Mercury, Metals, and Health

If you are like most Americans, you probably have mercury and/or other metal fillings in your mouth. Mercury fillings, also known as “silver fillings” or amalgam fillings, are the most common fillings in the world. Called silver because of their color, they actually contain from 45% to 52% mercury. Copper, tin, silver and zinc make up the remaining volume.

There is much discussion in the dental profession today about the safety of mercury fillings and metal containing restorations. This is not new. The original dental association of the 1830’s and 1840’s, The National Association of Dental Surgeons, would ban as unethical any dentist who used mercury in a patient. When half the dentist’s used it anyway the effectiveness of the organization was diminished and it was replaced by the American Dental Association which favored the use of cheaper mercury fillings over the more costly but safer gold fillings. Today members of the American Dental Association who even talk against mercury run not just the possibility of expulsion, but of having the ADA put pressure on the state regulatory agencies to remove the license of any dentist who mentions mercury might be toxic. The ADA even calls it “unethical and unprofessional conduct” to inform patients of the potential dangers of the most hazardous metal known to mankind.

For decades the ADA has steadfastly stated that mercury was tightly bound within amalgam and could not possible get out. Chemists and toxicologists, on the other hand, point out that not only does mercury escape, but its release is greatly enhanced by chewing and heart. The World Health Organization has published research which shows that between 3-17 micrograms of mercury is released into the body every day simple by chewing on dental mercury fillings. Fish and other environmental pollutants provide only 0.52 micrograms of mercury. At present, there is no known safe limit of mercury ingestion. Mercury tends to accumulate in your body, for we, as humans do not have a good mechanism for eliminating this toxic material.

Yielding to scientific pressures, the ADA now admits that mercury is indeed released from the amalgam fillings even after placement, but states that it is perfectly safe and still adamantly supports that use of amalgam fillings. They claim they are safe based on 150 years of use and that there is no scientific evidence showing mercury exposure from dental fillings causes any known disease. There is also no scientific evidence that shows its safety and the mixed dental amalgam has never had FDA research or approval. The ADA does admit there is a potential hazard for dental office personnel with the handling of dental amalgam and recommend that dentists use a “NO- TOUCH” technique because dentists and their staff might become contaminated.

They admit that the “scrap” amalgam, the excess amalgam left over after filling your tooth, also constitutes a hazardous threat because of continuous vapor release. OSHA requires that this scrap, the same amalgam just placed in your mouth, must be stored in an airtight container so as not to expose employees to hazardous vapor. But still today the ADA and other governmental agencies tell us that the mercury in your mouth is perfectly safe.

If mercury is so dangerous shouldn’t we all runout and have our fillings removed? The answer is a great big NO! The process of removing amalgams can generate mercury vapor and particulates many times greater than leaving them alone. This may have disastrous effects on a patient’s health. They should not be removed except by a highly trained professional using exacting methods to help ensure the patient’s protection. In addition, any patient suspecting a potential health problem or contemplating amalgam or

metal removal should consult with a physician or advanced health professional specially trained to recognize, test and treat patients undergoing metal removal. They will be able

to monitor your health and protect toxic effects of metal removal. Your health is important and it is vital not to exacerbate any condition by the indiscriminate and improper removal of metals.

Another issue with mercury removal is compatibility- or rather a lack of compatibility of the new filling material. Many of the replacement materials, including many of the composite resins, can be almost as damaging to the immune system of susceptible patients. Elements of much replacement material can include formaldehyde, hydroquinone, phenol, nickel, beryllium, styrene, toluene, urethane and xylene. In addition, many composites and even porcelains contain various amounts of metal oxides and aluminum oxides. If you replace one toxic material for another your immune system may react in an entirely different way, and may further compromise your health. Many tests are available today, which help determine which materials would be best suited for your body.

After removal of all incompatible substances and replacement with biocompatible materials, the final process of healing begins. We feel that it is very important for the patient to follow the guidelines and recommendations of their attending health professional through the final phase. It is our goal to establish this team approach and have a close working relationship with the referring practitioner in order to ensure optimal patient health.