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Amalgam fillings & pregnancy

Posted May 06 2009 1:33pm
Dr. Ellie,

I am 9 weeks pregnant. I have a large amalgam filling in one of my back teeth that has been there for 10+ years as well as one other small amalgam filling. I have recently visited a new dentist who told me that the tooth with the large filling is in need of a crown. He also wants to replace the smaller filling.

I am totally freaking out because I have read in multiple places that having silver fillings "messed with" while pregnant is a big no-no as doing so can pass mercury to my unborn child thereby causing problems such as autism or other neurological and developmental issues. I realize that my child is already being exposed to a small amount of mercury just by the fillings being in my mouth, but it is my understanding that the removal of these fillings would expose him or her even more so. I most certainly don't want to do something that is going to have the potential to harm my child for life.

Do you have any expertise in this area, and if so, what is your opinion? I am anxiously awaiting your reply.

Thank you,
TH - Georgia

Hi TH,

I am in no position to give you advice that gets between you and your dentist. I can only tell you (as a mother of five) that if I were nine weeks pregnant I would not sit in a dental chair to have an old amalgam filling removed.

My advice would be qualified if you were in pain, or had lasting sensitivity each time you ate or drank (heat and cold sensitivity that lasted for more than a minute or two after each occasion that you ate or drank something hot, cold or sweet).

If you had such symptoms I would advise you to seek the best possible dental advice to find out if you need to restore this obvious hole or if you could use a patch type filling and if you really needed to remove the old one. From a computer desk I cannot advise this.

I believe that the most important thing you can do during pregnancy is try hard to avoid acidic damage to your teeth. During pregnancy your mouth becomes acidic, undergoes hormonal changes and often become dry. Your teeth will be damaged by the acidity, your gums will react to the hormonal changes and the dryness will make such damage worse.

The good news: You can protect your teeth from this potential damage. Think of teeth like you would think of your skin. Imagine I just told you that your skin is about to be wind-damaged, dried out and suntanned all at the same time! If you were warned of the danger, you would probably apply moisturizer, face creams and sun protection in advance, to minimize - maybe prevent - the damage.

This is what you must do for your teeth. Many people find their teeth break, flake off and become like dry skin - easily damaged during pregnancy.

If you start immediately with the system that I recommend, your teeth will be protected and "moisturized" and will probably avoid this incipient damage.

I would suggest you use the Complete Mouth Care System to build your tooth enamel as strong as possible.

If you use this system each day, the enamel around your old silver filling will most likely survive the next year very happily, at least in the same condition as it has been for the past ten! I have old silver fillings in my mouth from the early 1960s!

I understand your concerns and I think they are valid. I understand your dentist is worried that most pregnant women (because of mouth acidity etc.) end up with breaking and damaged enamel that easily breaks. He would be worried that your filling will break apart and this is why he is probably recommending a crown to cover it.

If you use my system - you will be building the strength of your teeth - to help them retain the filling. Your oral health will be maintained - you may even surprise your dentist the next time you return to see him!

If you have any more questions related to the use of my Complete Mouth Care System during pregnancy - please feel free to Email me again.

I hope this has answered your concerns.

Ellie Phillips DDS
This site is privately and personally sponsored, funded and supported by Dr. Ellie Phillips. There are no financial or personal ties to Johnson and Johnson or to Pfizer Corporation and the endorsement of their products is based on clinical observation, and independant ADA endorsement. To contact Dr. Ellie, email
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