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Do they have mercury? Yes. Is the mercury causing you immune problems? My opinion is no. The danger of mercury is in the vapor. The room temperature state is very volatile, so vapor is given off easily. That’s why you can’t buy mercury thermometers anymore. Mercury is used in some industrial applications, commercial blood pressure cuffs, and in silver fillings. Some states and cities require special collection devices so that the dental mercury does not get into the water supply. Unfortunately, environmental mercury from industry sources far outweighs that of dental offices. Mercury in some fish is higher than what you could get from a mouth full of fillings.

The highest risk of mercury vapor exposure in dentistry is during the placement and the removal of the filling. While the filling is in your mouth, there is not generally much vapor released. Since it is documented that the greatest exposure comes during placement and removal, who is at most risk? Dental personnel. To my knowledge there are no reported mercury poisoning cases in dental office personnel. That alone should allay the fears of the public.

Many dentists who do not prey on the fear of the public still have problems with the material. My chief problem is the way it looks. No one wants them, and I think that composite resin (tooth colored filling) is an acceptable alternative. The other functional problem is that they do cause teeth to fracture. As the filling ages, it absorbs water like a sponge. The older it is, the greater this absorption. Imagine it expanding inside your tooth. No wonder it caused teeth to break. It is my challenge to try to decipher when the filling is still serviceable and when it’s failing