The post below is sponsored by Beyond Exceptional Dentistry in Savannah & Bluffton, www.braddurhamdmd.com, (912) 234-8282, email email@example.com Beyond Exceptional Dentistry is a SouthernMamas.com advertiser
When metal amalgam fillings were introduced in the US about 180 years ago, their use was declared to be medical malpractice. The controversy rocked the dental community and overturned the old dental association, and the American Dental Association was founded on, among other things, a belief in metal amalgam fillings. Now the controversy rages again, and it’s hard to know the truth.
What we do know is that metal amalgam fillings contain mercury, and that the mercury moves through the body. In pregnant women, this mercury moves into the fetus, and in lactating women, the mercury contaminates breast milk. We also know that metal amalgam fillings are a significant source of mercury in our environment. How best to respond to these facts is something every mother will have to decide for herself.
Metal Amalgam Fillings Contain Toxic Mercury
Metal amalgam or “silver” fillings are actually more mercury than they are anything else: currently 50% by weight, though the proportion has been even higher in the past. Mercury is one of the most toxic elements in our environment, with the potential to cause damage to the brain and nerves, as well as causing some cancers.
Metal Amalgam Fillings Are Believed to Be Safe
There are two major proponents of the safety of metal amalgam fillings: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Dental Association (ADA). Both assert that metal amalgam fillings should continue to be available. You can read FDA’s statement here. This 2009 statement is based on 2004 research.
The basic statement says that we haven’t proved the harmfulness of metal amalgam fillings beyond reasonable doubt. There is good reason to believe that people with metal amalgam fillings may suffer no significant consequences.
However, there are also reasons for concern.
Mercury Moves through the Body
One of the main reasons for concern is that mercury in the fillings doesn’t stay in the fillings. It migrates through the tooth enamel into the bloodstream, and it evaporates into the mouth where it is inhaled and swallowed. What happens with this mercury when it leaves your mouth? Scientists explored this by giving 12 fillings each to five pregnant sheep. The fillings were marked with special radioactive mercury not found in nature. Researchers took measurements of the sheep’s excretion of mercury and after 140 days, they sacrificed the sheep and measured the levels of radioactive mercury in the sheep. They found high levels of radioactive mercury in the sheep’s kidney and liver, and in the liver and pituitary gland of the fetus.
There are several complaints about this study, that the fillings were prepared with higher levels of mercury than are currently used, and that inadequate care was taken to ensure sheep didn’t swallow mercury, and others. But this study also took place over less than six months. Mercury fillings are expected to be in the bodies of people for decades.
Mercury Is Found in Breast Milk
In a follow-up to their initial sheep study, researchers prepared more sheep with fillings and looked at the presence of mercury in their milk and the concentration of mercury in their lambs. They found that mercury did seem to pass from the ewes to the lambs both in the womb and through breast milk. Researchers also measured mercury in the breast milk of women and found that it correlated with the number of fillings they had and the level of mercury found in their mouths.
Mercury from Fillings in the Environment
A recent study shows that even in remote lakes in National Parks, fish are exposed to high levels of environmental mercury. About 68% of fish tested in these parks contained mercury levels high enough that people should limit their consumption of these fish. How is this related to mercury fillings?
It turns out that mercury released from fillings during cremation is actually a significant source of pollution, accounting for perhaps 5% of mercury in the air in some places. This means that the toxicity of mercury in fillings may have far-reaching consequences for our environment.
Is There a Safe Level for Fillings?
With the controversy over the toxicity of mercury fillings, the warring sides have produced little in the way of what seems like usable guidance. Estimates of the number of fillings necessary for toxic exposure in adults range from 2 to 450. A more recent analysis suggests that 6 fillings for children and 8 fillings for adults is likely to be the amount required for toxic exposure.
In response to the potential risks, many countries have banned mercury fillings completely, and 150 nations recently agreed that mercury fillings are a source of toxic mercury that may need to be phased out. With this level of concern, it seems that many people around the world are not convinced that metal amalgam fillings are safe, no matter what our government says.
The above post is sponsored by Beyond Exceptional Dentistry in Savannah & Bluffton, www.braddurhamdmd.com, (912) 234-8282, email firstname.lastname@example.org Beyond Exceptional Dentistry is a SouthernMamas.com advertiser