This past weekend, dentistry lost a legend: Dr. Hal Huggins.
The author of such important books as It’s All in Your Head and Uniformed Consent – among many others – Dr. Huggins probably did more than anyone to bring attention to the problem of mercury toxicity from “silver” amalgam fillings, not to mention other dental factors that can play a role in chronic systemic illness. His “reward” for speaking out? The state of Colorado took away his license to practice dentistry, since he refused to refer patients for either amalgams or root canal treatment.
While that might have silenced many a dentist, Dr. Huggins was a man of conviction – and not a little courage. He knew from both scientific research and clinical experience that the risks of such procedures far outweigh the purported benefits.
Shortly after Dr. Glaros made his decision to stop placing mercury amalgam, he was fortunate enough to be able to study under Dr. Huggins, who soon became a mentor and friend. “Hal was a committed teacher with a fantastic protocol” for safe mercury removal, says Dr. Glaros, “and the single loudest voice in this country demanding, ‘Stop placing mercury fillings!’”
Over more than 40 continuing education days, I learned about nutritional support, about sequential removal of restorations based on current readings, about minimizing patient exposure to mercury vapors, particles, and pollutants. I proudly wore the tie clasp he gave to his steadfast followers of protocol: a “Dragon-Slayer” clasp.
At the expense of his license to practice dentistry and the costs associated with that action, Hal still kept on with the crusade. Through the years, a few countries have banned the use of mercury in dentistry, and the rest will ultimately follow, even our USA. On that day, I will look up to the Heavens and thank Hal for what he nurtured in thousands of dentists in this country and around the world.
How many patients were treated and had more life in their time, because of Hal? Impossible to know accurately, but Hal did not know patients by those counts anyway. He taught us to treat them respectfully, one at a time. So that is what we do.
Through later years, Dr. Huggins’ research took him beyond mercury and root canals, to other types of dental focus. Most recently, he formed the Dental DNA lab, which, among other pursuits, specializes in the detection of dangerous, disease-causing microbes found within root canals, cavitations, implants and other dental situations.
His development as a dentist and researcher is mapped out wonderfully in a poem he recently composed, “Huggins’ Dream of the Future of Dentistry” – a read well worth your time. It is the future that we’re committed to manifesting every day in our own office, where prevention takes precedence over reactionary fixes, where the dental drill is for a last resort, and where we take pains to ensure that the last resort is both biocompatible and supportive of the body’s own self-regulating capabilities.
We might not have ever had the honor of doing so had Dr. Huggins not paved the way.
R.I.P., Hal. You were one of a kind.