By Dr. Mercola
Dental amalgam is an antiquated tooth filling material that is 50 percent mercury—a potent neurotoxin—combined with silver, copper, and tin. Mercury fillings are deceptively called "silver fillings," referring to the color of the material rather than its actual composition.
In the US, dental amalgam is the leading use of mercury, and dental offices generate a variety of amalgam waste1 that simply gets flushed down the drain unless the dentist has installed an amalgam separator.
Dental offices have also in fact been identified as the leading source of mercury in wastewater entering publicly-owned treatment plants. This toxic mercury waste amounts to about 3.7 TONS each year!2 Yet dentists still aren't held accountable for their deadly pollution.
The environment isn't the only thing that suffers from this archaic practice, however. Your health is at grave risk when you get mercury dental fillings, and the effects can be either acute or chronic. Children and pregnant women are at greatest risk.
A Case of Mercury Poisoning Mimicking Multiple Sclerosis
Maria Indermuhle's story is a perfect example of how amalgam fillings can destroy your health. Shortly after getting amalgam fillings, she began experiencing troubling and progressively debilitating symptoms.
"I started to have pins and needles in my legs and then it started to happen in my hands. Just 18 months later, I could hardly walk," she told The Daily Mail.3
"I started having panic attacks, collapsing in the street, lost the feeling in my hands, started losing my vision, began slurring my words, I couldn't concentrate on anything...
I experienced palpitations, and I actually could feel like my brain was moving. I started having hallucinations during the night. It was terrifying. I could feel my body was breaking down and not working. I actually thought I was dying."
Eighteen months after her fateful dental appointment, Maria was misdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). It was only through her own research that she realized her symptoms also matched those of mercury poisoning.
She got herself tested for heavy metals, and was found to have toxic levels of mercury in her system. After getting the amalgams safely removed and undergoing a mercury detox program, her health has been fully restored.
"Mrs. Indermuhle said she wants to raise awareness of the similarities between the symptoms of MS and those of mercury poisoning," The Daily Mail writes.
"She said... 'Mercury poisoning has the same symptoms as MS, so maybe many men and woman are suffering like I was and it's not MS at all, but mercury poisoning.'"
Dental Mercury Fuels Chronic Inflammation in Your Body
Compelling evidence clearly shows that dental amalgams readily release mercury in the form of vapor every time you eat, drink, brush your teeth, or otherwise stimulate your teeth. For a powerful demonstration of the reality of these vapors, please see the following video.4
A single dental amalgam filling may release as much as 15 micrograms of mercury per day. To put that into perspective, eating mercury-tainted seafood can expose you to about 2.3 micrograms per day -- and that alone was enough for scientists to call for a worldwide warning5 back in 2006!
As noted in a 2010 extensive scientific review6 on mercury exposure and children's health, there is no known safe level of exposure for mercury! Ideally, exposure should be zero, so any dentist insisting that mercury exposure from amalgam is "minimal" or "inconsequential" is really doing their patients a reprehensible disservice.
These mercury vapors readily pass through your cell membranes, across your blood-brain barrier, and into your central nervous system, where it can cause psychological, neurological, and immunological problems.
It's also known to cause kidney damage, which is why it's so important to have them removed by a properly trained biological dentist. During removal, very high amounts of mercury can be released, which could lead to acute kidney problems. I experienced this myself more than 20 years ago, when I had my amalgams removed by a non-biological dentist.
In July, a group of dentists, scientists and patients filed a lawsuit against the FDA. According to a recent news report,7 the group claims the FDA "hasn't done enough to address any potential health hazards of amalgam and that it's low income groups - including welfare recipients, prisoners and even members of the military who often end up with these fillings because they don't have a choice – who are mostly affected."
Canadian Tribe Blame Government for Mercury Poisoning
Still, regardless of what your feelings might be about having mercury fillings in your mouth, the industrial process for manufacturing and disposing of the substance is an environmental disaster. And, clearly, your health can suffer as a result of environmental exposure. In Canada, the Grassy Narrows First Nation claims the Canadian government failed to protect the community from mercury poisoning caused by contaminated water. According to The Star:8
"For years, the residents of Grassy Narrows First Nation, a community of 1,500 outside Kenora, have complained about symptoms consistent with mercury poisoning after a paper mill dumped [10 tonnes of] mercury into the Wabigoon-English River system between 1962 and 1970.
A 2010 report, entitled "Literature Review: The Impact of Mercury Poisoning on Human Health," was commissioned by the Mercury Disability Board, yet kept hidden from those involved, claims Roger Fobister Sr., chief of Grassy Narrows First Nation.
"...The only reason this report would not be better publicized and shared with the people involved is because its conclusions support what Grassy Narrows has said for years — that the government has been negligent in caring for mercury poisoning survivors..."
Do You Have Symptoms of Mercury Poisoning?
Children and fetuses, whose brains are still developing, are at greatest risk, but as Maria's story shows, anyone can be adversely affected, at any age. There's also no telling just how many amalgam fillings you can handle before your body reaches the point of toxic overload. It all depends on your individual sensitivity, and how well your body can detoxify. Still, everyone's bound to have a "breaking point," and your dental fillings aren't the only source of toxic exposure in today's world.
Sadly, many live with toxic reactions for extended periods of time, and unlike Maria, they may never connect the dots between their failing health and the mercury in their teeth... Not only does mercury fuel the flames of inflammation, which is an underlying factor of most chronic disease, it also hampers your body's ability to detoxify itself, which further exacerbates matters. Besides MS, mercury toxicity has also been linked to Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other neurological disorders.
Maria's story is a potent illustration of why being aware of toxic exposures is so important, and it should serve as a wakeup call for doctors and dentists as well. General symptoms of mercury poisoning include the following, which can easily be overlooked or misdiagnosed. If you have any of these, it may be a wise move to get a heavy metal screen test, to check for toxicity of mercury and other heavy metals:
✓ Impairment of vision, hearing, or speech, including light sensitivity
✓ Lack of motor coordination
✓ Muscle twitching and/or tremors
✓ Itching or burning
✓ Skin discoloration (red nose, cheeks, or lips)
✓ Profuse sweating
✓ Elevated heart rate
✓ High blood pressure
✓ Mood swings, nervousness, anxiety, or irritability
Why Is the EPA Not Keeping Promise to Take Action Against Mercury Polluters?
Four years ago, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would create a rule requiring dentists who use dental amalgam to install amalgam separators. The deadline for this rule, the EPA said, was 2012.9 An amalgam separator is a wastewater treatment device installed at the source, in the dental office, that removes 95-99 percent of the mercury going into the wastewater. Such a rule would be a step toward making dentists accountable for the gross environmental damage caused by those who still insist on using amalgam.
At least eleven states—including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Washington, Vermont, New York, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Oregon, and Michigan—already require dentists to use amalgam separators to reduce mercury discharges. Remaining states need to follow suit, and a ruling by the EPA would apply to all states.
A draft rule was created in 2012, but after its contents were leaked, the EPA suddenly began experiencing a string of "delays," offering one poor excuse after another as to why they couldn't release it. Now, the rule is two years overdue. This is a total embarrassment when you consider that the US government became the first country to sign the United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury, which covers dental amalgam. What's worse, based on the EPA's promise to act, the environmental protection community stopped pushing for individual state mandates, of which there were about a dozen in the works. By backing off and relying on the EPA to move forward, years have been wasted waiting for what might never happen.
Take Action: Tell EPA to Release Its Mercury Amalgam Rule!
Why should we be forced to pay when irresponsible dentists who still use mercury could easily and relatively inexpensively install amalgam separators, which catch most of the mercury before it goes down the drain? At present, the EPA is letting them get away with it, and it's high time for that to change.
I urge you to take a stand with us and tell the EPA not to let polluting dentists off the hook: It's time to stop dental mercury dumping. Consumers for Dental Choice has created a petition demanding the EPA immediately release its mercury amalgam rule for public comment. I hope you will take a moment to sign this petition right now.
To learn more about dental mercury and its risks, as well as keep abreast of the latest news on the EPA's mercury rule, please see the following sources:
Important Information Regarding Amalgam Removal
For those of you who have mercury fillings, I recommend that you have them removed. However, it's very important to get it done right. Removing amalgam fillings can expose you to significant amounts of mercury vapors if the dentist doesn't know what he or she is doing.
For this reason, it's important to find a qualified biological dentist, trained in the safe and proper removal of mercury fillings. Biological dentistry views your teeth and gums as an integrated part of your entire body, and any medical treatments performed takes this fact into account. Biological dentists are well aware of the dangers involved with toxic materials such as amalgams. Some of the things that need to be done to keep you (and your dentist) safe during amalgam removal include:
✓ Providing you with an alternative air source and instructing you not to breathe through your mouth
✓ Putting a rubber dam in your mouth so you don't swallow or inhale any toxins, and using a high-volume evacuator near the tooth at all times to evacuate the mercury vapor
✓ Using a cold-water spray to minimize mercury vapors
✓ Washing your mouth out immediately after the fillings have been removed (the dentist should also change gloves after the removal)
✓ Immediately cleaning your protective wear and face once the fillings are removed
✓ Using room air purifiers
How to Find a Qualified Biological Dentist
Knowledgeable biological dentists can be hard to come by, so start your search by asking a friend, relative, neighbor, or inquire at your local health food store. The following links can also help you to find a mercury-free, biological dentist: