If you are like most Americans, or most people in the world for that matter, you probably have mercury and/or other metal fillings in your mouth. Mercury fillings, also known as "silver fillings" or "amalgam" fillings, are the most common fillings in the world. Called silver because of their color, they actually contain from 45% to 52% mercury. Copper, tin, silver, and zinc make up the remaining volume.

There is much discussion in the dental profession today about the safety of mercury fillings and metal containing dental restorations. This is not new. The original dental association of the 1830's and 1840's, The National Association of Dental Surgeons, would ban as unethical any dentist who used mercury in a patient. When half the dentist's used it anyway the effectiveness of the organization was diminished and it was replaced by the American Dental Association, which favored the use of the cheaper mercury fillings over the more costly but safer gold fillings. Today members of the American Dental Association (ADA - the political lobbying arm of dentistry) who even talk against mercury run not just the possibility of expulsion, but of having the ADA put pressure on state regulatory agencies to remove the license of any dentist who mentions mercury might be toxic. The ADA even calls it "unethical and unprofessional conduct" to inform patients of the potential dangers of the most hazardous metal known to mankind.

For decades the ADA has steadfastly stated that mercury was tightly bound within amalgam and could not possibly get out. Chemists and toxicologists, on the other hand, point out that not only does mercury escape, but its release is greatly enhanced by chewing and heat. The World Health Organization has published research, which shows that between 3-17 micrograms of mercury is released into the body every day simply by chewing on dental mercury fillings. Of this amount between 74 and 90% is absorbed and combines with body tissues. Scientists point out that industrial meters held over a filling for 10 seconds after chewing can register levels higher than the EPA allows us to be exposed to for a few hours a day. Fillings, of course, emit mercury vapor 24-hours per day. Fish and other environmental pollutants provide only 0.5-2 micrograms of mercury. At present there is no known safe limit of mercury ingestion. Mercury tends to accumulate within your body, for we, as humans do not have a good mechanism for eliminating this toxic material.

Yielding to scientific pressures, the ADA now admits that mercury is indeed released from the amalgam fillings even after placement, but states that it is perfectly safe and still adamantly supports the use of amalgam fillings. They claim they are safe based on 150 years of use and that there is no scientific evidence showing mercury exposure from dental fillings causes any known disease. There is also no scientific evidence that shows its safety, and the mixed dental amalgam has never had FDA research or approval. If it were to be classified as a class II medical device and made to undergo the rigorous testing needed to prove safety, it would never pass. The ADA does admit there is a potential hazard for dental office personnel with the handling of dental amalgam and recommend that dentists use a "NO-TOUCH" technique, because dentists and their staff might become contaminated. They admit that the "scrap" amalgam, the excess amalgam left over after filling your tooth, also constitutes a hazardous threat because of continuous vapor release. OSHA requires that this scrap, the same amalgam just placed in your mouth, must be stored in an airtight container so as not to expose employees to hazardous vapor. Should a filling be replaced, the amalgam removed from your tooth should be treated as a hazardous waste and the EPA will soon have severe limitations on placing the scrap amalgam in the sewer system. But still today the ADA and other governmental agencies tell us that the mercury in your mouth is perfectly safe. Scientists say this is a ridiculous statement that is in violation of science and common sense.

If mercury is so dangerous, shouldn't we all run out and have our fillings removed? The answer is a great big NO! The process of removing amalgams can generate mercury vapor and particulates many times greater than leaving them alone. This may have disastrous effects on a patient's health. They should not be removed except by a highly trained professional using exacting methods to help insure a patient's protection. In addition any patient suspecting a potential health problem or contemplating amalgam or metal removal should consult with a physician or advanced health professional specially trained to recognize, test, and treat patients undergoing metal removal. They will be able to monitor your health and protect you from the potential toxic effects of metal removal. Your health is important and it is vital not to exacerbate any condition by the indiscriminate and improper removal of metals.

Another issue with mercury removal is compatibility - or rather a lack of compatibility of the new filling material. Many of the replacement materials, including many of the composite resins, can be almost as damaging to the immune system of susceptible patients. Elements of many replacement materials can include formaldehyde, hydroqiunone, phenol, nickel, beryllium, styrene, strontium, toluene, urethane and xylene. In addition many composites and even porcelains contain various amounts of metal oxides and aluminum oxides. If you replace one toxic material for another your immune system may react in an entirely different way, and may further compromise your health. Many tests are available today, which help determine which materials would be best suited for your body. Recent research and compatibility testing has implicated many other metals, including dental gold with its varied alloyed metals, as having potential negative health effects. These negative effects may include reaction to the various corrosion byproducts leached into the tissues by most metals as well as the generation of electrogalvanic currents and EMF. Even a single amalgam with it's various alloys generates, in the dielectric medium of saliva, a measurable electrical potential

In regards to dental biomaterials, one recent breakthrough which has shown a high degree of both immunological and neurological biocompatibility is a proprietary hydrothermal low-fusing ceramic. Recent studies have shown this unique material to posses remarkable strength and enamel-like wear characteristics when properly fused to existing tooth structure. Successful experience with this material has allowed us to truly "restore" teeth and not just "fill" them.

After removal of all incompatible substances and replacement with biocompatible materials, the final process of healing begins. We feel that it is very important for the patient to follow the guidelines and recommendations of their attending health professional through this final phase. It is our goal to establish this team approach and have a close working relationship with the referring practitioner in order to insure optimal patient health.

Please contact our office for continued updates on advancements in dental material science.

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