Mercury and your mouth: Dr. Matthew Young gives the good news and bad news about this controversial element.
The Internet can be a wonderful tool for patients who want be proactive participants in their healthcare. Unfortunately, it can be difficult in this capacity to distinguish between passionate opinions that have little or no scientific merit and that persist based solely on tradition and strong scientific evidence founded on reproducible research. The purpose of this article is to shine some light on old traditions that persist in modern dentistry and to discuss a new paradigm shift in the field, as dentistry changes to be less toxic to patients and industry professionals alike.
Dentistry is a hands-on profession. Traditions in the practice are handed down from dentist to dentist, generally based on what works best for them and what is durable. About 150 years ago, two German dentists discovered that when they mixed liquid mercury and silver flakes in a heated crucible, the resulting mixture hardened with time and could be used to fill cavities in teeth. These historical events lead to the placement of the first mercury-silver amalgam, which came to be praised as an inexpensive alternative to gold (the standard treatment of the day, reserved for more affluent patients). The use of mercury-silver amalgams has expanded over the years, and, today, ten million new mercury-silver fillings are placed each year.
But, in recent years, mercury's use in a variety of applications has not been praised as it was originally by the German dentists. Thimerosal, an organic form of mercury that has been used as a preservative in vaccines, has come under fire, as an association has been made between the number of vaccinations given each year and an increase in the diagnosed cases of autism. This began the ongoing quest by many researchers to remove as much mercury from our environment as possible. Is there a silver lining? The good news is that we now have a better handle on why some folks become sick from heavy metals in doses that do not negatively affect others.
The human genome project is an ongoing, ambitious scientific body of research that brings hope to understanding genetic influences on health and illness. Some people are mapped on this sequence as CPO4X and APOE4. This means that they do not make or use the enzymes required by the liver to naturally detoxify. Here are some terms to explain the process. What we are exposed to, in this case mercury, is called the environmental dose and whatever the body soaks in over time is the absorbed dosage. The body also has an excretory rate, at which the natural removal of heavy metals occurs each day. And, finally, whatever is left over is considered the body burden of mercury. A certain percentage of people are poor excretors of mercury and, therefore, are at the highest risk of retaining environmental mercury and are at a greater risk of becoming sick. The body burden is something that only a reputable laboratory can determine from the order of a qualified physician. As you can see from this explanation, sending a hair sample to an Internet site that may seem credible cannot show you how much mercury is in the body, rather only tell you how much mercury came out of the hair follicle at the moment the hair was cut.
But what is it about mercury exactly that causes sickness? Mercury-silver amalgams have been called silver fillings for decades. However, the color of the filling does not determine how it will act biologically. Mercury is considered by many toxicologists to be the most toxic non-radioactive element. It has been removed from thermometers in many states and from most medicines and school laboratories. However, the tradition of using it in dental fillings has not changed in the past 150 years, and amalgams are still fifty to fifty-one percent mercury by weight. It seems strange that dental manufacturers strongly warn dentists to be careful during the placement of amalgam and EPA/OSHA folks warn of the disposal of the hazardous waste, yet the material has been deemed safe while in the mouth of the patient.
If you refer to the video of The Smoking Tooth (see sidebar for link), it is apparent that mercury present in amalgam fillings releases its metal for years and is not stable (as claimed by dental trade companies). The video reveals that a 25-year-old filling outgases a significant amount of mercury. Once absorbed by the body, elemental mercury is turned into more toxic methyl-mercury by the catalase enzyme. Its positive charge allows it to bind to molecules within the body that are negatively charged. The "stuff" that is most negative is also the most active metabolically. Brain and liver tissue, enzymes, hormones, neuropeptides, mitochondria (the powerhouses of heart and muscle tissue) and just about every other organ all act like magnets for mercury. Once bound to the body, this pervasive toxin can stay for weeks, months and even longer before it is excreted (see the Toxline website, address in sidebar, for more information).
So, what is different in the world of dentistry now? Mercury-free dentists are dentists that do not place mercury-silver amalgams. Biologic dentists take this one step further and consider many materials in their offices from a biologically compatible perspective, matching each one to the individual patient. This match is done using experience, Clifford Materials testing and Meridian Stress Analysis. Biologic dentists take the preservatives out of anesthetics, use latex-free gloves and rotary cleaning tips and use mercury-free alternatives to the old amalgams. Techniques used decrease the exposure of the patient and staff to mercury by using oxygen, high speed suction and a rubber dam, which reduces the amount of environmental mercury by ninety percent. And, finally, a mercury separator is used to prevent the element from entering wastewater. Chelation studies show that 66 percent of the body burden of mercury is from amalgams. Once amalgams are removed, the patient can be referred to a qualified physician for body burden measurements and tissue chelation. Patients at high risk may want to consult with their physician before removal to see if additional protective measures are recommended.
One final admonition for those considering mercury-silver dental amalgam removal: avoid over-the-counter chelation products. If you overload the body's detoxification capability with chelating agents (natural or prescription), the mercury that your body cannot excrete can be re-distributed to other organs and tissues and end up causing more harm than good. The best thing to do is educate yourself as much as possible. Find a health-care provider who takes time to listen to your health concerns and answer your questions, and then begin the process of taking control of your health. Patients who discover the cause of their problems, take charge and seek the proper help begin to feel better and are truly blessed by the results.
For more information, visit these related links
Environmental Physicians: www.aaem.com, www.icimed.com
Mercury-free biologic dentists: www.iaomt.org, www.dentalwellness4u.com
Mercury in fish: www.cfsan.fda.gov/~frf/sea-mehg.html, www.mercuryexposure.org
Thimerosal information: www.momsagainstmercury.org, www.safeminds.org
Alternative medicine and political news: www.bolenreport.net
Smoking tooth video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ylnQ-T7oiA
Neuron degeneration due to mercury (with entertaining introduction): www.youtube.com/atch?v=7Fcgq584Rss&NR=1.
Dr. Haley on Autism: www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQYISvsgq6s&mo de=related&search= National Library of Medicine health toxline tutorial, http://sis.nlm.nih.gov/ enviro/toxtutor/Tox1/a24.htm
Dr. Matthew Young is a biologic general dentist practicing in Hendersonville, North Carolina who has had a mercury-free practice for fifteen years and has been practicing biologic dentistry for four; his office is also latex-, preservative-, and fluoride-free. Dr. Young and his staff work with several integrative physicians and other health-care providers to help assure that patients make educated decisions about their dental health. He has been married for 25 years and has two grown sons. To reach his office, call 828-693-8416 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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|Publication:||New Life Journal|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2007|
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