Questions and Answers
Cosmopolitan Magazine approached us to answer a few questions about the use of mercury-amalgam fillings for an article they published a while back. As many of our patients have concerns about the use of mercury-amalgam fillings in terms of their general health and raise these queries too, this is what we had to say:
Question: Why is mercury so dangerous to the human body?
Answer: Mercury is a powerful metabolic poison, which means that it can damage any cell or tissue in the body, as well as numerous enzymes and hormones. Mercury that has been absorbed in the bloodstream is stored in body organs such as the kidneys, liver, brain and nerve tissues, and the gastrointestinal tract. Once present in the organs, mercury may damage the individual cells and preventing them from functioning normally. This affects the efficiency of the organs and causes a disruption in your body’s normal biochemistry and physiology.
Question: Can you always see the immediate effect of mercury poisoning on the body?
Answer: The time it takes for the first signs of mercury poisoning to appear are dependent on a variety of factors. These include:
- the form of the mercury,
- the volume of exposure,
- the route it was exposed through, and
- each individual’s unique response.
The exposure to dental mercury is a chronic, accumulative form, and unfortunately it can take many years before a person starts recognizing the symptoms.
Question: If you have mercury fillings and are concerned, what should you do? Should you have them removed and replaced with porcelain fillings?
Answer: The best thing to do is to become well informed and not jump to unwarranted conclusions. At the present time, no one can conclusively prove or disprove whether or not you should have your mercury dental fillings replaced. Unfortunately the obvious symptoms of mercury damage may take a long time to become noticeable. Read and listen. Evaluate the credibility of the information you receive. The decision is yours alone.
Question: How does it get into your system?
Answer: When chewing or grinding your teeth, mercury is released from your dental fillings in the form of mercury vapour. Much of this vapour can then be inhaled. Once in the lungs the vapour is absorbed into the blood stream and distributed throughout the body. Some of the released mercury can also dissolve in the saliva and be swallowed or absorbed through the soft tissues of the mouth.
Question: Once you’ve had them removed, do you need to have a mercury detox to clear your body of traces?
Answer: Because people differ in their expression of symptoms, there is no hard and fast rule regarding the need for detoxification. Some people find their symptoms warrant the need to follow a comprehensive detoxification program using chelating agents. These agents bind to the blood-borne mercury and ‘pull out’ any particles that are trapped in the tissues so that it can be excreted. Others prefer to use milder supplements such as Chlorella. If you would like to use any of these products, it is advised that you contact a toxicologist that is experienced in amalgam-related treatment.
Question: What are the alternatives to mercury fillings?
Answer: Composite (reinforced resin plastic) fillings are a great alternative to amalgam fillings and if placed correctly are very effective and long lasting. In some cases, if it is a large filling or there are cracks in the tooth, a stronger porcelain material may be used. Try to find a dentist who is experienced and knowledgeable in this area: one that has been ‘mercury-free’ for some time. They will be able to advise you on your own needs and would be able to give you an estimate for any treatment you might need.