By Naturopath Margaret Jasinska

Amalgam fillings have been controversial for a long time. Mercury vapours released from the fillings can lead to a number of health problems. Recent research carried out by a team of international scientists has provided new evidence that mercury exposure from dental amalgams can contribute to mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. This is not too surprising when you realise that mercury tends to mainly accumulate in the brain.

People with one or more amalgam fillings are at risk of toxic levels of mercury exposure, but people working in the dental industry are exposed to far higher amounts. In 2008 a study was conducted comparing  41 dental assistants with 64 controls in Norway. The dental assistants were found to suffer with significantly greater rates of neurological symptoms, difficulties with memory and concentration, sleep disturbances and fatigue compared with people who don’t work in the dental industry. A 2012 study involving 600 dentists revealed that they purchased significantly more prescription medication for neuropsychological and neurological conditions than people who aren’t dentists.

So does removal of amalgam fillings lead to improvements in mental and emotional health?

Interestingly, there have been a number of studies that showed significant improvements in psychological symptoms after amalgam removal. In one study of 111 people with chronic fatigue syndrome, 76 percent of them experienced significant improvements in symptoms five years after removal of their fillings. Mental health can improve also; a reduction in urine mercury concentrations can correspond with a reduction in anxiety. Several studies conducted on people working in the dental industry have shown associations between mood and exposure to mercury at levels previously thought to be safe.

According to the researchers of one study, “The evidence provided in this review suggests that dental amalgams may be a significant contributing factor in the burden of disease. Furthermore, interactions between mercury and other causes of disease might be more the rule than the exception”.

Everyone agrees that exposure to high levels of mercury is toxic, but no one has really researched the effects of long term moderate exposure adequately. Did you know that Norway and Sweden have banned the use of mercury-containing amalgam fillings? Canada and Germany now advise against their use in pregnant women and children. Other countries are turning a blind eye.

The World Health Organisation considers mercury to be in the list of 10 chemicals of greatest concern because of adverse effects it can have on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, as well as the lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes.

If you are considering having your amalgam fillings removed, it is essential you visit a dentist experienced in this procedure. Special precautions must be taken, and a detoxification regime should be undertaken, as the removal process can temporarily expose you to higher levels of mercury.

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