I recently went to the dentist to have a couple of my old metal fillings replaced with the tooth-colored kind that don’t contain mercury. My dentist said it wasn’t necessary, but agreed to replace them because they were wearing down a bit. While he was removing them, a large piece of one fell on my tongue. I got to thinking afterwards and, although they got that piece, how much could they have missed that I may have swallowed? How likely am I to have issues if I ingested some of it?

Thank you,

Georgia in California

Dear Georgia,

It sounds like you saw a traditional dentist rather than a holistic dentist. Most traditionalists will quote the ADA (American Dental Association) and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and they don’t worry too much about possible side-effects of mercury or amalgam fillings. In fact, the ADA quotes the   FDI (Fédération Dentaire Internationale/ World Dental Federation) and WHO (World Health Organization) on their website by saying, “the small amount of mercury released from amalgam restorations, especially during placement and removal, has not been shown to cause any … adverse health effects.” This is indicative of the overall tone on mercury in the industry. However, there are a growing number of natural dentists, doctors and patients who have concerns whether this is accurate.

There is no evidence endorsed by a government agency that suggests you will face any adverse health effects from your procedure or from having those fillings removed, nor does any major agency question the safety in having or placing amalgam fillings. Moreover, based on traditional practices, the best process to remove amalgam fillings is to remove them in large pieces to reduce the total amount of aerosol and to keep the large suction, as well as the water sprayer, on the tooth the whole time, to minimize vapors and to remove as many as possible immediately. It sounds like this is what your dentist was doing.

With that said, if you had seen a holistic dentist, your experience would have been much different. A holistic dentist would have likely used a rubber dam to keep particles and debris from falling into your mouth. A holistic or what is also called a mercury-free dentist probably would have used additional suction, air movers, oxygen sources, supplementary barriers and other tools to ensure you, and everyone else in the room, were protected.

The bottom line is, per all current government-endorsed evidence, you have not ingested enough mercury to become ill. However, if you still have concerns, you may wish to seek the advice of a holistic dentist before your next procedure.

This post is sponsored by Atlanta cosmetic dentist Flax Dental.