Are mercury fillings safe?

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Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 2:30 pm | Updated: 4:43 pm, Wed Jul 3, 2013.

More than 100 million Americans have silver-colored mercury fillings in their mouths. They've been used since the civil war, but how safe are they?

The metal in your mouth that's designed to relieve your tooth troubles could be harming your health.

As a kid, Sharon Cloer had close to 10 fillings. As an adult, she believes they made her sick, and even changed the taste of food. "Every now and then, I would get a metal taste."

But since having most of the fillings removed she's been able to enjoy more foods, has more energy, and she says her respiratory health has improved. "I've gone off of my asthma medicine."

Dentist James Hardy says mercury that leaks out of traditional silver fillings may cause serious illness. "It affects your brain. It affects your kidneys. It affects over 200 different systems in your body."

Mercury exposure can cause memory loss, tremors, mood swings, anxiety and arthritis, but doctor hardy says these symptoms can often be reversed when the fillings are taken out. "I had them removed, and my eyesight actually improved and my memory improved."

Mercury fillings are banned in several European countries. But in the U.S. the FDA maintains they are "safe for adults and children ages six and above." The ADA agrees. Sandborgh Englund who practices in Sweden - where the fillings are banned - says studies on mercury fillings are inconclusive. "Should patients be concerned if they have mercury fillings? No, I don't think so."

But Doctor Hardy believes the fda needs to classify mercury fillings as dangerous. "If it's dangerous outside the mouth, it's dangerous inside the mouth."

Hazardous or harmless? A dental debate for you to chew on.

Instead of mercury fillings, Doctor Hardy offers patients composite fillings. They match tooth color, but are more expensive.

The doctor says another interesting fact about mercury is it has an electrical ability to pick up frequencies. He even had a patient who could pick up a radio station. The patient could hear it through his ear because the nerves that supply his teeth run through the ear.

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