How mercury fillings affect your health
Dear readers, it’s been a while since I posted on my research about the exciting, burgeoning field of “biological dentistry.” A couple of years ago I wrote fairly extensively about my own dental saga (thanks to the first 30 years of my life eating a LOT of sugar, and doing lots of toxic dental work needing to be replaced).
I have been fascinated by Dr. Michelle Jorgenson’s conversion from traditional dentistry to “biological dentistry.” Today I was in her office and saw her employees reading articles she required, on how to treat dental problems as part of the whole organism’s overall health. Very exciting! Because she lives near me and has shown her education in, and commitment to, holistic dentistry, she is now my family dentist.
I think you’ll find this very interesting, Dr. Jorgenson’s story, and her thoughts on mercury fillings and the state of modern dentistry:
My name is Dr. Michelle Jorgensen, and I am a second generation dentist. My father is a dentist, and knew I wanted to be just like him. He is an avid runner and has been extremely healthy his entire career, and that’s what I thought all dentists were like. When I started to have nagging health issues about 15 years into my practice, I didn’t think it had anything to do with dentistry. Food sensitivities, numbness in my right hand and arm, forgetting things, my nose constantly plugged, difficulty breathing…what in the world could all of these things be from?
Gloomy days started and I thought about leaving my practice. I emailed a colleague about my issues, and he said my email reminded him of himself 10 years earlier. He suspected mercury toxicity. I was shocked. I had not placed a mercury filling for over 15 years. He asked if I removed mercury fillings in my practice. Every day I do! That was the beginning of my journey to become a biological dentist.
Mercury + Silver = Amalgam
Let’s step back. The first mercury dental filling material was made in France in 1816. A Frenchman mixed mercury with shavings from silver coins. It formed a soft paste that could easily be packed into a hole in the tooth, and shaped before it turned hard. This was brought to the US in 1830 and was an instant success. This new filling material was inexpensive, easy to use, lasted a long time, and sealed the tooth fairly well. It became popular very quickly.
That first filling material was 50% mercury (the liquid shiny stuff in thermometers) and 50% silver. When I told a friend, who was a successful professional, about my health problems from mercury, he looked confused. “There is mercury in silver fillings?! They don’t put mercury in, anymore, do they?” I’m afraid so – in fact, 50% of those “silver” fillings today and 150 years ago, are mercury.
When this material was introduced, barber/dentists did much of the dental work, and they loved these new fillings. They were easy to place and they could make money on them. The few doctors that did dentistry were not so excited about it. They knew the symptoms of mercury exposure from watching hat makers. The hat makers would use mercury to turn fur into felt. After repeated exposure to this mercury, the hat makers started showing bizarre behavior. This is where the term “mad hatter” comes from – the mercury quite literally was making them mad!
The doctors were concerned that mercury was being placed into teeth. But the barbers didn’t care. They were making money on these easy fillings. Mercury/silver fillings were here to stay.
That is the background to dental mercury fillings, and they are still being used today in nearly 50% of dental offices in the US. Science and medicine has since confirmed that mercury is a poison to our system. Why are dentists still placing these fillings? Recently, I talked to a dentist who graduated from dental school 4 years ago. I explained my concerns about my patients and myself breathing in mercury vapors as I remove old mercury fillings. He said he’s never heard anything about it. He didn’t know it could be a problem for patients or dentists. He graduated FOUR years ago. This is not new information. It’s obvious the dental community at large doesn’t even understand the problem.
The safety of mercury fillings continues to be a very controversial subject. For your information, here are some undisputed facts:
- Mercury is the most neuro-toxic, non-radioactive element on the planet. It is more neurotoxic than arsenic or lead.
- Dental researchers now concede that mercury vapor is released from unstimulated amalgam fillings 24 hours a day.
- Chewing, brushing, temperature increases and clenching/grinding have been shown to release mercury vapor.
- The FDA and the American Dental Association promote amalgam fillings as standard of care dentistry. Dentists who place amalgam fillings do so in good faith, believing in the efficacy, safety, cost-effectiveness, and longevity of amalgams.
- Sweden, Austria, Denmark, and Norway have all banned amalgam fillings.
So… Do mercury fillings affect your health?
STUDIES SUPPORT BOTH SIDES OF THE CONTROVERSY. You must do your own research and decide what is best for you. When existing amalgam fillings are still functioning, it must be your personal choice to have them replaced with other materials, either for health reasons or if you want your teeth to look better.
Fix What’s Broken
Even if you choose not to have them removed for health reasons, mercury fillings aren’t a permanent fix for a tooth. They have an average life-span of 8-12 years. How long have you had your old fillings? You most likely will need to have them replaced, and you need to know how to keep yourself safe when you do.
What’s the difference between “mercury-free” and “mercury-safe” dentistry?
I was a “mercury-free” dentist for 14 years. Now I am a “mercury-safe” dentist. There is a difference. The greatest exposure to mercury comes when the old filling is drilled out. Safe procedures can reduce exposure by up to 90%.
What are those procedures? There are 10 that are generally regarded as the standard to be mercury safe.
1. Keeping it cool–to reduce mercury release, a lot of water is used to keep the filling cool.
2. Rocks, not pebbles–the filling is cut into large chunks, which reduces the amount of drilling.
3. Get it all out–the vacuum must be very strong and placed as close to the tooth as possible.
4. To breathe or not to breathe–avoid breathing through your mouth during the procedure.
5. Dam it – a rubber dam won’t keep vapors out, but it will keep particles out of your mouth.
6. Clean up, clean up–everything in the area and around the area should be rinsed very well.
7. Big vacuum–a very large vacuum is placed right below the chin.
8. Ions are friends – An ionizer traps any mercury still left in the air.
9. Rinse and spit–after the procedure, rinse very well, even gargle in the back, and spit.
10. After the fact–removing mercury fillings ,even in a safe way, will always produce a temporary increase in a person’s exposure to mercury. Make sure all of your routes of elimination are clear and ready to do their job.
I am now using all of the mercury-safe procedures in my office, and things have started to look up for my health. I don’t know if that was the main source of my health problems or not, but I don’t want to risk becoming a “mad dentist”! I’m staying safe, and keeping my patients safe from now on! For more information, look up biological dental information at www.totalcaredental.com.
–Dr. Michelle Jorgenson’s practice, Total Care Dental, is in American Fork, Utah