You may or may not have heard the nation of Norway has banned mercury -containing amalgam fillings, more out of concern from what I can read for the environment, than for health reasons. The ADA and the National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research in Washington have been unable to objectively link amalgam fillings to mercury poisoning in the body. Logically it makes no sense to me that something which is labeled a poison before it goes into the body and a poison after it comes out of the body wouldn’t be labeled toxic when it is inside the body. However, research seems to indicate the overwhelming majority of mercury in amalgam fillings is bound in a slightly different form than elemental mercury which is the concern to the environment; the mercury vapor generated from such mundane activities as chewing is not believed to produce a concentration strong enough to cause health problems. One of the biggest sources of increased blood levels of mercury occurs when old amalgams are removed by drilling. The particlization of the amalgam by drilling increases the surface area available to release mercury into the body and transient increased mercury levels are recorded, which return to normal after several days. This is another BIG advantage to using the rubber dam—it prevents mercury from entering the blood stream by keeping it out of your mouth. The anecdotal reports of people experiencing almost miraculous cures once they had their amalgam fillings removed cannot be substantiated in double blind research studies (double blind means that neither the researcher nor the patient has any idea who is receiving the experimental protocol). Double blind studies are considered the gold standard in research, and reports of reversal of various illness conditions are considered placebo results. My own opinion on all this is mixed. I don’t think the final epitaph on amalgam has reached consensus. I see no reason to remove amalgam restorations unless you want them removed. Finances can be a concern for many people, and to remove all amalgam fillings costs. It is undeniable that amalgam has saved many teeth over the years from extraction. The best restorations remain gold and porcelain, with fillings, either tooth colored or amalgam used as compromises when gold or porcelain would be the treatment of choice.
Dr. Joseph Heher is a Salisbury Dentist, dedicated to providing superior dental care to patients and their families. Call our office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Heher. Our friendly staff is looking forward to assisting you. Let our team help improve and maintain your smile – because an attractive smile DOES matter.