Dental fillings

The dental amalgam used in 'silver' fillings is a mixture of metals including mercury. Because of the similarity between the effects of mercury poisoning and some of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis such as tremor and weakness, there have been suggestions that mercury leaking from dental amalgam could cause or worsen MS. 

The evidence to find out if any links exist between dental amalgam and neurological disorders was extensively explored by the European Commission in 2015. The Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) concluded that there is insubstantial evidence to link dental amalgam and multiple sclerosis risk or worsening. A further study of the health of US dentists found no link between exposure to the mercury in fillings and acquiring MS, although there was a link between mercury exposure and tremor.

The World Health Organisation has supported a gradual phasing out of the use of dental amalgam by improving dental health and developing alternative filling materials. However there is no suggestion that dental amalgam fillings should be removed and replaced, a procedure that can be expensive. Do ask your dentist if you have any queries about options for filling materials.  

Find out more

Bates MN, et al
Health effects of dental amalgam exposure: a retrospective cohort study.
International Journal of Epidemiology 2004;33(4):894-902.
Summary (link is external)
Aminzadeh KK, Etminan M.
Dental amalgam and multiple sclerosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Journal of Public Health Dentistry 2007;67(1):64-66.
Summary (link is external)
European Commission Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR)
Opinion Paper on the safety of dental amalgam and alternative dental restoration materials for patients and users
SCENIHR opinion 29th April 2015
Full article (PDF, 780KB) (link is external)
Anglen J et al.
Occupational mercury exposure in association with prevalence of multiple sclerosis and tremor among US dentists.
J Am Dent Assoc. 2015 Sep;146(9):659-668.e1.
Summary (link is external)