I’m pregnant… will removing amalgam filling harm my baby?

I’m in the last few weeks of my pregnancy and just found out that I have a crack in a tooth with an old large silver filling. My dentist says I need to have the old amalgam removed right away. I am afraid to have this done — I don’t want to expose my baby to mercury vapors. The problem is that my tooth is really hurting, and I’m prone to abscesses. I’m not sure if I should stick it out and wait until after the baby is born or take care of it now.  — Angela

Dear Angela,
I definitely understand your apprehension, and depending on the professional you talk to you may get a difference of opinion. There are many mercury-free dentists that fully denounce the use of amalgam fillings, citing that they release harmful mercury vapors into your body, thus causing a host of toxicities and health problems. A conventional dentist might claim there is no strong evidence to support that concern. There have been a lot of published studies that concluded that fillings containing mercury pose no health risk, except in the extremely rare case that a patient is allergic to them. You can pick your side of the debate.

All parties will likely agree not to remove amalgams during pregnancy, as the removal process could expose you or your baby to more mercury than you would come in contact with as a result of keeping them in. However, in your case, especially if your amalgam is cracked and leaking, and you may be at risk for further infection, problems and pain, it may be the better idea. Just be vigilant that your doctor follows the specific protocols in place for removing amalgam fillings safely to minimize inhalation of mercury vapor.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.