Mercury fillings: toxic effects on the body and safe disposal

Filed in: Article, health-hazards.

During the last 150 years, a combination of metals known as amalgam (or silver filler) has been used in dentistry as a cheap, effective and flexible material to fill tooth decay. Now many countries are phasing out the use of amalgam fillings in dentistry due to health problems, especially as a result of the removal or restoration of old fillings.

The amalgam, which consists of silver, mercury, tin, copper and sometimes zinc, indium or palladium, is soft enough to mix and press on the tooth, but it is also durable. Although it is used less frequently than the more attractive tooth color materials for tooth restoration, amalgam is still used in general dentistry.

The most prominent component of these traditional fillings is mercury and comprises 50% of the amalgam. There is a concern about the amount of mercury that is used and, subsequently, it is inhaled or absorbed by patients and dentists. The steam expelled from chewing and the fragments of a dentist who pierces both the filling and the removal of the amalgam can mean that mercury is consumed, which increases the levels of toxic mercury detected in the blood.

Effects of mercury fillers

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Previously considered impotent, there has been a recent debate about the possibility of mercury being released from amalgam fillings. Sophisticated tests have shown that small amounts of mercury can be released in the form of vapor as the amalgam deteriorates.

In the 1980s, about 68% of the fillings were made with amalgam in Australia, which represents a large number of people who still have silver amalgam fillings, have restored them or have not yet been removed. In the United States, 25% of people have 11 or more fillings, which is worrisome, as one study found that for people with more than eight fillingsThe levels of mercury in blood were more than double that of people without fillings.

The main exposition The mercury from dental amalgam occurs during placement or removal at the restoration of the tooth. Genetic variants It can make certain people especially vulnerable to the long-term release of mercury from fillings. Because mercury is elemental, the body can not process this substance through digestion and is excreted or remains in the system. It has been found that those with the genetic allele ApoE4 protein in the blood are much more susceptible to chronic neurological conditions due to the inability to excrete mercury adequately, which can have a great impact memory and increase susceptibility to Alzheimer's.

Dental mercury and the environment

While exposure to mercury for people with amalgam fillings may occur, exposure to dentists and release to the environment is considered a higher and more urgent pressure problem. It has been calculated that only in the USA. UU., Approximately 29.7 tons of mercury in the form of amalgam are produced annually. Discharged To the internal wastewater systems of dental facilities. Amalgam fragments from the perforation are suctioned from the patient's mouth, but can be inhaled by dentists and also rinsed by waste drainage (even in sinks with specially designed fragment screens). It was also discovered that the capsules in which the amalgam is stored are improperly disposed due to a low perceived risk of the mercury remaining in the discarded capsule and eventually ending up in general waste and then in landfills. Through these processes, tons of mercury fragments can enter the atmosphere, water and soil.

Safe disposal of mercury fillers

Considering the propensity for mercury to enter and toxin not only our bodies, but also the environment, the elimination and safe restoration of fillings is crucial. The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) has established the minimum recommended treatment protocol for safe removal of dental amalgam. It is recommended to follow it every time the amalgam fillings (or other dental metals) are removed.

The safe removal of dental amalgam involves:

Patients who breathe separate air or an oxygen supply. Dental staff wear masks that absorb mercury. Patients wear eye protection. The amalgams are removed in pieces instead of being crushed. The air in the operating room is filtered to remove the mercury vapor. A rubber dam is used to isolate the teeth during extraction. The patient exposes the skin to a minimum during the procedure. High speed aspiration is used at all times in the mouth.

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The safe disposal of amalgams and the prevention of exposure to mercury vapors or residues depend on qualified dentists and personnel. As the harmful effect of mercury to the environment and the risks to the body are known, it seems preferable to opt for non-amalgam alternatives for future fillings along with the selection of reliable dentists for amalgam removal.

For more information on mercury in dentistry and its effect on the body and the environment, see the collection of FMTV informational videos on the subject here.


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