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  QUESTION: Can removal of amalgams cause high levels of lead in the body? 19 Nov 2005, Illinois USA

Can removal of amalgams cause high levels of lead in the body?

ANSWER: 19 Nov 2005

Dear Jordan,

Further to the email from Nathan Jacobs, one of our other volunteer interns - Josephine Tesoriero - was kind enough to locate the following information regarding your question but due to the uncertainty of whether lead is released in sufficient quantities to raise the blood lead level during amalgam removal, I also put the question to the American Dental Association and ASOMAT (see emails below) who then referred me to the US equivalent and though I've waited a fair time for their response, I have not received a reply. So I hope you find all the info below useful and that it answers your question.

Yours Sincerely
Elizabeth O'Brien
Manager, Global Lead Advice and Support Service

Results Of Web Research Carried Out By Josephine Tesoriero:
Updated 2012.

The removal of 'silver fillings' (i.e. amalgams) is conducted in order to prevent the long-term instance of harmful vapours leeching into the body. Amalgams consists of a mix of metals - generally 50% Mercury, 35% Silver, 15% Tin & other metals. Although lead was phased out as the primary source of metal used for fillings, modern amalgams made from mercury may still contain traces of lead- given that the principal sources of 'silver' are copper, copper-nickel, gold, lead and lead-zinc ores. It is therefore possible that alongside mercury, 'silver' amalgams may contain traces of lead, and that short-term exposure to its vapours are increased during the actual procedure of amalgam removal.

As stated in "Amalgam Fillings: Do Dental Patients Have a Right to Informed Consent?" by Michael A. Royal, who quotes researcher and dentist with the University of Southern California School of Dentistry David Eggleston, the removal of fillings may temporarily raise the body's load of mercury in the blood. This is because the mercury vapor pressure doubles with every ten degree centigrade rise in temperature during the removal process. A description of the removal process is provided by in an article on "Amalgam Fillings," which is accessible at the URL I would suspect that the same principle applies to lead, since removal would temporarily heighten the emission of the metal's poisonous vapours. I have reprinted important segments about amalgam removal for you below:

"If done properly, there is minimum exposure to increased levels of mercury vapor caused by the removal procedure. The correct protocol requires the use of high volumes of cold water both from the drill and separate irrigation by the assistant, who should also be simultaneously using high volume suction evacuation of the vapor and particles resulting from the removal procedure. The assistant should hold the high-volume evacuator next to the tooth being worked on until all of the cut filling and cavity have been cleaned out. It is the volatility of mercury that necessitates all the precautions and correct techniques. Mercury vapor pressure doubles with every ten degree centigrade rise in temperature. One acceptable procedure that minimizes extensive grinding involves sectioning the amalgam into chunks versus just grinding it out.
Some individuals may experience reactions to the mercury released during the removal procedures. These are described as flu-like and can last from 1 to 7 days. Symptoms may include fever, nausea, headaches, etc. Sequential removal requires the dentist to measure and chart the electrical current of each filling and to remove/and or replace the amalgam fillings based on the charted information starting with the highest negative readings."

Tips on how to minimise mercury exposure during the procedure are detailed in section 4.2 Minimise Hg-exposure / absorption.
File opens with Microsoft Word after download.


Subject: Can removal of amalgams cause high levels of lead in the body?

Dear Elizabeth:

This is in response to your inquiry below. There is no indication that removing amalgam fillings would cause lead to increase in the body.
Here are some links that may be helpful:

EMAIL FROM ASOMAT (Australasian Society of Oral Medicine and Toxicology) Thursday, November 24, 2005

Subject: Re: Can removal of amalgams cause high levels of lead in the body?

I am unaware of any research which shows this. I would have thought that any detoxification of mercury would have also removed some of the lead as well. If the questioner is measuring hair levels of mercury and noticed that lead levels have increased in hair then that could well have been an indication that lead was in fact being excreted because the hair is an excretory organ and you would notice increased mercury levels also during the excretion process. There is no lead in amalgam fillings.

It might be worth an email to to just confirm what i have said.
Hope this helps.
Roman Lohyn

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