Two weeks ago I went through an extensive 2 day process to remove all of the amalgam fillings in my mouth. Why on earth would I choose, at 48, to undergo such a difficult procedure? The answer comes from an accidental viewing of a documentary called, “Evidence of Harm.” I am a documentary junkie and I subscribe to a film club Food Matters TV so that I can get my fix on a regular basis. I had noticed this documentary many times, but had avoided it unaware of its content. One evening on a whim, I decided to view Evidence of Harm. Approximately 3/4 through it I paused and began researching on the web for more information about mercury and amalgams. At the end of the movie it listed the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) as a source for information about safe removal of mercury amalgam fillings. It was on this site that I was able to locate a dentist only 2 1/2 hours away from my home.
So what is amalgam exactly?
Amalgam is a material that has been used for over 150 years to fill dental cavities. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Association:
“Dental amalgam is a mixture of metals, consisting of liquid (elemental) mercury and a powdered alloy composed of silver, tin, and copper. Approximately 50% of dental amalgam is elemental mercury by weight. The chemical properties of elemental mercury allow it to react with and bind together the silver/copper/tin alloy particles to form an amalgam.”
A 2006 German article abstract found on PubMed.gov discusses the medical risks associated with amalgam usage.
“…mercury from dental amalgam may lead to nephrotoxicity, neurobehavioural changes, autoimmunity, oxidative stress, autism, skin and mucosa alterations or non-specific symptoms and complaints.”
Mutter J1, Naumann J, Walach H, Daschner F.(2006). Amalgam: a risk assessment using a review of the latest literature through 2005. Gesundheitswesen. 2005 Mar;67(3):204-16. DOI:10.1055/s-2005-857962
Are Amalgams Safe?
You can research this controversy on your own and find documentation and research to support either side. It comes down to what you believe. For myself I found the studies, articles, videos and testimonies concrete enough for me to decide to remove all of the “silver” fillings in my mouth…10 teeth total and multiple surfaces were effected. I was classified as having a high amount of amalgam in my teeth.
The following YouTube video of Mark Richardson, PhD discussing the risks of mercury amalgam at a dental conference in 2007. On the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology‘s website there are copious articles and videos to aid in your research.
Choices for replacement were gold or composites. The first just couldn’t be substantiated because there haven’t been enough studies as to the safety of gold used in dental fillings even though some people have had allergic reactions. The cost was probably my largest deterrent. So that left composites which are also a source of controversy because they contain plastic components such as Bisphenol-A. This chemical compound has been linked to cancers and other diseases. For further reading check out this article: Bisphenol-A in Dental Composites. Reasons for removing one evil for another came from the knowledge I gathered, the fact that other safe dentists recommended and used them, and a gut feeling that it was the best choice for me.
Sad but true
I am sad to admit that I am completely familiar with elemental mercury (or quick silver as I called it when I was a child). My GrandFather had access to large amounts of this substance because of his occupation. I actually played with it on a couple of occasions. I remember being in awe at how a metal could be liquid and move like water. We would put a few drops on the table and tip the surface to get it to run from side to side. I thought it looked so pretty. I wanted to touch it so bad, but my Grandpa wouldn’t let me. I didn’t understand why we couldn’t just feel it or why we had to be so careful…now I do.
Any observable benefit?
Immediately following the extraction of my upper right amalgams I did experience a flush from my sinus’. They continued to drain excessively over night. I have also had a few large under the skin pimples around my ears and the back of my head appear recently. I do not normally get these types of pimples. Currently I have a very large sore inside my right ear. My thought is that this is probably my body’s way of ridding any excess toxins but to be honest it could be something entirely different. Hopefully it is not my body reacting to the Bisphenol-A. I do notice that I have less pain when I chew or bite down on something. Previously, I was extremely worried that all of my teeth were going bad because it hurt tremendously to bite down. Not like the pain you feel with sweet or cold…it was like my teeth were pinching the nerves. So far this is all I have noticed. I was hoping for something spectacular like my Thyroid would be functioning perfectly. It has only been two weeks so I will post any new improvements or adverse reactions if they present themselves.
All in all, I would absolutely do it again. It was by far much more painful and exhaustive than I had anticipated, but definitely worth the discomfort and expense. I owe sincere gratitude and thanks to my new dentist. She and her office staff were absolutely incredible. They were all so caring and supportive.