Open wide, now, and look in a mirror. If you see sparkly, silvery fillings inside your mouth, read on because your health is almost certainly in danger.
Before dentists had tooth-colored plastic and composite resin fillings, they came up with other inventive ways to ease tooth pain caused by cavities and infections. Dental fillings made from beeswax were discovered in a cave in Trieste, Italy, that date back to at least 6,000 years ago.
The Etruscans used gold in 201 AD and, in 700 AD, a medical text from China mentions the application of a “silver paste” as an amalgam. (An amalgam is an alloy that consists mainly of silver mixed with mercury and variable amounts of other metals.)
In 1746, Claude Mouton of France detailed dental procedures such as gold crowns. He advised coating gold crowns with white enamel to make them appear more like natural teeth.
Four decades later, in 1789, Frenchman Nicolas Dubois de Cheman received the first know patent for porcelain teeth. These bypassed entirely the difficult problem of how to make fillings a color that matches the surrounding teeth, so they blend in when the mouth is open.
Yet, compared to amalgam fillings, gold fillings and porcelain teeth were expensive. The Downchild Blues Band song “Flip, Flop and Fly” has this line in its third verse:
“Here comes my baby flashing a new gold tooth.”
Gold teeth were a sign of social status because they were high-priced. Zarifa Hasanova is a resident of Russia. She looked back on memories of even the poorer former Soviet republics using gold to make replacement teeth:
“We were told that gold even cleanses the body and lasts longer than titanium…Those who could afford [it], used the gold.”
Other cultures attributed healing and even magical properties to gold. The ancient Egyptians thought that gold had healing powers and Chinese medicine taught that gold could magically alter skin to produce a youthful complexion.
But silver-mercury amalgams have been the subject of medical controversy since the first half of the 19th century. Their safety in dentistry came up in 1840 when the American Society of Dental Surgeons, concerned about mercury poisoning, required members to denounce the use of amalgams.
Even though dentists had been warned that mercury in amalgam fillings might be toxic, they remained popular due to their low cost and ease of use.
In recent times, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has surveyed the available literature and concluded that amalgam fillings are safe for adults and children 6 and older.
This medical decision was reached despite the fact that amalgam contains potentially toxic elemental mercury, a fact the FDA had to admit to satisfy part of a lawsuit settlement with several consumer groups.
The FDA website, last updated in December 2017, says:
“Dental amalgam fillings are also known as ‘silver fillings’ because of their silver-like appearance. Despite the name, ‘silver fillings’ do contain elemental mercury.”
Did you know that all dental amalgam mercury fillings are almost half mercury? Countries outside the U.S., including Sweden and Norway, have limited their use or banned them entirely.
According to the International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology (IAOMT), low levels of a non-stop emission of mercury vapor from the amalgam inside the mouth can be inhaled and absorbed by the lungs, presenting significant risks to the human body:
“Mercury is continuously emitted from dental amalgam fillings, and it is absorbed and retained in the body, particularly in the brain, kidney, liver, lung, and gastrointestinal tract.”
It is known that exposure to sufficiently high levels of mercury vapor has a negative effect on human health. Not surprisingly, the more amalgam fillings a person has in their mouth, the more mercury can enter their physical system.
Chewing, grinding the teeth, and drinking hot liquids can all promote the release of mercury inside the body. Scientists know that this poisonous element is also released whenever amalgam fillings are placed, replaced or removed.
Mercury toxicity has been linked to many other health conditions, from allergies to thyroiditis.
The IAOMT has developed rigorous recommendations for removing existing dental mercury amalgam fillings to assist in mitigating the potential danger of mercury exposure to patients, dental professionals, dental students, office staff, and others.
It is thought that mercury from amalgam fillings is causing Alzheimer’s disease in elderly patients.
A citizen’s petition filed with the FDA in July 2009 requested the agency to “formally ban the use of encapsulated mercury fillings as dental restorative material” because “The scientific community has long known that elemental mercury is a highly toxic heavy metal.”
“A second citizen’s petition, filed in September 2009, calls on the FDA to require dentists to warn adult patients about the dangers of the fillings and not to allow its use in children under age six, pregnant women, nursing mothers and anyone who has a health condition that makes them sensitive to mercury exposure,” reported CBC.
If the FDA doesn’t actively oppose the practice of using mercury-laced amalgam dental fillings the federal agency risks being held in contempt of the court.
Selenium neutralizes mercury poisoning. Adding it to your diet will also offset the harmful effects of aluminum toxicity. Both metals (and others) accumulate in the human body after a lifetime of exposure.
While preventing brain damage by taking selenium supplements is possible, it is almost impossible to reverse brain damage after it occurs.
However, too much selenium can be harmful so limit an adult dose to 100 mcg (micrograms). Never take more than 400 mcg at one time.
Anyone with amalgam fillings who can afford to have them replaced is well-advised to do so. Don’t just pay lip service to good health: take the bite out of slow and steady mercury poisoning.