When Dr. V began phasing out mercury amalgam from his dental practice back in the mid-1970s, it was kind of a radical thing.
How times have changed!
These days, about half of all dentists here in the US no longer use the stuff. The reasons are many: mercury’s neurotoxicity, improvements in composite quality, aesthetic concerns, patient demand, and more.
Meantime, the other half of dentists continue to rely on amalgam – even as the EU and nations around the globe have already taken steps to phase out dental mercury as required by the Minamata Convention .
Clearly, work remains to be done, which is why Dr. Mercola and Consumers for Dental Choice team up each year around this time to host Mercury Awareness Week. It’s an opportunity to highlight the dangers of amalgam to personal and environmental health alike, and celebrate the progress that’s been made towards finally ending the use of this antiquated material.
All this is good and important. But it’s also crucial to know that simply choosing to have your amalgams replaced isn’t necessarily enough on its own. This is an issue Dr. V addressed in one of his first articles for our website, and the piece remains as pertinent today as it did more than a decade ago.
So in acknowledgment of this year’s event we’ve decided to re-publish the piece here…
The Only Thing that Matters Is Getting the Mercury Out, Right? (Not Quite)
by Gary M. Verigin, DDS, CTN
We humans are natural pattern-seekers and storytellers. When something happens to us – especially if it’s unexpected or undesired – we instinctively use these traits to help us find the cause and meaning of our experience. As we discover patterns, we build an explanation – a “story” – that satisfies us and that we can believe in.
Perhaps you’ve been having health problems that conventional medicine has been unable to explain. Maybe you’ve even been told that, despite your symptoms, there’s nothing really wrong: “It’s all in your head.” Dissatisfied, you sought a story that made more sense. Your search led you to information about the systemic illnesses that can be caused by dental situations such as the presence of mercury amalgam fillings, root canals and cavitations. And perhaps you suspect that one or more of these is the cause of your persistent health problems. Nothing else has made sense; this does. And so you reasonably, rationally conclude that you should have the disturbances removed.
Before doing anything, though, it must be fully verified that one or more of these situations – the presence of mercury, root canals or cavitations – is the actual cause of your systemic health problems. The conscientious dentist will never assume that just because mercury fillings are present, they are generating illness throughout the body. Close clinical examination and extensive testing are needed. The body’s toxic load must be determined. All possible sources of the toxins must be considered. The extent of toxication and its effects on the biological terrain must be understood.
In short, a thorough diagnosis must be made and the source of illness, pinpointed.
Say you’re driving one day and your engine begins to chirp. You take your car to a mechanic and explain the noise. No doubt, you would be quite upset if the mechanic just went under the hood and replaced the alternator, no questions asked – even if you knew that 9 times out of 10, a faulty alternator is the cause of the sound you heard. You’d be especially upset if, despite this, the engine kept chirping.
In dentistry and medicine, too, it is vital that the actual cause and nature of the problem be fully understood. Only then can a proper solution be determined.
Let’s say that, having run all of the appropriate tests and conducted a thorough examination, your dentist concludes that mercury fillings are indeed the problem. Even then, the careful dentist won’t just start drilling and filling. He or she must be sure that the new restorative material is biocompatible: that it won’t cause a toxic or allergic reaction that can lead to further health problems. If you are sensitive to mercury and a dentist replaces it with a direct composite that contains a substance you’re also sensitive to, you may be somewhat better off than you were, but your immune system remains under siege.
Think again of the car with the chirping engine. Testing has determined that the problem is, in fact, a faulty alternator. But say the mechanic replaces it with an alternator built for a different kind of car – one built for a Chevy truck but not your Mazda sedan. Obviously, you car still wouldn’t run very well. More, it could wind up having many problems beyond the original one.
What you replace with is just as important as the replacement itself. Compatibility tests should always be performed prior to any restorative procedure. IgA mercury saliva and blood serum tests are standard. If you prove especially sensitive to mercury and other materials, electro-dermal testing is also recommended. It can verify and refine the results of the initial tests, helping you and your dentist find the best possible match.
If your systemic illness is due to dental situations, it’s likely that your immune system and biological terrain have been greatly compromised. Your body has probably taken quite a beating from the toxic load. (Remember: with dental materials, there’s no escape from exposure. The offending materials are in your mouth 24-7, 365 days a year.) So also before replacement, measures must be taken to improve and strengthen these systems so they will be able to more efficiently detoxify your body once the offending materials have been removed. Your body is a self-regulating system. It must be prepared for the process of self-healing. While the exact measures to be taken will depend completely upon your unique situation, they commonly include dietary/nutritional changes and adding supplements and homeopathics to your daily nutritional regimen.
Mercury, root canal or cavitation removal is almost always beneficial. However, it is not an instant cure. Detoxification and healing are processes. They require a thorough understanding of the current situation and all possible routes to recovery. Because of the relationship among the dental situation, energetic health and systemic health, all aspects must be considered and treated together. Quick removal largely ignores the systemic issue: only the dental aspect is addressed. Likewise, treating the bodily symptoms without considering the dental or energetic components means that you will be fighting the problem constantly, continually, never addressing the cause. Dealing with illness in an integrative, biological manner is more time-consuming and, in the short term, more expensive. But the final goal must always be to ensure long-term health and wellness – which is always less time consuming and cheaper in the long run.
For a full description of our mercury removal protocol, click here .
Image: dental exam via USAF