The Debate Over Mercury in Dental Fillings
The debate over the safety of mercury in dental fillings shows no sign of quieting down.
Removing Silver Fillings
As far as mercury in fillings goes, "If I had immune problems or
anything that would make me subject to getting an infection, I would do
anything I could to boost my immune system and decrease my chance of infection
including purging all metals from my mouth," Davis tells WebMD. But
"for the general public, mercury in fillings is not that much of a
Davis often advises patients to consider having silver fillings removed if
they are large fillings that can make the tooth weak over time. "I
recommend that my patients do it over several years," he says, by removing
and replacing one quarter of the mouth at a time. "Over time, your whole
mouth will be upgraded."
"Just like you find with fluoridation, [some people] feel no matter what
anybody says about this procedure they are wrong and there is a problem,"
says Erie, Pa.-based dentist William Glecos, DDS. Glecos is a past chairman of
the environmental task force for the Pennsylvania Dental Association.
Dental amalgam is about 50% liquid mercury and 50% a combination of alloy
powder (metals composed of silver, tin, copper and others). "The mercury is
what binds all the other powders together," Glecos says. "Even if you
remove these fillings and they leach into the waste water, just 0.006% of
mercury in amalgam will leak out," he says.
The main pluses of amalgam fillings are that "they are economic and tend
to be very durable and can be used in situations that are not ideal,"
Glecos says. "One of the problems with the white fillings are that they are
very sensitive and need a certain environment to be used; they are also very
costly and not as durable," he says.
The View of Mercury Opponents
This doesn't mean too much to public health advocate Freya Koss, the
development director of Consumers for Dental Choice in Wynewood, Pa. She is
also director of development for the Pennsylvania Coalition for Mercury Free
Dentistry. It is Koss's mission to alert the public to the dangers of mercury
Close to a week after a dental visit several years ago, Koss was struck with
double vision -- seemingly out of nowhere. Her dentist had drilled out some old
mercury fillings and replaced them with a new batch. After visiting several
specialists and undergoing a battery of tests, a doctor told her that based on
the results, she either had MS or lupus.
But Koss refused to take this diagnosis lying down. "I had a light bulb
moment on the Web, when I read a woman's story about similar symptoms brought
on by mercury poisoning," she says. "I wasn't crazy. I wasn't
After having the fillings carefully removed and going on a detox plan rich
in antioxidants, Koss began to feel better slowly. Her symptoms continued long
after she identified the cause. In fact, she had a drooping eyelid for 3.5
"The symptoms of mercury poisoning are insidious, and you can have a
variety of symptoms through the years," she tells WebMD.
"Do research and find out what tests are being used to determine mercury
poisoning," she says. "And make sure you find a mercury-free dentist
who follows the protocol for safe amalgam removal. Be your own