Dr. Nammy Patel talks with John Maher about the dangers of mercury. She explains why people should avoid having this toxin in their mouths. Then, she outlines how mercury fillings leak over time and why patients should replace these old fillings.

John Maher: Hi. I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Dr. Nammy Patel, founder of Green Dentistry in San Francisco, California, helping patients recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole-body health, and author of the bestselling book Age With Style: Guide to a Youthful Smile and Healthy Living.

Today, our topic is: Are your mercury fillings leaking? Welcome, Dr. Nammy.

Dr. Nammy Patel: Hi, John. Thank you for having me.

What Are Mercury Fillings? Why Are They Dangerous?

John: Sure. Dr. Nammy, what are mercury fillings? Does everybody have them? And why are they dangerous?

Dr. Nammy: Mercury fillings are those silver fillings that are placed in the mouth. Not everyone has them, believe it or not.

Mercury is a really toxic chemical. It’s known to cause dementia, cancer, lots of different things. They were mainly placed in the ’70s and ’80s. They were placed a lot, actually. A lot of children tend to get it. Especially if it’s their baby teeth, they tend to get them because dentists think, “Oh, your teeth are going to fall out, so why do we want to put a good material in there if your tooth is not going to last?” So, mercury fillings do exist quite a bit, but I think adults now don’t get many mercury fillings, mainly because there’s better options out there.

The reason why we don’t want mercury fillings is because mercury is a toxin. So, what that means is when you have a mercury filling in your mouth, what happens is every time you chew and grind, you create a vapor, and that mercury vapor gets sucked up into your cells and the skin of your mouth, and it goes in and it alters your DNA. It specifically binds to a protein called the glutathione. What it does is if your body is wanting to make an orange to help fight bacteria or whatever it is, it’s actually going to make an apple, because what the mercury has done is altered the DNA.

That’s what’s the most problematic about mercury fillings, because there are just a wide array of problems that mercury fillings cause. My honest opinion is that we don’t know everything it causes. There’s so many reasons for mercury to be a toxin and we’ve only studied a handful. We don’t even know a lot of the other toxins that it caused. It can cause atopic pregnancy, like I said, breast cancer, also dementia, all sorts of things. It’s really, really concerning to see a lot of people walking around with these.

Are All Silver-Colored Fillings Made From Mercury?

John: Right. So, if somebody has those, like you said, silver-colored fillings in their mouth, are they mercury fillings, or are there other things that it could be?

Dr. Nammy: No, it’s a mercury filling. Actually, it’s technically called an amalgam filling. The amalgam means that it’s an amalgamation, so several different things. It has silver, tin, and things like that, but also mercury is a binding agent, and that’s what gets released. So, regardless it does have a ton of mercury that gets released, which is most toxic.

How Do Mercury Fillings Leak?

John: Okay. What did we mean when we say that mercury fillings leak, and how does that happen?

Dr. Nammy: With mercury fillings, my honest opinion is that if you have a filling in your mouth that’s silver, it’s leaking already, because it’s leaking when you’re grinding. Right? It’s going to create that mercury vapor.

Now, if you let that mercury filling sit in your mouth for five, 10 years, or so, what happens is that over time it actually shrinks and contracts with your temperature, so it creates these micro gaps between the tooth and the filling and saliva gets in there. It traps the saliva, and that’s where all the bacteria are. So, over a period of time, you see this dark shadow, and that is a mercury filling that’s leaking and causing decay.

Signs That Amalgam Fillings Are Leaking

John: Okay. Are there other indicators that a person’s amalgam fillings might be leaking, other than what you just mentioned?

Dr. Nammy: The biggest thing is you can see it, number one. You can also see cracks on the teeth. That’s a very common sign as well.

Then you can see the edges of the filling starting to wear. Normally, when mercury fillings are put in the mouth, they’re polished and they’re shiny, and then it’ll lose its shine, so you know that it’s leaking and deteriorating.

What Should You Do If Your Mercury Fillings Are Leaking?

John: So what should someone do if they suspect that their amalgam fillings are leaking?

Dr. Nammy: The most important thing to do if you suspect your fillings are leaking is come see a dentist. Then also think about who you’re seeing. Are you seeing somebody who takes mercury poisoning seriously? Are you seeing a holistic practitioner that’s going to make sure that the mercury filling is removed properly?

Frankly, the most toxic part of mercury fillings is when they’re being removed. So, you want to make sure when it’s being removed, we’re following the IAOMT protocol where the tooth is isolated. There’s an external oxygen source so that the mercury that’s released, you’re not breathing it in, it’s actually getting suctioned out.

What Can Replace Mercury Fillings?

John: And then what is it that you’re replacing those mercury fillings with?

Dr. Nammy: Typically, in my practice, if it’s a small mercury filling that needs to be replaced, it’ll be a BPA-free composite. If it’s a really large mercury filling with a couple of cracks or something along that, we’ll use biocompatible porcelain.

Contact Green Dentistry to Talk About Removing Mercury Fillings From Your Mouth

John: All right. That’s really great information, Dr. Nammy. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Dr. Nammy: My pleasure.

John: For more information about Green Dentistry, visit the website at SFGreenDentist.com or call (415) 433-0119.