It could increase the mercury levels in your blood
Dental surface restorations composed of dental amalgam, a mixture of mercury, silver, tin and other metals, significantly contribute to prolonged mercury levels in the body, according to new research from the University of Georgia’s department of environmental health science in the College of Public Health.
This research, which analyzed data from nearly 15,000 individuals, is the first to demonstrate a relationship between dental fillings and mercury exposure in a nationally representative population. The results were published online last week and will be available in the print edition of the journal Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety in December.
“Tooth decay is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases,” said Lei Yin, a scientist in the department of environmental health science and the study’s lead author. “I think a majority of people have experienced dental fillings, but the kind of materials the dentist uses isn’t something that’s really discussed.”
Mercury exposure from dental fillings is not a new concern, but previous studies were inconsistent and limited, according to Xiaozhong “John” Yu, assistant professor of environmental health science and co-author of the study.
“This study is trying to provide the most accurate levels of exposure, which will form the scientific basis to make future risk assessment,” Yu said, adding that the study was the first to also control for age, education, ethnicity, race, gender, smoking and seafood consumption, which is a known contributor to mercury levels in the body.
The researchers further analyzed exposure by specific types of mercury and found a significant increase in methyl mercury, the most toxic form of mercury, related to dental fillings. Yu said this result suggests the human gut microbiota, a collection of microorganisms living in the intestines, may transform different types of mercury.
Dental amalgam has been the go-to dental filling material for more than 150 years, because it’s affordable and durable. However, about half of the compound contains mercury, a heavy metal known to be toxic at high levels, causing brain, heart, kidney, lung and immune system damage. New research suggests that methyl mercury may cause damage even at low levels.
“As toxicologists, we know that mercury is poison, but it all depends on the dose. So, if you have one dental filling, maybe it’s OK. But if you have more than eight dental filings, the potential risk for adverse effect is higher,” Yu said. People with numerous dental fillings who are also exposed to mercury from other sources, such as seafood or work environments, are most at risk.
The results show that individuals with more than eight fillings had about 150 percent more mercury in their blood than those with none. The average American has three dental fillings, while 25 percent of the population has 11 or more fillings.
According to its website, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers dental amalgam fillings safe for adults, but says, “pregnant women and parents with children under six who are concerned about the absence of clinical data as to long-term health outcomes should talk to their dentist.”
The study also looked at dental composite resins, a mercury-free alternative for dental fillings that can release small amounts of bisphenol A, or BPA, which may cause developmental or reproductive damage. The results found no association between dental fillings and urinary BPA, but further research is needed to understand BPA exposure from resin-based materials.
“It’s important for doctors and patients to be informed in their selections,” Yin said. “We now have an excellent starting point to evaluate the potential risk of dental material on human health.”
About half of all of dentists in the United States have made the choice to stop using amalgam, and its way past time for the other half to follow suit. The fact is that most dentists who continue to use amalgam really don’t believe that amalgam can be harmful to them, their patients or staff. They stick to what they’ve been taught in dental school, choosing not to question the standards for fear of reprisal.
As the number of mercury-free dentists continues to grow, there are more and more dentists who offer a more holistic or “biological” approach to dental care. Therefore it is important that we continue to point out the pitfalls to mercury amalgams, and to urge the other 50 percent to overcome the ignorance that perpetuates its use. Aspiring dentists continue to be taught that the mercury in amalgams is “bound” with the other metals and therefore doesn’t leak, which is why they continue to believe mercury amalgam use is safe. However, by the fact that mercury vapor can be measured as it seeps away from the tip of the root is absolute proof that amalgam fillings can and do leach mercury poisons into the body.
A combination of greed and power has brought about a situation that continues to perpetuate public ignorance on the subject, and as a consequence the Food & Drug Association in partnership with the American Dental Association has for years knowingly concealed the dangers of ‘silver’ amalgam use from the public.
THE MERCURY AND ALZHEIMER’S CONNECTION
Recent studies of the effects of various toxic heavy metals on the brain, specifically; aluminum, lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury, reveal that the most toxic metal is without a doubt, mercury. Scientific research points to the fact that mercury is the most likely culprit underlying much chronic disease, and something the majority of physicians, including dentists, simply are not educated about. Mercury poisoning can result in a variety of complex and health threatening neurological, immunological, and endocrinological problems. It not only exacerbates inflammation, it also impairs the body’s ability to detoxify itself, causing greater susceptibility to diseases in general. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological diseases have all been linked to exposure to mercury, and even trace amounts of mercury can cause the type of damage observed in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
Scientists and researchers now believe Alzheimer’s impairs communication and coordination between cells. The brain has up to a 100 billion nerve cells called neurons and these neurons make up an intricate network or ‘neural super highway’ that requires a great deal of energy and constant and effective waste removal. These processes require a large amount of fuel and oxygen. Heavy metals such as mercury can seriously impair these necessary neurological processes.
It is thought that mercury becomes an aggravating factor for Alzheimer’s, particularly when present in combination with other heavy metals such as zinc, cadmium and lead; a toxic combination that is always present when Alzheimer’s becomes a factor. In other words, even the smallest amounts of mercury work in partnership with other heavy metals to create damaging effects on the brain. In addition, the reaction of dental amalgam mercury combined with toxic substances produced by periodontal disease bacteria very likely enhances the toxicity of the mercury being released. Ultimately, mercury is much more toxic to individuals who are exposed to other heavy metals.
CHOOSING TO GET AN ORAL UP-GRADE
Though the efforts of organizations such as Consumers for Dental Choice which works to get mercury banned from dentistry worldwide, a growing number of consumers are becoming aware of the dangers of mercury amalgams, and are beginning to realize what a toxic mess they may have in their own mouths. As a result, many people today are looking for ways to reduce the mercury impact on their immune systems by replacing mercury amalgams with a healthier composite. However, it is important to realize that nothing has the potential to release more mercury vapor directly into the body’s sensitive system, than the removal of an amalgam filling. For this reason it is highly important to make sure that your silver fillings are removed by a dentist who has been expertly trained in this procedure. The removal of mercury laced fillings requires careful isolation of the filled tooth from the rest of the oral cavity through the use of a rubber dam. This combined with vacuums providing suction in and around the mouth aimed at capturing mercury while the extraction is taking place, helps to reduce over-exposure during the delicate removal process. But not all dentists are yet aware of how important such safety precautions are when dealing with amalgams.
Because of mercury exposure from amalgam in the workplace, studies now clearly demonstrate that dental workers have elevated systemic mercury levels. Up to this point, few of these dental workers – mostly women of childbearing age – have been given protective gear or filtering masks to minimize exposure to mercury. Due to the persistent misinformation about the dangers of mercury poisoning caused by dental amalgams, many of these people are not even aware of the risks of occupational mercury exposure. As a result, an alarming number of cases having to do with neurological problems, reproductive failures, and birth defects caused by amalgam exposure in the workplace are being reported by dental workers all across the globe.
AMALGAM REMOVAL REQUIRES SPECIFIC PROCEDURES
Biological dentists are well aware of the dangers presented by a wide range of toxic materials including mercury amalgams. Following a very specific procedure during the removal process will help to keep you (and your dentist) safe by:
Supplying the patient with an alternative air source along with instructions on how to not to breathe through the mouth during the procedure
The use of a cold water spray to help minimize toxic mercury vapors
Installing a rubber dam in the mouth to help the patient avoid swallowing or inhaling any toxins
Employing a high volume evacuator in the mouth at all times to safely remove the mercury vapor
Providing instruction on rising the mouth immediately after the fillings have been removed
Immediately cleaning both the patient’s and the dental workers protective wear once the fillings are removed
Proficient use of room air purifiers
For a complete description of how to safely remove mercury amalgam, the website by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT).
More information:“The Scientific Case Against Mercury Amalgam.”
The biggest culprit in tooth decay today is sugars found in processed foods, candy, soft drinks, sweetened juices, and others foodstuff. Fructose, lactose, and glucose are all sugars that cause a rapid production of acid and the resulting destruction of teeth enamel, leading to tooth decay. The carbohydrates in sugars cause bacteria to grow rapidly, breaking down the body’s natural ability to resist attack. Research is indicating that even if you brush all of the offending sugars away from your teeth, just the simple act of eating these kinds of foods can increase the likelihood that your teeth will decay.
Cavities are formed when bacteria feed upon food particles that cling to the teeth or become stuck in crevices or grooves on the surface of teeth. In particular, the bacteria that are responsible for cavities love carbohydrates. As they feed, the bacteria secrete acid that compromises the integrity of the enamel which normally helps to protect teeth. The rate of secretion depends upon the type of carbohydrate that the bacteria are feeding upon – in other words, some sugars are worse than others.
To compound the problem, research conducted on lab rats at Loma Linda University has indicated that there is a definite relationship between what kind of food we eat and our ability to maintain good oral health, regardless of how well we brush and floss. In that study Dr. Ralph Steinman injected rats with a glucose solution so that the sugars introduced into the system would avoid contact with the teeth entirely. He found that glucose levels reversed the normal flow of fluid in the dentin tubules, resulting in all of the test animals developing severe tooth decay. Although animal studies may not be entirely applicable to the human situation, the results clearly point to a need to take a closer look at how nutrition can impact oral health.
THE BIGGER PICTURE ON CAVITY PREVENTION
Good oral health is not just about limiting sugar as a way to avoid cavities. It’s also about learning how key nutrients such as minerals, antioxidants and vitamins can support strong teeth, healthy gums and bone. One supplement that is showing good results at reducing the risk of cavities is vitamin D. Vitamin D induces the production of naturally occurring enzymes called cathelicidin and defensins in the mouth, enzymes that support available antibacterial properties in the saliva. Together these emzymes create a powerful antimicrobial peptide or protein which attacks oral bacteria known to cause cavities and tooth decay.
To take it to the next level, vitamin D taken in combination with a calcium supplement is proving to be a powerful blend of supplements that can prevent cavities. Not only is vitamin D naturally produced by the body in response to sunlight, but it comes with no side effects (unlike fluoride) – particularly when activated naturally though exposures to sunlight and/or as long as proper dosages are followed when using supplements. Foods rich in vitamin D include: shiitake and button mushrooms, mackerel and salmon, herring, tuna, catfish and eggs – among others – while green leafy vegetables are a good source for calcium – and calcium we already know it is necessary for bone health.
RESTORING HEALTH TO TEETH & GUMS
It is possible to change the course of tooth decay and increase oral healthfulness by maintaining good oral hygiene, adopting a routine of good nutrition and taking supplements aimed at increasing the health of teeth and gums. With just a little effort, it is also possible to strengthen and restore the teeth to perfect health.
People tend to think that teeth are something other than living organs – which is what they actually are. Having an understanding that teeth are alive gives us a chance to rethink how we treat our teeth, and points to the role nutrition can have on teeth and gums. Teeth are nourished both through the bloodstream as it flows into the root to the tooth’s pulp chamber and from saliva and food as it passes through the mouth. Therefore, it is vitally important to nourish the whole body in a manner that allows the blood to be rich in all elements the teeth require to maintain optimal healthfulness.
A healthy diet and body helps to ensure that the saliva will be high in calcium and phosphate. Through this process the daily deterioration caused by chewing and eating acidic foods, commonly called ‘demineralisation’ will be reduced by constant remineralization via healthy saliva balanced in the proper pH range and naturally filled with the necessary and important minerals. In other words, in addition to healthy supply of minerals provided by the bloodstream to the pulp of the tooth — inside the mouth the quality of saliva is of crucial importance in the prevention of tooth cavities since it is this medium which bathes and carries nutrition to teeth.
YOUR HEALTHY MOUTH
Recommended for healthy teeth: Calcium-rich foods, such as low-fat dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables (for vitamins A and C), filtered water and tea
Not recommended for healthy teeth: sticky foods that lodge between the teeth, snacking between meals, sweet drinks and snacks, acidic drinks
Natural dentistry has long believed that by maintaining a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise and using vitamin supplements a person can prevent, if not cure, tooth and gum disease. The best way to ensure that your teeth will be healthy for your whole life is to adopt a healthy eating plan, take supplements if you need to, and most importantly continue to practice good oral care and hygiene, which should include having your teeth professionally cleaned and seeing your dentist regularly.