Amalgam fillings have been in use for over 150 years, yet still they are, by far, use today. An amalgam consists of an alloy of silver, copper, tin and zinc mixed with an equal amount of mercury, to a paste, which will subsequently set and harden over the next 24 hours. Unfortunately, amalgam is now known to be NOT the inert substance about which dentists have been traditionally taught.
Throughout the life of a filling, mercury is lost in the form of vapor and abrasion particles from its surfaces and is absorbed into the body to accumulate in organs such as the liver, kidneys, brain and central nervous system. This rate of loss is greatly increased by such simple actions as chewing and brushing the teeth, which, after all, most of as indulge in from time to time. It is this slow but continuing build- up of mercury in body tissues which forms the basis of concern at the potential of amalgam to cause problems. Allied to this, are the common incidence of allergy to mercury and the electrical activity from metallic fillings; both of which may well be implicated in the process.
SOME RESEARCH FINDINGS
If you decided to have your amalgam fillings replaced, however, a strict protocol should be adhered to, in order to optimize the chances of recovery from any health problems which are influenced by the mercury in your body.
- The amount of mercury vapor in the air we are breathing is proportional to the number of amalgam fillings.
- This amount is increased over 15 fold by chewing and brushing the teeth.
- Smoking, drinking coffee and grinding the teeth also increase the exposure.
- The concentration of mercury in the blood and in the brain and kidney. Is also related to the size and number of amalgam fillings.
- Almost complete absorption of mercury vapor occurs from the air in the lungs and leads to accumulation in the brain and central nervous system, which is the critical organ for its toxic effects.
- Levels of mercury in breath from amalgam fillings can exceed the industrial safe levels (e.g. in factories) set by some countries.
- Placement of amalgam gives a level three times the occupational safety levels.
- The earliest symptoms of chronic low level exposure to mercury vapor include loss of memory and mental ability, Lack of concentration, tiredness, depression and headaches.
- Mercury dosages from amalgam are up to 18 times the allowable daily limits from all sources in the environment, set by some countries.
- Mouth bacteria may transform mercury vapor to methyl mercury, which is 100 times more toxic.
- The half-life (i.e. the time taken to 50% to disappear) of mercury in the brain is in excess of 20 years.
- Increase in copper and zinc (as in the newer amalgams) may add to the cytotoxic (i.e. cell poisoning) effects of amalgam.
- 2 or more dissimilar metals (e.g. amalgam and gold) in the mouth have been shown to induce more pronounced pathological changes.
- Dental amalgams can adversely affect the quantity of “T” cells (i.e. the body’s immune system).
- The frequency of hypersensitivity (allergy) to mercury may be extremely high. The commonest contact with mercury in the general population is by amalgam fillings.
- The allergic response may occur years after the initial exposure and can be manifested both locally (i.e. in the mouth) and/or in other parts of the body.
- Mercury appears to impair the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, which might account for the frequent symptom of tiredness in subjects with amalgams.
- Mercury has, so far, not been demonstrated to have any beneficial function in the human!
PRECAUTIONS FOR AMALGAM SENSITIVE PATIENTS WHO ARE TO HAVE REPLACEMENT FILLINGS
Good nutrition is vitally important in helping the body to eliminate, not only the mercury from the teeth, but also that which has been ‘locked into’ the body’s cells.
Unfortunately, because of the inadequacies of so many foodstuffs available nowadays, such supplements are necessary to ensure that the vitamins and minerals required are readily accessible. (Some patients may already be on a supplementation region from their nutritionist, in which case, he/she should be consulted first).
A quadrant will be removed at each appointment and it may be necessary to dress some of the teeth for a time before they are re-filled.
Whenever possible, the fillings will be removed under isolation by rubber dam. This effectively places the tooth outside the mouth, thus keeping to an absolute minimum any amalgam dust or mercury vapor which might otherwise be taken in during the process. Copious amounts of water and high volume suction will be used throughout.
In most cases, amalgams will be replaced with composite/ceramic materials in either build-up or inlay forms. With such a large number of different branded products on the market, with a selection of the best filling, base and lining materials, the preferred type of restorations will be selected.
It must be said that it is impossible to guarantee that removal of mercury amalgams will result in improvement of symptoms. It is very least; however, you can be certain that your mouth has been rid of one of the most toxic substances on the planet!