you wouldn’t eat mercury… would you?

amalgamWe all know if an old style thermometer breaks, don’t touch the mercury. Makes sense, mercury is a poison, right? Much less would we put it in our mouths. But dentists have been placing it in our mouths in the form of amalgam or silver fillings for years. But surely there can’t be much mercury in them, perhaps just a little for some necessary evil? No, actually amalgam fillings are 50% mercury! But that doesn’t make sense. Dentists are well educated people, perhaps mercury is inert when mixed with other metals? No, amalgam gives off mercury vapour which is a toxic and accumulative poison.

So how did this happen? It seems crazy to me that we would ever consider this process! Not only does amalgam poision us but the process of creating the hole for the filling means carving out healthy tooth, therefore making the structure weaker. Dentistry is also the biggest source of mercury in our oceans and waterways.

Have a look at the picture at the side. This a copy of a label on a container of dental amalgam capsules. You will see amalgam contains 50% mercury. The other 50% is made up of silver, copper and tin. You will also see the clear poison warnings. See a better copy here.

For a number of years I’ve been considering all these facts. I haven’t been to the dentist for 11 years (uhum) because of my feelings of not being heard about the toxic aspects of dentistry, also a belief that tooth health is maintained from within - through a healthy diet, and hmm, also because I have more than a little nervousness of the dental chair. Something about being trapped in a chair, not being able to breathe through your mouth with a drill in your mouth while the dentist puts poisonous substances in there. Surely something from a nightmare?

So finally after realising my teeth need a little attention I’ve looked into it again. There is the British Society of Mercury Free Dentistry which has a list of amalgam free dentists across the country. I have found that some of these dentists are ‘holistic’ looking after you as a whole person rather than just a mouth, helping and aiding you with any heavy metal detox, and completing the process in the most careful and safe way possible. And there are other dentists who just extract amalgam. So if you are thinking about it I would advise you to choose carefully, phone them up, ask them about all aspects of the process. I have now chosen a dentist and will be commencing the process in a couple of weeks. But as this post is in danger of getting rather long, especially with the amalgam facts below, I’ll leave that to the next post on the subject. I will also be looking at; the long term effects of mercury poisoning and the possibilities for detoxification, and the uses of homeopathy in this process and also during general dental treatment.

I think it is also worth looking at a positive note. What can we do now that we have this knowledge? We can prevent our children from having amalgam fillings (choosing a ‘white’ or ceramic alternative). Each time we require a replacement filling, make sure all the amalgam is completely removed (you will need to request this as it is not a standard procedure in all circumstances) and that the amalgam is replaced with an alternative.

Here are some interesting facts from the Mercury-Free Dentistry website.

Amalgam pollutes our environment

Amalgam pollutes 1) water via dental clinic releases and human waste; 2) air via cremation, dental clinic emissions, sludge incineration, and respiration; and 3) land via landfills, burials, and fertilizer. Once in the environment, dental mercury converts to its even more toxic form: methylmercury and becomes a major source of mercury in the fish people eat. Dental mercury in the environment can cause brain damage and neurological problems, especially for children and the unborn babies, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

 Amalgam endangers our health

Amalgam emits mercury vapor even after it is implanted into the body. This mercury is bioaccumulative, and it crosses the placenta to accumulate in fetuses as well. Dental amalgam’s mercury is a known health risk, especially for children, fetuses, nursing infants, and people with impaired kidney function especially. Even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration concedes that the developing neurological systems of children and fetuses are more susceptible to “the neurotoxic effects of mercury vapor” – and that there is no evidence that amalgam is safe for these populations.

Amalgam damages teeth

Placing amalgam requires the removal of a significant amount of healthy tooth matter. This removal, in turn, weakens overall tooth structure which increases the need for future dental work. On top of that, amalgam fillings – which expand and contract over time – crack teeth and once again create the need for still more dental work.

Amalgam endangers dental workers

Due to mercury exposure from amalgam in the workplace, studies have shown that dental workers have elevated systemic mercury levels. Few of these dental workers – mostly women of child-bearing age – are given protective garb or air masks to minimize their exposure to mercury; many are not aware of the risks of occupational mercury exposure. As a result, dental workers have reported neurological problems, reproductive failures, and birth defects caused by amalgam in the workplace.

Amalgam is frequently implanted without informed consent

Most dentists do not inform consumers that amalgam contains mercury. As a result, over 76% of consumers do not know that amalgam is mainly mercury according to Zogby polls. But once they are informed, 77% of people do not want mercury fillings – and they were even willing to pay more to avoid this unnecessary source of mercury exposure.

Amalgam perpetuates social injustice

While middle class consumers opt for mercury-free filling materials, people in developing nations, low-income families, minorities, military personnel, prisoners, and people with disabilities are still subjected to amalgam. Racial minorities are more likely to receive amalgam; for example, dentists place almost 25% more mercury fillings in American Indian patients than in white patients. In his testimony before Congress, former Virginia state NAACP president Emmitt Carlton described this injustice as “choice for the rich, mercury for the poor.”

Amalgam costs taxpayers

Taxpayers foot the bill for the environmental clean-up of amalgam and the medical care associated with mercury-related health problems. Meanwhile, the dentists who dump their mercury into our environment and our bodies are not held financially responsible.

 Amalgam is diverted to illegal gold mining

Amalgam is commonly shipped to developing countries labeled for dental use, but then it is diverted to illegal use in artisanal and small-scale gold mining. Not only are the miners exposed to the risks of mercury poisoning, but the dental mercury they use to extract gold is released into the environment.

Amalgam is interchangeable with mercury-free filling materials

Amalgam is interchangeable with numerous other filling materials – including resin composites, compomers, and glass ionomers – that have rendered amalgam completely unnecessary for any clinical situation. In fact, the mercury-free alternatives have made amalgam so non-essential that entire nations, such as the Scandinavian countries, have banned the use of amalgam. Developing nations have benefitted from modern mercury-free techniques, such as atraumatic restorative treatment (ART), that only cost half as much as amalgam and make dental care more accessible.

Amalgam drives up the price of mercury-free alternatives

The continued use of amalgam keeps the price of mercury-free filling materials high by decreasing demand for these alternatives. As use of mercury-free materials increases, their price is expected to decrease even further.





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