Health Risks Associated with Amalgam

When it comes to your health, amalgam can do far more harm than good....

Mercury exposure

Dental amalgam is approximately 50% mercury, a known neurotoxin and reproductive toxin. Amalgam releases mercury vapors throughout its lifecycle, especially when

  • the dentist places the amalgam in your tooth
  • you chew food or gum
  • you brush your teeth
  • you grind your teeth

As a result, people with amalgam fillings have higher levels of mercury in their bodies than people without amalgam fillings.

Vulnerable populations

childatdentist

Mercury exposure from dental amalgam is not safe for anyone. But it is particularly risky for....

  • Children: Children’s developing brains and neurological systems are particularly susceptible to the neurotoxic effects of amalgam’s mercury vapor. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) admits that there is no evidence that amalgam is safe for children: “Very limited to no clinical information is available regarding long-term health outcomes in pregnant women and their developing fetuses, and children under the age of six, including infants who are breastfed.” Many countries – including the entire European Union – are banning amalgam use in children.

  • Women of childbearing age: Mercury from a mother’s amalgams can cross the placenta and accumulate in her unborn child. As mentioned above, the FDA admits that there is no evidence that amalgam is safe for developing fetuses. Many countries – including the entire European Union, Canada, Australia, and Mauritius – are banning or recommending against amalgam use in pregnant women.

  • Breastfeeding infants: Mercury from a mother’s amalgams can be passed to her infant through breast milk. The European Union is banning amalgam use in breastfeeding mothers.

  • People with kidney impairments: Mercury can be harmful to your kidneys, especially if you already have a kidney disorder. Decreased kidney function (decreased renal clesarance) is likely to decrease the body’s ability to eliminate mercury via urine. Canada warns against the use of amalgam in people with kidney impairments.

  • Genetically-susceptible individuals: Recent studies found that some individuals are more genetically prone to suffer the neurotoxic effects of mercury from amalgam. For example, Woods et. al. (2012) found “significant adverse effects on neurobehavioral functions associated with chronic Hg [mercury] exposure [from amalgam] and the CPOX4 genetic variant among children, with effects manifested predominantly among boys.”

  • People with pre-existing neurological problems: Mercury is known as a potent poison of the brain and nervous system. If you already have a neurological problem, it would be risky to add neurotoxic mercury from amalgam on top of it.

  • People already exposed to other mercury sources: Mercury from amalgam and other sources (like some fish) is bioaccumulative, meaning that it builds up in increasing concentrations in the body. If you are already exposed to mercury in your workplace or diet, the additional mercury from amalgam is likely to be more than your body can handle.

  • People with allergies or hypersensitivities: The FDA warns against use of amalgam in people with allergies or hypersensitivities to mercury. As FDA’s rule explains, “FDA concludes that existing data indicate that certain individuals with a pre-existing hypersensitivity or allergy to mercury may be at risk for adverse health effects from mercury vapor released from dental amalgam.... FDA concluded that various dermatological conditions or lesions of the skin, mouth, and tongue were attributed to direct or indirect contact with dental amalgam, and may have been related to a pre-existing hypersensitivity or allergy to mercury and/or other metals.”

  • People with other metals in their mouth: The FDA warns against use of amalgam when it would come into direct contact with other metals in the mouth, such as stainless steel, titanium, base metal alloys, and noble metal alloys. As FDA’s rule explains, “Dental amalgam devices may corrode under certain conditions, including when they are placed in direct contact with other metals. If a dental amalgam device corrodes, it will lose its strength and will need to be replaced. Corrosion also increases the amount of mercury vapor a dental amalgam device releases.” So if you’ve got braces, beware!

  • Dental professionals: In addition to their direct contact with mercury, dental professionals who work in offices that use amalgam also face high levels of mercury in the air they breathe. As a result, dental professionals – including dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, and office staff – are at particular risk. Studies have shown that they have elevated systemic mercury levels. Since many dental professionals are women of child-bearing age, they are especially susceptible to the reproductive hazards associated with mercury exposure.

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