Mercury Fillings: They're Not Risky
Mercury Vapors Not Easily Absorbed by Body
Since then, numerous well-conducted studies have shown that there is no need for concern, says Mackert. "In order to produce [toxic mercury] levels in fillings, you would have to have 450 to 500 fillings in your mouth. Humans don't have that many teeth. Most people have 32 teeth, and with their wisdom teeth out, it's 28. So it doesn't add up," he tells WebMD.
Among the studies:
- In 2003, T.W. Clarkston, one of the world's leading mercury toxicity experts, published a study in The New England Journal of Medicine looking at mercury exposure from food, paints, vaccines, and dental fillings. The conclusion: "Patients who have questions about the potential relation between mercury [vapor from amalgam fillings] and degenerative diseases can be assured that the available evidence shows no connection."
- An important twin study conducted in Sweden -- comparing nearly 600 adopted and "reared together" twin sets, all about age 66 - concluded: "This study does not indicate any negative effects from dental amalgam on physical or mental health or memory functions in the general population over 50 years of age." That 1996 study appeared in the journal Community Dental and Oral Epidemiology.
- Another study published in 2003 looked at neurological and cognitive function among 550 healthy working adults. That study showed no association between mercury fillings and "any detectable deficits in cognitive or fine motor functioning." The study appeared in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
There's more data: "The amount absorbed in the average person's diet is 5 to 6 micrograms per day," says Mackert. "Mercury is in vegetables, fish, and in other meats in very small amounts. Mercury fillings release from 1 to 3 micrograms per day."
But, given concerns about pregnancy and mercury, are women at greater risk? "Studies of female dentists who are occupationally exposed to mercury amalgam don't show any higher incidence of adverse pregnancy outcomes," Mackert tells WebMD. "Yet they are exposed to more mercury in fillings than other women are."