Tag Archives: silver fillings

Amalgams & Mercury Damage

amalgamsBefore yesterday was through, the ADA was in full spin mode over Thursday’s Dr. Oz Show: “Are Your Silver Fillings Making You Sick?” Apparently oblivious to irony, they reiterated their usual claim that there’s “no sound science” supporting mercury amalgam’s well-documented health risks – and then insisted on its safety.

As if saying something often and loudly and forcefully enough could somehow make it true.

It’s like when amalgam’s defenders say that the mercury it contains isn’t the dangerous kind – and is even a little magical:

Mercury is an important component in the fillings because it effectively binds the other metals together, forming a strong bond that contributes to the filling’s durability. It is important to note that there are several kinds of mercury. The mercury found in water that can build up in fish and lead to health problems if you ingest too much is not the same type of mercury used in amalgam. The mercury in amalgam is contained, or sequestered, within the filling.

Of course, even the ADA agrees that mercury vapor is released during chewing or grinding. A 2009 paper in Chemical Research in Toxicology estimated that older fillings may have lost up to 95% of their original mercury content. That mercury doesn’t just disappear, of course. The body’s self-regulating mechanisms clear as much of it as it possibly can. That which isn’t excreted is stored, typically gravitating toward fatty tissues such as the liver and brain.

More, although the mercury in amalgam may start out in elemental form, it doesn’t stay that way. As Dr. Huggins notes in It’s All in Your Head, mercury released from amalgams fillings can become methylated.

Mercury is highly reactive chemically. It likes to combine with biological tissue. In the mouth, mercury has the ability to combine with a carbon-hydrogen compound called a methyl group. When mercury combines with methyl groups it is called methyl mercury.

Methylation actually begins in the mouth , due to the action of oral bacteria, but it can occur elsewhere (also). And “although the amounts found are small,” wrote researchers in the Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Science, “any measurable amount of methyl mercury” only adds to a body’s total toxic burden.

Methylmercury is a bioaccumulative toxin. That’s why mercury in fish – especially fatty fish – is such a concern. When mercury contaminates water, it gets methylated by bacteria. Fish exposed to this methylmercury accumulate it in their bodies. When we eat them, we get a dose of the stuff, too.

And there is no question about it: the stuff is highly toxic. It’s main damage is neurological, particularly during the developmental period before birth and into a child’s early years of life.

Of course, it has other effects, as well – including a somewhat surprising one suggested by a recent study. Methylmercury exposure in young adulthood appears to raise the risk of developing diabetes later in life.

The study, published last month in Diabetes Care, analyzed data from nearly 4000 adults between the ages of 20 and 32. According to lead author Ka He of Indiana University,

Our results are consistent with findings from laboratory studies and provide longitudinal human data, suggesting that people with high mercury exposure in young adulthood may have elevated risk of diabetes later in life.

Why? It may be related, at least partly, to pancreatic beta cell dysfunction. These cells have been shown to play a major role in type 2 diabetes.

The abstract of the Diabetes Care study is available here.

We know that our current diabetes epidemic, like its companion obesity epidemic, has many causes. Further study is needed to know if we need to add yet another cause to that list.

Image by Enzo Carretta, via Wikimedia Commons

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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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7 Must-See Videos on Mercury “Silver” Amalgam Fillings

Again this year, Dr. Mercola and Charlie Brown of Consumers for Dental Choice have teamed up to promote Mercury-Free Dentistry Week – an event designed to raise awareness of the toxic burden of so-called “silver” amalgam fillings on patients, dental personnel and our planet. As part of the event, Mercola.com has been adding some great new material to their already excellent mercury section. I encourage you to check it out – and to share it on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites you regularly use.

For the sad truth is that even today, less than 25% of consumers realize that “silver” fillings are mercury fillings. But the more who do – and understand their impact on health – the more momentum we can give to all efforts in the fight for mercury-free dentistry.

You may also want to share some or all of the 7 videos I’ve embedded below. Some I’ve featured here before. Many are now standard sources of info on the amalgam problem.

Quecksilber: The Strange Story of Dental Amalgam

 

An Open Letter to Dental Deans & Professors

 

Smoking Teeth = Poison Gas

 

How Mercury Causes Brain Damage

 

Dental Amalgams Leach Mercury Vapor into Your Brain

 

Mercury: The Poison in Your Teeth

 

Safer Amalgam Removal

 

For more ways you can help get mercury out of dentistry, visit the “Take Action” page of Consumers for Dental Choice.

Resources for finding a mercury-free, mercury-safe dentist in your area:

Previously

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What a Phase-Out of Mercury Amalgam Looks Like

More than 20 years ago, Norway began to actively phase out the use of dental amalgam. In 2008, it banned mercury outright, with limited exemptions for dental use for another two years. Since the end of 2010, mercury-free dentistry has been the norm.

And how has it gone?

That’s the subject of a report commissioned by the Norwegian Climate and Pollution Agency, issued earlier this year. It reviews “the experiences from the phase-out of the use of dental amalgam as tooth filling material in Norway, and make[s] an assessment of the costs to the society from the actions taken to limit the release of mercury.” And its conclusions?

  1. Use and release of mercury are substantially reduced.
  2. Experiences with the alternatives to dental amalgam are generally positive.
  3. Abatement “end-of-pipe” costs lower than dental amalgam phase-out costs.

That is, they found it does cost more to phase-out mercury than merely to contain emissions. But this, the report urges, is no deal-breaker. Why not? Because the long-term goal is to eliminate mercury pollution. As less amalgam is used and more replaced with nontoxic materials, those “end-pipe” costs will gradually dwindle to zero. The phase-out costs are thus an investment.

You can read the Executive Summary at – and download the entire report from – MercuryExposure.info.

And if you’re not familiar with the site, it’s definitely one worth bookmarking. Its admins are amassing a fine library of mercury and amalgam research done over the years. A sample of references you may find worthwhile:

Happy exploring!

Image by Froskeland, via Flickr

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Mercury Amalgam Studies Were “Crime Against Humanity,” Says DAMS

I’d planned on picking up where I left off last week, but sometimes news gets in the way. And here’s some stunning news DAMS sent out a few days ago:

Dental Amalgam Mercury Solutions (DAMS), a U.S.-based consumer organization, has co-filed a “Crime against Humanity” complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague against those involved in an $11 million experiment conducted on approximately 1,000 children. The study of health harm from amalgam/mercury dental fillings, known as the “Children’s Amalgam Trial” (CAT), was funded by the U.S. government’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR).

International advocate Anita Tibau and documentary filmmaker Kelly Gallagher recently traveled to Lisbon to raise public awareness about the unethical research associated with silver/amalgam fillings, which contain 50% toxic mercury. The two Americans provided critical documents and film footage that became part of a shocking expose aired on Portuguese television last week, which prompted former victims of the CAT experiments to question the indignities and harm they incurred. The report by journalist Rita Maraffa Carvalho revealed many of the atrocities of CAT included in the complaint made to the ICC, which was co-signed by Tibau and Gallagher on behalf of the organization Mouth of Hope.

The CAT mercury experiments were conducted on children aged 8-10 from low-income families in New England and the Casa Pia orphanage in Lisbon between 1997-2005. The research was authorized by NIDCR’s project administrator Norman Braveman, and the Portuguese segment was managed by Timothy DeRouen, PhD, at the University of Washington.

The entire CAT study was funded by U.S. taxpayers’ dollars, and even when personnel at Casa Pia were convicted of running a pedophile ring abusing the children in 2002, the study continued. Also during the course of the CAT experiments, concerns were never addressed about misleading consent forms and previously published scientific studies indicating that exposure from mercury fillings was a well-known threat to human health.

The late Sandra Duffy, an Oregon attorney, noted in 2004 that the U.S. consent forms did “not disclose how much mercury exposure or absorption occurs from the fillings,” and the Portuguese consent forms, one hundred of which were signed by the same doctor for the orphans, did not even disclose that the fillings contained mercury.

Additionally, Boyd Haley, PhD, chairman of IAOMT’s Scientific Advisory Board and Professor Emeritus at the University of Kentucky, found major scientific flaws in the CAT study design and conclusions.

Dr. Olympio Pinto, a dental expert from Brazil interviewed for the Portuguese expose, warned of dental mercury: “The scientific evidence in over 30,000 papers is clear…and we do not need any further findings, needing to submit even animals, let alone humans, to experiments we can anticipate the results of, based on pure science.”

Leo Cashman of DAMS, a non-profit that co-submitted the complaint, agreed: “We want justice for the children subjected to corrupt experimentation and an end to the use of toxic mercury fillings.”

IAOMT member David Kennedy, DDS, added: “At a 2010 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) dental products hearing, Dr. Suresh Kotagal, a Mayo Clinic pediatrician, announced, ‘…there really is perhaps no place for mercury in children,’ but because the ill-conceived CAT studies are often cited by the American Dental Association and other groups, mercury fillings are still abused globally. Some countries have banned them entirely, and all manufacturers recommend against their use for pregnant women and children. Obviously, toxic substances don’t belong in the mouths of children or any other patients.”

Indeed.

More Information

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Making Sense of Mercury

…with a much needed dose of humor, to boot!

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The Persistent Defense of Mercury Fillings

It’s kind of a weird passage to find on a site that promises to “improve your world” by covering “the broadest scope of environmental and social responsibility issues on the internet.” (Then again, the corporate-sponsored site – Mother Nature Network – gets funding from the likes of environmental polluter Georgia-Pacific, so maybe some cognitive dissonance is to be expected.)

From “6 Signs You Need a New Dentist,” originally published in Woman’s Day:

If your dentist recommends that you replace all of your silver fillings with tooth-colored versions, you may want to get a second opinion. While there are some theories that the mercury content in silver fillings can be harmful to your health, none of them has been proven to be true, says Dr. Gross. According to Shelley Seidel, DDS, MD, who practices at Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons of Houston and is the director of the Institute for Dental Implant Awareness, as long as you don’t have cavities below your fillings — which can be detected by examination or x-ray — or the fillings aren’t broken or fractured, there is no need to replace them. “If your dentist wants to take them out simply because silver fillings are passé, you’re asking for trouble because you don’t know how your teeth will react,” explains Dr. Gross. “They may react in an unfavorable way, becoming more sensitive or in need of a root canal or crown.” (emphasis added)

Amalgam being “passé” is hardly the issue.

As regular readers know, “silver” describes only the color of these fillings, which mostly consist of mercury, a potent neurotoxin. Though more and more dentists have quit using mercury amalgam, US dentists alone place about 70 million of these fillings every year, using 34 tons of mercury. But not all that mercury goes into patients’ mouths. Tons of it are released into the water system each year, as well. As Dr. Bicuspid has reported,

Approximately 50% of mercury entering local waste treatment plants comes from dental amalgam waste – about 3.7 tons of mercury annually, according to the EPA. Once deposited, certain microorganisms can change elemental mercury into methylmercury, a highly toxic form that builds up in fish, shellfish, and animals that eat fish. Fish and shellfish are the main sources of methylmercury exposure to humans, and the EPA is concerned that methylmercury can damage children’s developing brains and nervous systems even before they are born.

And it doesn’t even take that much mercury to cause contamination: As little as one teaspoonful (PDF) can render a 22 acre lake toxic.

Yet it’s considered okay to put mercury in a person’s mouth, mere inches from the brain?

Contrary to Dr. Gross’s claim, there is a substantial scientific record of amalgam’s power to harm human health. (For a sample, see this and this and this.) There has also been work along the lines of a study published just this month in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation which demonstrated long-lasting reduction of health complaints after mercury removal.

That said, no conscientious dentist would make a the kind of generalizing statement like the one used in the MNN/Woman’s Day article: “You need to replace all of your silver fillings with white ones.” You can’t just assume that if a person has amalgams, they must be removed. Our bodies have excretory mechanisms to remove any toxins that enter. Some people have healthier, more robust systems than others. Some carry a heavier toxic load due to multiple and/or ongoing exposures, not just mercury.

You have to ask, Is the person experiencing symptoms? Are amalgams the primary cause?

Always, you need to look at each individual’s health situation and do the appropriate exams and evaluations to determine the presence and impact of any oral obstacles to systemic health. If you find any – mercury fillings or otherwise (e.g., infected root canal teeth or cavitations) – you then map out a systematic, patient-specific plan for treatment and healing. And if amalgam removal is involved, it must be done safely (PDF). You also need to be sure that the new restorations are biocompatible, which is determined beforehand through blood serum analysis and other tests.

So, yes: The caution against rushing into amalgam removal (or any other treatment) is sound. You just don’t need to justify it by insisting against evidence that amalgam is risk-free.

Note: There’ll be no post next week, due to the Veteran’s Day holiday.

Mouth image by brillenschlange, via Flickr

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