The term “amalgam poisoning” refers to medical harm caused by the breakdown of dental amalgam used to fill cavities in the teeth. The term is frequently used by people who oppose the use of amalgam for dental purposes. They say the silver filling amalgam — actually a blend of mercury and silver — has the potential to deteriorate over time and cause harm to the human body via the mercury’s extreme toxicity. Studies that involve animals show that, once mercury leaks into the body, it remains in areas such as the kidneys, liver and lungs more than five months later, and that lingering presence of mercury can lead to amalgam poisoning.
There are mercury-free materials that can be used for dental fillings. A number of dentists still use amalgam fillings, however, saying the mercury-silver blend stands up better to the amount of activity that takes place in the mouth. They also like that the amalgam can cost less than ceramic fillings, potentially lowering the cost of dental care for their patients.
Some people believe amalgam poisoning plays a large role in the disruption of normal brain activity. They say it can cause a person’s mood to fluctuate from one extreme to the other. Some other common examples of health concerns that may occur as a result of this type of toxicity include multiple personalities disorder, autism, and even extremely dry skin.
Dentists trying to diagnose amalgam poisoning and determine whether someone needs to have their amalgam-based fillings removed can use a machine that detects the amount of mercury that exists in the body at the time of the test. First, the patient has to chew for more than 7 minutes to cause minute specs of amalgam to dislodge from the cavities. The dentist then uses a vapor analyzer to see how much mercury is in the patient’s body.
Some practitioners of alternative medicine believe that certain herbs, such as cilantro, can help to rid the body of too much mercury. To help stop the spread of amalgam poisoning by speeding the removal of mercury from the body, an acupuncturist may urge a patient to heat a single teaspoon of cilantro until it is slightly warm, and then eat it by itself or with a glass of water. The patient also is likely to be told to warm the cilantro using a pan that contains no metal, because even a trace of metal could serve to make the amalgam poisoning worse.