I recently made a choice to have my old metal fillings replaced with mercury-free tooth-colored fillings. While my dentist felt is wasn’t absolutely necessary, he agreed to do it because my old fillings were worn down a bit. During the procedure, I felt a large piece of one of the fillings fall on my tongue. The dentist retrieved it, but now I am wondering if I could have swallowed pieces that were too small to see. If I did swallow some, is it bad for me? — Rich in Idaho
If your dentist is a traditionalist, he likely doesn’t worry much about possible side-effects of mercury or amalgam fillings because he follows the guidelines of the ADA (American Dental Association) and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). The ADA quotes the FDI (Fédération Dentaire Internationale/ World Dental Federation) and WHO (World Health Organization) on their website by saying, “the small amount of mercury released from amalgam restorations, especially during placement and removal, has not been shown to cause any adverse health effects.”
Today, there are a growing number of holistic dentists, doctors and patients who have concerns whether this statement is accurate. There is no evidence endorsed by a government agency that suggests patients will experience any adverse health effects from amalgam filling removal, nor does any major agency question the safety in having or placing amalgam fillings. It does, however, sound like your dentist was trying to follow the best practice of removal which includes removing them in large pieces to reduce the total amount of aerosol, as well as keeping the large suction and water sprayer on the tooth the whole time to minimize vapors.
A holistic dentist would do things much differently. Not only would he or she likely use a rubber dam to keep particles and debris from falling into your mouth, they would have used additional suction, air movers, oxygen sources, supplementary barriers and other tools to ensure safety and protection of everyone in the room.
Based on current governmentally-endorsed evidence, you have not ingested enough mercury to become ill. If you are concerned, you may want to seek out a holistic dentist and discuss those concerns before your next procedure.