Dental Mercury, 3 facts you need to know
By Amanda Just and John Kall, DMD of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT)
1. Dental mercury fillings, also called amalgams, have a silver appearance, but contain approximately 50% mercury.
Dental mercury is still being used in the USA. All silver-colored fillings are dental amalgams, and each and every one of these fillings is comprised of 45%-55% mercury. Mercury is a known neurotoxin that can cause harm to humans, especially children, pregnant women, and fetuses.
In 2013, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) formalized a global convention to reduce mercury usage, which includes initiatives to phase down the use of dental mercury. The UNEP mercury convention will come into force on August 16, 2017, and as part of this effort, the European Union is taking action on dental mercury. A new EU mercury regulation plans to prohibit the use amalgam for vulnerable populations (pregnant or breastfeeding women, children under 15 years old) and provide for discussion about the feasibility of ending dental amalgam use in the European Union by 2030.
Prior to the 2017 ratification of UNEP’s mercury treaty, other countries had already taken protective actions against dental mercury. For example, Norway and Sweden have banned dental amalgam, and Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Japan have reportedly limited its use to less than 5% of tooth restorations. However, mercury fillings are still used on about 45% of direct dental restorations worldwide, including in the United States.
2. Dental mercury vapor is released from these fillings into the human body, and this dental mercury has been linked to health risks.
Mercury vapor is continuously emitted from amalgam which means that people are directly exposed to the mercury in their mouths. The output of mercury vapor can be intensified by the number of fillings and other activities, such as chewing, teeth-grinding, and the consumption of hot liquids. Mercury is also known to be released during the placement, replacement, and removal of dental mercury amalgam fillings.
Scientific researchers have investigated how this mercury in amalgam fillings can relate to Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), antibiotic resistance, anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, autoimmune disorders/immunodeficiency, cardiovascular problems, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, hearing loss, infertility, kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and an array of other health problems. Click the following link to learn more about the potential health risks of mercury amalgam fillings.
3. Safety measures can reduce the amount of mercury vapor released during the removal of dental mercury amalgam fillings.
Some patients require the removal of silver amalgam fillings due to device failure, while others opt for the removal of silver amalgam fillings because of cosmetic purposes (white-colored fillings match the teeth better) or because they prefer to have dental fillings that do not contain mercury. However, the process of drilling out amalgam fillings liberates quantities of mercury vapor and fine particulates that can be inhaled and absorbed through the lungs, and this is potentially harmful to patients, dentists, dental workers, and their fetuses.
The application of specific safety measures can reduce the potential negative health outcomes of mercury exposure during the amalgam removal process. It is crucial for patients to know what these safety measures are so that they can insure these practices are implemented during the removal of amalgam fillings.
The Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique
These writers co-authored a chapter about the health risks of mercury dental fillings that was published in a textbook about epigenetics from Springer in 2016.
Amanda Just, MS: Ms. Just is the Program Director of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology. She is also a freelance writer and dental consumer who has shared her writings about the impact of dental mercury amalgam fillings with the United Nations Environment Programme, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and various NGOs.
John Kall, DMD: Dr. Kall serves as the Chairman of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology’s Board of Directors. He is a member of the American Dental Association, a fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), Past President of the KY Chapter of the AGD, a member of the Louisville Dental Society, and a member of the Kentucky Dental Association.