Dental amalgams have been in common use for over 160 years, affecting the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world.Indeed, we are still using the same technology that was in use during the American Civil War. People were still reading by candle light, and the common modes of transportation were horses and sailing ships: that’s how long ago we’re talking about here. Many barbers were still doing dentistry procedures, as dentistry was not yet its own field, and the Victorian era was in full swing.While some would argue that 160 years of use must signify a significant benefit of mercury amalgams over other filling materials, this isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, mercury amalgam fillings have been strenuously rejected by many medical and dental health professionals since their inception.You would think that, considering the vast amounts of research over the past 160 years, our dental technology would have progressed since the horse and buggy days. The thing is, the technology has progressed, but the dental profession has not always kept pace with the latest research. Admitting to the world that the dental profession has been systematically harming people for 160 years is bad business. Not as bad business, however, as continuing to claim that implanting mercury into people’s bodies is “safe” when we know it isn’t.
What Is Mercury Amalgam?Mercury amalgam is the most common dental filling material ever used, and is still widely in use today. It’s estimated that over 1 billion amalgam fillings are placed annually. Multiply that over 160+ years and you can get an idea of the scope of this practice.
- ~50% elemental (liquid) mercury
- ~28% silver
- ~14% tin
- ~8% copper
My Experience Placing AmalgamsI earned certification in restorative expanded functions (RF), allowing me to place and contour amalgam (and other) fillings. I spent hundreds of hours earning this certification, and therefore have had a lot of experience working with amalgams. Right away, I realized there was something amiss when dealing with mercury amalgams. I’ll relate my experiences here.
- We were strenuously warned about the dangers of working with amalgam and the instructors watched us like hawks to ensure we were handling it “safely”
- It was explained to us that dental professionals have the highest levels of systemic mercury of anyone else in the population
- We were instructed not to get it on our clothing, our skin, and to at all times wear a mask, gloves, and full protective gown when handling it
- We used high-speed suction throughout the procedure to ensure all the amalgam dust was extracted from the air (and mouth) as we worked. The dust was extracted into a water reservoir to ensure it was contained and could not blow out of the container
- At the end of the day we had to dump amalgam scraps, and the amalgam dust water, into enormous plastic barrels. The barrels were considered so hazardous that we had to open and unscrew the lids using a wrench the size of my entire arm. The lid was promptly secured and double-checked by an instructor
- Mercury amalgam was treated as hazardous waste, and it was clear that it was so dangerous that we should not be placing it in people’s mouths or handling it ourselves
Toxic Teeth: The Dangers Of Mercury AmalgamsWhile many conventional dentists would have you believe that mercury amalgam fillings are “safe,” there has always been and always will be a plethora of evidence to the contrary. When amalgam fillings first hit the mainstream, they were strenuously rejected by scientists in the medical and dental communities. However, there was never a consensus, and the “debate” has only gained steam over the past 160 years.The political clout of dental corporations and associations, and their hold over the dental profession and dental schools, has been a thorn in the side of forward-thinking dental professionals since the field began. Unfortunately, it seems clear that no matter how much evidence is presented to the dental community, the “powers that be” continue down the same path they’ve always taken. The good news, however, it that about 50% of dentists in the US now refuse to work with amalgam fillings, while some countries have passed legislation banning their use (Norway, Sweden, Denmark.) Despite the corporate dental associations pushing mercury amalgams as safe, the world at large is finally becoming aware of their dangers and acting accordingly.
- Peer-reviewed, evidence-based research has found time and again that mercury amalgams “outgas” mercury vapors into the body. This outgassing of mercury vapor occurs due to temperature changes (foods, drinks), mechanical agitation (chewing, biting, brushing the teeth), as well as chemical and electrical interactions (fluoride ions, other metals in the mouth)
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that there is no “safe” level of mercury in the body. In other words, even one atom of mercury is not safe
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and World Health Organization (WHO) state “A specific no-observed-effect level (NOEL) cannot be established”
- The average mercury amalgam filling outgasses 3.0-17.0 µg/day of mercury vapor, depending on temperature changes, mechanical agitation, and chemical / electrical interactions in the mouth on any given day
- Outgassing of mercury vapors into the mouth is a serious problem, since the mouth is so close to the brain. The vapor passes easily through the palate, waltzes through the blood-brain barrier (BBB), and settles in the brain. The rest of the mercury vapor is inhaled into the lungs where it enters the bloodstream and travels throughout the body. In pregnant women, the mercury easily passes through the placenta into the developing fetus. The long-term effects of daily mercury outgassing can have serious consequences on the mental and systemic health of those affected.