People frequently wonder if the mercury in their silver fillings (also called amalgam fillings) could be to blame for various chronic diseases and disorders they might experience.
Some of these diseases and disorders include Alzheimer’s disease, headaches, multiple sclerosis, kidney dysfunction, birth defects, and several neurological disorders. Others fear they are allergic to the mercury in their fillings. Some people even go so far as to have all of their amalgam fillings removed “just to be safe”. Here is one such story by Bryanna on the Neurotalk Message Boards that illustrates what I’m talking about:
I know of countless people who have become healthier since removing their mercury fillings. I’ve had patients that could no longer function well enough to go to work and had to be physically helped by someone to just walk from one side of the room to the other. After the proper procedure to remove their mercury was done along with chelation therapy…… these people were well again! I had a middle aged man who had slowly lost the peripheral vision in his left eye. His eye doctor could find no physical reason for the loss of sight. We removed his mercury fillings (following the proper protocol) and some of them had been on his 3 upper left teeth. A few weeks after his final chelation therapy, he calls me to tell me that his peripheral vision had returned completely in his left eye! I’ve had patients who were dealing with thyroid disorders who were able to stop their thyroid meds after their mercury fillings were removed!
Reading stories like these causes people to become unnecessarily concerned that their mercury-containing fillings are harmful. It is highly unlikely that an amalgam filling does anything other than replace decayed tooth structure. Neville’s Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology states, “An investigation of patients with concerns associated with their amalgam restorations reveals that most of their complaints can be associated with oral, dental, or medical problems unrelated to the restorations.” While amalgam fillings are not to blame for any major diseases, it is worth noting that allergic reactions do sometimes occur in close proximity to an amalgam filling. Only 1-2% of all people who are allergic to mercury will in some way be allergic to the small amount of mercury released from amalgam fillings. There are two types of allergic reactions that occur: acute and chronic.
Acute Allergic Reactions to Amalgam Fillings
Acute allergic reactions to amalgam fillings are extremely rare. They are estimated to occur once for each million fillings. When this happens, a sore will usually develop in the mouth on some tissue that comes into contact with the filling, such as the tongue or the inside of the cheek within one day of receiving the filling. If this occurs, you should inform your dentist as soon as possible to get appropriate treatment.
Chronic Allergic Reactions to Amalgam Fillings
Chronic allergic reactions are less rare. If you notice a thickening of the tissue on the inside of your mouth, such as on your tongue, it could be a chronic allergic reaction. If this is the case, it would be wise to make an appointment with your dental provider to discuss your concerns. An example of this is a case in which a patient had a sore on the side of his tongue for five years. After removal of the amalgam filling, the sore healed.
To summarize, dental amalgam has proven to be a safe and effective filling material to replace decayed tooth structure. It has been used for the past 150 years as a filling material and during that time, it has never been implicated to be the cause of any disease, although it can rarely cause allergic reactions.