Amalgam Fillings: Safe During Pregnancy?

is amalgam filling safe during pregnancy

Dental amalgam fillings have been used for over 150 years and are a combination of metals including mercury, silver, tin, and copper. Mercury is a known neurotoxin and can cause serious health issues including brain and spinal cord damage, developmental issues, and even death. Research has shown that amalgam fillings can have adverse effects on pregnant women and their babies, with mercury being able to cross the placental barrier and enter the baby's brain and kidneys.

Despite this, the UK has deemed the risk from amalgam fillings to be minimal, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found no reason to limit their use. However, some countries have banned or restricted the use of amalgam fillings for pregnant women and children, and the World Health Organization has warned of mercury's adverse effects on fetuses and children.

Characteristics Values
Amalgam fillings safe during pregnancy The UK has avoided the use of amalgam for pregnant women for 20 years. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found no reason to limit the use of amalgam and concluded that amalgam fillings are safe for adults and children ages 6 and above. However, amalgam fillings are not recommended for pregnant women.
Amalgam fillings safe for children The World Health Organization has warned of mercury's adverse effects on children. The IAOMT does not recommend amalgam fillings for anyone. The US, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, France, Austria, Canada, Germany, and the EU have all banned or restricted the use of amalgam fillings for children.
Mercury safe during pregnancy Mercury can cross the placenta. Mercury is a neurotoxin and can cause tremors, impaired vision and hearing, paralysis, insomnia, emotional instability, developmental deficits during fetal development, and attention deficit and developmental delays during childhood.
Mercury safe for children Children are at risk of health impairments linked to dental amalgam mercury fillings.

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Mercury poisoning and its effects on the fetus

Mercury is a metal that occurs naturally in the environment and can exist as a liquid or a gas. It is used in amalgam fillings because it helps make the filling material pliable. While amalgam has been the most popular and effective filling material used in dentistry for the last 150 years, concerns have been raised about its safety during pregnancy due to the presence of mercury.

Methylmercury, an organic form of mercury, can damage the developing brains of human fetuses. During the third week of gestation, the human nervous system begins to form in the embryo, making it particularly susceptible to the influence of neurotoxins like methylmercury, which can result in abnormalities. The fetal brain can incur damage even if there are no signs of poisoning in the pregnant woman. In children, defects due to methylmercury can result in deficits in attention, behaviour, cognition, and motor skills.

In 1959, researchers attributed symptoms such as lack of eye coordination, convulsions, neck instability, mental retardation, and growth deficits to poisoning by methylmercury found in the water of Minamata Bay in Kyushu, Japan. This disease, called congenital Minamata disease, enabled researchers to identify the poisonous effects of methylmercury when consumed by pregnant women.

Studies have shown that mercury can cross the placenta and that exposure to mercury vapour from amalgam fillings is greatest during the placement or removal of restorations. While there is no strong evidence that amalgam fillings directly cause adverse effects, the UK has avoided using amalgam for pregnant women for 20 years as a precautionary measure. Dentists generally advise pregnant women to avoid unnecessary dental care and suggest other filling materials for pregnant women who need a cavity filled.

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Amalgam filling removal during pregnancy

Amalgam fillings, also known as silver fillings, are a combination of metals, including mercury, silver, tin, and copper. They have been used to fill teeth for over 150 years due to their durability and cost-effectiveness. However, concerns have been raised about the potential health risks associated with amalgam fillings, particularly during pregnancy.

During pregnancy, it is generally recommended to avoid unnecessary medical or dental procedures. This includes the removal of amalgam fillings. While there is limited research specifically on the removal of amalgam fillings during pregnancy, there are several reasons why it is advisable to postpone this procedure until after pregnancy or breastfeeding:

  • Mercury exposure: Mercury is a neurotoxin that can cross the placenta and accumulate in the fetus. High levels of mercury exposure during pregnancy have been linked to adverse effects on the developing fetus, including developmental deficits, impaired vision and hearing, and emotional instability.
  • Alternative filling materials: There are alternative filling materials available, such as composite resin, porcelain, and gold, that can be used during pregnancy if urgent dental treatment is required.
  • Precautionary principle: The UK, for example, has avoided the use of amalgam fillings for pregnant women for the last 20 years based on the precautionary principle. This principle states that it is best to avoid unnecessary medical interventions during pregnancy to minimise any potential risks to fetal health.
  • Increased mercury exposure during removal: Removing amalgam fillings can result in the release of higher levels of mercury vapour into the body, which could potentially increase the risk of exposure for both the mother and the fetus.
  • Safety precautions: Removing amalgam fillings requires strict safety precautions to protect against mercury exposure. While dental offices are equipped to handle these precautions, it may be best to avoid any potential risks during pregnancy.

In summary, while there may be situations where the removal of amalgam fillings is necessary during pregnancy, it is generally advisable to postpone this procedure until after pregnancy or breastfeeding. This is due to the potential risks associated with mercury exposure and the availability of alternative filling materials. It is important to consult with a dentist to discuss the best approach to dental health during pregnancy and make informed decisions.

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Exposure to mercury through seafood

The consumption of fish is the most significant source of mercury exposure for humans and animals. Mercury and methylmercury are present in very small concentrations in seawater, but they are absorbed by algae at the start of the food chain. This algae is then consumed by fish and other organisms higher in the food chain. Fish efficiently absorb methylmercury, but excrete it very slowly, resulting in a buildup of mercury in their adipose tissue. This process is known as bioaccumulation, and it continues up the food chain, with predatory fish like swordfish and sharks having higher concentrations of mercury than smaller fish.

Certain species of fish that are long-lived and high on the food chain, such as marlin, tuna, shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, contain higher concentrations of mercury. Populations that consume whale meat, such as the Japanese, Icelanders, Norwegians, and the Faroese, are also vulnerable to mercury ingestion due to the high levels of mercury found in whales.

The effects of mercury exposure through seafood can be severe, especially for pregnant women and young children. High levels of mercury can interfere with the development of the nervous system in unborn babies and young children. Exposure to methylmercury in food can cause neurological and behavioral issues, including numbness, loss of motor skills, vision and speech impairment, and trouble with walking. In severe cases, exposure to high amounts of mercury can lead to fatal effects on the kidney, lungs, digestive tract, or cardiovascular system.

To minimize the risk of mercury exposure, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advise avoiding certain types of fish with high mercury levels, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. They recommend limiting fish and shellfish consumption to up to 12 ounces per week for pregnant and breastfeeding women and up to 8 ounces per week for children aged 1 to 11 years old. Additionally, it is important to check local advisories about the safety of fish caught in local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas.

While seafood does contain important nutrients like high-quality protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other essential nutrients, it is crucial to be mindful of the potential risks associated with mercury exposure, especially for vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and young children.

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Mercury in the environment

Mercury is a global pollutant that affects human and ecosystem health. It is a naturally occurring element, but human activities, such as mining and fossil fuel combustion, have led to widespread global mercury pollution. Mercury emitted into the air can travel thousands of miles before it is deposited back to the earth in rainfall or in dry gaseous form.

Developing fetuses and young children are most at risk from exposure to mercury. Mercury can enter the body through inhalation, drinking water, soil, and food. Fish and shellfish are a major route of methylmercury exposure among human populations.

The Minamata Convention is an international treaty that was signed in 2013 to control the global release of mercury into the environment.

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Dental care during pregnancy

Pregnancy is a delicate time for both mother and child, and dental care is an important part of overall health. Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to dental care during pregnancy:

Dental fillings are a common procedure, but some pregnant women may wonder if it is safe to have them done during pregnancy. The short answer is yes, but there are some important considerations to keep in mind. It is always best to consult with a dentist or medical professional for specific advice.

Dental Amalgam Fillings and Pregnancy

Dental amalgam has been a popular and effective filling material used in dentistry for over 150 years. It is a combination of metals, including mercury, silver, tin, and copper. While durable and cost-effective, concerns have been raised over the use of amalgam due to the presence of mercury. Mercury is a neurotoxin and can have harmful effects on the body, especially in high quantities.

Some countries have already banned or restricted the use of dental amalgam fillings for pregnant women, and it is generally recommended to avoid unnecessary dental procedures during pregnancy. However, if a filling is necessary, alternative materials can be used. It is important to discuss all options with a dentist to weigh the risks and benefits.

The Risks of Mercury Exposure During Pregnancy

Mercury exposure can have serious health consequences for both the mother and the developing fetus. Mercury can cross the placental barrier and affect the baby's health. High levels of mercury have been linked to issues such as brain and spinal cord damage, developmental delays, and even cerebral palsy-like symptoms. Even low levels of mercury exposure can have long-term effects on the child's development, including reduced IQ.

Alternative Filling Options

If a filling is necessary during pregnancy, there are alternative options to amalgam fillings. Composite resin, porcelain, and gold fillings are all possible alternatives that do not contain mercury. These materials may be more expensive and may not be suitable for all situations, but they can provide a safer option during pregnancy.

Overall Dental Health During Pregnancy

While certain procedures may be avoided during pregnancy, maintaining good dental health is still important. Pregnant women should continue to practice good oral hygiene, including regular brushing and flossing, and should see a dentist for regular oral exams and professional teeth cleanings. Any existing dental issues, such as gum disease, should be addressed to reduce the risk of further complications.

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Frequently asked questions

Amalgam fillings are not recommended for pregnant women. Mercury is a toxic metal that can cross the placenta and enter the baby's body. Mercury exposure has been linked to several health issues in babies, including brain and spinal cord damage, developmental issues, and even cerebral palsy-like symptoms.

Amalgam fillings, also known as silver fillings, are made from a combination of metals, including mercury, silver, tin, and copper. They have been commonly used in dentistry for over 150 years due to their durability and low cost.

Mercury is used because it makes the filling material pliable and easy to work with. It also hardens quickly and can withstand the forces of biting and chewing.

Mercury exposure during pregnancy can have serious health consequences for the fetus and infant. Research has shown links between maternal amalgam fillings and mercury levels in the placenta, cord blood, fetal organs, and infant brain and kidneys.

Pregnant women with amalgam fillings should consult their dentist and discuss alternative filling options. It is generally recommended to avoid unnecessary dental procedures during pregnancy, but if urgent treatment is required, alternative filling materials can be used.

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