The American Dental Association has been sued for encouraging people to have amalgams put into their teeth. The ADA has issued a press release that states that they are "concerned that misguided fears about the safety of amalgam, coupled with the added costs of the more expensive filling options, may cause people to forego necessary dental care." The following groups have publicly stated that dental amalgams are safe: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS), National institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Yet some people claim that dental amalgam is responsible for diseases such as autism, Alzheimer's and Multiple Sclerosis because it is an alloy with mercury.
The mercury in dental amalgam combines with other metals to form a stable dental filling, similar to the way that sodium and chlorine (both hazardous in their pure state) combine to form harmless table salt. A minute amount of mercury vapor may be released by amalgam fillings during vigorous chewing or grinding, but there is no scientific evidence that this negligible amount will harm you. Many people have had fillings removed from their teeth because they thought that mercury from the fillings was poisoning them and causing them to be exhausted and their muscles to hurt. Two studies from Sweden and Finland support the position statement of the American Dental Association that chronic tiredness and muscle pains are not caused by mercury in dental fillings and that removing the fillings does not relieve tiredness or muscle pain. If mercury in dental amalgams caused tiredness and muscle pain, then dentists, the people who are exposed to the most amalgam, should have the most symptoms and they do not.
Millions of North Americans suffer from tiredness and muscle pain and they go from doctor to doctor, begging for help. Since most doctors offer no help whatever and often tell them that they are just depressed, these patients look elsewhere. Some dentists in the 1980s felt that they could help people with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia by removing their amalgams and replacing them with weaker fillings made from other materials. They would ask their patients with amalgam fillings to chew, insert a special machine and analyze the air blown out for mercury content. These machines showed that chewing markedly increases the mercury content of the air in the mouth. However, the mercury released by chewing is breathed out, not retained by the body, and therefore is not harmful.
To show that a person is poisoned by mercury, a researcher must show increased amounts of mercury in tissues in the body or urine, and people with dental fillings do not have increased amounts of mercury in their tissues or urine. The position statement from the ADA, that chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia are not caused by dental amalgams, shows that they have high morals at a time when most dentists could use the extra business of removing dental fillings and replacing them for big bucks.
1) S Langworth. Experiences from the amalgam unit at Huddinge hospital - somatic and psychosomatic aspects. Scandinavian Journal of Work Environment & Health. 23: Suppl. 3 (1997):65-67.
2) S Stenman, L Grans. Symptoms and differential diagnosis of patients fearing mercury toxicity from amalgam fillings. Scandinavian Journal of Work Environment & Health. 23: Suppl. 3 (1997):59-63.
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