By Dr. Mercola
Mercury dental fillings, or amalgams, have been used for more than 150 years, despite the fact that mercury is one of the most potent neurotoxins known to man.
Dental amalgam is an antiquated filling material that's typically a mixture of 50 percent mercury and 50 percent other metals (copper, tin, silver and zinc). Mercury fillings are deceptively called "silver fillings," referring to the color of the material rather than its composition.
Mercury has been scientifically proven to have damaging effects on your kidneys, nervous system, cardiovascular system and immune system. In fact, it's SO toxic that entire buildings have been evacuated for a mercury spill smaller than a standard dental filling.
And before a dentist can remove one of those fillings from your teeth, he must don the equivalent of a hazmat suit! Yet, in spite of all these known risks, you're somehow supposed to believe that mercury is safe in your mouth, or in your child's mouth, for many decades.
Some European Authorities Seem Apathetic About Amalgam Risks
Many in the US have been concerned about the continued use of amalgams for decades, and it appears that Europeans share our concerns, as shown in the program "What's in Your Mouth?"
Morland Sanders interviews a number of medical professionals on both sides of the amalgam issue. The lack of concern demonstrated by some European authorities is quite remarkable, but others have awakened and are taking action.
Norway, Denmark, and Sweden have enacted legislation banning mercury amalgam in their countries. According to the film, the European Commission stated:
"The largest source of mercury exposure for most people in developed countries is inhalation of mercury vapor from dental amalgam."
On the other hand, the American Dental Association (ADA) continues to insist that the mercury in amalgam is safe and does not leak, in spite of the fact that no clinical studies have ever been done to confirm this. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved amalgam under a "grandfather clause."
Unfortunately, independent studies have shown that the mercury in dental amalgam is not as stable as proponents claim as mercury vapor leaks out in significant amounts, and is a chronic mercury exposure to your body.1
Studies have suggested dental amalgam is responsible for at least 60-95 percent of mercury in human tissues.2 Today, more than 50 percent of US dentists have ceased using mercury filings. The FDA appears to be a long way from banning amalgams altogether, but in response to public pressure, it now issues this warning on its website:
"Dental amalgams contain mercury which may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous system of developing children and fetus...
Pregnant women and persons who may have a health condition that makes them more sensitive to mercury exposure, including individuals with existing high levels of mercury bioburden, should not avoid seeking dental care, but should discuss options with their health practitioner."
There Is NO Safe Level of Mercury Exposure
Compelling evidence shows that dental amalgams readily release mercury in the form of vapor every time you eat, drink, brush your teeth, or otherwise stimulate your teeth. A single amalgam filling may release as much as 15 micrograms of mercury per day, and according to the featured documentary, 10 micrograms per day is average.
To put that into perspective, eating mercury-tainted seafood can expose you to about 2.3 micrograms per day—and that alone was enough for scientists to call for a worldwide warning3 back in 2006!
These mercury vapors typically pass through your cell membranes with ease and cross your blood-brain barrier into your central nervous system, where they can cause serious psychological, neurological, and immunological problems.
Mercury toxicity has been linked to Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other neurological disorders, including multiple sclerosis. Earlier this year, Maria Indermuhle shared her harrowing story of getting mercury poisoning from her dental amalgams, which was actually misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis. She completely recovered after getting the amalgams removed.
As noted in an extensive scientific review4 about mercury and children's health, there is no known safe level of exposure for mercury. Any dentist who continues to tell you that mercury exposure from amalgam is "minimal" or "inconsequential" is doing you a reprehensible disservice.
Dental Mercury Fuels Chronic Inflammation in Your Body
Not only does mercury fan the flames of inflammation, which is a key factor in most chronic disease, it also impairs your body's ability to detoxify. You may be particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of mercury if your immune system is in any way compromised, or if you are exposed to additional toxins—lead or aluminum, for example—in which case, mercury becomes even more toxic.
General symptoms of mercury poisoning can easily be overlooked or misdiagnosed. If you have any of the following symptoms or a combination, you might want to have yourself screened for heavy metal toxicity:
✓ Impairment of vision, hearing, or speech, including light sensitivity
✓ Lack of motor coordination
✓ Muscle twitching and/or tremors
✓ Itching or burning
✓ Skin discoloration (red nose, cheeks, or lips)
✓ Profuse sweating
✓ Elevated heart rate
✓ High blood pressure
✓ Mood swings, nervousness, anxiety, or irritability
Environmental Effects of Mercury Use in Dentistry
Unfortunately, the damage from mercury amalgams has impacts on areas other than human health. When environmental cleanup costs are included, dental amalgams are likely the most expensive type of dental filling. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has cited studies showing that approximately half of the mercury in the environment comes from dental waste (e.g., from the installation and removal of "silver fillings").
According to the EPA, dental clinics are the main source of mercury discharge to public water treatment centers. There are an estimated 160,000 US dentists who install or remove amalgam fillings, and virtually all of them discharge their wastewater into water treatment centers, amounting to about 3.7 tons of mercury per year.5 The problem is that the amalgam waste generated during water treatment settles out as a component of sewage sludge and ends up in the environment in the following places:6
- Air (through incineration)
- Food (through application of the sludge to agricultural land as fertilizer)
When exposed to microbes in water, mercury can change into highly toxic methylmercury, which is what contaminates fish and seafood and the wildlife that feeds on it. There's a simple, relatively inexpensive solution that could drastically cut down on the environmental pollution from mercury waste, if only dentists would choose to use it—amalgam separators.
Estimates are that separators would reduce mercury emissions by nine tons each year. The average cost to a dental office using a separator is just $700 per year. The EPA has proposed a rule that would require all US dentists to install amalgam separators, which is expected to be finalized in September 2015. The best solution, of course, would be to eliminate mercury from dentistry altogether, but until this happens, separators would at least lessen the environmental burden.
Important Information About Amalgam Removal
For those of you who have mercury fillings, I recommend having them very carefully removed by a competent biological dentist. It's very important to have it done correctly. Removing amalgam fillings can expose you to significant amounts of mercury vapor if your dentist doesn't do it properly. For this reason, it's important to find a qualified biological dentist who is trained in safe amalgam removal. Mercury can cause kidney damage.
When amalgams are removed, a large amount of mercury is released, and if the proper precautions aren't taken, your body can absorb a massive dose of mercury, which can lead to acute kidney problems. I experienced this myself more than 20 years ago when I had my amalgams removed by a non-biological dentist. Biological dentistry views your teeth and gums as an integrated part of your body, and any medical treatments performed take this fact into account. Biological dentists are well aware of the dangers involved with toxic materials such as amalgams. Some of the steps that need to be taken 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
✓ Putting a rubber dam in your mouth so you don't swallow or inhale any toxins, and using a high-volume evacuator near the tooth at all times to evacuate the mercury vapor
✓ Using a cold-water spray to minimize mercury vapors
✓ 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