Deceptively called “Silver”, mercury amalgam has been used as a dental restorative filling material for almost 200 years and has enjoyed the reputation of being inexpensive and long lasting. However, these dental fillings are actually about 50% mercury, along with silver, copper, tin, and zinc. They have been called “silver” due to the color and not by the content of materials. In products around the globe, the major ingredient is always listed first, so these dental fillings, should actually be called “mercury” amalgam fillings. Some people who are aware of the situation are confused by the mixture of information available. Unfortunately, statements from dental trade organizations continue to claim complete safety of the use of mercury amalgam fillings. While there has been reports on the risks of mercury amalgam fillings over the years, these reports often go away very quietly, leaving a few poorly-researched news reports that muddle the situation.
MERCURY AND SILVER FILLINGS (AMALGAM)
Here are a few facts about mercury amalgam fillings:
- Causes Damage to Brain in Children
In February, 1998, a group of the world’s top mercury researchers announced that mercury from amalgam fillings can permanently damage the brain, kidneys, and immune system of children.
- Amalgam Fillings Linked to Neurological Problems, Gastrointestinal Problems
The first large-scale epidemiological study of mercury and adverse reactions was recently completed and showed that of the symptoms looked at, there was a link seen to gastrointestinal problems, sleep disturbances, concentration problems, memory disturbances, lack of initiative, restlessness, bleeding gums and other mouth disorders.
- Mercury / Alzheimer’s Disease Connection
A study related to mercury and Alzheimer’s Disease was recently completed by a team of scientists led by well-respected researcher Dr. Boyd Haley. They exposed rats to levels of mercury vapor diluted to account for size differences between humans and rats. The rats developed tissue damage “indistinguishable” from that of Alzheimer’s Disease. Repeating the experiment showed the same results.
- Amalgam Fillings Since 1970s
The type of mercury fillings that began to be used during the last couple of decades, non-gamma-2 (high copper), releases many times more mercury than the older style of amalgam fillings. Also, please see the article on the instability of dental amalgam fillings by Ulf Bengsston.
- Amalgam Fillings Release Highly Toxic Elemental Mercury
Mercury is one of the most toxic substances known. The mercury release from fillings is absorbed primarily as highly toxic elemental mercury vapor.
- Amalgam Fillings Largest Source of Mercury By Far
Based on a number of studies in Sweden, the World Health Organization review of inorganic mercury in 1991 determined that mercury absorption is estimated to be approximately four times higher from amalgam fillings than from fish consumption. Recent studies have confirmed this estimate. The amount absorbed can vary considerably from person to person.
- Gold Crowns, Gum, Bruxism, Computer Monitors Increase Release of Mercury Significantly
Gum chewing, grinding of teeth/bruxism, computer terminal exposure, presence of gold fillings or gold crowns (even if covering mercury fillings), teeth brushing, braces, and chewing cause the release of significantly increased amounts of mercury from the fillings. Also, please see the following short review related to increases in mercury exposure from dissimilar metals in the mouth, exposure to magnetic fields, chewing, etc.
- Cumulative Poison and Builds Up in Organs
Mercury released from fillings builds up in the brain, pituitary, adrenal glands, and other parts of the body.
- Mercury Amalgam Fillings Affect Porphyrins
Preliminary results from the first detailed biochemical analysis (scroll half-way down) of patients who removed mercury amalgam fillings showed a significant drop in the excretion of porphyrins (important to heme synthesis — heme carries oxygen to red blood cells), as well as a number of other key biochemical changes.
- Potential Contributory Factor in Other Diseases
Mercury from amalgam fillings has been implicated as a possible contributory factor in some cases of Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, IBS, reproductive disorders, allergies, and a variety of other illnesses.
- Mercury Build Up in Brain, Organs and Breast Milk of Fetuses of Mothers With Amalgam Fillings
Mercury from fillings in pregnant women has been shown to cause mercury accumulation in brain, kidneys and liver of human fetuses (all of the areas tested). Studies have shown that mercury can be passed to infants from breast milk.
- Proper Removal of Fillings Produces Eventual Health Improvement
A recent study published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine related to the proper removal of mercury amalgam fillings from 118 subjects showed an elimination or reduction or 80% of the classic mercury poisoning symptoms. In many cases, it took 6 to 12 months after mercury amalgam removal for the symptoms to disappear.
- World–renowned Experts Agree About Potential Danger
In contrast to statements from dental trade organizations, toxicologists and medical researchers are often quite concerned about the use of mercury. Retired, Lars Friberg, was one of the lead toxicologists in the World Health Organization team looking at inorganic mercury and health effects, he stated that he believes that mercury is unsuitable for dental materials because of safety concerns.
Obviously, not everyone experiences acute toxicity effects from the mercury in amalgam fillings. However, virtually everyone does have mercury build up in their bodies from implantation of such fillings. The large increase in mercury exposure from the newer non-gamma-2 mercury fillings means that only time will tell how much damage has been caused by daily exposure to mercury because of these fillings.
There are many things that make mercury off gas faster, such as having other metals in the mouth like gold crowns, nickel crowns and removable metal bridges. Chewing foods increases the emissions, dramatically, and especially hot liquids, like coffee. Abrasion from chewing gum increases the release of mercury, as does the grinding of teeth during waking or sleeping hours, called “bruxism.”
Mercury amalgam fillings should only be removed by dentists with experience using a safe removal procedure such as the Huggins- Grube Protocol. Such dentists are often experienced with proper evaluation and placement of composite fillings, both of which can be crucial for the success of the treatment. Biocompatibility tests are extremely important in determining which composite materials can be safely used. While composite fillings are a better replacement than metal fillings even in chemically-sensitive individuals, they are not without safety questions. Dr. Huggins not only knew the importance of safe mercury removal, but also the critical component of using the most biocompatible material for the individual patient. There are no one size fits all replacement materials, so he developed and created BioComp Laboratories that tests for compatibility for many materials that will be used to restore the teeth of the specific patient.