Understanding Mercury in Tooth Fillings: What You Need to Know

Cosmetic,Cosmetic Dentistry,Dental Restorations,general dentists

Your dental health is vital to your overall health. But did you know there might be hidden dangers in your mouth? Mercury in tooth fillings can quietly cause damage to your health. Let’s explore how it affects you, from subtle symptoms to chronic issues, and what it means for your overall well-being.

What Is Mercury Poisoning?

Mercury is a natural element in our environment. However, it is very toxic to humans and other living organisms. Dental fillings—those silver ones—contain about half mercury, along with other metals. We refer to these fillings as amalgam fillings. (Amalgam means a mixture or combination of things). As the tooth filling breaks down or is removed, it releases mercury vapor, which your body can absorb. Over time, this mercury exposure can cause mercury poisoning and affect your central nervous system and organs.

According to the US National Library of Medicine, mercury is a highly toxic element impacting the environment, adults, and children. It is hazardous to developing infants and fetuses, and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should take extra precautions regarding mercury exposure.

A Study on the Effects of Mercury Dental Fillings

To give you a better understanding of toxicity from mercury fillings, here is a summary of an article from The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology:

“Mercury can gather in almost any organ when it gets into your body. When we get mercury from dental fillings, about 80% of the mercury vapor goes into our lungs and then spreads to various body parts like the brain, kidneys, liver, lungs, and gut. The time it takes to get rid of this mercury from the body depends on where the body stores it and what form it is in. For instance, mercury stored in the brain can stick around for decades.

“How people react to this mercury is different for each person. Symptoms can vary and might change over time. Many things affect how a person’s body deals with mercury from dental fillings, like other health issues, the number of fillings, gender, genetics, dental hygiene, exposure to lead, and diet.

“What makes this tricky is that symptoms of mercury poisoning might take years to show up. Especially when the exposure is low-level and happens over a long time, like with dental fillings, it’s hard to link these delayed symptoms to past exposure. That’s why many symptoms and health risks are linked to dental fillings containing mercury.”

The risks of mercury exposure are high during dental procedures. Exposure to mercury can occur when a filling with mercury is placed in a tooth or when a mercury filling is taken out of a tooth without following strict and proper procedure to protect you from mercury exposure.

Spotting Mercury Poisoning

Recognizing the symptoms can be tricky since they resemble other health conditions. Fatigue, headaches, memory problems, and irritability could be signs. It can also lead to tremors, tingling sensations, and changes in sensory perception. Symptoms vary, so being aware is crucial, especially if you’ve had amalgam fillings or mercury exposure.

Mercury-Free Fillings

Concerns about mercury have pushed interest in finding other filling materials. Tooth-colored composite resins are a popular alternative. They’re mercury-free and bond directly to your teeth. Ceramic and porcelain options also exist, offering natural looks. They are more compatible with our bodies. In other words, we do not know them to cause harm or adverse reactions. These choices give you alternatives while discussing options with your dentist.

Is It Safe to Have Mercury Fillings Removed?

Yes, it is safe to have mercury fillings removed, especially when using the SMART method. Dr. Yamaguchi can tell you if it’s wise to have them removed. You are most exposed to the release of mercury vapors when the fillings are put in or removed.

Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART) is a program to protect patients and dental staff from mercury releases during amalgam filling removal.

Safe amalgam removal has several steps such as: 

  •  Isolate the tooth as we remove the amalgam filling.
  •  Provide pure oxygen for you to breathe in during the process.
  •  Break up the fillings into pieces.
  •  Use a high-speed vacuum to suction out the amalgam fillings.

What Should I Do If I Have Mercury Fillings?

If you have amalgam (mercury) fillings and are interested in safely removing them, you have come to the right place.

Our holistic dentist provides the perfect solution for removing mercury fillings. Dr. Yamaguchi is trained in Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART) and is happy to provide this program to the Lake Oswego and greater Portland Community.

If you would like to learn more about this high-tech process, we invite you to ask for an office tour. Our dental office uses the latest and most advanced techniques and equipment to ensure safety for you and our dental team.

Depending on the age and size of your silver mercury filling, Dr. Yamaguchi may replace it with a natural, metal-free, composite tooth-colored filling. In some cases, if the amalgam was particularly large or caused the tooth to crack, a tooth crown may be a more stable alternative.

Dr. Yamaguchi will discuss your options and the outcome to expect from each so that you can make an educated choice that works best for your dental health and lifestyle.

If you are interested in SMART Safe Mercury Removal, call us today, and we will work to answer any of your questions.

Your Holistic Dentist Team
In Lake Oswego and greater Portland Community
Dental Arts & Wellness

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dental health,gums,holistic dentistry
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