This week marks the fifth annual Mercury-Free Dentistry Week, a campaign coordinated by Dr. Mercola and Consumers for Dental Choice to raise awareness of dental amalgam’s toxic burden, the alternative of biological dentistry, and the promise of a mercury-free future.
Our office began the transition to mercury-free in the mid-1970s, as Dr. Verigin began investigating his own increasing symptoms following amalgam removal that had been performed rather carelessly on him a few years prior. While in Colorado Springs for a meeting on TMJ issues, he also met with mercury-free pioneer Hal Huggins. He began regularly attending meetings around the country where he was introduced to a lot of eye-opening new health research and literature.
“One of the books that really got me excited,” he says, “was on chelation therapy. I had no idea what it was, but after reading it, I knew what the problem was.”
Treating himself, Dr. V eventually became symptom-free. Ever better composites became available for our patients. Increasing numbers of them said “no” to mercury amalgam. By the early 1980s, our office was 100% mercury-free.
Still, Dr. V continued his studies, learning all he could about the remarkable medical and dental science being done in Germany by the likes of Reinhold Voll, Ralf Turk, Fritz Kramer and so many others. In 1985, he and colleague Dr. Ed Arana formed what they then called the American Academy of Biological Dentistry (now known as the International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine) to bring these scientists and clinicians to the States to teach them and other American dentists all they could about the relationships between the teeth and the rest of the body, the intricate and dynamic relationships between oral and whole body health.
Going mercury-free – and mercury-safe – was just an early (and critical) step on what continues to be an incredible journey.
In light of this week’s mercury-free celebration, we share with you one of Dr. V’s early columns from our quarterly newsletter Biosis – now nearing the end of our 11th year of publication – in which he talks a bit more about his own relationship with mercury and how it changed over the years:
Mercury in the Mouth: Are the Health Threats for Real?
When I was a boy, every time I had a cavity, I would get what the dentist called a “silver filling.” And each time, my mother would give the dentist the most corroded dime she could find in her purse. He’d dip it into a puddle of the mercury to give her a sparkling coin that looked brand new.
Whenever I caught a cold or virus, my mother was sure to check my temperature with a mercury-filled thermometer. When I scraped or cut my skin, I would cry, scream and holler – not from the injury itself but the sting that followed her saturating the wound with methylate. When I got my vaccinations, the live viruses always had been preserved with thimerosol.
Back then, all this mercury didn’t really concern anyone. But the times are changing. Or are they?
In dental school, I was trained to restore teeth with mercury. Though they were called “silver” fillings, mercury was – and is – the main ingredient: 53% of the material, balanced by a mix of silver, copper, tin and zinc. Still, we were taught to call them “silver” or “amalgam.”
What we weren’t taught was that they could be a possible hazard to human health. In fact, our teachers insisted that mercury amalgams had improved our health and quality of life! Meanwhile, they spent a great deal of time telling us how to store and dispose of the waste so as not to contaminate the environment.
Some 20 years later, by the time I finished attending a seminar at the University of Hawaii, I was convinced of the danger of these fillings. Our office quit using mercury completely.
Mercury is a persistent, bio-accumulative toxin. It can exist in one or more forms: elemental, inorganic and organic. It does not degrade in the outside environment or the body. But it can change from one form to another and circulate throughout the environment.
After a dentist places elemental mercury into a patient’s teeth, chewing, grinding and like actions cause mercury to outgas from the restorations. Microbes in the patient’s body convert the mercury to an organic and far more toxic form. This methylmercury then concentrates in the patient’s tissues, just as in the environment it concentrates in the tissues of fish, shrimp, oysters and other sea creatures. There, it gradually moves up the food chain to the seafood-consuming public.
After years of denial, corporate medicine now admits that the outgassing of mercury from fillings does occur. Yet still they insist that it is not a problem. Even some “alternative” practitioners seem to buy this line, including Andrew Weil, MD, the Harvard-trained author of several books on diet, nutrition and holistic healing, and a frequent Oprah guest.
Weil’s view was recently brought to my attention by a client who had experienced fantastic physical, emotional and spiritual benefits through amalgam-removal and a precise detox program that included sauna, massage and oral and IV chelation. Arriving for her semi-annual dental health maintenance visit, she asked if we wanted a “great laugh.” Then she handed us an article from the June 2005 issue of Dr. Weil’s newsletter Self Healing, with this passage highlighted:
Last year, an expert panel did conclude that some mercury vapor is released from dental fillings and absorbed by the body. But most of the people studied had mercury levels at or lower than what’s considered harmful. In fact, according to one expert, you’d have to have about 500 mercury fillings in your mouth to produce toxic levels. With 32 teeth, that’s impossible. Plus, the panel found no link between mercury fillings and diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. (By the way, the mercury used in fillings is a different variety – and probably less harmful than what’s found in contaminated fish.)
My bottom line: I used to have a mouthful of mercury fillings, but as they have broken down over the years, I’ve had them replaced with either gold or composite resin fillings. I wouldn’t get any new mercury fillings, although I have to point out that we don’t know the safety of these other types of fillings, either. However, I don’t think it’s worth the trauma and expense to have mercury fillings taken out until they break down. Removing them may cause even greater exposure to mercury than leaving them in.
I wholeheartedly disagree.
There are a number of excellent websites with scientific articles and information that show why mercury is a poor choice to put in any tooth. Among them:
- Huggins Applied Healing
- International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine
- TALK International
- Mercury Poisoned
Also be sure to see the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology’s video Smoking Teeth, an excerpt of which is available on the IAOMT website, as well as YouTube. You’ll see exactly what outgassing looks like and learn of its terrible effects on the body.
Although most conventional dentists show few signs of moving from the status quo to scientific reality, the public is. A recent Zogby survey of Connecticut consumers, for instance, showed that more than 80% support a ban on the continued use of mercury fillings. Now if only the “professionals” would listen to them and stop deliberately going against both their wishes and interests by putting more mercury into their mouths.