Dentists in the United States have been using silver amalgam for filling cavities for 160 years, and there is evidence that they may have been used as far back as 7th century China. The controversy over these fillings has raged for almost as long. The fact is, they are called silver amalgam, but in reality they contain much more mercury than any other element (which has been a point of controversy with a segment called whole-istic dentists. Amalgam fillings are made of half mercury by weight, mixed with copper, tin and silver.
If you’ve ever seen a mercury thermometer accidentally broken in a medical facility, you know that very strict protocols are observed when cleaning it up to ensure the mercury is not inhaled or absorbed. You may also have been warned by your doctor to avoid or limit your consumption of certain types of fish due to their mercury content. This is because mercury is a highly toxic substance that is easily absorbed by the body, but difficult to remove.
Now, a group of scientists, dentists and patients have come together to file a lawsuit against the FDA alleging a failure to take any action to protect people against the dangers of mercury fillings. The lawsuit calls for mercury fillings to be banned and claims that they are making people ill.
Amy Forseter, one of the parties to the lawsuit, said she did everything she knew to do to avoid mercury exposure while pregnant, but had no idea that what she was trying to avoid had been put into her teeth when she had cavities filled. As soon as she learned this, she immediately started looking for a dentist to remove them.
Some scientists believe that the mercury from these fillings is continuously absorbed by the body, especially during chewing or brushing. Though the amount absorbed in a day is minute, mercury can build up in the tissue and organs over time.
Dr. Kimberly Baer, with Natural Dentist Associates in Maryland explains that healthy people are typically able to process and excrete the small amounts of mercury that are absorbed by amalgam fillings and most do not experience any ill effects from the fillings. But pregnant women, children, and individuals with weakened immune systems may not be able to effectively eliminate mercury, and it accumulates in organs and tissue.
Use of mercury fillings is typically a matter of cost as amalgam is cheaper than most other filling materials. Unfortunately, this means that low income patients, prison inmates and military are the most heavily impacted by mercury fillings.