In the 50s and 60s dentists filled the teeth of children with dental amalgam, the black/silver fillings which contain anywhere from 49 to 54 per cent mercury. Mercury fillings were first introduced 160 years ago when gold was the only other material available to fill dental cavities.
Toxic mercury vapours from these fillings are released into the oral cavity every time food is chewed or hot drinks consumed.
A single dental amalgam filling releases up to 15 micrograms of mercury per day and is the primary source of mercury exposure. That is over six times the amount anyone would get from eating mercury contaminated seafood.
For years it's been known mercury is a well known neurotoxin but dentists in the UK continue to use it, even when Scandinavian countries and Germany have forbidden its use in dentistry.
I've a mouth full of mercury fillings and pay private health insurance for my dental care, yet my dentist insists removing the fillings and replacing them with the modern, more expensive white filling is unnecessary. It wasn't until recently I discovered that not all dentists are trained in removing mercury fillings and I think that may be the reason mine is reluctant. The procedures taken by trained dentists when removing these filling is sufficient evidence of the dangers of mercury amalgam fillings.
When I questioned a retired dental surgeon friend yesterday - who uses the same dentist as me - about the continued use long after the dangers were discovered, his answer was, "Money. Amalgam fillings are cheap and the dentistry section of the NHS would have collapsed if a ban had been imposed earlier."
He went on to explain the mercury problem was why so many dental practitioners began to recommend their patients use private health insurance which would entitle them to better quality fillings. I asked him if he had decided to have his own amalgam fillings replaced and he said in recent years he has had a few replaced because the originals cracked, but although he would recommend younger generations give serious thought to replacements, being in his mid-70s was a little late to undergo such invasive treatment.
The EU has been debating the dangers of mercury for years and now it seems it intends to ban amalgam fillings. At long last. Regardless of the financial cost, Britain should have stopped using this toxic form of dentistry years ago when the evidence became indisputable.