What kind of fillings do you have in your teeth, if any? Chances are that you have silver amalgam fillings as they are the most common kind. Back in the early 1990s, the television show, 60 Minutes, did a report (which you can view here) on these fillings. They were concerned about the safety of the fillings as they contain mercury along with the silver, copper, tin and zinc. Mercury poisoning can be a real problem but the real question was whether the fillings in a person's teeth would release enough mercury to cause a problem. The 60 Minutes report really played up this possibility and caused a lot of people to become scared that their fillings were poisoning them.
In 1993, the US Department of Health and Human Services released a report stating "there is no evidence at present that the health of people with amalgam is compromised in any way" but they admitted that there were limited studies at that time. In 1998, after more studies had been completed, the American Dental Association released a report which read, "based on available scientific information, amalgam continues to be a safe and effective restorative material. Finally in 2009, the FDA called amalgam "a safe and effective restorative option for patients." It appears that the evidence available shows that there is no reason to believe that our dental fillings are releasing enough mercury into our bodies to harm us.
Case closed, you'd think. You'd be wrong. Enter my favorite television doctor, Dr. Mehmet Oz. Yes. Dr. Oz has covered this topic recently with the same attention to scientific research and studies that he generally uses. That is, none whatsoever.*
This professor is a bit more charitable than I am and simply believes that Dr. Oz is misinformed - or hopes so. He adeptly picks apart claim after claim made by Dr. Oz and his guests. In short, once again, Dr. Oz is ignoring the scientific evidence and making wild statements. In this case, it could alarm an uninformed person to spend a lot of money to have their fillings removed and replaced with those made of another substance - and for no good reason.
The take-away from this is, of course, is to check out what you hear or see on TV - or on the internet - and consider the source. If something sounds incredibly exciting or terrifying, chances are that you aren't getting the entire story.
*I know I sound harsh, but I'm really disgusted that this medical doctor either doesn't bother to check into these claims before he makes them or ignores proof to the contrary for the sake of his ratings.
Image found here