Digestive Care Expert Brenda Watson

In the News

In The News, Tooth Image: Mercury in Dental Amalgam Fillings

Mercury: New FDA Regulations

FDA Finally Warns Against “Silver” Fillings, Mercury: What You Need to Know, A Healthier Alternative

Moms Against Mercury and countless other consumer advocacy groups fighting to ban the use of dental amalgam fillings now have cause to celebrate. That’s because after a decades-long campaign to persuade the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to admit that such fillings—typically 50% mercury combined with one or more other metals—may be harmful to your health, a recent lawsuit settlement is forcing the FDA to do just that. In a move hailed by some as a breakthrough, the new changes (which differ considerably from the FDA’s previous stance that amalgam fillings showed no evidence of harm) must be issued by July 2009.

In keeping with the agreement, the FDA is obligated to update its website to include information about the potential health risks associated with fillings that contain mercury. Specifically, mercury vapors released from amalgam fillings (often during chewing or teeth brushing, but also as the result of placement and removal) can cause significant damage to the brain and nervous system, especially with regard to developing children and fetuses. Considering that even the dentists who prepare the amalgam must adhere to a list of safety precautions in order to prevent mercury vapors from escaping into the environment, many people question why the FDA did not take action sooner.

Mercury: What You Need to Know

The reality of our increasingly polluted modern world is that people are exposed to mercury every day. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), potential health risks related to mercury exposure depend upon several factors, including the type of mercury to which a person is exposed; the duration and method of exposure; and the personal characteristics of the individual exposed (i.e. age, overall health).

With regard to the type of mercury, it is important to note that mercury occurs in one of three distinct forms: methylmercury (the chemical form of mercury), elemental mercury, and other organic and inorganic mercury compounds. The mercury vapors released by amalgam fillings represent mercury in its elemental form, and data from the EPA’s website states that exposure to elemental mercury can cause a host of health problems, ranging in severity from headaches, mood swings, irritability and tremors to changes in cognitive function, neuromuscular and nervous system damage, and impaired respiratory and kidney function. And adults aren’t the only ones who need to worry.

The FDA’s updated warning now expressly states, “Dental amalgams contain mercury, which may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of developing children and fetuses.” (http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/consumer/amalgams.html) Indeed, mounting research confirms that the umbilical cord serves as a direct route for toxic substances to be transported from pregnant women to their unborn children.

A Healthier Alternative

Nowadays there are safer, healthier options when it comes to caring for your teeth. Although a bit more expensive than their amalgam counterparts, mercury-free composite fillings are gaining in popularity among health-conscious consumers, and many people are opting to replace older amalgam fillings with such alternatives. Before making the switch, or if you’re concerned about mercury exposure, talk to your health practitioner. He or she may be able to recommend several natural solutions for reducing your overall exposure to harmful toxic metals such as mercury and get you started on a path toward better health.

Further Detoxification Information

 


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