Silver amalgam dental fillings have been in use all over the world for many decades. However, there has been a bit of a deception going on all along. “Silver” amalgam is actually an alloy of several metals, but typically contains around 50 percent mercury.
More and more people are becoming aware and wary of the potential negative health impacts of amalgam fillings. Here are a few reasons you should be careful when choosing what to fill your cavities with.
Mercury in Your Mouth
Several micrograms of mercury are released from dental amalgam fillings every day through the simple act of chewing. Though the actual amount is also affected by how many and what size of fillings you may have, amalgam releases mercury every time it’s physically impacted, including through heat from hot food and drinks, or even when brushing your teeth. This is increased if you habitually chew gum.
The released mercury usually takes the form of a vapor, rather than a solid. However, the vapor can react with food and oral bacteria to produce methylmercury, a highly toxic form that’s easily absorbed into tissues. This mercury can remain in the system for years, and its toxicity comes from a cumulative buildup of the poisonous metal in your body.
Blind to the Risks
Both the ADA and the FDA have consistently disparaged or ignored numerous studies showing that dental amalgam releases mercury into the body. At one time, it was taught that it was irresponsible to remove mercury fillings. Dentists could even lose their license to practice over the issue.
Metal fillings are a favorite practice because using them is cheap, easy, and provides a long-lasting solution. However, the risk of mercury poisoning is just as great to the dentist. More mercury vapor is released when melting and applying the amalgam. Vapor is also released during procedures such as teeth cleanings or orthodontics. Dentists who may be using and exposed to mercury fillings several times a day are at increased risk themselves.
For both safety and economy, you would be well advised to sell your dental gold alloy and dental appliances to a company that reclaims them, and seeking modern materials.
Exposure to mercury, in either high dosage or accumulated levels over time, can create a number of health problems, from mild to very serious and potentially even fatal. Signs of mercury poisoning may include:
- Weakness and fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Irritability or mood swings
- Weight loss
- Skin conditions
- Hearing impairment
- Memory loss
- Lower immune response
In fact, there are nearly 100 possible symptoms, so it’s very difficult to recognize without a physician and urinary or blood testing. Very high levels of mercury can lead to birth defects in pregnant women, impaired brain and motor functions, kidney or renal failure, and if not treated in time, death.
Threat to the Environment
The effects of mercury can vary widely according to body chemistry, age, genetics, and general health. But mercury in the environment also contributes to the overall level of the toxin in your system. Fish and seafood are principal sources of methylmercury in the diet, since they absorb over a lifetime any mercury that’s washed into the oceans. Mercury is used in a wide variety of products, such as traditional thermometers and motion switches, to industrial processes like mining and textiles.
One of the chief sources of mercury pollution is dentists who routinely use dental amalgam. Excess or spilled amalgam is typically washed down the drain into public water systems where it can linger indefinitely.
If you have traditional metal fillings, and particularly if you have several of them, you’re encouraged to talk to your dentist about replacement with modern solutions like composite resin. Removal might involve a temporary spike in mercury levels, but it’s better than adding methylmercury to your diet day after day for the rest of your life.