In 2000, Freya Koss filed a personal malpractice suit against her former dentist. Her complaint
alleged that the dentist had exposed her to dangerous levels of mercury vapor during the unsafe removal of an existing amalgam filling and replacement with a new one. Further, she alleged that her injuries were due to numerous deviations from the acceptable standard of care in 1998, the most significant being the use of liquid mercury rather than a pre-encapsulated form of dental amalgam. Secondly, the liquid mercury amalgam was inadequately mixed in an antiquated and damaged amalgamator, whose 1941 manufacturing date was confirmed by the company’s original records.
In addition, the complaint alleged that the dentist did not follow recommended precautions to prevent inhalation of mercury vapors, known to cause harm to the nervous system. Also, the dentist had failed to inform her of the risks involved in the drilling out and replacement of mercury-containing amalgam fillings.
After nearly 15 years of struggle, the case was quietly settled out of court in her favor last autumn. The evidence that she had compiled during this time and through ensuing years of activism against dental mercury was, in a word, “indisputable.”
And the scientific record against amalgam continues to grow. Shortly after Ms. Koss’ settlement, research published in Environmental Health provided yet more evidence of amalgam’s negative impact on human health.
Noting the “debate over whether the level of exposure resulting from dental amalgam fillings is sufficiently high to produce toxic effects in the body,” the authors aimed “to determine if mercury from amalgam fillings is associated with risk of adverse health effects.” To do so, they analyzed data from three different groups of participants: an amalgam group, a removal group and an amalgam-free control group. The researchers compared urine mercury levels, as well as changes over time in self-reported symptoms commonly associated with mercury toxicity.
The results were plain: “Our findings suggest that mercury exposure from amalgam fillings adversely impact[s] health and therefore [is] a health risk.”
At baseline, individuals with dental amalgam fillings have double the measured urine mercury compared to a control group of persons who have never had amalgam fillings. Removal of amalgam fillings decreases measured urine mercury to levels in persons without amalgam fillings. Although urine mercury levels in our sample are considered by Health Canada to be too low to pose health risks, removal of amalgam fillings reduced the likelihood of self-reported symptom deterioration and increased the likelihood of symptom improvement in comparison to people who retained their amalgam fillings.
But the moral of the story is not “go get your amalgams removed at once!” (No conscientious dentist would ever point-blank recommend that.) It’s don’t let them be placed to begin with.
If you have them already and are experiencing symptoms you believe may be related, you should first be evaluated by the appropriate physicians and dentists to determine whether they are indeed a problem for you. If removal is recommended, proper pre- and post-surgery protocols should be in place for your safety and to support your body’s ability to detox and heal. (Ours is here.)
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