Are Your Dental Fillings Poisonous?

Do you have amalgam (silver) fillings in your mouth?

Amalgams are called silver fillings primarily from the color of the material.  In actuality, they are comprised of 50% mercury, 35% silver, and other trace metals.  The term "mercury fillings" would appear more fitting, though understandably more difficult to market to the general public.  Mercury is used in this amalgam mixture because it is a liquid when in its free state but forms a paste that hardens within minutes when combined with other metals.

The American Dental Association (ADA) initially declared the safety of silver/mercury filling material based upon the misinformed theory that mercury did not escape from the filling.  This assessment came prior to the availability of instrumentation that could determine whether mercury was leaching from the filling.  Today, the evidence is clear that amalgam mercury transfers to human tissues, accumulates over time, and presents a potential threat to health.

The mercury escapes continuously during the life of the filling.  Scientific evidence shows that activities such as chewing, drinking hot liquids, or even brushing your teeth can cause the filling to release up to 15 times as much mercury for almost 90 minutes.  In this vapor form, it is inhaled and absorbed through the lungs into the bloodstream.  The mercury vapor from the amalgams is fat-soluble and passes readily through cell membranes and across the blood-brain barrier, and will accumulate in vital organs and tissues.  The main points of accumulation are the brain and kidneys; other common storage sites include the thyroid, pituitary gland, liver, heart, and blood.

A single dental amalgam filling releases as much as 15 micrograms of mercury per day.  In contrast, eating mercury-tainted seafood, which called for a worldwide warning recently, will expose you to about 2.3 micrograms per day.  The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that there is no safe level of mercury.

Mercury is highly toxic to human beings.  All heavy metals increase the activity and damage caused by free radicals, but mercury also alters the function of many cells in the body.  This means that an individual can experience a wide range of symptoms anywhere in the body.  Most often individuals who suffer adverse effects from silver/mercury fillings don't experience immediate symptoms.  If the immune system is impaired, one may begin to experience chronic flu-like symptoms or chronic fatigue and may not make the connection until some time later. Others may experience a metallic taste, depression, confusion, difficulty concentrating, numbness and tingling, frequent urination, irritability, or short-term memory loss.  Because mercury is also a neurotoxin, it can cause or contribute to emotional and psychological issues such as anxiety and mood swings.  At least 100 symptoms directly or indirectly result from chronic mercury poisoning - the number and severity of present symptoms depends on how many fillings you have and how long you have had them in your mouth.

Current legislation is being drafted in Michigan to require dentists to inform patients of the health hazards of mercury.

Although amalgam fillings have been used since the 1830's, there are better material alternatives today.  Porcelain is likely the best alternative, but composite (a tooth-colored filling material similar to plastic) also has many advantages.


A Visit to the Dentist May Save Your Life! →