According to a new poll by Zogby Research Services, only about 1 in 10 patients are told by their dentist that dental amalgam (silver fillings) contains a potentially harmful level of liquid mercury (i). It’s estimated that over 1 billion teeth have been restored with dental amalgam worldwide, presenting a serious health concern for the patient, the environment, and the general world population.
How Mercury in Silver Fillings Causes Harm
If you think having biocompatible (white) fillings means you’re completely safe from dental mercury, think again. Here are the facts, according to leading authorities like the World Health Organization and U.S. EPA:
1. Dental amalgam is the biggest source of mercury pollution in non-industrialized settings (ii).
2. Mercury from dental amalgam goes airborne after cremation, improper disposal from dental clinics, accumulation in landfills, and usage of sludge fertilizer (iii).
3. Airborne mercury vapor can be inhaled by neighboring communities. Following inhalation, mercury vapor rapidly enters the bloodstream and circulates throughout the body. The side effects of mercury inhalation include impaired nervous system function, impaired speech, loss of motor function, and loss of vision. Mercury inhalation may be fatal at high doses (iv).
4. Mercury contaminates the soil and natural waterways. It accumulates in lakes, along shorelines, and in the bodies of the organisms that absorb it. This poses a serious health risk to individuals who live along lakes and coastal communities, like Miami, because mercury accumulation in fish and shellfish is a leading cause of overexposure and illness.
Mercury Kills Thousands in Japan
Perhaps the most horrific incident involving mercury disposal, environmental contamination, and human fatalities occurred in Minimata City, Japan. In May 1956, researchers discovered that the marine life of the Minimata Bay displayed extremely high levels of mercury contamination. The source of the mercury was traced to a nearby chemical plant that was discharging wastewater into the bay. By the time the discovery was made, however, a large part of the local community had unknowingly consumed toxic levels of mercury via locally farmed fish, shellfish, and other marine life.
Since the incident, 2,252 men and women have been recognized as having a dangerously high level of mercury exposure. Of those affected, 1,043 have died due to health complications that physicians believe to be caused by mercury poisoning (v).
Minimata Convention Aims to End Mercury Pollution
Following the tragic events that occurred along the Minimata Bay in 1956, world leaders and research institutions have begun lobbying to protect human health and the environment from the dangerous side effects of mercury disposal and emissions. The creation of the Minimata Convention on Mercury marks one of the largest and most expansive moves against the toxic metal, calling world leaders together in a binding agreement to:
- Ban the creation of new mercury mines. As a byproduct of mining operations, these types of mines emit toxic mercury vapor.
- Phase-out of existing mercury mines.
- Establish agreed-upon control measures for mercury air emissions.
- Regulation of the use of mercury in small-scale gold mining.
Mercury Free Dentistry in Miami
At Assure A Smile, we believe patients have the right to be informed and educated on the materials that are used in their dental procedures. We specialize in safely removing and replacing dental amalgam with biocompatible materials that are known for both safety and longevity, like white composite fillings. Our team takes every precaution necessary to ensure patient safety, and we utilize environmentally friendly disposal methods to do our part in waste reduction.
(i) Measurably Misleading. View the PDF here.
(ii) Mercury and health. World Health Organization. Published September 2013.
(iii) See (i) above.
(iv) Mercury: Health Effects. United States Environmental Protection Agency.