Living Healthy: Dental amalgam mercury contents

Could your dental work be exposing you to toxins?

Dentists have been using dental amalgam for more than 150 years, it’s that silver-colored filling used for cavities, but what some people don’t know is that 50-percent of that metal mixture is made of mercury.

“I was trying to avoid mercury when I was pregnant and nursing. I knew all the fish not to eat, but I had no idea it could be in my mouth,” dental patient Amy Forseter said.

The 38-year-old says she’s had more than a dozen cavities; most of them filled with dental amalgam, a mixture of metals that’s 50-percent liquid mercury, a naturally occurring element that’s highly toxic.

“As soon as I learned that I had these toxins in my mouth, I wanted to immediately get it removed,” she said.

For years some scientists have said the mercury from these fillings can leak, seeping into the body causing neurological problems for some people.

“If you’re a healthy person who can detox this, there may not be any noticeable changes, but for those of us who cannot detox this, this is detrimental,” Dr. Kimberly Baer from Natural Dentist Associates said.

Many dentist say most people won’t have any problems with dental amalgam.

But for young children, pregnant women, and those who have compromised immune systems or other conditions like Lyme disease that make it tough for their bodies to get rid of heavy metals, could be at risk for mercury poisoning.

“It accumulates. It accumulates in your organs and it accumulates in your tissues,” Baer said.

The Food and Drug Administration has maintained that there’s insufficient evidence to ban dental amalgam, though the substance is illegal in other countries, including Canada, Germany and Denmark.

Recently, a group of dentists, scientists and patients filed suit against the FDA, claiming the government agency hasn’t done enough to address any potential health hazards of amalgam.

The lawsuit also charges that it’s low income groups including welfare recipients, prisoners and even members of the military who often end up with these fillings because they don’t have a choice.

“What it really comes down to with mercury fillings is economics. The dentists are put in a difficult situation where the insurance companies are strong arming them into using it because the material is cheaper for the insurance to reimburse on,” Baer said.

Some dentists recommend patients get them removed, that’s what Amy Forseter did.

She says she was never diagnosed with mercury poisoning, but since she got them removed a few months ago she’s noticed some changes, including less anxiety.

The FDA has said for years that these fillings are safe.

And that the amount of mercury that can leak is so small and way below safety standards.


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