Be Aware of These Nine Questionable Clinics

John Watson

Disclosures

August 20, 2018

In This Article

Mercury's Notoriety Propels Filling Removal

The fact that dental amalgam uses 50% metallic mercury content to bind various other metals (eg, silver, tin, copper) into a durable shape commonly used in fillings may come as a surprise to many patients. Yet, these same patients may be well aware of mercury's role as a neurotoxin.

It is this disconnect in knowing that something theoretically deleterious for your health is being placed in your body on which amalgam filling removal clinics thrive, their critics say.

"What the antiamalgam dentists base their premises on is a nugget of truth," said Grant Ritchey, DDS, a dentist in private practice in Tonganoxie, Kansas, who has written about this topic for the SBM blog: "If you have an amalgam filling, even if it's 20 or 30 years old, there is a small but measurable amount of mercury that's released by that filling every day. It is well, well below the threshold of safety, but you can measure it."

According to Ritchey, since the 1970s there has been a growing movement to attribute dental amalgam fillings to a wide swath of illnesses, from autism and multiple sclerosis to arthritis and Crohn disease. Specialty amalgam removal clinics then formed to meet the needs of patients who believe their fillings are the source of their other health issues, which can be reversed once they're gone.

"Some of what they do is science-based, but some of it is over the top," said Ritchey. "If they're making claims of curing disease or helping mitigate chronic illness, the evidence in the scientific literature does not support that at all."

Although each side in this debate has their go-to publications, numerous studies have failed to establish any correlation between amalgam fillings and relevant adverse effects in patients[37,38,39,40] or exposed dental workers.[41] This has led the American Dental Association to support the continued use of dental amalgam. The FDA has also not supported a proposal to prohibit its use in pregnant and nursing women or children under 6 years old.

Nonetheless, dental amalgam use is falling globally, owing in part to continued fears and simple cosmetic preferences for tooth-colored composite fillings.

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