GAITHERSBURG, MARYLAND. The American Dental Association (ADA) has launched an advertising campaign to discourage patients from having their amalgam (silver) fillings removed. Many patients and sometimes even their physicians believe that mercury, the main component of amalgams, plays a role in promoting such varied diseases as Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, and autism. The ADA says the evidence is not there and their Code of Ethics forbids dentists from advising their patients that there could be a link. Scientists at the University of Milan disagree with the ADA and point out that several studies have confirmed that mercury from amalgam dental fillings does enter tissues and that the mercury content of brain, thyroid, kidney, and pituitary gland tissue is proportional to the number of amalgam fillings. They conclude that the health effects of amalgam fillings are not at all clear and need further investigation. German researchers point out that some of the composite materials used in the replacement of amalgam fillings may in themselves be toxic.
Larkin, M. Don't remove amalgam fillings, urges American Dental Association. The Lancet, Vol. 360, August 3, 2002, p. 393
Guzzi, G, et al. Should amalgam fillings be removed? The Lancet, Vol. 360, December 21/28, 2002, p. 2081
Editor's comment: Mercury and removed amalgam fillings are classified as hazardous materials and require extreme caution in disposal. Why they would be hazardous outside the mouth, but not inside defies comprehension. It is also a scientifically proven fact that the blood level of mercury is twice as high in dentists as in non-dentists. This fact and the fact that savvy patients don't want mercury in their mouths is no doubt what is leading many dentists to put a, albeit discrete, sign in their waiting rooms "Mercury-free practice"!