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.”
Holistic dentistry talks a lot about the dangers of silver amalgam fillings which can contain alarming amounts of mercury. Although we may be making some progress in regards to raising awareness on this important issue, all too many Americans still have silver mercury amalgam fillings. Some estimates say that up to 85 percent of Americans today have at least one silver filling and each of those fillings contain approximately 50 percent mercury. Americans and Europeans actually have more mercury in their mouths than exists in all manmade products combined – estimated at more than 1,000 tons.
In the United States, outside of dental use, mercury exposure generally originates from pollution from coal plants which in turn pollute ground soil and waterways and infect fish populations. For an expanded perspective on mercury use on the global scale we invite you to view a YouTube video created by the Blacksmith Institute. The video series called Mercury: the Burning Issue shows how Indonesian miners use raw mercury to discharge small amounts of gold from rock. This practice of drawing gold out using mercury is quite literally hundreds of years old. Ancient Romans were known to force slaves and criminals to mine in exactly this same manner using mercury. The mercury method is fast and cheap, creating a cleaner gold product than panning. Today, with gold values at over $1,000 an ounce, the poor and the greedy find it difficult to gold mining in any other way.
WHY MERCURY USE IS A PROBLEM FOR YOU
Mercury mining is a concern for everyone, no matter where on the planet we live. Although today mercury is mined mostly in China where it is supplied strictly to local users, most of the mercury in use in third world countries is filtering onto the black market from Europe and the United States. Ironically, mercury recyclers are collecting the substance from discarded light bulbs and other mercury laden devices with the intent of proper usage — however, illegal brokers are largely unregulated by any government entity, and this mercury is easily conveyed to market. Many of the countries involved in this type of mining ban the import of industrial mercury, but they can import all the so called “dental mercury” they can get their hands on.
Mercury is so toxic to the human body that when it comes in contact with skin, miners are exposed to high levels of the substance and as a result are rapidly dying from the primitive working conditions. Some 15 million gold miners, including 4.5 million women and no less than 600,000 children, are poisoned by direct contact with toxic mercury. In addition, mercury pollution flows out from the gold mines directly into rivers, oceans and seas, contaminating seafood far and wide. In this way, mercury is accumulating in the food chain, so that families and bystanders are being poisoned as they eat meals and generally go about their lives.
A SIMPLE SOLUTION TO A DIFFICULT PROBLEM
Mercury dealers argue against regulating the use of mercury, insisting that by restricting mercury trade black marketers will be forced to go into the mercury mining business. However, these video showcase a solution that has recently been introduced to the miners – a simple system called a retort that can recapture mercury used in the gold mining process. This retort has been relatively successful in reducing the amount of toxic mercury emissions. ‘Mercury: the Burning Issue’ documents Blacksmith Institute’s project in Indonesia aimed at reducing mercury poisoning from the gold mining process, thereby saving the lives of innumerable miners, locals and anyone who might be contaminated by mercury infected fish from virtually anywhere the world.
To learn more about how Blacksmith is working with UNIDO’s Global Mercury Project in Senegal, Indonesia, Mozambique, and Cambodia visit their website or log onto YouTube to view the videos. To learn more about the use and hazards of mercury in silver dental amalgams visit “The Scientific Case Against Mercury Amalgam.”
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.”
A new movie available for download and viewing online called ‘Mercury Undercover’ is exposing the abhorrent practices going on at the national level that prevent mainstream Americans from learning the truth about poison contamination from dental amalgam. Mercury Undercover illustrates all the evidence about mercury contamination, and features interviews by doctors, renowned scientists, environmental experts and survivors of mercury poisoning.
The disturbing issues brought to light in this film are geared to alarm viewers just enough to cause them to pause before buying and consuming fish products and to take into consideration the potential ramifications of their next dental procedure.
A few points brought up by this movie include:
The Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, suggested thirteen years ago that dental amalgams could account for up to 75 percent of a person’s daily mercury exposure. There is approximately 1,000 mg of mercury in the typical silver amalgam filling, nearly one million times more mercury than is present in contaminated sea food.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that between 3-17 micrograms of mercury are released daily into the body by stimulating the filling through chewing, brushing and grinding, compared to only 2-5 micrograms from fish and all other environmental sources combined. An editorial in The New England Journal of Medicine also stated that dental amalgams were “possibly the chief source of exposure [to mercury] of a large segment of the U.S. population”. As shocking as it is, Americans and Europeans actually have more mercury in their mouths than exists in all manmade products combined – estimated at more than 1,000 tons. More than 180 million Americans of all ages host a total of 1.46 billion restored teeth, and the vast majority of those restorations are silver amalgams containing mercury. This measures out to about 75 percent of adults being exposed daily through silver amalgam fillings.
The 2nd largest mercury polluters in the U.S. are dental practices. As a result of their continued use of mercury amalgam fillings, another 29.7 tons of mercury is discharged into the air, water and soil each year from installation and removal of amalgams. Mercury coming from dental offices is reported to be the largest source of mercury found in wastewater today. According to an article authored by Michael Bender (co-founder of the Mercury Policy Project), at least 40 percent of mercury streaming into public water treatment plants starts out in the dental office. And wastewater treatment plants are not set up to remove mercury, so it ends up in waterways and oceans where it contaminates marine life before cycling back into the food chain and ending up on your dinner plate. Ultimately, when you consider the costs associated with environmental cleanup dental amalgams are actually the most costly type of dental fillings on the market – in terms of environmental damage and harm to living organisms, including humans.
And a point of our own:
Amalgams found in cadavers also post a risk to the environment. Emissions from the combustion of mercury fillings during the cremation process act as a major contaminator of air, waterways, soil, wildlife and food.
No less than 7-9 metric tons of mercury seeps into the atmosphere annually during the cremation process. As a result, it is expected that by the year 2020 the cremation of human remains will be the largest single cause of mercury pollution. And, it all started in the dental office.
MERCURY AMALGAMS ARE NOT AS CHEAP AS DENTISTS WOULD LIKE YOU TO THINK
Amalgam fillings contain more mercury than any other product sold in America. And they are highly profitable to a dentist, which explains why it is so difficult to get them to use healthier composite products. Dentists can install amalgam fillings much faster than many composite fillings, and once installed they keep the patient coming back for repairs (due to the damaging effects of metal fillings on the structure of the tooth).
The average “amalgam” filling is typically a mixture of silver, copper, tin and zinc with an equal amount of mercury (up to 50 percent mercury). Fillings naturally deteriorate over time, leaching the various metal components into the body in the process and they react to substances such as acid in the mouth, causing the filling to deteriorate even more rapidly. The deteriorating vapor then enters the body and is subsequently inhaled into the lungs where it is absorbed into the blood stream. Likewise, as we eat, mercury is incorporated into food, is then swallowed and digested and absorbed into the bloodstream where it is distributed to more vulnerable tissues and organs. Mercury vapors readily pass through cell membranes, across the blood-brain barrier and into the central nervous system, where it causes psychological, neurological, and immunological problems. Children and fetuses, whose brains are still developing, are most at risk, but virtually anyone exposed to mercury in this way is at risk.
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 50 percent of them continue to believe mercury amalgam use is safe. However, by the fact that mercury vapor can be measured at all 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.
STRIVING FOR CHANGE
The Mercury Undercover website suggests specific goals and objectives that need to be addressed to stop silver mercury amalgam use in America:
Disclose mercury and end the “silver deception”; stop the ADA/dental board gag rule Inform consumers and dentists of the massive environmental harm caused by amalgam Make dentists (preferably those who perpetuate the use of mercury laced amalgams) pay for the massive harm to the environment; this would make the amalgam cost-prohibitive
Ban amalgam for children and pregnant women Introduce ART (Atraumatic restorative treatment), a safe, low-cost dental filling material that requires only hand instruments to install, and can even be done by a dental hygienist
End amalgam primacy in insurance plans
All of these points are excellent suggestions and honorable objectives. If you would like to help, The Consumers for Dental Choice has launched a worldwide Campaign for Mercury-Free Dentistry which outlines specific actions you can take on local, state, and national levels. Just visit their website to get started. They also suggest:
If you are not already seeing a mercury-free dentist, ask your dentist to switch to mercury-free dentistry.
If you work for a company that covers dental fillings, ask if they will cover composites or ART or other alternatives to amalgam.
If you know your Mayor or a member of your City or Town Council, consider asking if they will do what some California cities are doing: pass a resolution calling for an end to amalgam and a request that dentists in your town stop using amalgam.
And, write the Director of FDA’s Center for Devices, Jeff Shuren, email@example.com Ask Dr Shuren why FDA continues to ignore the scientists and covers up the mercury from American parents and consumers. Ask when FDA is going to get in step with the world on mercury.