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Silver fillings, or mercury silver fillings (amalgams) as they should be called if you were going to list the ingredients by content with the largest amount of ingredient first, have been a center of debate by dentists for over 150 years since they were first introduced. Since their inception, many have argued that mercury toxicity or poisoning could and would be the end result. Could it happen?
Proponents of amalgams argue that there isn't any specific disease or problems related to their use. They are relatively low cost and last a number of years.
They are therefore safe, reliable and a good option for saving teeth.
Opponents of amalgams argue that these fillings leech mercury out into the system and cause a malady of problems. Because of mercury's affinity for nerves and neural tissue, there isn't a specific disease, but rather, a lot of different diseases and problems caused by mercury poisoning.
They are therefore dangerous and should be eliminated. Other options now exist for fillings that work just as well.
Let's Look at the Components
Mercury silver amalgam begins as elemental mercury and a metal alloy (made of silver, tin, copper,zinc, and some other metals depending upon the manufacturer) that is mixed together to form a thick paste. This paste is then placed into the tooth. Due to a chemical reaction that takes place, the paste crystalizes to form a hard metal (amalgam).
A common argument is that the mercury forms a chemical reaction with the alloy and is thus consumed so it will not cause any problems.
Mercury does indeed chemically react with the silver/tin complex to form a fairly insoluble metal alloy. The problem is that when you mix the exact proportions needed for a pure chemical reaction, the result is a dry unworkable powder that you can't do anything with.
The solution is to add a little extra mercury so that the mix is more of a paste and can be worked with. The new problem is that there is extra mercury left over.
When the paste is put into the tooth, a special instrument called a condenser is used to push hard against the amalgam paste in an attempt to force or squeeze out the extra mercury. Some of it is indeed squeezed out, but not all of it.
In larger fillings, it may not even be possible to put enough pressure on the amalgam to remove any at all.
The chemical reaction that takes place causes billions of little crystals to form and grow so that they interlock with one another much like when you place your hands together with your fingers interlocking.
These growing interlocking crystals end up trapping the free elemental mercury between them. This is the problem and source of mercury with these fillings.
All liquids evaporate. All at different rates, but they do evaporate. Compare water with alcohol. Alcohol evaporates much more quickly than water.
Mercury is a metal. Mercury, however,is liquid at room and body temperatures. Because mercury is a liquid, it also evaporates forming a vapor (gas).
This vapor is pure elemental mercury.
This mercury vapor is also highly reactive.
It reacts readily with body tissues.
The stage is set for some serious problems.
The Health Issues - History
Because mercury has an affinity for neural tissue (likes to attach to brain and nerves), this is where it tends to accumulate. It does go to other tissues as well, however.
Like I said before, mercury is highly reactive. It doesn't just sit around as elemental mercury. It attaches to tissues.
Ever here of the term "mad as a hatter"?
Back in the 1700's - 1800's felt hats were all the rage. Felt doesn't hold its shape without some type of stiffening substrate (like starch etc.), so they needed something to stiffen the felt that wouldn't easily dissolve if it occasionally got wet.
Mercuric acetate was the answer. It stiffened the felt and also added some color as well.
Mercuric acetate is a mercury salt. In solution, the mercury is available to react to skin etc. It was absorbed and the rest is truly history.
It was observed that workers who dealt with mercuric acetate to stiffen and shape hats went insane. Virtually every one of them did if they stayed working with it. They probably had other seemingly unrelated illnesses also, but that is mere speculation on my part.
Galileo went insane toward the end of his life as well. He used elemental mercury to coat etched glass for a highly reflective distortion free surface (mirror) for his telescopes that he invented. Unwittingly he was the source of his own demise.
Both of these instances are results of high level mercury poisoning. Mercury overload.
What happens however, when it is a constant low level mercury bombardment.
The Health Issues - Current Reality
As you will recall, there are not any proven illnesses from the use of dental amalgam.
At least none that are acknowledged by the FDA.
The reason has to do with individual genetics.
Our nerves are kind of like electrical wiring. They have an insulating sheath around them much like the plastic coating around an electrical cord or wire does.
Some people have thicker insulation than others. Some may have it thick in some spots and thin in others.
Wherever it is thin, it can be more easily ruptured or broken there. Much like a chain will break at its weakest link, a nerve will fail at its weak insulation point.
Obviously, this is a very simplistic explanation. The processes are more complicated, but you get the idea.
Symptoms will vary depending upon where the breakdown occurs.
Mainstream medicine likes to label certain symptoms to certain diseases that can then be linked to a particular cause.
In other words, mercury from fillings would cause a certain set of symptoms that could be labeled as a specific disease.
Nice and neatly boxed. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen that way.
Because mercury can attack any nerve anywhere, the symptoms that I have may not even remotely resemble the problems that you are having.
An example could be multiple sclerosis vs. Alzheimer's. They both could easily have their origins in a mercury toxicity problem. It's just that one person's weakest link is not the same as another person's.
Then to top it off, there are a range of other neurotoxic metals and chemicals that add fuel to the fire. What the mercury starts, something else finishes.
For further information on mercury and mercury silver amalgams, check out some of my reading recommendations.