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Dental Fillings And Birth Defects: What Moms-To-Be Should Know

Although the first trimester of pregnancy is sacred, there will be patients who will encounter problems at that time. During the first trimester, the brain and the central nervous system develops from 6 to 10 weeks, a time period commonly known as organogenesis. To minimize the risk of developing birth defects, medications and invasive procedures are usually postponed until the arrival of the second trimester.

A recent article in the October 2010 issue of Ob.Gyn. News reported some disturbing findings: Dental fillings in the first trimester were linked to the development of a cleft palate. A cleft palate is a birth defect that has a slit in the roof of the mouth because it failed to close during the first trimester.

The article by Susan London described a study in Norway where pregnant women had dental filings in the first trimester and their babies subsequently developed cleft palates. Ideally, dental problems should be addressed prior to becoming pregnant, however that is not always an option. Dental problems can occur during pregnancy because of the increased calcium requirements of the fetus as well as hormonal changes of the pregnancy.

The Norway medical study identified 573 infants that have facial clefts. It was thought that the fetal exposure to mercury from maternal fillings during a critical period in the development of its face may increase the risk of deformities. Amalgam fillings continuously give off small amounts of vaporized mercury that cross the placenta and accumulate in the fetus. Silver dental fillings contain 52 percent mercury.

About 27 women had fillings placed in the first month of their pregnancy and quadrupled their risk of having a baby with cleft palate. Women who had fillings placed in multiple months of their pregnancy fared even worse. London suggests that further studies needs to be done, especially since the American Dental Association declined to comment regarding this matter.

Given the results of the Norway study, pregnant women should postpone dental work until the second trimester if at all possible, and should discuss the matter with their obstetrician or midwife.

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway*

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One Response to “Dental Fillings And Birth Defects: What Moms-To-Be Should Know”

  1. Dorice says:

    FDA lacks data on the assertion that mercury placed in a woman’s teeth while pregnant is safe. I had two miscarriages, each following dental work. In one instance an old filling was removed and replaced with a “silver” filling. The other reality is no dentist ever advised me or asked for consent of choice that mercury was being placed or asked whether I was allergic to mercury.
    The FDA hangs onto the mantra that a subgroup is allergic to mercury. That is like saying you are allergic to a bullet in your head. The report recently published and submitted to FDA for the December 14&15th hearing on dental amalgam supports the points raised regarding lack of data and shows how mercury does adversely harm a fetus, can be found at This a group of professionals who oppose the use of mercury in dentistry and have science to support their reasoning. Unlike the FDA where routinely gaps in data to support safety are highlighted in reviews.
    Sweden, Denmark and Norway have banned the use of mercury “silver” fillings. The greatest exposure to mercury is from dental fillings. For good information on video see

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