Amalgam fillings have been used to fill cavities for well over a century, and there is evidence of its use as far back as 7th century China. Now a lawsuit has been filed against the FDA over a lack of regulation which has been misconstrued by the American Dental Association as evidence that the fillings are safe (a fact that has been pointed out for some time by the biological dental community).
Pregnant women are warned to avoid eating certain types of fish due to the concentrations of mercury they often contain, and mercury thermometers are obsolete and nearly impossible to find. But silver amalgam, an alloy consisting of half mercury and half a mix of silver, copper and tin, are commonly used to fill dental cavities.
Some scientists believe that amalgam fillings can leak mercury, which is inhaled and absorbed by the lungs, as well as swallowed and absorbed by the stomach and intestines. Dr. Kimberly Baer, a dentist practicing in Maryland, explains that mercury fillings may cause few problems in healthy people, but small children, pregnant women, and individuals with weakened immune systems may not be able to effectively excrete the neurotoxin. For these individuals, mercury can accumulate in the tissue and cause mercury poisoning.
Earlier this year in a lawsuit filed against the FDA, a group of plaintiffs including dentists, scientists and patients allege the FDA has failed to respond to claims of health risks associated with amalgam. Further, low income individuals, welfare recipients, incarcerated individuals and military members often do not have a choice and are among those most affected.
Dr. Baer explains that use of mercury fillings is frequently an economic matter. Insurance companies and medicaid are much more likely to cover mercury fillings than fillings made of other materials, simply because mercury is cheaper than other materials.
Many people with amalgam fillings opt to have them removed after discovering that they contain mercury. Most of them are never actually diagnosed with mercury poisoning, but may still notice increased energy levels and relief from a variety of health issues.
The American Dental Association does not recommend removing fillings that are not causing significant problems due to the potential for further weakening the tooth in the process and due to the potential for increased exposure from the procedure.
In some European countries, amalgam fillings have been banned, but the FDA and Health Services in some other countries maintain that the fillings are safe and any possible leakage is low enough to be safe.