Loosely adapted from the book “Let the Tooth Be Known” by Dawn Ewing, R.D.H., Ph. D., N. D.
The “amalgam” fillings most people have in their teeth are a mixture of silver, copper, tin and zinc with an equal amount of mercury (up to 50 percent mercury). Fillings deteriorate over time, leaching the various metal components into the body. Amalgam fillings naturally react to acid and other elements in the mouth and can enter the body when it dissolves into a form of vapor which is subsequently inhaled into the lungs and absorbed into the blood stream. Likewise, as we eat, it is incorporated into food, is then swallowed and digested then absorbed into the bloodstream where it is distributed throughout the tissue and organs of the body.
Symptoms of chronic mercury toxicity associated with the use of mercury or ‘silver’ dental amalgams range from subtle to startling and may include such things as numbness and tingling and in extreme cases; paralysis, tremors, severe pain and a myriad of autoimmune disorders. Milder symptoms include lethargy, blurred vision, dizziness, muscle aches, numbness, etc.
Unfortunately mercury levels are not found in a blood sample as only very recent exposures will typically be present in the bloodstream. However, once introduced into a person’s circulatory system (including through the placenta into the body of a fetus) mercury quickly binds to tissues in organs where it builds up toxicity and breaks down the immune system.
Poisoning the Next Generation
One way that it is possible for a person to harbor mercury in body tissues without having any silver fillings in their mouth is through the gestation process. It has been demonstrated that mercury quite naturally passes through the placental barrier, so a mother with amalgam fillings can very likely pass mercury onto her unborn child where it will be stored in sensitive tissues of the body for unknown lengths of time. It has been document that high levels of the more toxic forms of mercury in the bloodstream of unborn babies and young children may harm the developing nervous system, causing learning disabilities.
The urine challenge test involves taking an injection or ingesting an oral agent containing a chemical which binds to and then mobilizes mercury in the body. A 6 hour to 24 hour urine sample is collected and tested and the amount of mercury that is found in that sample will help to determine if a patient is mercury toxic.
There is some controversy about this test because people who are highly sensitive may suffer a reaction when the mercury is mobilized. Because minerals are removed in the process it is important to make sure the person is not anemic and that the stress will not be too much for the kidneys.
The science behind hair analysis says that if mercury remains in the bloodstream for any length of time, it will or should, begin to collect in the hair. This is true only IF the person is able to excrete the stored mercury as some people do not possess enough glutathione to be able to excrete it into the hair. Those with low levels in the hair but show high on a urine challenge are called “poor excretors”. One disadvantage to using hair testing is that a sample takes so long to grow and therefore significant time to produce accurate results. It is impossible to determine exactly how much mercury is in a person’s body based on a hair sample. Consequently, you may be mercury toxic but still show low levels of the substance occurring in a hair sample.
Perhaps one of the most obvious ways to diagnose mercury toxicity is by evaluating the symptoms and diseases it produces. Some diagnosticians typically suspect mercury toxicity in a person when three or more symptoms recognized as mercury toxicity are present.
Some laboratory test indications may include:
- A white blood cell count above 7,500 or below 4,500
- Hematocrit above 50 percent or below 40 percent (this is the percentage by volume of packed red blood cells in a sample of blood after it has been spun in a centrifuge).
- A lymphocyte count above 2,800 or below 1,800 (lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that function in the development of the immune system)
- A blood protein level above 7.5 grams per 100 milliliters of serum (7.5 g percent ml)
- A blood triglyceride level above 150 mg percent ml
- A blood area nitrogen (BUN) level above 18 or below 12 percent
- A level of nickel in the hair above 1.5 parts per million (ppm)
- A hair aluminum level above 15 ppm
- A hair manganese level below 0.3 ppm
- Immune reactions to aluminum, nickel, mercury, copper, or gold
Symptoms that show the most improvement after removing amalgam fillings include:
- Neurological – depression, irritability, suicidal tendencies, inability to cope; as multiple sclerosis, seizures facial twitches, muscle spasms
- Cardiovascular – endocarditis, heart, valves or lungs, etc.
- Collagen Diseases – scleroderma, arthritis, lupus, bursitis, etc.
- Immunological disorders – Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), etc.
- Allergies – the full range of allergies
Amalgam fillings are a potential health risk for everyone, especially for those who have recognized chemical sensitivities. If you have several amalgam fillings and/or your immune system isn’t functioning as well as it should be, you might consider having your fillings replaced. Natural looking composites are healthier and by and large are much more aesthetically pleasing.
If you decide to have amalgam fillings removed be sure to choose a dentist who follows definite protocols for protecting your health (and the environment) from additional mercury exposure during the removal process. There are a number of important safety precautions that should be employed by the dentist and anyone offering assistance at the time. To get a good sense about your dentist’s ability, see if he utilizes a gas mask or a paper mask during the procedure. A gas mask offers protection from toxic vapors that are generated during the process, a paper mask does not.
A natural, holistic or biological dentist will be able assess your bio-compatibility for alternative materials and can also make referrals to someone skilled in mercury detoxification if necessary.
For more information on the scientific research pertaining to amalgam mercury, see “The Scientific Case Against Amalgam,” available from the International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology Web site www.iaomt.org or visit https://www.toxicteeth.org/mercuryFillings.aspx.