Do your teeth have metallic dental fillings to which replace black tooth fillings with silver? This may come as a surprise to you, but the mixtures contain about 50 percent mercury. Now, if you know anything about this naturally occurring metal, then you know that it’s toxic in large amounts. So, the question begs: Are the fillings raising your mercury blood levels and, therefore, poisoning you? The answer will surprise you.
What is Dental Amalgam?
But first, let’s examine the material dentists use to fill the cavities in your teeth. Known as dental amalgam, this substance contains tin, silver, copper, and mercury. It has been in use for close to two centuries now.
More on Mercury
Mercury occurs naturally and exists in many forms. It’s even found in animals, including fish and even humans. Of interest to us is metallic mercury, also called quicksilver, which is used in blood pressure monitors, thermometers, and dental amalgam.
Why the Amalgam Needs Mercury
The metal has a threefold purpose. One, being a liquid at room temperature, the metal makes the amalgam pliable and, therefore, easy to mold into a cavity. Two, it binds the alloys. And three, the binding action it creates hardens the amalgam into a robust and durable substance.
Potential Risks of Dental Mercury
In liquid form, metallic mercury isn’t generally toxic. You can even swallow it, and it will pass through your body without posing any danger. In gaseous form, however, the substance is toxic. And this is where dentistry comes in.
As dental fillings decay with time, they release mercury vapor, which you then breathe in. From the lungs, the metal moves to the organs via the bloodstream. One of the affected organs is the heart.
How Mercury Affects the Heart
Long-term exposure to mercury has a detrimental effect on the central nervous system. Once compromised, this system no longer controls automatic cardiac functions as it should, leading to coronary heart disease and strokes.
Should You Have Your Fillings Removed?
Only remove worn fillings and replace them with a mercury-free amalgam. However, leave any new ones in place unless they cause an allergic reaction. Removing them damages not only your teeth but also releases mercury vapor.
Although they were meant to improve your dental health, fillings may be doing just the opposite. The mercury in them is a known toxin, especially in large amounts. And some of it escapes into the blood as mercury vapor, sometimes adversely affecting the heart.