HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Rita Aaron got her first silver filling, also known as a dental amalgam, at the age of 15 years old. Within two years she had eight of those fillings. After almost 40 years in her mouth, she started to notice some strange symptoms.
“Leg pain and hip pain,” Aaron describes it. “The pain would start in my hip and go all the way down to my ankles.”
The pain was so intense, she couldn’t sleep.
“I would toss and turn for hours before eventually just falling asleep.”
Rita was desperate to find an answer.
“I went to the doctor, I went to my chiropractor, both said you’re just getting older or you have bursitis in your hips. And I was just like, no I don’t.”
Rita knew there was something wrong. She took matters into her own hands to research and find the answer. All evidence kept pointing to one source. According to Rita, “The metal toxicity from the fillings was causing this leg pain.”
There is new but controversial evidence coming out that shows mercury fillings could be causing all kinds of symptoms, from memory loss, inability to concentrate, and tremors, to migraines and autoimmune disorders.
But according to the American Dental Association, “Dental amalgam is considered a safe, affordable and durable material.”
The Mayo Clinic also says, “Amalgam fillings are safe”.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says, “FDA considers dental amalgam fillings safe for adults and children ages 6 and above.”
But the FDA also goes on to say that “Dental amalgam contains elemental mercury. It releases low levels of mercury vapor that can be inhaled. High levels of mercury vapor exposure are associated with adverse effects in the brain and the kidneys.”
Some countries like Sweden and Norway have banned the use of dental amalgams.
A recent demonstration on the Dr. Oz show illustrates they may be on to something. They showed what happens when you brush teeth with dental amalgams by measuring mercury vapor. A model set of teeth was placed into a special tank. Dr. Oz placed his hands into gloves that could reach the teeth, while protecting everyone in the audience. When he brushed the teeth without any fillings, the meter registered zero. Once he started to brush the teeth with dental amalgam, the meter started to go up to 61 micrograms. The expert on the show said that anything over zero is toxic.
A dentist on the show also raised alarm. According to Gerald Curatola, DDS, a clinical professor at NYU, “Mercury is one of the most neurotoxic, that is damaging to our nervous systems, on the planet. It also suppresses the immune system.”
But dentists like Tesa Reeves say the demonstration was more like a magic show.
“The setting that they were doing it under was a dry setting. When the dental amalgams are placed in the mouth, it’s a wet environment, so it’s comparing apples and oranges.” Dr. Reeves goes on to say, “The readings they were showing were not consistent with what other science has shown.”
Dr. Reeves says she mostly uses tooth colored fillings like composite, but there are times dental amalgam is the best choice.
“The benefits of having a dental amalgam is that we can put it in a moist environment. So if a mouth is real wet, somebody has a lot of saliva, or the tooth is really far back there, we’ll know we’ll get a good bond.” She says there are more benefits as well. “It also lasts a really long time. It’s easier to place, there’s less that can go wrong when you’re putting it in.”
It’s also a lot less expensive, so sometimes that’s the only type of filling insurance will cover.
As for Rita, she had her amalgam fillings replaced with composite about 3 months ago, and her symptoms are already getting better.
“They lessened substantially. They haven’t gone away completely. There’s a process of getting that metal toxicity out of your tissues. You’ve still got some work to do after you get those fillings out, so I’m working on that.”
But with 12 children, getting a good night’s sleep again is definitely something she can smile about.
If you want to have your amalgam fillings removed, remember there’s potential danger in that as well, because of what’s released when you take them out. Find a dentist that uses some precautions to protect you if and when you have them removed. All dentists have their own protocol, but some use rubber dams to isolate that tooth, and some will use a ventilation system to keep you and their staff from breathing in the vapors. Just do your homework first.