Amalgam fillings are used in dentistry. After curing, these can release mercury and contribute to human stress. Find out more about the release of mercury and possible health problems with amalgam problems.
Amalgam is generally the name given to liquid or solid alloys of mercury with metals. The amalgams used in dentistry consist of mercury and a metal mixture (silver, tin, copper and possibly traces of zinc) in a ratio of 1: 1.
Apart from the cheaper price, amalgam is superior as a filling material to the inlays made of gold alloys or ceramics due to the better marginal seal and its good mechanical properties. Mercury can also be found, for example, in thermometers, skin disinfectants or paper, but also in the food chain (environmental pollution). It is partially absorbed into the body, deposited and excreted very slowly.
There are no typical symptoms of mercury poisoning. A variety of very different clinical pictures are associated with amalgam in the literature, such as:
- Susceptibility to infection.
- Diarrhea, nausea.
- Depression, feelings of fear.
- Irritability, sleep disorders.
- Headache and muscle pain.
- Skin reactions.
- Hearing and vision disorders.
- and many other complaints.
However, the influence of mercury on most symptoms can ultimately not be clearly proven or refuted. A real “mercury allergy” rarely occurs (below 0.2%).
The mercury can get into the body in various ways. This includes:
- over the lungs (inhalation of vapors).
- over the gastrointestinal tract (ingestion).
- over the tooth root (especially if there is no underfilling), the gums and the jawbone.
- over the nasal cavity.
From the mouth or nose area, the mercury can reach the brain by diffusion. Another route is via the bloodstream, whereby the mercury is either deposited in different organs or transported to the brain via the nerve pathways.
The release of mercury from amalgam is increased:
- mechanically by chewing, grinding teeth or brushing teeth.
- chemically due to acidic or hot dishes, but also due to poor oral hygiene (pH value, plaque colonization).
- electrochemical through contact with nobler metals.
The release is of course also dependent on the type and processing of the material (polished fillings give less, for example). Particularly large quantities are released when laying and polishing new fillings and when drilling out old fillings.
You should think about an increased mercury load if, more or less frequently, more or less strongly, you show symptoms of the disease without a sufficient or thorough diagnosis being able to be made. See a doctor you trust and talk to them about your concerns about amalgam fillings.
If you suspect mercury pollution, various tests can be carried out. However, they are often inaccurate (“saliva test”) and expensive. The patient bears the cost of these tests.
If there is a suspicion of a mercury allergy, an allergy test can be carried out by the dermatologist.
If the doctor has determined, based on the saliva test or other examination methods, that you have a heavy metal load, the amalgam fillings in your teeth may be to blame.
Before you decide on a comprehensive tooth restoration, you should try to rule out other causes as possible, because replacing the amalgam fillings is very time-consuming and is rarely subsidized by health insurance companies.
The mercury that remains in the body even after the amalgam has been removed is slowly excreted. For particularly stubborn cases, there are medications (“chelating agents”) that accelerate excretion.