results and warrants urgent warnings from the FDA and other groups, why does the agency refuse to address concerns about placing 1-2 grams of dental amalgam, half of which is mercury, into the mouths of children and pregnant women?  

The FDA admits that amalgam could be dangerous for children and that there is no evidence that it is safe for them.  Buried deep in the FDA's 2009 amalgam rule, FDA concedes "The developing neurological systems in fetuses and young children may be more sensitive to the neurotoxic effects of mercury vapor. Very limited to no clinical information is available regarding long-term health outcomes in pregnant women and their developing fetuses, and children under the age of six, including infants who are breastfed."3

Nonetheless, in 2006, 2009 and 2010, the FDA ignored its expert panelists' recommendations that mercury fillings should not be used in children and pregnant women. They actually ruled there would be no warnings to patients, not even young women and parents of young children, that the mercury in the fillings is a dangerous reproductive toxin and a neurotoxin.  

They even gave the amalgam industry the green light to sell and use amalgam (mercury) fillings without disclosing to consumers that the fillings are mainly mercury, even though the agency is aware of the industry's long-time deceptive practice of marketing amalgam as "silver fillings."

In 2011, the FDA then reneged on its promise to re-examine the mercury amalgam issue and make an updated announcement by year's end; no announcement was made, and there are no plans for an announcement in the future. The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for a switch away from amalgam in its mercury report,4 but the FDA is still failing to act -- even though dental amalgam is far from an essential dental product; it's interchangeable with many other filling materials that do not have the toxic profile amalgam has.

There is overwhelming evidence showing mercury from dental fillings to be easily released in the form of vapor each time you eat, drink, brush your teeth or otherwise stimulate your teeth.

This mercury vapor readily pass through cell membranes, across your blood-brain barrier, and into your central nervous system, where can cause psychological, neurological, and immunological problems. In the United States, children and pregnant women continue to have their health and the health of future generations put at risk because the FDA is failing to protect them.

The WHO report also included mention of the known toxic effects of mercury exposure, including in its inhaled vapor form, stating:

"Mercury is highly toxic and harmful to health. Approximately 80% of inhaled mercury vapor is absorbed in the blood through the lungs, causing damages to lungs, kidneys and the nervous, digestive, respiratory and immune systems. Health effects from excessive mercury exposure include tremors, impaired vision and hearing, paralysis, insomnia, emotional instability, developmental deficits during fetal development, and attention deficit and developmental delays during childhood."

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Why are Mercury Fillings Still on the Market?

Amalgam fillings contain more mercury than any other product sold in the United States. And they are highly profitable to dentists, which makes them that much harder to remove from the marketplace. Dentists who are inexperienced with mercury-free fillings can install amalgam fillings much faster than the primary alternative, which is composite fillings. Wherever healthcare budgets are tight, people in need of fillings are given amalgams. Low-income people, people in third-world countries, and even our soldiers get mercury fillings—even the pregnant ones—because they "cost less" to install.

But with all that is known about the dangers of mercury, why are we still implanting this neurotoxin just inches from our brains? Why haven't mercury fillings been removed from the market altogether? This is a very good question, and one that has NOT been answered by the FDA, according to Charlie Brown, executive director of Consumers for Dental Choice. Charlie Brown has been a champion in the battle to get mercury banned from dentistry.

Important Information Regarding Amalgam Removal

For those of you who have mercury fillings, I recommend that you have them removed … but avoid making the mistake I did nearly 20 years ago by having it done by a non-biological dentist. When you have these fillings removed you can be exposed to significant amounts of mercury vapor if the dentist doesn't know what he or she is doing. It's also for this reason that I strongly suggest you get healthy BEFORE having your fillings removed, as you want your detoxification mechanisms optimized prior to removal.

My struggles with my own teeth led me to learn about and embrace biological dentistry, also known as holistic or environmental dentistry.

In a nutshell, biological dentistry views your teeth and gums as an integrated part of your entire body, and any medical treatments performed takes this fact into account. The primary aim of holistic dentistry is to resolve your dental problems while working in harmony with the rest of your body. Biological dentists are well aware of the dangers involved with toxic materials such as mercury fillings (aka amalgams). Some things that need to be done to keep you (and your dentist) safe during amalgam removal include:

  • Providing you with an alternative air source and instructing you not to breathe through your mouth
  • Using a cold-water spray to minimize mercury vapor
  • Putting a rubber dam in your mouth so you don't swallow or inhale any toxins
  • Using a high-volume evacuator near the tooth at all times to evacuate the mercury vapor
  • Washing your mouth out immediately after the fillings have been removed (the dentist should also change gloves after the removal)
  • Immediately cleaning your protective wear and face once the fillings are removed
  • Using room air purifiers

How to Find a Qualified Biological Dentist

If you're taking the steps to protect your children from mercury exposure by limiting their consumption of contaminated seafood, you certainly would not want to have mercury fillings implanted directly into their mouths. Knowledgeable biological dentists, who will be familiar with using the many alternatives to amalgam, can be hard to come by, so start your search by asking a friend, relative, neighbor, or inquire at your local health food store. The following links can also help you to find a mercury-free, biological dentist: