When it comes to mercury amalgam – the stuff that’s been used for almost 200 years now to make “silver” fillings – the changes we’ve seen over just the past few years have been pretty astonishing, to say the least:
- The FDA updated its guidance and now advises against amalgam for children, pregnant and nursing women, and other vulnerable groups.
- The world’s two biggest dental manufacturers announced that they were getting out of the amalgam biz.
- The global treaty known as the Minamata Convention on Mercury was amended so nations are now required to ban the use of amalgam in children and pregnant and nursing mothers.
- The ADA seemed to start realigning its position on amalgam – even as it still insists that the material is safe to pack into living teeth.
Yet the US still lags behind many other countries when it comes to protecting patients, dental workers, and the environment from this highly toxic material, even though safer options have been available for decades – biocompatible alternatives that are extremely strong and durable, and have far better aesthetics.
For instance, just a little over a month ago, a complete amalgam ban went into full effect in the Philippines. As the Dental Tribune recently reported,
Philippine regulators signed an order in 2020 to ban the use of dental amalgam with immediate effect in pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and children under 14 years of age. The importation of amalgam for use in dental settings was also banned, and a period of three years was given to completely phase out its use in the country. The grace period ended in May, meaning that penalties now apply to dentists who place amalgam restorations.
We applaud our friends and colleagues who have worked so hard to create this new reality and urge our own nation to emulate it. If you’re not already involved in the fight for a mercury-free future, we encourage you to connect with Consumers for Dental Choice, whose sole mission is to eliminate the use of mercury in dentistry worldwide.
Meantime, those with existing “silver” mercury amalgam fillings may wish to have them removed. While many a mainstream dentist might say that this isn’t necessary so long as the restorations are in good condition, more than a few patients would beg to differ.
Just how much of a difference dental mercury can make is driven home by one woman’s story that we recently stumbled upon.
Her journey began as she noticed that her blood pressure had started to rise, despite medication. She consulted her nutritionist, who asked if she happened to have any amalgam fillings, explaining how they can contribute to a variety of cardiovascular issues.
The patient pooh-poohed this at first. She’d had her first amalgam placed in the late 1960s and, to her knowledge, had never had a problem. Still, when they tested, she had a blood serum level of 10.29 mcg/L, “77% over the EPA’s presumed safe level of 5.8,” she noted.
So she thought maybe she should cut back on fish. Her level dropped to 6.53 mcg/L. After a little more research, she finally decided to invest in having her old mercury fillings safely removed and replaced with biocompatible restorations.
Waiting for the results felt like forever. Friends who knew my saga kept asking if the amalgam removals had actually reduced my mercury levels. In mid-March, I got my answer. My blood-mercury was 1.05 mcg/L, 84% lower than my pre-removal level.
I’d been reducing my mercury levels for nearly a year. Over the same time span, my systolic blood-pressure dropped about 20 points. I can’t tie this directly to my mercury mitigation, of course, but the Journal of Clinical Hypertension calls the “association between mercury toxicity and hypertension convincing, and recommends mercury testing for anyone with high blood pressure or vascular disease.”
If you decide to pursue amalgam removal, it’s vital that you consult a well-trained biological dentist to ensure you get both the proper testing and that proper safety protocols are followed to minimize the risk of undue excess exposure. At minimum, they should be certified in the IAOMT’s Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique, or SMART.
Here in our own office, both Dr. Mike and Dr. Michael are SMART-certified. You can learn more about our mercury removal services here.