PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Silver-colored plugs, which fill the void of cavities contain low levels of mercury.
It’s not enough to harm, but they are classified by the FDA as moderate risk, instead of low risk.
The designation is not strong enough according to one woman, who believes the amalgam fillings destroyed her immune system and made her dizzy.
“You get warnings about mercury in fish, so why would anyone with any sense think mercury belongs in your mouth?” Virginia Pritchett said.
“There are a lot of consumer groups, environmental groups out there that are saying that mercury is harmful and that all amalgam restorations should be replaced,” Dr. Kathy Driscoll with Allegheny General Hospital Dentistry said.
Silver, tin, copper, zinc and other metals are mixed with liquid mercury. Mercury vapors can be released when the fillings are placed, and while chewing.
With high levels, brain and kidney damage can occur. However, this is something Dr. Driscoll has never seen.
“Myself, I really have not. And I know there’s a concern to see if there’s a relationship for different disease states, such as autism, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, neurological injuries. Myself, I have not seen any scientific evidence directly linking,” Dr. Driscoll said.
The amalgam fillings have been used for more than 150 years, and are still used for hard to reach cavities. Over the last two decades, fewer than 150 adverse events related to the mercury fillings have been reported. None were fatal.
Newer composites are tooth-colored, more expensive, and are made with resins, ceramic, and glass with unknown long-term effects. Dr. Driscoll points out the FDA could potentially classify these as moderate risk as well.
“I think it’s up to the dentist and the individual patient, because everybody should be looked at on an individual basis,” Dr. Driscoll said.