SILVER DENTAL FILLINGS, or amalgams, contain inorganic mercury. Mercury fillings in your mouth release mercury vapor that is absorbed into your body via the lungs, ending up in your body. It is deposited in your organs, including your brain, where it accumulates over time. The body does have ability to remove some mercury via the liver, kidney, hair and sweat.
There are different types of mercury. Nearly all human exposures to one type, methylmercury, come from fish. Elemental mercury is from dental fillings (amalgams) and is also converted from methylmercury by the body and is the main form of mercury in the brain. Mercury is lipophilic, meaning that it concentrates in fatty tissues, especially in the brain, which has a high concentration of fat.
We get mercury in our bodies from many different sources including mercury vapors in ambient air, ingesting it via drinking water, vaccines, occupational exposures, home exposures including fluorescent light bulbs, thermostats, batteries, red tattoo dye, skin-lightening creams, over-the-counter products such as contact lens fluid, neosynephrine, and more.
Silver dental fillings, or amalgams, contain inorganic mercury. These fillings are a mixture of metals, primarily silver, tin, zinc, copper and 50 percent mercury. Mercury exposure from amalgams is estimated to be between 3 to 17 micrograms per day from chewing, brushing, grinding, and even slow corrosion. Mercury fillings in your mouth release mercury vapor that is absorbed into your body via the lungs, ending up in your body. It is deposited in your organs, including your brain, where it accumulates over time. The body does have ability to remove some mercury via the liver, kidney, hair and sweat.
Whether your fillings are new or old, the mercury in them is constantly absorbed into your body. And even if you stop being exposed to that mercury, it sticks around. It takes up to 18 years for the body to clear half the dose of mercury from the body. Once mercury is in the body it comes out only very slowly. It can be removed or “chelated” from the body slowly by qualified medical professionals.
In fact, people with amalgam fillings have significantly elevated blood mercury levels, three to five times more mercury in the urine, and two to 12 times more mercury in their tissues than those without amalgam fillings.
In 1991, the World Health Organization concluded that dental amalgam is “the greatest source of mercury exposure for the general population, exceeding those from food and air.” Amalgam dental fillings have been banned in Sweden, Denmark and Norway.
The American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs prepared a comprehensive literature review on amalgam safety that summarizes the state of the evidence for amalgam safety over the five years from January 2004 to April 2009. Based on the results of that review, the Council reaffirmed at its July 2009 meeting that the scientific evidence supports the position that amalgam is a valuable, viable and safe choice for dental patients.
The controversy related to the dangers of mercury in dental fillings has been a topic of serious consideration for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for several years. In December 2010 the FDA convened a two-day panel of experts to evaluate the health effects and safety of mercury in dental fillings. A response to the panel’s recommendations was expected within 6 months in mid 2011, however no recommendations have been released as yet.
The testing for Mercury is difficult because the Mercury is stored within the fat cells of the body. Mercury can be tested by a variety of means – blood, urine, feces and hair are the most common. Each of these tests has limitations.
Symptoms of Mercury Toxicity
The chronic effects of Mercury on the body are difficult to diagnose. Results are variable and depend upon many factors, including the genetic ability of the body to respond to it. Also, depending upon the body’s ability to excrete mercury, results can have false negatives and false positives. Mercury toxicity cannot be tested or diagnosed by a dentist, only by a trained medical professional.
Common symptoms of mercury toxicity include peripheral neuropathy manifesting as itching, numbness, pain or burning, and swelling, discoloration and desquamation of the skin. Mercury has also been implicated as a cofactor in many diseases from Alzheimer’s to autism and many of the chronic autoimmune conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
In Part 2 of this series we will address the dental concerns of Mercury, it’s safe removal and the non-metallic options to replace it.
Dr. Edwards graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy and Temple University School of Dentistry. He completed a general practice residency at the Queens Medical Center in Honolulu. To reach Dr. Edwards you may call 321-751-7775 or visit www.SDICFL.com