According to the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, inorganic mercury, the type found in mercury dental amalgams, is likely a contributing cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Mercury is a known neurotoxin, and exposure to mercury has been linked to a variety of neurological problems.
Studies Showing the Connection Between Alzheimer’s Disease and Mercury
A review of 106 studies showed that the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease occurred more quickly or were reproduced when mercury was introduced. Out of those 106 studied, forty tested memory in individuals exposed to mercury and thirty-two found significant memory problems following exposure.
The study authors found that the evidence against mercury was substantial but some connections between inorganic mercury and Alzheimer’s were still absent. According to Harald Walach, the lead researcher, “The situation is similar to the early 1970’s regarding smoking: enough experimental evidence existed, but human studies were inconclusive at the time and were under attack by groups with a vested interest.”
Dr. Walach stated that mercury should be removed from public and ecological areas and replaced with less harmful substances when possible. He also stated, “To wait until irrefutable evidence has accumulated is not the best options in view of what we already know about the toxicity of mercury. The removal of inorganic mercury from ecological cycles might prove to be the easiest and most effective public health measure to contribute to the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.”
What Are Mercury Amalgam Fillings?
Mercury amalgam fillings are made of a mixture of mercury, silver, tin, and copper. They have been used for over 150 years and are still the most common type of filling used today. Despite the fact that mercury is a known neurotoxin, mercury amalgam fillings are still considered safe by most dental and health organizations.
The FDA has stated that “dental amalgams contain mercury, which may have neurological effects on sensitive populations including children and fetuses.” The FDA also recommends that pregnant women and children under six avoid getting mercury amalgam fillings.
However, the evidence mentioned in the studies provides contrary information. Alzheimer’s disease affects people over the age of 60, not children or fetuses. Alzheimer’s is also a degenerative disease, meaning that it develops slowly over time. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are not typically seen until years after exposure to mercury.
So, What Does This Mean?
The studies linking mercury to Alzheimer’s disease are observational and therefore cannot prove that mercury causes Alzheimer’s. However, the evidence is strong enough that it warrants further study.
Dental amalgams release small amounts of mercury vapor, which can be inhaled and absorbed into the bloodstream. Mercury is then able to travel to different parts of the body, including brain tissue, where it causes damage.
Although contested, many professional healthcare workers argue that mercury from dental amalgams could potentially be hazardous to your health. If you’re worried about the risks, it might be a good idea to avoid getting mercury fillings altogether and have any pre-existing ones removed by an experienced dentist.
If you want peace of mind about the mercury in your fillings, there are other options available to you. Mercury-free dental fillings can be made out of composite resin, porcelain, or gold. Have a conversation with your dentist about what type would work best for you.
At Cross Dentistry, we want what’s best for you and your family. We encourage our patients to switch to mercury-free options and can help guide you through the process.