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Michael C. Goldman, DDS
Is Mercury in Dental FiIlings Bad for You ?
VIDEO: See mercury vapors coming out of an old amalgam filling in real time. Amazing ! I've never seen anything like this before!!!
On other pages on this website I have written about amalgam fillings, You know - the silver / grey metal fillings everybody always got on their back teeth. They are ugly and they are always made of a mixture of ground up silver, tin and mercury. Sometimes they have zinc and copper in them too, in small amounts. But the mercury is a full HALF - that's 50% - of the total bulk of the filling that you see. It's not a small amount , or "trace amount", that's added! The term "amalgam" means a "mixture".
That's very, very important to understand because a MIXTURE is very different from a chemical COMPOUND. In a compound you can have things chemically locked together with other things, like "H2O", or water, for example is a chemically bound atom of Oxygen bound to two atoms of Hydrogen. They can't be split up easily. In amalgam there is a fairly strong "attraction" between the tin and the mercury, but nothing that begins to compare to the bond between the Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms in water, or between atoms in other COMPOUNDS. The mercury can and does easily separate from the tin... and there's the big problem! Mercury is a known toxic material, and as it comes out of the amalgam filling, you are exposed to it and some of it is absorbed into your body. The mercury vapor is a fairly small amount most of the time but over years of having it in your teeth and being continually exposed to it, it begins to add and add and add up! Also under certain conditions - like eating, grinding your teeth, getting your teeth polished by the hygienist, chewing gum or drinking warm to hot liquids - the amount of mercury vapor is dramatically INCREASED!
The VIDEO shows mercury vapors being released by an old amalgam filling in an extracted tooth. It is very dramatic and shows it in real time. No trick photography or gimmicks as far as I know. Normally it would be invisible to the naked eye but the researchers found a way to make it visible. While I have known about mercury coming out of amalgam fillings for years, until now I have never actually SEEN it ! I was shocked! That's why I want you to see it too!
The mercury issues are very complex and often confusing and hard to understand except in "theoretical" terms. This video makes it "real", "graphic" and as plain and simple to see as the nose on your face in the mirror!VIDEO of Mercury actually coming out of a normal amalgam filling in real time !!!
This video made for IAOMT graphically shows mercury vapor coming out of a regular ordinary old silver-mercury amalgam filling in a tooth that has been extracted. I could say a lot more about it, but I think watching this video is so dramatic that you will be amazed by it - as I was! I knew it has been demonstrated by measurement instruments but I had never actually SEEN it happening ! Now you can see it too....
If you found the video as compelling and informative as I did , then when you go to the YouTube.com location where it is found, you can then look at other related videos on the same or related topics. For example:
Silver Fillings vs. Composite Fillings
Mercury, Toxicity, Bonding, the Law, and YouControversy
Since its introduction onto this continent in the early 1800's, the use of a mixture of half silver and half mercury as dental "Amalgam" to fill teeth has created controversy. To this day the arguments continue. Much scientific research has been done, but the divisions seem to be so strong that those in favor of its use rationalize away the condemning research. Those against its use claim that politics and personal interest motivate amalgam's proponents.The Facts (as I see them...)
Mercury is a known poison. It is, in fact, one of - if not the - most toxic of all the elements known!!! It is fact that mercury is fully one-half of the mass of the filling you see when you look at any "silver" filling. It is fact that mercury vaporizes in the mouth and that the vapor is inhaled and also directly absorbed into the body. It is fact that mercury travels to all body tissues and concentrates in tissues where it can do damage in several known ways. I have a collection of reprints of research articles along with the literature from the Public Health Service and other material on the subject if you are interested in a lot of reading on the subject.
The question is not whether the above facts are true, but whether enough of it occurs to be significant. Organized dentistry in the USA has taken the position that amalgam use is perfectly safe. Those against its use have found compelling relationships to many serious illnesses ranging from depression to cancer, and from kidney disease to Alzheimer's. How can it be thought to cause so wide a range of problems? The suggested answer is that mercury from fillings doesn't cause a specific disease. It causes poisoning. And depending on which tissues it concentrates in, the symptoms will differ from one person to another. Two of the most common sites of concentration and damage, however, seem to be the brain and the kidneys.
Sweden and Germany have passed laws to stop or greatly curb the use of mercury-silver fillings. Their nationalized dental plans even help to pay for removal and replacement with alternate non-mercury materials.Canada may soon do the same. The excellent dental school in Zurich has stopped teaching "silver fillings" technique. The DilemmaWe are faced with compelling data that the mercury in fillings may be a real hazard to our health, but both sides seem so sure about their positions. What should we do? Is there a way to reason through this?
I think there is! First, we are being constantly bombarded with all sorts of chemical and biophysical noxious influences in our food, air, water...everywhere. Our immune systems are being stressed more and more. I believe we are seeing more chemically sensitive people and more illness from "environmental" causes. I think it makes sense to avoid known toxins, especially if there is a reasonable alternative...and there is (read on...).
Regarding mercury (in fillings), a Virginia dentist, stated:
"Somehow I just don't feel comfortable using a substance designated by the EPA to be a waste disposal hazard. I can't [legally] throw it in the trash, bury it in the ground, or put it in a landfill, but they say it's OK to put it in people's mouths. That just doesn't make sense."
In the past if you wanted to avoid mercury-silver fillings your only alternative would have been gold. Gold works well - very well, in fact - but it is expensive, technically difficult, and while I think it looks much better than "silver" which corrodes and turns rough and black, it still doesn't look even close to natural. Additionally, it is not a practical choice for children because of the cost and the lengthy procedure and high degree of cooperation needed to do a good job. Now, however, we have other choices.
Porcelains, glass, and composites are new materials (or old ones used in new ways) that can not just fix a tooth, but truly restore it. That is, restore not only its function, but also its natural appearance and youthful beauty. These restorations are very natural in appearance and feel and wear very much the way natural teeth do. Obviously no material is as nice as naturally beautiful and healthy teeth, but with these materials we can come amazingly close!
In addition to the natural appearance of these new techniques, the way they are attached to the teeth is a whole new revolutionary shift in dentistry. Silver fillings are just stuffed in a hole in the tooth. It is the shape of that hole that prevents the filling from falling out...it is not really stuck to the tooth. That is why so often when the tooth has been hollowed out for a silver filling, creating a shell of enamel around the silver, part of that shell of enamel cracks and falls off. Then you need caps and often root canals, etc. On the other hand, the new esthetic materials are strongly bonded to the tooth. That refers to a chemical and micro-mechanical technique that intimately binds or bonds the material to the surrounding tooth structure. The enamel cannot just fall off any more once it has been bonded. The resulting restoration restores not just function and beauty, but returns most of the original strength to the tooth. It has been shown that a large silver filling reduces the strength of a tooth to about 30% of original values! Bonded esthetic fillings return the tooth to 80% or more!
It seems to me a no-brainer to conclude that if there is even any possibility that the mercury-containing silver could be a danger to your health, and given the fact that "silver" fillings are ugly and weaken teeth and that there are now techniques available that don't seem to have any negative health potential, strengthen teeth, and look beautifully natural, that it makes no sense to have any more silver fillings placed in your mouth! Right?
What about silver fillings already in your teeth? Here's where it gets a little harder... Certainly if you would like your teeth to look much more natural and youthful, the answer is simple. Replace the old silver. What about if your teeth have been breaking and needing root canals and caps? Again, other teeth with large silver fillings can be restored to be stronger while regaining their appearance of youth and health.
If, however, you have silver fillings that are functionally excellent and appearance is not an issue for you, but you are concerned about possible health implications you have heard or read about regarding mercury, you have found yourself in the twilight zone, because we dentists are prohibited by the legal/political powers that be, from replacing silver fillings for medical reasons unless a referring medical doctor has prescribed it! Don't ask me why; write your congressman!!!
But old fillings can be replaced because they are defective or the tooth needs something stronger, or simply because you desire something more esthetically natural and healthy looking...
Seriously, the rationale for the legal position as stated is that since the official position of organized dentistry in the US is firmly that there are no adverse effects from having mercury-containing fillings, then it is considered malpractice for a dentist to recommend their removal for health reasons. It is "practicing medicine without a medical license". Personally, I think it will change before long, but that's how it is now.Testing for Mercury Levels in Your Body
Various tests, blood, urine, hair analysis have been used to test for mercury and other heavy metals. I think the most reliable test is done with a fecal sample. Not the most esthetic approach, but hey, there are no needles and you don't have to cut off lumps of hair close to the scalp... Every cloud has a silver lining, they say. Anyway, it's a take home thing (you probably don't want your dentist helping you with it anyway, right?) that you can put a sample in and mail it away to the lab. The results come back with literature to help interpret them. For info on where to get the test done if you are not near my office call:
Doctors Data Inc. 800-323-2784
PO Box 111 Fax 630-587-7860
Chicago Illinois 60186-9986
Here are some thoughts regarding other methods of testing
Intra-oral Vapor Testing An interesting test to demonstrate the fact that mercury is present in your mouth from your mercury fillings. It's a motivator and can be a scare tactic but it doesn't show you how much mercury your body tissues are storing.
Blood and Urine Testing Again, interesting, but both high and low urine mercury levels could be a problem. It won't necessarily tell you the level of stored mercury. It only shows you what is presently being excreted. Blood levels can indicate recent exposure, recent excretion, or high levels. DMPS Challenge Test A urine mercury test before and after a chelation "challenge" with DMPS that liberates mercury stored in body tissues. This is much more accurate and meaningful than plain blood or urine testing. Hair Testing Indicates levels of mercury and other metals stored by your body over a period of time. hair closest to the scalp [newer, more recent growth] gives the most recent indication. Apparently there are many variables with hair - possibly including the kind of shampoos and conditioners etc. used - so that the alternative "experts" mostly seem to have little faith in hair analysis. I trust them since they are closer to the scientific research that checks these things out. Skin Patch Testing - Hypersensitivity This is controversial. There are concerns that it could "sensitize" a person and make things worse. It should only be done by a medically trained professional like a dermatologist or medical allergist and should be done with ammoniated mercury [not mercury chloride]. Electrical Galvanic Testing Interesting in that it shows how the amalgam fillings have created a "battery" in your mouth and actually produces an electrical current that can speed the release of mercury and maybe even create havoc with acupuncture meridians. But it does not tell you how much of a problem you have with mercury toxicity or stored mercury levels.
Removal of Silver Fillings [Note: also see topic "Is amalgam removal safe?"]
If silver fillings are removed, I feel it is important to respect the possibility of it being a dangerous substance (as EPA and OSHA say it is...). There are several things I can do to minimize your (and my) exposure to the mercury which is known to be released during removal of old silver fillings. I can also suggest nutrient supplement regimens which have been designed to scavenge mercury from your body during this period of increased exposure and redistribution.
If you are under the care of a physician concerned about metal toxicity problems I can work in concert with him or her in your interest. If you are receiving alternative healthcare, I would be most happy to speak with your practitioner about these issues and work in harmony with him or her. I have had some training myself in cranial osteopathy and homeopathy and interest in many other disciplines.Bonded Esthetic Dentistry
This is a relatively new field of treatment which I have been doing exclusively since at least 1985. It is rapidly changing for the better and is complicated and difficult to learn [to do well ]. It is said to have a Steep "learning curve". That means it takes a relatively long time in the beginning to gain proficiency with it and for that reason, I believe, many dentists who have tried it, have become frustrated with failures and problems of all sorts, and so gave up, blaming the technique. They never gave it a chance to experience how truly revolutionary and remarkably good this technique really is! Every day I have patients tell me their former dentist told them composite fillings are no good in back teeth (which are the hard ones to learn to do!) and tried to intimidate them into getting "silver"! Which way is malpractice from your point of view?
My experience has been overwhelmingly positive. Practically all of my composite fillings I have been able to observe over twelve years are still in excellent condition. Problems have been few and the level of satisfaction has been exceptionally high. If I needed a filling today, composite would be my number one choice, even over more expensive techniques.
This pamphlet was written in the hope that it will increase understanding about a topic that seems important from time to time. Obviously it is only a part of the whole story, so if you have questions after reading this please do not hesitate to ask or call. Also, if there is a topic that you think would be helpful, please suggest it. Does this help you? Let me know.
Michael C. Goldman, DDS
General and Cosmetic Dentistry
3815 East-West Highway
Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815 Phone (301) 656-6171
HOME TOPICS / INFO ABOUT DR.GOLDMAN TO EMAIL ME CONTACT OFFICE
More info about the following is available if you select "topics".
Holism in dentistry is an approach to dental treatment, primarily caring for patients' health and safety from both a conventional as well as "alternative healthcare" point of view. It is sometimes called "biological" dentistry or "biocompatible" dentistry. In it's fullest sense, I believe it acknowledges and deals with the mind, body and spirit of the patient, not just his or her "teeth". See Topics / Info.....
Cosmetic dentistry is about doing quality , esthetic dentistry in a way that looks natural to begin with, and furthermore, can even improve one's attractiveness through techniques such as bonding, bleaching, veneers, caps, implants and more. It can be like "instant orthodontics" in correcting crooked, twisted or misplaced teeth in many instances. Dark or misshapen teeth can be restored. Smiles that lack youthful vigor or beauty can be revitalized! See Topics / Info..
Bleaching, veneers, bonding, caps, bridges, and implants are cosmetic dentistry treatments that are also discussed in Cosmetic Dentistry, and more...located in the Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815 area near Washington DC