There’s been a lot of great commentary on the mercury amalgam episode Dr. Oz aired a few weeks ago, including these reflections from Dr. Mercola, published just this week.
We think one of the most compelling is the article below by Dr. Mark Breiner, a biological dentist and author of the excellent guide Whole-Body Dentistry: A Complete Guide to Understanding the Impact of Dentistry on Total Health. We thank Dr. Breiner for letting us republish it here.
Kudos to Dr. Oz
By Mark A. Breiner, DDS
On Thursday, March 28th, the Dr. Oz television show aired a segment on Mercury Amalgam (“silver”) fillings. I would like to congratulate Dr. Oz on exposing to the public some of the dangers of mercury fillings.
This show consisted of several segments. In one segment two guest dentists spoke about some of the problems that may be associated with mercury fillings. Another segment featured a demonstration of mercury vapor coming off the teeth during brushing. A third segment dealt with three things you can do to protect yourself if you have these fillings. In a fourth segment a patient discussed her experience after she had her silver fillings removed. Here is the link if you missed the show: You can watch the full episode here!
Certainly bringing this topic to the public was an important step. It undoubtedly put the American Dental Association (ADA) on the defensive; they immediately sent out an alert providing dentists with talking points to use with their patients. The show also prompted an article (which was not particularly friendly to the pro-mercury lobby) on Sunday, March 31st, in The Chicago Tribune. The ADA headquarters, by the way, is located in Chicago.
As informative as the show was, I felt it could have been better.
I could be wrong, but it seemed to me that the two dentists Dr. Oz had on his show do not actually treat patients for mercury toxicity. These dentists do not place amalgam fillings, one for aesthetic reasons, and the other for fear of their potential toxic effects. However, both say patients should absolutely not have their fillings removed unless, for example, the filling is breaking down, because removal exposes the patient to the highest level of mercury vapor. The dentists did not explain why the exposure to the mercury vapor is so high during removal but, more importantly, they did not address what should be done to protect the patient from the high vapors during the removal process. Furthermore, there was no mention of the need to protect both the dentist and the dental assistant during the removal process. A recent study done at Yale University and published in the International Journal of Statistics in Medical Research estimated that, based on pharmacy claims, general dentists are at a 7.6 times greater risk, compared to controls, for developing neurological diseases!
I think it was a big mistake to not make the public aware that removal of even one mercury filling can be dangerous, if not done properly. Even though the guest dentists did not advocate removal, many people who saw this show, WILL go to their dentist and ask to have their fillings removed.
Unfortunately, I have seen too many people who are now sick or sicker because proper precautions were not followed during the amalgam removal. And most importantly, nothing was done beforehand to evaluate if the patient was at a stage where they were healthy enough to have their mercury fillings removed. It is essential that the dentist be knowledgeable about proper removal protocols.
It would also have been beneficial to have mentioned some of the research which shows the detrimental effects from mercury fillings. For instance, there were studies done on sheep that showed that mercury from dental amalgam fillings migrated to all the tissues and organs, passed the placental barrier, and went directly to the fetus. Research has also shown that mercury from the fillings concentrates in the mother’s milk and passes to the infant.
As mentioned earlier, a demonstration performed in a closed system, showed that brushing mercury-amalgam filled plastic teeth resulted in the release of mercury vapor, as measured by the Jerome Mercury Vapor Analyzer. This demonstration confirmed the fact that stimulation of the fillings led to the release of mercury vapor. It would have been even more dramatic if the demonstration had been done on Dr. Oz, who said he has mercury fillings. This type of demonstration on Dr. Oz would not have allowed the ADA to say that in real life “saliva reduces vapor activity” (making it seem like there really is no problem with mercury in the mouth). In fact, studies show that mercury comes off of these fillings with any stimulation in a “real” mouth.
In the segment dealing with the three ways to protect yourself if you have mercury fillings, one of the dentists advocated avoiding acidic foods (like tomatoes and grapefruits) because acidic foods increase the amount of vapor. Does he really think that people will stop eating these foods? He also recommended drinking coffee through a straw because the hot, acidic coffee is a problem. I can’t imagine anyone drinking hot coffee through a straw. The recommendations for eating cilantro and garlic and taking a chlorella supplement were on target; however, trying to eliminate mercury from the body, while still having mercury fillings in the mouth, is like trying to bail water from a boat with holes in the hull. It is also important to know the source and quality of the chlorella because some chlorella is high in mercury.
Even though I have been critical, as I said before, I do appreciate Dr. Oz addressing this important health topic. I hope that sometime in the future Dr. Oz will do another show that will delve deeper into the steps necessary before, during, and after mercury removal. I encourage you to e-mail Dr. Oz and thank him for being brave enough to air the show and encourage a more in-depth follow-up show.