Owner’s Guide to Silver/Mercury Fillings

The Mercury Amalgam Controversy

Mercury is a poisonous heavy metal, proven to be more toxic than Lead or Arsenic.

If silver fillings are in your mouth, Mercury is in your body. Some bodies can cope with the extra stress and naturally detoxify the Mercury constantly wearing off from the fillings. Other bodies can become overwhelmed, and eventually suffer disorders and the break-down of various body systems.

The Controversy

There has always been controversy surrounding dental amalgam, or “silver” fillings. Amalgam is a dental filling mixture of metals with more than 50% mercury. This filling material is used by many dentists today to heal cavities caused by tooth decay.

Silver mercury fillings have been used in dentistry for nearly 160 years, with very little change in composition. By 1991 the theory supported by the American Dental Association (ADA) has been that mercury is stable or “bound-up” with the other metals and will not “leak” into the body. Interestingly, the ADA Council on Dental Materials recommends that dentists store scrap mercury in an airtight container under glycerin or x-ray fixer and dispose of it as a toxic waste.

The ADA has also declared amalgam safe by virtue of what they term as “historically safe” usage since the 1830’s. The official policy since 1985 has stated, “It is important to note that mercury forms a biologically inactive substance when it combines with the other materials used to produce amalgam.” In 1991, the Council agreed that mercury release from fillings does occur, but it also claimed, “there is no scientific evidence that this miniscule amount of mercury has any adverse health effects.” The FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) completely supports this position and has allowed the safety of this material to go unchallenged. However there are documented studies in the toxicology, physiology and medical literature that show this statement is untrue. Mercury amalgam in fillings is continually released into the body in the form of mercury vapor and corroded particles. This mercury is poison.

How Mercury is Released into the Body

Mercury is very unstable. Vapors are released when the compound is disturbed, compressed, exposed to an acidic environment or increased temperatures. The mouth is a perfect place to create these vapors, with the chewing of foods, grinding of teeth and the introduction of acidic or hot food and beverages. In fact, mercury release increases approximately 15 times when you chew, brush, or consume hot or acidic foods or beverages.

Mercury is also released in the continuous corrosion caused by saliva. Saliva is the electrolytic (it conducts charged particles) and when it comes in contact with dissimilar metals in the amalgam, it corrodes. Mercury is then released into the body, by either inhaled vapor or swallowed particles. As vapor, it may pass into the bloodstream for quick absorption and distribution to body tissues or travel to the brain and central nervous system. When mercury particles are swallowed, mercury chloride can be formed in the stomach; many of the bacteria there can transform it into methyl mercury, an even more poisonous form of mercury.

The Health Effects of Mercury Poisoning

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that the daily intake of mercury from amalgam fillings is higher than the bodies intake of mercury from air, water and food combined. Published research states that mercury is a powerful poison and toxicologists agree that no amount (even tiny amounts) of exposure to mercury vapor can be considered totally harmless. Scientific research has demonstrated that mercury in small amounts can damage the brain, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, blood cells, hormones and destroys the body’s immune system. Studies also show that mercury passes through the placental membrane in pregnant women and into the brain of the developing child. Human and animal studies have found a direct relationship between the level of mercury in the brain and the number of fillings in the mouth.

A History of Mercury Amalgam Development and Use

In 1819 an English chemist named Bell combined silver coin shavings and enough mercury to form a sloppy paste. Always looking for filling alternatives, dentists who discovered the new amalgam began using it for filling teeth. This was a big turn of events since patients with cavities before were given two choices: an expensive gold filling or the cheaper option of extracting the tooth. Now with mercury fillings, anyone could cheaply save their teeth. This pushed dentistry from a service for the wealthy to a large industry capable of treating millions worldwide. Amalgam’s ease of placement and long life span created a filling loved by dentists and their patients.

This discovery was seized by a pair of unscrupulous brothers named Crawcour. In 1832, they arrived in America from France with dreams of riches. These men were known for filling teeth with their mercury based paste, leaving decay in teeth and moving swiftly from town to town. The word quack originated from the actions of people like the Crawcours, who used mercury in the human body. In Europe, mercury is known as quacksilber (quicksilver). Any dentist who would place mercury fillings would be called a quacksilber or quack for short.

Six years after the introduction of amalgam the first organized U.S. dental group, the American Association of Dental Surgeons (AADS), showed a lot of concern about the health of dental patients with the amalgam fillings. In 1843, the AADS decided the use of amalgam fillings to be malpractice. The topic became so strongly debated, that members were thrown out of the group for using mercury fillings in their dental practices. Several New York dentists even lost their licenses for violating the ban.

Medical Dentists vs. Craftsman (Mechanical) Dentists

In the early 1800’s there were two types of dentists, medical dentists and craftsman dentists. The AADS was made up of medical dentists, who held a degree in medicine and were concerned with the overall health of their patients. Another group, the craftsman dentists, had no medical training but were mechanically gifted people capable of removing and filling teeth. These craftsman dentists used amalgam as their filling of choice because it was easy to use. But they ignored the obvious dangers of mercury. The medical dentists felt that  mercury of any kind should not be used in the human body and thus the first “amalgam war” began.

In 1850 the AADS removed the ban on Amalgam to attract new members, but membership greatly dropped and the organization collapsed. In 1859 the craftsmen dentists founded a new organization which still stands behind its original members’ devotion to amalgam. That group is the American Dental Association (ADA).

Since that time, over 134 years ago, many changes have taken place in the environment we live in. Hazardous materials and toxic wastes are an unfortunate and all too common by-product of our way of life. We are surrounded by over 70,000 foreign chemicals and materials daily challenging our bodies’ ability to cope. In this uncertain environment, we still put approximately 50 tons of mercury in our teeth each year.

Studies on Mercury Poisoning

We now know a lot about the effects of mercury poisoning. Studies have been performed on people who have taken in a significant mercury through industrial and ecological exposures. Evidence is being collected that long term exposure to smaller levels of mercury poisoning (such as the exposure from mercury amalgam fillings) can result in the same symptoms, diseases and disorders.

The most common symptoms of mercury poisoning are in the oral cavity: bleeding gums, burning mouth, white patches, metallic taste, ulcers, gum disease (periodontal disease) and black or purple discolorations on the gums. Mercury also affects the brain, causing depression, anxiety, hallucinations and even manic depression. In the digestive system, constipation, colitis, diarrhea and cramps can develop. The immune, endocrine and cardiovascular systems have also been shown to be hurt, leaving the immune system weakened and open to secondary diseases and infections. Changes are also seen in the central nervous system such as chronic migraine type headaches, convulsions, dizziness, epilepsy, loss of fine motor coordination (especially in the hands), muscle paralysis or twitching, arm and leg numbness, tremors and tingling in the hands, feet and lips, and multiple sclerosis (MS). There are obviously many possible reasons for any of these problems, but the mercury in fillings should be included as a possible contributing factor.

Detoxification and Removal of Mercury

The very first and more important thing that needs to be communicated is that the process of detoxifying the body and removing amalgam fillings can be dangerous if not medically supervised by a medical/dental team very skilled in heavy metal detoxification.

Mercury is stored long term in nearly every cell in the body. The mercury can do harm from there, but it is much less dangerous than mercury that is released from this “deep pool” too rapidly.

A good steady detoxification process removes the particles slowly. These particles are then “harvested” and discharged through the urine and feces. A detoxification program performed too quickly or unsteadily loosens up more mercury than the body’s excretion system can safely handle at one time. This can cause serious damage, especially to the kidneys.

The removal of fillings also needs to be undertaken with great care. In fact, even though strict protocol is followed to protect the patient during mercury filling removal, some mercury is unfortunately absorbed by the body during the process. Because of this, anyone undergoing amalgam filling removal must always go through a careful body detoxification afterwards. This sequence, practiced with great care, is the only means through which you can protect yourself from suffering more harm than good.

A body detoxification process can take up to one year, depending upon the level of toxicity and health of the patient. The process needs to be medically supervised and the patient may experience some symptoms similar to their original problem.

The process of this detoxification is known as chelation therapy, literally meaning the removal of something from your body. The choice of what chelating chemicals to use depends upon many factors, including the amount and variety of toxins currently in the body. Urine analysis is a common way to judge when the detox is complete.

Once mercury urine levels are established, the fillings are removed. Filling removal must absolutely be performed in a controlled, well ventilated area which prevents any mercury from being inhaled or swallowed by either the patient or the dentist. A fairly accepted process involves the use of a special suction tip which pulls mercury particles and vapor out of the mouth.

The filling is removed in as close to one unbroken piece as possible. Cool water is constantly sprayed to reduce mercury dust levels. The doctor and assistant wear mercury screening masks which were developed for industrial use and the patient is given their own pure oxygen supply to breathe so that they don’t inhale vapors or dust. After removal, the patient needs to undergo body detoxification to release both old mercury buildup and any mercury absorbed during the removal process.

This protocol is pretty intense, but when the process is carefully and knowledgeably done it can help bring a sick person back to health.

What Filling Material Are Used to Replace Mercury Amalgam Now?

At the Institute for Biological Dentistry, the use of plastics, composite resins and ceramics have replaced the use of mercury dental fillings for over ten years. As part of our commitment to total health a comprehensive protocol that is safe, effective and comfortable addresses the management of mercury removal from the mouth. Please contact us or speak to a member of our staff if you would like more information on this subject.