What are the health hazards of mercury fillings? Is it worth having them removed?
The Wonder Team is not giving medical advice. These results are taken from various credible sources, but are not to be considered a medical recommendation.
The initial placement, as well as the removal, of mercury fillings or "silver fillings" has been a long contended controversial issue. There are several supporters of the removal of the fillings, as well as countless supporters against the removal of the fillings. Studies have been conducted in support of both sides of the argument, but there has never been a true agreement leaning one way or the other. The following sections highlight the key points of major studies relating to both the support and the opposition of the removal of mercury fillings.
Pro Removal -- Health Hazards of Mercury Fillings
Mercury fillings, otherwise known as "silver fillings", contain 55% dental mercury. As mercury is soft metal, over time, it is absorbed into the body from where ever it is placed. Although the metal is absorbed into the entire body, the kidney, lung, gastrointestinal tract, liver, and brain, tend to retain the mercury more so than the other body parts. The output of mercury into the human body may augment during the placement, replacement, or removal of the filling, as well as during movements such as drinking hot liquids and chewing.
According to scientific studies, the release of mercury within the body is a plausible cause of several conditions including, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's Disease, autoimmune disorders, reproductive dysfunctions, etc. Scientific studies have also shown that the release of mercury within the body of a woman before she conceives, as well a during her pregnancy has the potential of reaping a traumatic effect on fetuses and children who are being nursed. A study found in the "Journal of Oral Rehabilitation" states that patients that had their mercury fillings removed had, overall, less health complaints that patients that decided to keep their fillings in place.
Opposed to Removal
The Food and Drug Administration, or the FDA, has analyzed the most recent and relevant scientific evidence regarding mercury fillings or "silver fillings", and according to their findings, have stated that keeping the fillings in place has no adverse effect on the human body. In fact, the FDA actually stated that the removal of the mercury filling would be more dangerous and have the potential to release more mercury into the body than simply keeping the filling in place to begin with. The administration claims that, "clinical studies in adults and children ages 6 and above have found no link between dental amalgam fillings and health problems" and that if the patient's filling is in healthy condition, they recommend keeping the filling in place, as the removal of the filling may cause of loss of structure within the tooth.
A study found in the "International Journal of Dentistry" stated that "mercury released from dental amalgam restorations does not contribute to systemic disease or systemic toxicological effects". The study found that although small amounts of mercury are released into the body over time, these amounts have no lasting or damaging effects.
Safety Precautions during The Removal Process
The technical name of the removal process of mercury or "silver fillings" is The Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique, or SMART. This technique is utilized to decrease the amount of mercury released into the body during removal, as the release of mercury into the human body, may cause negative effects, as stated in the section titled, "Health Hazards of Mercury Fillings".
The traditional safety precautions for removing a mercury filling included "use of masks, water irrigation, and high volume suction". Safety precautions during the removal of a filling now include the precautions listed above, as well as the installation of an amalgam separator, which collects mercurial waste, the installation of a filtration system in each operating room, as well as the opening of windows in each operating room if possible, the usage of protective gowns and gloves, the usage of face shields and head covers, the usage of a full body, impermeable barrier on the patient, etc.
While there are a number of studies done relating to the removal of mercury and its benefits, as well as a number of medical professionals and scientists that support this cause, there are an even higher number of studies, medical professionals, and scientists that are opposed to the removal of mercury fillings. It is the opinion of a significant number of professionals that if the filling is in good condition, the patient is better off keeping it in place, as if the release of mercury into their body is their main concern, they are more likely to experience that release during the removal of the filling itself.