Tag Archives: restorative dentistry

Are “Silver” Mercury Amalgam Fillings Really More Durable than “White” Composite Fillings?

Over the years, pro-mercury dentists have made some claims so often that they’ve practically become cliches – things like, “Mercury amalgam has been safely used for over 150 years,” and “Amalgam fillings are better because they last longer than composite (tooth-colored) fillings.”

We know from research, as well as clinical experience, that amalgam has in fact caused many a problem in the long term for people who, for whatever reason, are poor excretors of mercury. The metal, continually released as vapor from the fillings, makes its way into bodily tissues, including the brain. As it accumulates, the individual develops symptoms that may manifest as CFS, MCS, fibromyalgia or an autoimmune disorder, to name a few of the most common chronic illnesses that have been linked to mercury. In my office, I see people every day who are either in need of healing because of the effects of dental mercury or who are healing now that we’ve safely removed the fillings and replaced them with biocompatible materials.

But what about the idea that amalgams last longer and are therefore better, more economical? They certainly make economic sense for the dentist, as 1) they’re more fully paid for by insurance and 2) they’re less technique-sensitive, requiring less skill and time to place, meaning the dentist can fit more patients into his or her work day.

Back in the early days of composites, it was, in fact, true that amalgam lasted longer – not that this was necessarily a good thing for the health of the whole body. But are new generation materials any better?

A Dutch study recently published in the Journal of Dental Research sheds some light on the issue, looking at the durability of fillings over a span of 12 years. Nearly 2000 large, class-II restorations were evaluated. (Class II restorations are those on the proximal sides of molars and premolars – that is, toward the sides of the teeth that touch each other.) While amalgam showed better survival on three-surface restorations in patients at a higher than average risk of caries (cavities), overall, composite fared better. Moreover, a smaller percentage of composites than amalgams failed: just 15% of composites versus 25% of amalgams.

If similar or better results are reproduced by other researchers, we wonder how much longer the claim of better durability will last – and what claim could take its place to justify the continued practice of putting poison in people’s mouths.

Read more about some of the restoration materials we most often use in my Glendale, CA dental practice

 

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Filed under Dentistry, Mercury

Tell the FDA What You Think of Mercury

Earlier this week, we got a reminder from Charlie Brown of Consumers for Dental Choice that the online commenting period is open for FDA’s December hearings on mercury amalgam. More info – along with some fascinating history about opposition to mercury in medicine – is below in Charlie’s letter.

Civil War Surgeon General Was Court-Martialed for Ordering End to Mercury

Sometimes we must all pause and ask: Why do the pro-mercury dentists resist change so vociferously? Why do these protectors of a primitive, polluting product put quick-and-easy profits ahead of patient health, the environment, and worker safety? It’s tempting to say such resistance is unprecedented.

Not so.

Last week, I toured the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Maryland. While at the museum, I bought its book about Civil War medicine: Death in the Breeze by Bonnie Brice Dorwart, M.D. Mercury’s use was so prevalent, and even then so controversial, that the author devotes two chapters just to mercury – prescribed by physicians in that era to treat soldiers for dysentery, typhoid, malaria, pneumonia and syphilis.

Some physicians opposed pushing mercury onto unsuspecting patients. In fact, an early hero of the mercury-free movement was none other than the Surgeon General of the United States himself, William A. Hammond. Realizing that mercury should have no role in medicine, Hammond courageously issued General Order #6 on May 4, 1863, banning its use by Army physicians. But by issuing an order to protect soldiers from dying from mercury toxicity, Hammond signed his own political death warrant. Immediately, the medical establishment started calling for his ouster. The American Medical Association assigned delegates from every state to work against Order #6. On August 18, 1864, the AMA’s smear campaign succeeded: Surgeon General Hammond was court-martialed and cashiered out.

The American Medical Association defeated Hammond, but could not defeat the truth. More dissident physicians sprung up to oppose mercury, including the renowned Boston poet-physician Oliver Wendell Holmes (the father of the famous judge). Surgeon General Hammond was ultimately vindicated. Today, the Civil War use of mercury as a tonic is ridiculed. In the prologue to Dr. Dorwart’s 2009 book, Dr. H. Ralph Schumacher Jr., Professor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, states: “Many therapies such as purging and mercury may have hastened death.” Then he adds, prophetically: “What will our successors think of our efforts 150 years from now?”

Future generations not only will condemn the American Dental Association for implanting a neurotoxin into the human body, but no doubt they will resent cleaning up after the irresponsible dentists who polluted our planet with mercury. However, like Surgeon General Hammond, we now have the opportunity to stand up publicly against mercury abusers. Then it was the medical establishment; today it is the dental establishment.

In preparation for the hearings on dental amalgam to be held in December, FDA is accepting public comments online. Speak out for mercury-free dentistry by clicking here to submit a comment. Tell FDA about:

  • Your injuries caused by amalgam,
  • Your children’s exposure to mercury,
  • How your mercury fillings were implanted without your informed consent,
  • How bad dental mercury is for the environment,
  • How deceptive FDA’s dental amalgam website is, or
  • Any other concerns relating to mercury fillings.

You might want to tell FDA, too, that the American Medical Association did all that it could to protect mercury in the 19th century, endangering countless lives. Now the ADA is doing all it can to protect mercury in the 21st century. Will FDA stand up to the American Dental Association like Surgeon General Hammond stood up to the American Medical Association, or will FDA continue to defend mercury implanted in children’s teeth?

Charles G. Brown
National Counsel, Consumers for Dental Choice
President, World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry
17 August 2010

To learn more about the public comment process, see the FDA info page on comments.

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Filed under Dentistry, Mercury