Two American agencies mean to pay closer attention to the health effects of mercury amalgam fillings
Two American agencies mean to pay closer attention to the health effects of mercury amalgam fillings. The US Food and Drug Administration is proposing new guidelines for reporting side-effects from the use of dental mercury, while the National Institutes of Health is studying the effects of mercury fillings in children. Scientists have found low levels of mercury can affect future learning and muscle co-ordination of unborn children. Recent evidence indicates a significant risk for cardiovascular and immune system problems at low levels of exposure.
Fillings commonly referred to as "silver" are actually an amalgam (mixture) of half mercury and the remainder silver, copper, tin and zinc. The average American has seven mercury fillings, according to Dr. Michael Ziff, executive director of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, who added, "It's like holding seven leaking mercury thermometers in your mouth."
The Canadian Dental Association stands behind mercury amalgams, although it acknowledges that amalgam fillings "release minute amounts of mercury vapour, especially with chewing. Some of this mercury may be absorbed by the body, reach various organs, and in pregnant women, cross the placenta." Health Canada recommends that amalgam fillings not be placed in or removed from the teeth of pregnant women and that non-mercury materials be considered for restoring the primary teeth of children. Sweden has banned mercury amalgams outright.
Source: Acres USA, June 2002; Canadian Dental Association; Environment Canada.