The mainstream in dentistry staunchly defends the use of mercury fillings. Historically the mainstream became the mainstream by winning a nasty professional debate (“the amalgam war”) in the eighteen-fifties.
What I refer to as “mercury” fillings, are what most people call “silver fillings” and what the dental profession calls “dental amalgam fillings.” (Actually we call a filling a “restoration.”) A dental amalgam filling leaks small amounts of mercury as a gas which you inhale 24/7. Your body eliminates some of it, but enough remains so that in most people, it accumulates over the years.
Suspicion that mercury leaked from amalgams launched the amalgam war which in turn re-defined the way the dental profession organized itself and, it seems, significantly crippled its ability to think. Clear evidence that mercury was leaking from amalgams has existed for almost a hundred years. As a dental student in the nineteen-sixties I was taught that the mercury was “trapped” in the amalgam and wouldn’t come out. It wasn’t until the late nineteen-eighties that the North American dental establishment finally conceded that mercury escapes from amalgams. Their claim now approximates “It escapes, but in such tiny amounts it is capable of harming (almost) no one.” The most the only “valid” reasons for replacing mercury fillings are that
- You are allergic to them.
- The fillings have more decay around them or they are broken.
- You’re a child (maybe.)
- You’re in kidney failure.
For many (most?) people that is the end of the story. Others simply don’t care what the experts say; they don’t want a mercury source in their mouths. Still others are “on the fence” and confused. The rest of this “essay” is for us confused fence-sitters.