The Dental Amalgam Controversy: Dr. Lisa Butler provides insights into the toxic impact of amalgam and mercury
Sep 03, 2012 05:43PM
● By Lisa M. Butler, DMD
Many people believe that an amalgam dental filling is made of silver, because of its color and shiny appearance. The truth is that these fillings are really a mixture, or amalgam, of metals. Dental amalgam has been widely used for more 150 years, and is made by mixing approximately equal parts of elemental liquid mercury (43 to 54 percent) and an alloy powder (57 to 46 percent) composed of silver, tin, copper and sometimes smaller amounts of zinc, palladium or indium.
When amalgam fillings are placed in or removed from teeth, they can release a small amount of mercury vapor. Amalgam can also release small amounts of mercury vapor during chewing, brushing or drinking hot coffee, and people can absorb these vapors by inhaling or ingesting them.
An extensive number of international research studies thoroughly document the human health risks associated with the use of dental amalgam. Scientific data from reputable scientists all over the world has shown how the mercury in amalgam fillings can relate to dysfunction of the immune system, multiple sclerosis, kidney ailments, chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, reproductive issues, cardiovascular problems, absorption of heavy metals in the brain, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, antibiotic resistance, hearing loss and myriad other health problems. This vapor that is inhaled lodges in various tissues and organs of the body and accumulates, notably in the kidneys and the brain.
There is an ongoing debate worldwide about the safety of mercury in dental fillings, and some countries have banned or restricted their use. Currently Norway, Germany and Sweden have banned amalgam fillings and Japan, Canada, and several European countries have recommended implementing restrictions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seems to ignore the research of its own scientists, avoiding a commitment either for or against amalgam.
Yet, this toxic material continues to be placed in people’s mouths. Studies have demonstrated that when patients are granted a more informed form of consent by the dentist, the majority chooses white fillings over metal. Studies also demonstrate that there is a disproportionate use of amalgams in the U.S., mainly for low-income populations and children. The most vulnerable population (children) receives the greatest number of amalgam fillings.
There are many resources to learn more about mercury amalgam fillings, including the websites EPA.gov, FDA.gov and iaomt.org. It is advisable to become more educated about dental amalgams prior to receiving any further dental care.
If the amalgam metal is to be removed, it should be done with the lowest risk of further exposure during removal. Look for a dentist that can provide as much protection as much as possible with the proper expertise, equipment and experience to assist you. The road to health starts in our mouths.
Lisa M. Butler, DMD, owns the Butler Family Dentistry, in Phoenix. Learn more about biologic dentistry and her services at 602-956-4807 or ButlerFamilyDentistry.com.