Amalgam Replacement (Mercury Fillings) – Is It Necessary?
Amalgam filling was used to fill dental cavities since ages and just till one and a half century ago. Half of it is made from mercury while the rest is made from other material like tin and silver. Dentists were always in its favor because it was the strongest and longest-lasting dental filling, besides being the cheapest one. However, during the last two decades mercury has been labeled as an environmental hazard and is considered to be associated to kidney and brain damage, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis. In January 2013 the Minamata Convention, a treaty by the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) committed itself to minimizing the usage of mercury across the world, including in dentistry. From all this, those of you having amalgam fillings in your teeth may wonder about what to do. But don’t worry; there is some relieving news for you.
It is true that mercury in the dental fillings does release some amount of mercury vapor, which is taken up in the blood through lungs and later transferred to the kidneys to be released out through urine. If this amount is high, it may harm kidneys and brain. However, the good news is research has shown that even though your mouth has 15 fillings in it, the vapor released is too low to be harmful. A study published in Environmental Science and Technology in March 2013 claimed that the test which is used most commonly to measure vapor from dental amalgam may overestimate the level which is released from the fillings.
There are hoards of researches which show that there is no link between amalgam and health issues, barring in those people who are allergic to mercury (who are about 3%) who may suffer from mouth sores and rashes on skin.
In 2008 the scientific committee of the European Commission stated that there was no proof that dental amalgam resulted in health issues and also warned that there were more proof about its safety than that of newer kinds of fillings. However, it also stated that amalgam was avoided for pregnant women and children below the age of six years.
The Journal of the American Medical Association have published studies which show no adverse effects of the amalgam on brain or kidneys in children above six years of age and USFDA states that it is uncertain about whether mercury traces would reach risky amounts in children below six.
There are some studies in opposition too. E.g. a paper in the Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology condemned the EC report for citing a poor study. However that paper cited autopsy studies which are not designed to monitor whether mercury levels gave health issues.
If you have dental amalgam in your mouth, you don’t have to worry because no conventional dental organization advises to replace your amalgam fillings as far as they are not cracked or there is no decay under them. Drilling out amalgam can cause loss of healthier tooth and the procedure will expose you significantly to more amount of mercury vapor than it would have been left untouched.