Despite the talk of pro-mercury dentists, amalgam is far from an ideal filling material. Let this video count the ways (as well as wax rapturous over newfangled composite resin fillings – already decades old by the time the clip was uploaded to YouTube):
Oh, yeah – mercury fillings are also toxic.
Earlier this year, the Chicago Tribune ran an article by the Mayo Clinc, which tried to assure an anonymous someone otherwise: that mercury fillings are perfectly safe. Heck, the clinic uses them all the time! No problem! And if they break down?
It is possible that over long periods of time, usually several decades or more, amalgam fillings may not hold their original shape. If the fillings become deformed, then they need to be replaced. They also should be replaced if they start to break down over time.
They claim that “the mercury in amalgam is contained, or sequestered, within the filling,” though this is actually not quite the standard dogma anymore, as the ADA now admits that off-gassing of mercury does occur. (Even if the mercury were “sequestered,” with a broken amalgam filling, all bets are off.) The metal – 50% mercury – doesn’t just disappear. It, like the vapor, must go somewhere, and that somewhere is the body.
But we’re still not supposed to worry because, the Mayo Clinic reassures us, the form of mercury makes a difference, too. Elemental mercury isn’t the same as methylmercury, as is found in fatty fish, so no problem, right?
Wrong. It has been known for years that mercury from dental amalgam can become methylated in the mouth through bacterial action, and perhaps elsewhere in the body. (More. Yet more.) As Sellars, et al, noted in their 1996 Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Science paper, “Although the amounts found are small…, any measurable amount of methyl mercury contributes to the total body’s burden of mercury.” If the body can’t excrete it, eventually, you’re toast.
But, oh, the Mayo Clinic insists, “No evidence exists that shows amalgam fillings increase the risk for health problems.”
Image by Alice Chaos, via Flickr