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Do silver dental fillings threaten our health by leaking mercury into our bloodstreams?
Arguments about the risks of inserting the toxic metal into our teeth have raged for nearly 200 years, ever since mercury fillings first became popular in the 1830s.
Mainstream - Thinking - Fillings - Vapour - Mouths
The mainstream medical thinking has been that, though these silver-coloured fillings exude mercury vapour into our mouths, it’s in such tiny amounts it does not affect us.
But, last week, two perturbing developments pushed the controversy back into the spotlight. On July 1, the NHS launched new rules for dentists saying they must restrict the use of mercury amalgam fillings in children under 15, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, because they are ‘vulnerable groups’.
Week - Researchers - Journal - Radiology - Fillings
Also last week, researchers writing in the journal Radiology warned that amalgam fillings leak vastly increased amounts of mercury vapour when exposed to new, more powerful MRI (magnetic resonance imagery) medical scanners.
In conventional silver fillings, mercury is mixed with other metals because it makes the mixture soft enough to mould into cavities before it sets. Mercury represents about 50 per cent of the filling by weight.
Amalgam - Fillings - Glass - Resin
Once set, the amalgam is tougher than modern white fillings, which typically comprise powdered glass and acrylic resin.
Dentists say pliable amalgam fillings are also much easier to fit to barely accessible back teeth. They remain the most common type offered in Britain — three quarters of us have fillings, according to the National Dental Survey, and the majority are made of amalgam.
Studies - Time - Fillings - Vapour - Vapour
Numerous authoritative studies show that over time, however, the amalgam fillings emit mercury vapour. But whether the vapour may damage health lies at the heart of a medical controversy that has raged for more than 180 years.
Mercury’s toxicity has long been known. The NHS says acute exposure can cause breathing difficulties, bleeding lungs, tremors and mood swings. Low-level chronic...
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