Is Mercury Really Rising? Or Has it Been a Faulty Test All Along

Since the 1830s when amalgam fillings were introduced to the public, people have expressed concerns about mercury poisoning. While scientists can agree that dental amalgam fillings do release small amounts of mercury vapor into the mouths of people with amalgam fillings, the amount of mercury released and whether it is harmful has remain…

Since the 1830s when amalgam fillings were introduced to the public, people have expressed concerns about mercury poisoning. While scientists can agree that dental amalgam fillings do release small amounts of mercury vapor into the mouths of people with amalgam fillings, the amount of mercury released and whether it is harmful has remain controversial for almost a century. The standard test designed to determine mercury exposure from dental amalgam fillings has recently been exposed as possibly overestimating the amount mercury released. Your Knoxville dentist, Dr. Jim Erpenbach, will tell you more about the new information found by researchers at University of Michigan.

Mercury Testing Exposed

Public health studies usually look at the mercury content in urine to estimate exposure to mercury vapor as a result of amalgam fillings. To discern the amount of mercury obtained from a person’s diet, readings are taken from hair samples. Calling upon 12 dentists in the area, the University of Michigan study measured mercury isotopes in hair and urine for both sources – amalgam fillings and food (primarily fish) containing mercury. The results showed that the two sources of mercury exposure were not isolated when it came to the methods of testing. In short, urine samples would overestimate the amount of mercury that was due to amalgam fillings by discounting the effects of dietary choices.

More Dangerous Sources of Mercury than Fillings

The Michigan study demonstrated that mercury isotopes are a more accurate method of testing than urine and hair samples. Isotopes provide a detailed tracer regarding organic mercury from fish and inorganic mercury vapor from the amalgam used for dental fillings. While mercury is a naturally occurring element, approximately 2,000 tons are emitted into the atmosphere annually. This influx of the compound is a result of coal-fired power plants, small-scale gold-mining operations, metals and cement production, and other such industries. Too much exposure to mercury can cause damage to the central nervous system, kidneys, heart, and immune system. The Michigan study suggests that amalgam fillings are even less of a concern regarding mercury exposure than previously thought.

Knoxville Dentist Can Replace Amalgam Fillings

Even if amalgam fillings have not been proven to give you a significant exposure to mercury, many people like to have them replaced to porcelain for cosmetic reasons. Your Knoxvillegeneral dentist offers the latest and safest options for cavity prevention and treatment. Contact Dr. Erpenbach to discuss more about ozone dentistry. To schedule an appointment contact our 37919 dentist office  by calling 865-329-7815. We welcome patients of all ages from Knoxville and surrounding areas.