Despite their name, “silver” or amalgam fillings are actually composed of about 50 percent mercury and 30 percent silver, with the remaining components divided among copper, tin, zinc and sometimes cadmium.
Dozens of Americans have complained that amalgam dental fillings have damaged their health through mercury poisoning, from causing shortness of breath, loss of energy, memory damage and even partial paralysis.
Consumer found that 50% of Americans believed amalgam dental fillings containing mercury caused health problems.
Silver fillings, which are also called amalgam, are cheap and easy to install, and the American Dental Association (ADA) reports that 76 percent of dentists use them.
Although the ADA concedes that “a very small number of people” are allergic to dental fillings, the group staunchly maintains, “Studies have failed to find any link between amalgam restorations and any medical disorder.”
The ADA has long claimed that mercury remains chemically locked within the “extremely stable” dental fillings, but according to the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, “Very small amounts are slowly released from the surface of the dental filling due to corrosion or chewing or grinding motions.”
Although the agency agrees with the ADA that there is not yet scientific agreement on whether this exposure actually does cause health problems, it suggests that fillings may be risky for pregnant women, children and those with impaired kidney or immune function.
The citizen group, Consumers for Dental Choice, argues that mercury dental fillings do pose a significant threat to public health, and they are campaigning to end dentistry practice.
And despite strong industry opposition, Congresswoman Diane Watson (D-CA) introduced still-pending legislation in April 2002 that would ban all mercury-based dental amalgam within five years.
A 2006 Zogby International poll of 2,590 US adults found that 72% of respondents were not aware that mercury was a main component of dental amalgam, and 92% of respondents would prefer to be told about mercury in dental amalgam before receiving it as a filling.
In 2008 silver (amalgam) dental fillings were banned in Sweden, Denmark and Norway.
However, in the USA the use of mercury in dental fillings is still approved by the government and the ADA.
Sources: www.emagazine.com, FDA Consumer.