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JAMA Study: Silver Fillings Do Not Pose A Risk To Your Health

Posted April 18, 2006

— Studies show too much mercury exposure can affect brain and kidney function. For 150 years, dentists have used a mercury-based silver amalgam to fill cavities. But is it safe? Andrea Kontos said she does not worry about it for her children.

"I did know that amalgam fillings have mercury, and I didn't have a problem with that because I have a whole mouth full of it myself," she said.

Researchers decided to measure the safety of mercury-based fillings in children. The results appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Dentists and parents, I think, can be very assured from the results of this study that they can continue to put silver amalgam in children's mouths to fill cavities," said Sonja McKinlay, of the New England Research Institutes.

The five-year study followed more than 500 children with cavities. Half received fillings made of a white composite without mercury, while the other half received silver mercury-based fillings. The silver fillings group did have higher levels of mercury in their urine, but it was still a low, safe level that did not seem to affect the children.

"We found that on IQ and other aspects of brain function, as well as kidney function, the group that received the mercury-based amalgam was exactly the same as those that received the composite," McKinlay said.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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