Silver Amalgam Dental Fillings – A Surprising Cancer Connection

February 20th, 2014 by Dr. Keith Nemec

There are many things that can increase a person’s risk for developing cancer. Lifestyle and diet are two of the most obvious, followed closely by environmental toxins and pollution. However, cancer causing agents can sometimes lurk in the most unexpected places. Even when we are hyper vigilant and taking care of our health to the best of our ability, we may still be unknowingly putting ourselves at risk for developing cancer and other chronic disorders. Good dental health is an important part of the body’s total well-being. For example, it has been understood for a long time now that poor dental hygiene (cavities, abscesses, gum disease, etc.) can lead to heart disease and blood poisoning. Only recently, however, has there been any real understanding of the connection between dental health and cancer. Surprisingly, recent European studies are now indicating that there may be a direct correlation between instances of cancer, particularly breast cancer, and the common silver amalgam fillings that continue to be used to treat cavities and root canals.

The Truth About Silver Dental Fillings

Most of us at some point in our lives have had a tooth drilled and a cavity filled. It is not a pleasant experience, but it is a necessary one. The most common filling material used by dentists today is the so-called “silver amalgam” filling. At first glance, one would assume that the predominant ingredient in ‘silver amalgam’ fillings is, in fact silver. However, you may be surprised to learn that the major ingredient in silver fillings is in reality mercury. In fact, ‘silver amalgam’ fillings actually contain as much as 50% Mercury, with Silver only making up 25% of the amalgam.

The Hazards of Silver Amalgam Fillings

Mercury, as we all know, is a highly toxic heavy metal as mentioned in this post on leaky gut syndrome. Even low levels of exposure can lead to a variety of adverse health conditions. Still, it continues to be used as a major component in silver amalgam fillings. While you may think your fillings are stable and solid, and are not leaching into your system, any amount of friction can cause the fillings to release small amounts of Mercury gas. This gas may subsequently be absorbed into the body, resulting in Mercury toxicity. The connection between ‘silver amalgam’ fillings and cancer was first discovered in Europe, and many countries within the European Union have since banned, or greatly restricted, their use. Unfortunately, the United States has yet to follow suit, and mercury contaminated ‘silver amalgam’ fillings are still the most common type of filling used by dentists in the US.

The Effect of Mercury on the Body

Mercury is a carcinogen, and prolonged exposure can seriously compromise the body’s immune system. The immune system is the body’s first line of defense against cancer and other chronic diseases, and when it is compromised cancer is better able to take hold and proliferate. Mercury exposure can also increase the production of free radicals, which can in turn damage the body’s DNA at the cellular level leading to an increased risk for a variety of different types of cancer.

Limiting Your Exposure

If you wish to limit your exposure to mercury from ‘silver amalgam’ fillings the best course of action is, of course, to take good care of your teeth and avoid cavities. That being said, there are resin compound alternatives to ‘silver amalgam’ fillings, which, while not as long lasting will eliminate the hazardous exposure to mercury. If you already have a number of ‘silver amalgam’ fillings, there are dentists who specialize in their safe removal. Most dentists in the US will not inform their patients of the possible hazards of ‘silver amalgam’ fillings, so if you are having any dental work done be sure to ask your dentist about the types of filling compounds they use, and if they offer an alternative to mercury contaminated ‘silver amalgam’ fillings. Your due dental health diligence may help to reduce your risk for developing a variety of different types of cancer.

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