In an age of becoming more conscious of all the influences, ingredients and factors affecting our body, dental amalgam (mercury-containing) fillings have raised a pressing concern. Mercury itself is classified as a neurotoxin. It has been scientifically proven that mercury fillings in your mouth continuously release small amounts of toxic vapor into your body every time you eat, drink, brush your teeth, clench your jaw, chew gum and so forth. Over time, exposure to these toxic vapors can cause chronic mercury poisoning.
But what exactly are amalgam fillings and why do they pose so many risks to our health? And for those of us who have metal in our mouths, how do we go about safely removing it? In this blog we will cover the following topics:
- What are Amalgam Fillings?
- Why is Mercury Used in Fillings? A Brief History of Amalgams
- Mercury/Amalgam Facts
- Why is Mercury Unsafe?
- The Dangers of Amalgam Fillings
- Are my Amalgams Causing a Problem? And Why Is It a Problem Now?
- Safe Amalgam Filling Removal
- The Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART)
- Interested in Removing Your Mercury Fillings?
What are Amalgam Fillings?
Amalgam fillings (often referred to as ‘silver fillings’ due to their silver-looking appearance) are made of mercury, silver, tin, copper and zinc. Although the name ‘silver filling’ implies that it is made mostly out of silver, the reality is that the filling is comprised of about 50% mercury.
Mercury’s chemical composition contains unique properties which bind all the metals together to create a durable tooth filling material called amalgam. Amalgam is then used to fill cavities and decaying teeth.
So Why is Mercury Used in Fillings? A Brief History of Amalgams.
Mercury has been used in dental fillings since the early 1800’s, but has been an almost constant source of controversy since.
In 1819, a mercury-based dental amalgam filling was invented by an English Chemist and was introduced in England and France soon after. In the 1830’s, amalgam fillings were introduced in the United States.
Shortly after the introduction of amalgam, various harmful effects were widely reported. In the 1840’s, due to concerns about mercury poisoning, the American Society of Dental Surgeons denounced the use of mercury amalgams. It accused dentists who used mercury amalgams of committing malpractice and required its members to sign a pledge to abstain from using them. At this point, many dentists vowed to stop using the material.
However, despite this backlash, the majority of dentists in the United States continued to use amalgam fillings because they were cheaper, faster and easier to place.
In 1859, the pro-amalgam faction in America founded its own dental society, and became what is known today as the American Dental Association (ADA). Since its formation, the ADA has strongly defended the use of amalgam fillings in dentistry.
Over the last 150+ years, the amalgam debate has continued to rage on and has faced controversy ever since.
- Mercury is the most toxic non-radioactive element on earth.
- An amalgam filling usually contains 50–55% mercury.
- The average adult has 10 amalgam fillings in their mouth.
- The EPA has classified dental amalgam as hazardous waste.
- The FDA has banned every mercury containing substance except amalgam.
- In California, patients have to be informed about the hazards of mercury.
- Many European nations have banned or restricted the use of amalgam fillings due to its proven toxic and poisonous effects.
Why is Mercury Unsafe?
As mercury makes up the greater part of amalgam fillings among its other constituents, it has a far more significant impact. On the other hand, only trace amounts of copper, tin, and zinc can be found in the filling making these elements less concerning.
According to the US National Library of Medicine, mercury is considered a highly toxic element impacting the environment, adults and children. It is especially dangerous to developing infants and fetuses, and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should take extra precaution regarding mercury exposure.
Studies demonstrate that there is no known safe level of exposure to mercury. In fact, it is the most toxic non-radioactive element on earth.
The Dangers of Amalgam Fillings
Despite mercury’s toxicity, amalgam fillings are incredibly commonplace in the United States. In fact, is estimated over 100 million Americans have a silver filling. And the average adult has 10 amalgam fillings in their mouth.
If you have an amalgam filling (or 10!), a small amount of mercury from your filling (up to 20 micrograms per day) is released every time you chew. Further, drinking and eating foods/liquids at higher temperatures (tea, coffee, soup, etc.) as well as chewing gum can initiate an even higher amount of mercury released into the body from amalgam fillings. The longer you have mercury fillings in your mouth, the more it will continue to build up in your body, affecting your overall health and wellbeing.
The health consequences caused by mercury amalgam fillings are alarming. Amalgam fillings account for the main source of today’s mercury exposure and are one of the top contributing causes of mercury poisoning.
Side effects from mercury poisoning can include:
- Heavy metal poisoning symptoms (irritability, lack of concentration, anxiety, muscle pain and tremors)
- Nerve damage
- Kidney problems
- Respiratory failure
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Long term brain damage
Current research is also now linking mercury amalgam fillings to other health complications such as infertility, Alzheimer’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
Your best option is to remove your amalgam fillings as soon as possible. The good news is amalgam fillings can be safely removed and replaced with a non-toxic composite material. A holistic or biological dentist near you who adheres to the guidelines set by the International Academy of Oral Medicine & Technology (IAOMT) can perform this procedure.
Are my Amalgams Causing a Problem?
Sadly, the effects of mercury and heavy metal poisoning are some of the most difficult to diagnose. How does a patient or doctor connect such symptoms as irritability, anxiety, muscle pain, tremors, nerve damage or kidney problems to metals in their mouths?
And, how does a physician measure these symptoms? It is a classic problem of dose and duration. For example, if a patient drinks a bottle of Drano (high dose, short duration) and dies, it is quite simple to make the connection between the cause and the result.
Now, take the amount of mercury released from a mouthful of amalgam fillings over a period of 30 years. Suddenly, the connection becomes much more difficult to make.
And Why Is It a Problem Now?
Over the first 150 years that mercury fillings were used, Americans led a much different lifestyle from today. Today, consider what we are potentially exposed to just from our diet alone! Hormones, pesticides, steroids, antibiotics and preservatives just to name a few. Add to that, the fact that many foods (even ones we think are good) may have greatly diminished nutritional value, electro-magnetic and chemical pollution, stress…you can see that today’s bodies are pushed to the brink.
Maybe the best analogy is that our body has a filtration system that works like a sponge. Eventually, the system becomes saturated and overloaded. It is at this point that the disease process takes hold. One of the problems with mercury is not just that it is toxic on its own, but that it compounds other adverse environmental factors.
Removing the mercury from your mouth, detoxifying your body and adopting a healthy lifestyle are crucial first steps in achieving optimal health.
In many of Europe’s alternative clinics, the first doctor a patient sees is the dentist. They believe that it is impossible to achieve good health as long as the mouth is not healthy.
Safe Amalgam Filling Removal
Despite what the ADA would have you believe; mercury is clearly poisonous to the body and certainly should not reside within our mouths. If you are living with amalgam fillings, even if they are not causing you any noticeable side-effects, it’s best to error on the side of caution. Your best course of action is to have them removed from your mouth and replaced with a durable, non-toxic, biocompatible alternative.
That said, as important as it is to have the mercury and metals removed from our mouth, it is equally (or more) important to find an experienced mercury free dentist who utilizes proper amalgam removal protocols in accordance with the IAOMT. This is one of the many reasons to choose a biological dentist.
Removing amalgam fillings can release mercury vapor into the air which can then be absorbed into the body by inhaling or ingesting the vapors. This is dangerous not only for the dental patient, but the dentist, or any other people within close proximity to the treatment.
A skilled biological or holistic dentist who specializes in the safe removal of amalgam fillings can safely remove your silver fillings and protect you from any danger of additional mercury exposure.
At Integrative Dental Solutions, we practice the Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART), going even above and beyond the IAOMT’s removal protocols.
The Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART):
In our office, we protect our patients from additional mercury exposure by providing the safest, most advanced mercury removal protocols in in the industry, going even above and beyond IAOMT removal protocols. It’s called the Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART).
The SMART steps/precautions include the following:
- Prior to the procedure, the patient will rinse and swallow charcoal, chlorella or a similar solution to act as an absorbent for any mercury vapor or amalgam particles.
- Consider the appropriate nutritional support and detoxification before, during and after amalgam removal.
- Install an amalgam separator for collecting mercury amalgam waste to prevent environmentally harmful discharge into the water.
- Install room air purifiers or ionizers and fans for everyone’s well-being and open windows if possible to reduce mercury concentration in the air.
- As amalgam particles can find their way from the filling to anywhere on the body of the patient, dentist, or other dental personnel, each person in the room should wear a protective gown and cover.
- All dental associates must wear gloves, face shields and hair coverings. Additionally, all dental personnel should use a respiratory grade mask designed specifically for mercury capture or a properly-sealed oxygen mask.
- To ensure the patient does not inhale any mercury vapor or amalgam residue, the patient should receive an oxygen nasal mask and should be instructed not to breathe through their mouth during treatment.
- A non-latex dental dam is to be properly placed and sealed in the patient’s mouth along with a saliva ejector placed under the dam to reduce mercury exposure.
- Upon the amalgam filling removal, an oral aerosol vacuum is to be used within 2-4 inches from the patient’s mouth helping to minimize mercury exposure.
- Keep the fillings cool by using cold water spray with copious amounts of water.
- Use a high-volume evacuator tip near the tooth to safely evacuate mercury vapor.
- The amalgam should be separated into sections using a small diameter carbide drill and removed in as large of pieces as possible.
- Efficiently removing the amalgam particles will allow for a safer treatment, so a high-speed evacuation device is required.
- Wash and vacuum away mercury alloy particles as soon as they are generated.
- Rinse the patient’s mouth thoroughly with water and again rinsed with a charcoal, chlorella, or similarly absorbent slurry.
- Immediately change the patients’ protective wear and clean their face.
- Lastly, all dentists must comply with federal, state, and local regulations addressing the proper handling, cleaning, and disposal of mercury discharge, contaminated clothing, equipment, and all surfaces within the dental office.
- In addition to IAOMT amalgam removal protocols, Integrative Dental Solutions employs a high power vacuum system that vents all mercury vapors directly to the outside of the building. We also have all patients rinse with Bentonite, a chelating agent that binds any loose mercury particles.
Interested in Removing Your Mercury Fillings?
At Integrative Dental Solutions, we recognize the dangers of mercury poisoning and amalgam fillings. As Wisconsin’s leading biological and high-tech restorative dentist, we specialize in the safest metal free alternatives to amalgam fillings. Instead of amalgam, we are committed to using non-toxic, durable and long-lasting bio-compatible dental materials.
If you have amalgam fillings and are interested in having them safely removed and replaced, we also provide the safest, most advanced mercury removal protocols in accordance with IAOMT guidelines and Huggins Protocols. In addition to IAOMT amalgam removal protocols, we employ a high-powered vacuum system that vents all mercury vapors directly to the outside of the building. We also have all patients rinse with Bentonite, a chelating agent that binds any loose mercury particles.
Integrative Dental Solutions is Southeastern Wisconsin’s leading Biological dentist. Our team of skilled dentists offer high quality natural, biological and cosmetic restorative holistic dentistry throughout the entire Midwest.
As holistic dentists, we are committed to using safe, durable, non-toxic bio-compatible dental materials and strictly oppose the use of amalgam, or mercury fillings. We are advocates for minimally invasive dentistry and aim to preserve as much of the natural tooth structure and surrounding tissue as possible. We do so using the most advanced techniques, technologies and biocompatible materials known to dentistry in an environment that is relaxing, caring and safe.
Our natural dental practice is located just east of Madison and west of Milwaukee in Pewaukee, WI. We are conveniently located to serve the entire Midwest! In fact, many of our patients travel all across the Midwest to see us!
If you are traveling a distance to see us, rest assured we can work with you to determine a schedule that meets your needs with the least amount of travel required.
Ready to learn more about our SMART mercury amalgam removal? Call us at (262) 226-2545 or contact us.