Should silver dental fillings be banned in the U.S?

85% of the U.S. population has silver dental fillings, which actually contain about 50% mercury, in addition to other metals. They contribute a significant amount of mercury into the environment, and they have been banned in three European nations (Sweden, Germany, Austria) so far. The U.S. Government asserts that they are safe and they pose no health risks. Should they be banned?

You need to establish that they are harmful first. Broadly put (and please, someone correct me if I’m wrong), the “Don’t worry” camp is filled with governments and reputable doctors whilst the “Worry” camp is filled with nuts.

See here for a recent thread on it. Note vertizontal’s pun - I must have made his day :slight_smile: .

I’m sure you’re mostly right, but we do need to be careful that a circular classification of ‘nut’ isn’t being used here (i.e. ‘nut’ meaning a person that worries about silly things like mercury in fillings). It isn’t necessarily the case that either side has a monopoly on (or even a significant investement in) critical thinking.

True. There are several chemical compounds containing mercury that are deadly toxic even in tiny amounts. You won’t find any of these in a dental filling, but still, it is not at all silly or unreasonable to worry that putting mercury in our mouths might not be a good idea.

The most notable compound of mercury that is toxic in even minute amounts is methylmercury(II), Hg(CH[sub]3[/sub])[sub]2[/sub]. While it is known that methyl mercury is formed biologically (by microorganisms) when elemental mercury is released into the environment, this process almost certainly could not occur within the mouth. It is also virtually impossible that methyl mercury might be formed in the mouth by exposure to another chemical found in food; the compound is prepared synthetically from a Grignard reagent, CH[sub]3[/sub]MgX (where X = Cl, I, Br, etc.) and mercury(II) chloride, HgCl[sub]2[/sub], not from elemental mercury. Overall, the amount of mercury present in a filling is small and the annual exposure due to vapor from dental fillings is likely to be smaller than from other environmental sources such as trace mercury contamination in fish.

Still, while mercury-based fillings are probably not terribly dangerous, it may be best to stop using them mostly to avoid unnecessary anxiety and potential lawsuits. Also, more modern fillings are less conspicuous and provide the fringe benefit of allowing people to bite on aluminum foil without setting up a painful electrochemical cell in their mouths.

According to my dentinst, nothing is better than mercury-silver fillings. They are stronger and last longer than the epoxy-glass-filled alternatives. Think about it-your dentist can make more money from you, by indulging in this irrational fiction that amalgam fillings cause cancer! Instead of one filling lasting 10+ years, he can get you for 3>

Just like Snopes is the place to go to debunk urban legends, Quackwatch is the go-to place for dubious health related claimes. Here is one of many articles related to mercury amalgam concerns.

As an answer to the OP’s question will likely be a matter of opinion as well as fact, this thread seem destined for GD.