Q. I am a breast-feeding mom and have dental fillings that contain mercury. Should I be concerned about the mercury level of my breast milk? I am scheduled to have the fillings replaced soon but don’t know if I should be concerned in the meantime.
A. Silver-colored fillings are made of dental amalgam that has been used to fill cavities for more than 150 years. It’s made of a mixture of metals, with mercury accounting for 50 percent by weight.
Dental amalgam releases a low level of mercury vapor. At high levels, mercury vapor can be toxic. Nevertheless, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has reviewed safety data and found that even in adults and children over age 6 with as many as 15 amalgam fillings, mercury exposure still falls below harmful levels.
Safety data regarding developing fetuses and breast-fed infants is limited. The level of mercury in breast milk when a nursing mother has dental amalgam exposure falls below levels generally considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency. Therefore, mercury dental amalgam should not pose a risk to breast-feeding infants.
Removal of amalgam fillings leads to increased exposure to the mercury amalgam at the time of removal. If fillings are in good condition and removal is unnecessary, pregnant or nursing women should delay “elective” amalgam removal until no longer breast-feeding or pregnant.
For non-elective dental work, women who are pregnant or nursing should discuss their options with their dentist to choose the most appropriate filling material.