Holistic Dental Care by Dr. Mallory

Mercury Toxicity
September 27, 2007, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Ask the Doctor, Mercury Toxicity | Tags: , , , ,

Chronic mercury exposure from occupational, environmental, dental amalgam, and contaminated food exposure is a significant threat to public health.Those with amalgam fillings exceed all occupational exposure allowances of mercury exposure of all European and North American countries. Adults with four or more amalgams run a significant risk from the amalgam, while in children as few as two amalgams will contribute to health problems. In most children, the largest source of mercury is that received from immunizations, or transferred to them in utero from their mother.

A single dental amalgam filling with a surface area of only 0.4 sq. cm is estimated to release as much as 15 micrograms of mercury per day primarily through mechanical wear and evaporation.

The average individual has eight amalgam fillings and could absorb up to 120 micrograms of mercury per day from their amalgams. These levels are consistent with reports of 60 micrograms per day collected in human feces. By way of contrast, estimates of the daily absorption of all forms of mercury from fish and seafood is 2.3 micrograms and from all other foods, air and water is 0.3 micrograms per day. Currently, Germany, Sweden and Denmark severely restrict the use of amalgams.

A “silver” filling, or dental amalgam, is not a true alloy. Amalgams are made up of 50% mercury. The amalgam also consists of 35% silver, 9% tin, 6% copper and a trace of zinc. More than 100 million mercury fillings are placed each year in the U.S. as over 90% of dentists use them for restoring posterior teeth.

The mercury vapor from the amalgams is lipid soluble and passes readily through cell membranes and across the blood brain barrier. The vapor serves as the primary route of mercury from amalgams into the body. It is clear that amalgam mercury transfers to human tissues, accumulates with time, and presents a potential health threat. The mercury escapes continuously during the entire life of the filling primarily in the form of vapor, ions, but also abraded particles. Chewing brushing, and the intake of hot fluids stimulates this release.

Statements made by dental authorities which claim that the amount of mercury exposure encountered by patients from dental amalgams is too small to be harmful, are contradicted by the literature.            Animal studies show that radioactively labeled mercury released from ideally placed amalgam fillings appear quickly in the kidneys, brain and wall of the intestines. The fact that mercury amalgam fillings are banned in some European countries is strong evidence of the clinical toxicity of this material.            Any metal tooth restoration placed in the mouth will also produce electrogalvanic effects. When dissimilar metals are placed in the oral cavity they exert a battery-like effect because of the electroconductivity of the saliva. The electrical current causes metal ions manifold. Gold placed in the vicinity of an amalgam restoration produces a 10-fold increase in the release of mercury.

Mercury’s Long Half-Life in the Central Nervous System Mercury in the central nervous system causes psychological, neurological, and immunological problems in humans. Mercury bonds very firmly to structures in the CNS through its affinity for sulfhydryl-groups on amino acids. Other studies have shown that mercury is taken up in the periphery by all nerve endings and rapidly transported inside the axon of the nerves to the spinal cord and brainstem. Unless actively removed, mercury has an extremely long half-life of somewhere between 15 and 30 years.

Mercury Toxicity Symptoms The overt clinical effects resulting from toxic exposure to mercury have been clearly described. The scientific literature shows that amalgam fillings have been associated with a variety of problems such as Alzheimer’s Disease, autoimmunity, kidney dysfunction, infertility, polycystic ovary syndrome, neurotransmitter imbalances, food allergies, multiple sclerosis, thyroid problems, and an impaired immune system.

Patients with many amalgam fillings will also have an increase in the prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Subclinical neuropsychological and motor control effects were also observed in dentists who had documented high mercury exposure levels. Amalgam use may also be related to fatigue, poor memory and certain psychological disorders.

There has been a recent epidemic of autism in the US and many investigators believe that this may be partially related to the increases exposure infants have to mercury through the preservation thimerosal that was included in nearly all vaccines until recently.

The nervous system is more sensitive to mercury toxicity than any other organ in the body. Mercury has recently been documented to be associated with arrhythmias and cardiomyopathies as hair analysis showed mercury levels to be 20,000 higher in those with these cardiac abnormalities. Mercury exposure has been associated with other neurological problems such as tremors, insomnia, polyneuropathy, paresthesias, emotional lability, irritability, personality changes, headaches, weakness, blurred vision, dysarthria, slowed mental response and unsteady gait.

Systemic Mercury Elimination There are a number of agents that have been demonstrated to have clinical utility in facilitating the removal of mercury with someone who has demonstrated clinical signs and symptoms of mercury toxicity. The urine and feces are the main excretory pathways of metallic and inorganic mercury in humans.

The most important part of systemic elimination is to remove the source of mercury.

For the most this involves amalgam removal. Individuals should seek a dentist who is specially trained in this area, as improperly removed amalgam may result in unnecessarily high exposure to mercury