Tag Archives: mercury removal

Effective Mercury Replacement Involves More Than Just Teeth

Through the past decade, Swedish residents whose ill health appears to stem from amalgam fillings have been able to ask their local county council for help in paying to have them replaced. But with costs an ongoing concern even in nations with universal healthcare coverage, the question gets raised: Does amalgam replacement help?

This was the focus of a study published earlier this month in Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology.

The aim of the study was to investigate symptoms, perceived health changes over time and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in this population, comprising subjects with subjective health impairment, allegedly because of dental materials. A further aim was to compare their HRQoL with that of the general population.

The most common health complaints attributed to amalgams were musculoskeletal pain (67.5%), sleep disturbance (60.0%) and fatigue (58.6%). Their quality of life scores were also “significantly lower” than that of the general population.

And the result of having their amalgams out?

Not much improvement at all.

Subjects who had undergone subsidized dental restoration replacement reported persistent subjective symptoms and low HRQoL. The results indicate that replacement of restorative materials alone is insufficient to achieve improved health in patients with symptoms allegedly attributable to dental restorations. [emphasis added]

That last sentence is vital for understanding what’s going on.

Simply put: If you are suffering symptoms of mercury toxicity or have been diagnosed with a chronic illness fueled by mercury, simply having them replaced is not enough. For one, if they’re not removed safely, the result can be a worsening of illness. It’s why we make a distinction between “mercury-free” and “mercury-safe” dentistry. The IAOMT guidelines for safe mercury removal explain exactly what the latter involves.

But more, you also must deal with all the mercury that’s built up and been stored in the various tissues of the body. A healthy body has mechanisms for clearing mercury and other heavy metals and toxins; in illness, those systems are compromised. So first, the body must be prepared to heal by opening the channels of elimination; otherwise, those stored metals will stay put. Likewise, post-treatment detox supports the clearing of mercury and other toxins.

Then, we see results more like those published last year in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation: significant reductions in health complaints. They’re the kind of results we’ve seen in our practice for years.

Image by foshydog, via Flickr

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Filed under Biological Dentistry, Mercury

30+ Years of Mercury-Free Dentistry

There’s a lot of high-quality, detailed and well-documented information out there about the health hazards of dental mercury. Many who contact my office about their dental needs are already quite familiar with it. In fact, their research is often what brought them to my office in the first place. Still, they have specific questions about me, my practice and what they can expect in terms of treatment.

So I created a FAQ to address the most common questions and concerns. Here’s an excerpt to round out Mercury-Free Dentistry Week:

  • How long have you been a mercury-free dentist?
    I have been a mercury-free dentist since the mid-1970s.
  • What qualifies you to diagnose and safely treat dental mercury poisoning?
    I have taken hundreds of hours of postgraduate training in order to learn the proper techniques of and science supporting this dental treatment. This study is in addition to my general qualifications as a dentist and related continuing education, which you can read about here.
  • How do you know if mercury amalgam fillings are causing a problem?
    I begin by gathering as much information as possible. The first visit involves a comprehensive, oral, head and neck examination, in which we fully chart your current dental, periodontal (gum) and oral conditions. We evaluate the state of your occlusion (bite), TM joint function and musculoskeletal condition, and perform galvanic, pulp vitality and allergy tests. We get further documentation of conditions via intra- and extra-oral photos, x-rays and diagnostic cast models. Unfortunately, there is still no single test that can prove without a doubt that dental mercury is causing a particular health problem. However, there are several tests that can help confirm diagnosis. These include hair analysis, fecal mercury analysis, blood chemistry, heavy metals urine challenge and electrodermal screening.
  • Which mercury-removal protocols do you follow?
    Standards of care for safe removal (PDF) have been established and are maintained by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT).

     

     

    These standards help ensure that the mercury is removed safely and that the patient, dentist and staff are not exposed to the poisonous mercury vapor that is released during the process. My staff and I are trained in and have followed this protocol since its inception. Before that, we followed the widely-accepted Huggins Protocol, which continues to guide our work in this area, as well.

  • What will you replace the mercury fillings with?
    There are hundreds of different dental restoration materials and cements that can be combined in literally millions of ways. Our rule of thumb is to use the most practical and least toxic. We’ll look to what’s most compatible with your specific biochemistry and what’s most suited to the specific dental conditions we need to recreate in your mouth.
  • How do you know if a material is biocompatible?
    The suitability of materials can be accurately assessed via serum compatibility testing, electrodermal screening (EAV) or applied kinesiology. Of these, serum compatibility is the surest and most thorough, and we strongly recommend it for those with autoimmune disorders, multiple chemical sensitivities or other environmentally-aggravated illness. We prefer the serum testing provided by Clifford Consulting and Research, for which samples of your blood are specially prepared and mixed with hundreds of dental chemicals that are used in several thousand dental products. The antibodies produced provide an immunological record of offensive chemical families, and this information is cross-referenced with over 2000 dental products. With this info at hand, we can find the materials most suited to your unique biochemistry, double-checking their suitability via electrical testing and applied kinesiology, both of which we provide in our office. We want to be absolutely sure that we never replace one poison with another.
  • How fast can I expect to feel better after removing the mercury?
    While you may have read some accounts of people feeling physical relief within hours of having old mercury amalgams removed, it’s unrealistic to expect instant results. Nor is it possible to say how quickly you will experience relief. Results can never be predicted. Each affected person carries a different toxic burden. This alone varies the time it takes to rid the body of mercury completely. Some people may show improvement within months. Those with heavier toxic burdens or more compromised immune systems may need years to recover.
  • I feel fine. Should I have the mercury removed anyway?
    Eliminating any toxin from the body is an undeniable good. While there may not be an immediate effect, you pave the way for greater health, quality of life and longevity. Taking preventive measures is to be properly concerned with the long-term impact of the health choices you make today. Obviously, I recommend removing any potential source of illness or dysfunction. But it is not my role to make your choices for you. You must consider your own needs, desires, values and goals. You must consider the whole of your knowledge of your health and how to maintain good health. You must educate yourself about your options. It is my role to help you do this – and make the most informed choices possible.

Read the full version of the Mercury FAQ.

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Why Doesn’t Everyone with Mercury Fillings Get Sick?

Mercury is a poison. It doesn’t belong in the human body. Yet dentists continue to put it in people’s mouths via “silver” amalgam fillings – fillings that are actually about 50% mercury. More than two-thirds of Americans have had at least one. The average adult has at least 10. And despite ADA claims, the mercury in them does not become inert once the filling is placed. That would require magic. In reality, vapor is released constantly, and it circulates through the whole body, eventually accumulating in all tissues but especially the kidneys and liver – major excretory organs – as well as the brain. The longer the fillings are there, the more mercury your body stores and the greater your chance of becoming very, very ill. Indeed, mercury poisoning has been implicated in a number of chronic illnesses, including Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease, MS, Parkinson’s, CFS and fibromyalgia.

 

amanky/Flickr

 

So why doesn’t everyone with mercury fillings get sick?

That a person can have them and not get sick tells us nothing about the fillings and everything about that individual’s constitution, immune response and ability to excrete toxins. Consider: if you have a healthy, robust immune system, you can be exposed to many pathogens without getting sick. It’s why not everyone gets the flu each year – or gets the same kind. Likewise, a person in good health and with few other risk factors may be able to bear the burden of mercury…for a time. But if they become ill or take up bad habits (e.g., eating junk food, taking drugs, smoking), their body becomes less and less able to rid itself of the mercury. That’s when you begin to see symptoms of Dental Amalgam Syndrome. These include:

  • Metallic taste, sore gums, inflamed gums, ulcerations and other oral problems
  • Headaches, vertigo, tinnitus, tremors and other neurological problems
  • Memory loss, depression, irritability, sleep disturbances and other psychological problems
  • Chest pain, weak pulse, changes in blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems
  • Respiratory problems
  • Digestive problems

In children, the symptoms may manifest as an autism spectrum disorder or ADD/ADHD.

Thus, those who are already dealing with chronic illness would do well to look into possible dental causes. But it’s important to make sure that the mercury is in fact the main problem or if other causes are involved. Seldom is any case completely straightforward. We must look at all contributing factors and then work with the patient to prioritize treatments in an effort to bring the most healing as quickly as possible, while reducing the risk of creating illness elsewhere in the body.

Indeed, if mercury removal is pursued, any illness could get worse if specific safety precautions are not taken to minimize the amount of vapor the patient is exposed to during the procedures. Current symptoms can be aggravated. New ones can be triggered. In a way, this seems to me even more unconscionable than placing the mercury fillings in the first place, worsening the problem the practitioner is purporting to cure.

Thus, those who have amalgams but are not ill or experiencing symptoms should especially consider the risks and benefits of removal versus those of keeping them in place. We’ve already looked at some of the risks of leaving them alone. As for benefits? You don’t have to deal with the trauma of extensive dental procedures, and you do get the short term financial savings – though at the risk of greater costs down the road.

The benefits of removal, on the other hand, include improved health and function, as well as a more attractive smile, since the replacements will contain no metal and look as much like your natural teeth as possible. Also, in placing the new restorations, we can adjust your bite so that your teeth come together better. This, too, can benefit your health, as proper occlusion supports proper breathing and posture, which can prevent pain and increase energy. The risks, of course, include the toxication mentioned above.

So the key is: what do we do to reduce risk?

The ideal treatment begins before removal, in preparing your body to heal – especially if you are already ill from mercury poisoning. Again, you got sick because your body couldn’t get rid of the mercury leaching from your fillings. That mercury then accumulated in your body tissues. Thus, we must help your body become more able to excrete it once the source is removed. Most often, this treatment involves nutritional changes, supplementation and the use of homeopathics, and it normally continues through post-removal detox. At that point, you may choose to pursue other treatments, as well – chelation therapy, body work, energy medicine, sauna and others that aid the body in releasing toxins.

In removing amalgams, I follow the IAOMT protocol (PDF), which is standard among biological dentists. It addresses the safety of both the patient and the dental team, and the goal is to minimize exposure to the mercury particles and vapor generated during removal. It includes measures such as:

  • Protective covering for the patient, dentist and staff, including protection for the eyes, hair and clothing
  • Fresh oxygen via nose mask for the patient and filtration masks for the dentist and assistants
  • Isolation of the teeth to be worked on with a dental dam, to keep mercury from being swallowed
  • Air purifiers for the room
  • Sectioning of the amalgams and removing them in chunks
  • Lots of cold water to keep the teeth cool and reduce vaporization of the mercury under the force of the high-speed drill
  • Use of evacuators to suck up water and vapor

Also important is what you replace the amalgams with. Before removal, testing should be done to determine biocompatible replacement materials. The last thing we want to do is replace one toxic material with another, or one that may cause an allergic response. For the goal in mercury removal, of course, is to enhance your health.

Consider your options. Inform yourself as to the risks and benefits. Make a truly informed choice.

 

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