“Silver” Mercury Amalgam Fillings Can Hurt You, Even if They Aren’t in Your Mouth
You’ve probably heard that mercury amalgam “silver” fillings can really do a number on your health. But you may not know that they can harm you even if you’ve never had one yourself. For when mercury is placed in – or removed from – someone’s mouth, everyone is potentially at risk.
To grasp that, you just need to look at the path dental mercury takes – full transparency, as it were.
The Problem with Mercury
Despite the fact that mercury is a well-known neurotoxin, it’s still the main component (50%) of so-called “silver” fillings, and that mercury is in its elemental form. The dental establishment would have you believe that this mercury becomes inert when mixed into a slurry with other metals – a process called amalgamation.
Don’t believe it?
Scientific studies have proven, time and again, that mercury vapors are constantly released from all amalgam fillings for the lifetime of the filling. Not only do those vapors escape when chewing, drinking hot liquids, or clenching and grinding your teeth. They escape when that filling is removed and discarded into wastewater.
Though Shakespeare famously wrote that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” mercury is no rose. It possesses neither beauty nor fragrance. Even though it’s odorless, the invisible mercury fumes are its most damaging aspect.
Those vapors easily pass through cell membranes, weave their way past the blood-brain barrier, and hit your central nervous system with vengeance. Once there, mercury vapor disrupts the immune system, the nervous system, and cognitive function.
How could this possibly affect amalgam-free you?
Dental Mercury’s Many Paths into the Environment
If a dentist places mercury, they probably don’t have a problem with it. If they don’t have a problem with it, they probably don’t feel the need to protect patients from it. This makes it likely that they’re not protecting themselves or their staff from it either.
While no exposure to mercury is good, exposure always starts with a filling. As mercury is prepared, its vapor is released in the treatment room. Everyone in the area – not just the patient – is exposed.
As it’s packed into a drilled tooth in its softened state and shaped with a hand piece, heat is generated. More heat means more vapor. Additionally, small pieces of mercury amalgam may fleck off during the shaping process. Those that aren’t swallowed by the patient may be sucked up by a suction device.
And that’s where things really get interesting – and not in a good way.
Without an amalgam separator, any stray mercury particles sucked up eventually enter the wastewater stream. Currently, only 11 states require them as a “best practice.” Yet once mercury amalgam hits the water, it begins its journey into the food chain – you know, the one we all eat from.
This routine collection and discharge process accounts for dental offices being the largest source of mercury in wastewater. According to the EPA, the 160,000 dentists in more than 120,000 clinics that handle mercury in any way are responsible for dumping 4.4 tons of mercury into the environment every year.
And when it comes to mercury the dose doesn’t make the poison; the dose amplifies the poison.
While all forms of mercury can accumulate in living organisms, some of these dental mercury solids convert to an organic form of mercury called methylmercury. Methylmercury amplifies the danger of elemental mercury because it is taken up at a faster rate than other forms. It’s known to build up (bio-accumulate) inside living organisms and magnify along the food chain.
Since the first mercury filling was placed about 200 years ago, people have died with them in their mouths. And every person who ever had a mercury filling and died was either buried or cremated. These burial processes both contribute and continue to expose us to mercury emissions in the air, soil, and surface water.
So, too, the release of mercury through human breath and excrement as the body does its best to rid itself of this poison. So, too, the burning of mercury-contaminated solid waste from dental offices.
Unlike people, mercury doesn’t die. Once unleashed, it keeps recirculating.
This is why it’s imperative that mercury amalgam no longer be placed – and why strict safety procedures must be followed whenever an amalgam filling is removed. It’s not just for the patient’s protection, but that of the dental team, other patients in the office, and the environment.
Fortunately, more dentists than ever are beginning to recognize the need for dentistry that’s not only mercury-free but mercury-SAFE. And the phase-down requirements set out by the global mercury treaty known as the Minamata Convention take us one step closer to a mercury-free future.
You can do your part, too. Seek care from a holistically-minded biological dentist. Ask questions. Get the facts. Take charge of your health!
Doing so can help us all. And our planet.