Who’s Most at Risk of Mercury Exposure from “Silver” Amalgam Fillings?

The amalgam used to make “silver” fillings is about 50% mercury. Mercury is toxic. To everyone.

Then why, some people wonder, doesn’t everyone with mercury amalgam fillings get sick – or get sick in the same way?

People vary in their sensitivity and reaction to mercury exposure. The number of fillings and their age can impact exposure levels. Different levels of exposure will affect people in different ways.

Some are able to clear mercury and other metals from their body quite easily. Some have such a heavy toxic burden from multiple sources that their body’s self-detoxing abilities are severely taxed. Over time, this comes to interfere with the healthy function of various organs and systems. The specific tissues where mercury gets deposited can influence symptoms. Pre-existing conditions can raise susceptibility, too.

In other words, there are many variables.

The Importance of Mercury-Free, Mercury-Safe Dentistry

Because mercury is so toxic – one of the most toxic natural elements on the planet, in fact – we believe amalgam should not be used at all. The risks are far too great. For anyone.

Besides, as we recently noted, there are so many better, biocompatible alternatives available – materials that new research suggests may be mechanically superior to amalgam, as well. Aesthetically, there’s no comparison at all. Amalgam looks dark and gray. Composite looks like natural tooth structure.

The Holistic Dental Center of New Jersey has been mercury-free for many years now. We are also mercury-safe, in that we follow the strictest of safety protocols whenever a patient opts to have their old amalgams replaced with biocompatible alternatives. We also take care to avoid any procedures that could accelerate the release of mercury from existing fillings, such as polishing them after a regular cleaning.

If you want to know just how big of a difference that can make, check out this demonstration of how much mercury vapor can be generated by polishing an amalgam filling:

Who Is Most at Risk from Mercury Amalgam Fillings?

Still, there are some people for whom mercury amalgam fillings can be extra risky – something even the FDA now acknowledges after many years of declaring them safe for all. The agency’s guidelines now specify several specific populations that never have amalgam fillings:

  • Pregnant women and women who are planning to get pregnant. The developing neurological systems of fetuses are more sensitive and vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of mercury exposure. Avoiding amalgam minimizes potential risks to the developing child.

  • Nursing women. Mercury from amalgam can potentially pass through breast milk and expose the nursing infant to the heavy metal.

  • Children, especially those under age 6. Again, children’s developing brains and neurological systems are more vulnerable to mercury. Since the brain continues to develop all through adolescence, though, amalgam should be avoided through the whole span of youth.

  • People with pre-existing neurological disease such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s. Because their neurological systems are already impaired, they are more vulnerable to mercury’s toxic effects on the brain.

  • People with impaired kidney function. Kidneys are one of the body’s major organs of elimination. If their function is impaired, they may not be able to effectively remove mercury from the body, leading to toxic effects from increased accumulation.

  • People with known heightened sensitivity (allergy) to mercury or other components of dental amalgam. Since amalgam continuously releases small amounts of mercury vapor, people sensitive to mercury could experience ongoing, recurring allergic responses as long as there are amalgam fillings in their mouths. Allergic reactions may manifest as skin rashes, inflammation, breathing difficulties, or other health issues in hypersensitive individuals.

All told, these groups make up roughly 60% of the US population. Per the FDA, then, most Americans should steer clear of “silver” amalgam fillings.

But as said, we believe ALL Americans should steer clear of them. As they say, “no BODY needs mercury.”