New study finds fillings related to higher mercury levels in blood

A new study out of the University of Georgia shows that if you have more than eight “dental surface restorations”, they can raise the level of mercury in your blood. (Note that each filling can have more than one surface. So even if you have fewer than eight fillings, this study still applies to you!)

While the study did not examine the adverse health implications, it did note that “a significant correlation between the blood level of mercury and dental restoration raises major concerns about potential mercury exposure.” Mercury is well-known to harm the central nervous system and kidneys. And it accumulates in your body from many different sources – so people who are exposed to mercury in their workplaces and in their diet (like if you eat a lot of some types of seafood) are even more at risk.

So what makes this study important? Three things….

First, this is one of the largest studies on amalgam ever conducted. It included 15,000 study participants from across the United States – a truly representative national sample.

Second, it confirmed that a significant increase in methylmercury is related to amalgam dental fillings. This result suggests that not only microorganisms in the environment, but also microorganisms in the human body may transform amalgam’s elemental mercury into even more toxic methylmercury.

And finally, the study did not find any evidence that mercury-free fillings – like resin composite – raised any health concerns.

The American Dental Association (ADA) quickly ran to the defense of its favorite mercury product. In a press release, it reaffirmed its position that mercury fillings are a “durable, safe and effective cavity-filling option” and advised consumers to talk to their dentists.

“The ADA says ‘Talk to your dentist if you’re concerned,’ but the truth is that most dentists don’t know there is a risk,” explains one of the study’s authors, as quoted in the press. “They only know what the ADA tells them—that amalgam is safe.”

Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for the ADA to catch up with science. Here’s what you can do now to protect yourself, your family, and friends from this unnecessary source of mercury exposure:

  • Find a mercury-free dentist: If your dentist still uses amalgam, run to the nearest exit if at all possible. Almost half of dentists in the U.S. are now mercury-free, so start your search for a new dentist.
  • Insist on mercury-free fillings: Even if you cannot go to a mercury-free dentist, tell your dentist to write it in capital letters on your chart: NO AMALGAM! Accept only mercury-free fillings like resin composite. Remember, the science is on your side, not theirs!
  • Tell your friends and family: Friends don’t let friends get mercury fillings! So forward this information, post on Facebook, or use word of mouth to warn more people about the mercury in amalgam.
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