“Will you do a post about amalgam fillings and curing tooth decay? What do you think about biological dentistry? How can I find a dentist with a holistic practice?” asks Michelle A.
In January of 2016, Michelle asked us these questions.
(By the way, we loving getting questions from our readers — they make us think!)
This is one of the most difficult topics I’ve ever written about, and I’ve done some doozies in the past!
To begin, Michelle, let’s talk about the historical uses of mercury and what various countries are doing today, as well as the FDA’s confusing response to mounting evidence against the safety of mercury in dental fillings.
These topics will pose a few more questions, which I will address in future posts.
Mercury In History
Mercury, commonly known as “quicksilver” (chemical symbol: Hg), has kindled legends since the ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese, and Hindus. The word amalgam even means “alloy of mercury” in Latin.
Mercury’s hypnotic character has tempted man throughout history with promises of bestowing great power. The ancients also knew, however, that it was capable of striking with illness, tremors, and derangement. During Roman times, mercury mines doubled as penal institutions and greatly reduced the need for formal executions. (Source.)
In the 1800s, when mercuric nitrate was used in the felting process of the men’s hat industry, mercury poisoning among hat makers spawned the phrase “mad as a hatter”. On December 1, 1941 the U.S. Public Health Service banned its use in the felt industry.
In the 1830s, European use of mercury dental amalgam was introduced to the United States. Dentists familiar with mercury’s toxicity strongly objected to it — and members of the American Society of Dental Surgeons signed a pledge never to use it in 1845.
However, since gold was the only (expensive) alternative, mercury amalgam became the poor man’s substitute. Patients would walk out of the office without immediate signs of poisoning, and so problems were simply swept under the rug.
In 1914, methylmercury was used on a worldwide scale as an important crop fungicide. Mass farm worker poisonings and several large-scale food poisoning incidents shortly followed. The United States banned its use on crops.
Workers and their children at the Staco thermometer plant experienced headaches in addition to digestive and neurological problems. This all arose from mercury poisoning their air, clothing, furniture, and bodies. The Vermont plant closed in 1984, and several lawsuits were settled between Staco and the state.
In 2008, 13 states introduced laws to limit the manufacture, sale, and/or distribution of mercury fever thermometers.
Also in 2008, Norway and Sweden banned all manufactured, imported, exported, or sold mercury-containing products used in their countries — including dental amalgam fillings.
On January 19, 2013, the Mianmata Convention, named for the Japanese town poisoned by mercury pollution, was ratified. It seeks to phase out the use of mercury and control its release into the atmosphere, soil, and water. 23 countries have signed it so far.
The Use Of Mercury In The Dental Industry Today
All but one of the historical references mentioned above resulted in the termination of mercury’s use. Yet, the remaining use of mercury in the dental industry, at least in the United States, garners many stalwart defenders in the dental industry’s professional association and the FDA.
“The American Dental Association (ADA) agrees with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision not to place any restriction on the use of dental amalgam, a commonly used cavity-filling material” (source).
The FDA states that amalgam is safe for anyone over the age of 6. The ADA goes on to support amalgam as a “valuable, viable and safe choice” for dental patients.
However, the FDA also announces they are still reevaluating available information on amalgam and promise to post updates when necessary.
They state amalgam does pose risks because it does contain mercury. It does release mercury vapor that can be inhaled and absorbed in the lungs and body.
Mercury is bio-accumulative, especially in the kidneys and brain. This means mercury builds up faster than we can excrete it.
Mixed Messages From The FDA
In 2009, the FDA reclassified amalgam from a Class I (least) risk to a Class II (moderate) risk. The highest risk level is Class III.
The FDA also developed a special document identifying potential risks — including mercury exposure, toxicity, and adverse tissue reaction.
While the FDA is vague about the potential risks to pregnant women, unborn children, or the very young, it does advise people to talk to their dentist about any concerns they may have. Unfortunately, as their policy states, any ADA dentist is likely to dismiss concerns over amalgam safety.
Furthermore, the FDA admits that mercury found in breast milk can be attributed to amalgam fillings in the mother. They admit that more research must be done to assess its safety.
Despite needed proof of safety, the FDA has decided that “infants are not at risk for adverse health effects from the mercury in breast milk of women exposed to mercury vapor from dental amalgam” (source).
The FDA does not say whether chronic, long-term exposure to small amounts of mercury vapor puts anyone at risk, or how chronic low-dose exposure effects one’s health — especially for certain population subsets with greater genetic sensitivity, liver or kidney disease, or an already compromised immune system.
In the next several articles we will explore these questions in-depth:
What do the alternative and general scientific health communities say about mercury toxicity? How can we protect ourselves and our children from the well-known effects of mercury exposure?
What do you know about the use of mercury in amalgam fillings?
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My husband was cured of a neurological disease when he got the amalgam fillings removed from his teeth ten years ago. I’d also like to hear about the mercury used in vaccinations. Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that has been used for decades in the United States, which is used in flu shots and other vaccinations. The argument is that it is in very small amounts. They fail to mention that mercury builds up in the body, so after decades of flu shots one could have accumulated quite a bit.
Lee Burdett says
The vaccine issue is far too complicated to address in just a comment reply. Entire books, documentaries, and non-profit organizations have been created around this topic. While it is theoretically possible to ask for “fresh” vaccines (in other words vaccines that are newly concocted and preservative-free) you would be hard pressed to find a doctor who offers them as a choice. In Part 2 of this series on mercury I will be linking to a chart that includes vaccines and their ingredients so you can see which ones still contain thimerisol.
In the meantime you might find some useful information in this interview with documentary filmmaker Eric Gladen.
should the person remove metal fillings? Could it be done w a dentist in mexico if I give him the protol? Which protocol do you recommend please?
Lee Burdett says
Mirna, the decision to remove amalgam fillings is complicated and not something that I can decide for you. I will address this topic in Part 3 of this article series on mercury so hopefully that will give you more information to decide. Finding a dentist who belongs to IAOMT would be a good start. I would also recommend reading Radical Medicine by Louisa Williams where she discusses extensively the decisions leading up to amalgam filling removal as well as her protocol. Another option would be finding a Functional Medicine Practitioner who can assess your personal risk factors and give you guidance as you determine how to proceed.
My dentist offers two kinds of fillings: silver or ceramic. I dont know anything else about their ingredients. Do either of these have amalgam?
It is almost certain that silver means amalgam which includes mercury. But you may be sensitized to other metals as well even in the ceramic filling material. If you are really interested, you can be tested for biocompatibility of materials to determine the best thing for you. But equally important is having the amalgams replaced in a safe manner; you may want to look up the IAOMT for that information.
Look up Amalgam (dentistry) in Wikipedia where it explains it is 50% mercury, 22-32% silver, 14% tin, 8%copper and other trace metals.
Tom Kelly says
Howdy Rebekah: What the dentists call “ceramic ” is a composite, with no amalgam in it. It is however a softer material, which will need replacement sooner than the old amalgam fillings!
I am a senior, with a mouth full of busted “Silver”amalgam fillings that were put in when I was a poor kid. I do indeed feel that they are contributing to my health problems and from my limited research, the ADA and the FDA are sleeping together, and to hell with Americans and their health! Just like the rest of the Medical Profession and Big Pharma. I have said this for years…Keeping Americans sick is a multi trillion dollar business! It boils down to Corporate Greed, Power is more important than human lives!
Lee Burdett says
Stay tuned in Part 3 I’m going to share some ideas for how to feel better even when you can’t take your fillings out.
Lee Burdett says
Yes, silver is another term for mercury amalgam fillings. There was actually a lawsuit filed against using the term “silver” instead of “mercury amalgam” for this very reason that it is confusing to many people who think silver is different. Silver merely refers to the color of the filling material which is, as stated above, 50% mercury.
I would like to remove my amalgam fillings, but the risk and expense involved, as well as finding a reputable dentist, have prevented me from taking that step. Are the new composite fillings safer?
Lee Burdett says
Amalgam removal is definitely expensive and can be risky if done without correct supervision. Finding a Biological Dentist can mean traveling to a different city if there isn’t one where you live. The composite amalgams are mercury-free which makes them safer. There are several choices of filling material available. Louisa Williams’ book Radical Medicine and her website list Clean Dental Materials http://www.radicalmedicine.com/acess-resources/
Madonna Serrano says
He is a biological dentist with years of experience removing mercury fillings
I am so thankful your Part 2 that just came up in my Facebook newsfeed. I was just researching the amalgam fillings earlier today. My mouth is full of them and became concerned. Plus a dentist just recommended two for my 2yr old! That’s when I got really concerned. Can’t wait to read Part 3, really want mine out or do something.