The topic of mercury fillings have aroused much curiosity and controversy over the past several decades. Dentists have for many years denied any links between dental amalgam fillings and disease and have maintained that the mercury in dental fillings is 'made safe' by the metals surrounding the mercury and that the teeth are sealed off from being poisoned by mercury. So is this metal a toxic poison, or is the whole thing a storm in a teacup?
Historically, amalgam was discovered at the end of the 19th century as a cheap alternative to gold for dental fillings, despite being debated amongst dentists who wished for it not to be brought onto the market. However, as gold was considered too expensive and lead too dangerous, amalgam was employed as a replacement in Britain in 1819 and in the U.S. in 1820.
Many studies have now demonstrated undeniable links between many and varied symptoms of disease and mercury-poisoning. According to McTaggart, dentists have placed permanently in our mouths one of the most toxic substances every known to man!
Amalgam fillings are made up of 52% mercury, the remainder being copper, zinc, tin and silver. Amalgam literally means 'mixed with mercury'.
In 1993, the U.S. Public Health Service issued a report evaluating the safety of dental amalgam. The report claimed that small amounts of mercury vapour are released from fillings and can be absorbed by the body and this could cause 'small symptoms' in 'a rare group of allergic individuals'. However, they denied that the removal of all fillings was a necessary action for the public at large.
In 1997, Sweden banned dental amalgam filings, and in the year 2000 Austria was destined to do the same. In recent years, Degussa, one of the world's largest manufacturers of dental amalgam announced that they are stopping the production of amalgam for fear of potential lawsuits. This is major because it represented 50% of the Company's turnover.
The World Health Organisation in recent years, after studies, announced that we receive between 3 and 17mcg of daily intake of mercury from our fillings. Dr Freiberg, who was involved in the study was reported as saying that 'there is no safe level of mercury'. In fact, the Toxicity Centre in Tenessesse class mercury as 1600 and plutonium as 1900, which is the most deadly. This places mercury as one of the most deadly poisons known to man.
Numerous studies show that mercury gets released as you chew and particularly when you consume foods which are hot or acidic. Although some studies concerning mercury toxicity have been carried out on animals, which, of course, prove nothing about humans, there have also been studies on humans via autopsies, etc. In fact, the toxicity of mercury is revealed by the fact that autopsies on dentists have shown that they have higher than normal concentrations of mercury in their pituitary gland and have double the number of brain tumours. Also, female dentists and personnel are three times more likely to have sterility, stillbirth and miscarriage and all dentist employees have a higher than normal concentration of mercury in their CNS, kidneys, and endocrine system according to McTaggart.
Signs of mercury poisoning are varied and there are possible links with Multiple Sclerosis and ME, Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimers Disease, Auto-Immune disease, pregnancy complications, hair loss, cancer, mental disorders, especially manic depression, allergies, infertility, leukemia and gut problems. In one study in Sweden, the mercury levels of MS patients were on average 7.5 times higher than the control group. Dr Kingsley and Hal Huggins (a dentist and researcher) found that they almost always find evidence of mercury toxicity when treating MS and cancer patients.
When the fillings are ground, as happens when chewing, some mercury does escape as vapour, and this can enter the saliva and be swallowed, and can be coverted to methyl mercury, by the action of bacteria in the mouth and in the gut. Methyl mercury is much more toxic than elemental mercury. As there is more than one metal in the mouth and there is saliva, a small but measureable electric current is continually generated in the mouth. This is something which gradually corrodes the amalgam.
Dr McIntyre and many other researchers suggest that mercury toxicity may contribute to damage to the immune system and increase susceptibility to immune system dysfunctions. Frequently, mercury poisoning causes unexplained chronic fatigue (ME symptoms). Huggins argues that 90% of his 2,000 patients had ME-like symptoms which improved when the fillings were removed. He argues that mercury interferes with the oxygen-carrying capacity of the red blood cells. In fact, he states that in tests this oxygen-carrying ability was reduced to half what it should be. This explains why some patients are so chronically tired. In fact, a researcher from Stockholm, Stortebecker has also revealed that mercury travels through the nasal passages and gets into the brain. The brain seems to have an affinity to mercury.
Joel Berger argues that there is no such thing as a stable mercury filling. Each one will leak mercury in every direction. This can be in to the body of the tooth, the gums, the nose and brain, into the saliva and the bloodstream, etc. Mercury can also migrate through the tooth itself (not just through he vapour). "We are dealing with a known and proven poison" he says.
Sam Ziff argues that mercury vapour has the ability to penetrate rapidly into all tissues, which results in initial accumulations in the brain which are very high in comparison to the uniform distribution elsewhere. As far as excretion is concerned, normally excretion patterns allow mercury to accumulate in the kidneys as it is released out from other tissues. The brain concentrations, however, remain relatively high as its release is relatively slow. In fact, one study on an autopsied individual revealed that 13 years after their exposure to mercury, the person's brain still contained mercury toxicity, and other cases have shown mercury toxicity in brain areas lasting at least ten years after their last exposure to mercury.
For further information, why not read the excellent book by Sam Ziff entitled 'Silver Dental Fillings, the Toxic Timebomb'?