New research and new diseases are prompting some dentists to question the wisdom of traditional dental materials and dental procedures. These dentists practice what is called holistic or biological dentistry. Biological dentists recognize the close connection between dental health and such areas as nutrition, body structure, the cranial system, the immune system and the central nervous system. Most are very concerned about the materials used in dental fillings, the safety of root canals, cavitations and holistic approaches to gum disease. Many are interested in nutritional aspects of dentistry and the alignment of the temporo-mandible joint.
Mercury Amalgam Fillings
The standard material used to fill cavities for the past century is a mix of mainly silver and mercury, with a small amount of copper, cadmium and other metals. To place the filling, the tooth must be hollowed out. The mixture is then placed in the tooth. The dentist squeezes out some of the mercury causing the filling to harden. Mercury makes the filing soft enough to place in the tooth. Mercury also kills bacteria that might cause infection.
Amalgam fillings have three drawbacks. First, mercury is a highly toxic metal. Placing it in the mouth assures that some will be leeched from the filling into the body. Second, the filling material provides no strength to the tooth. Hollowing out the tooth to place the filling weakens the tooth. This enhances the possibility of cracking the tooth. Third, placing metals in the mouth, particularly several kinds of metal in the same mouth, can generate a flow of electrical current in the mouth. This can affect the brain and general health in some people. The metals react with saliva like the materials in a car battery. In batteries, dissimilar metals in a conducting medium produce electricity. Sensitivity to mercury, as to all poisons, varies among individuals.
Mercury affects the immune system, the central nervous system , the thyroid gland and other body systems. The “mad hatters” of Alice in Wonderland were actual hat makers who became poisoned with mercury. To make felt hats, workers in the 1800’s rubbed mercury on felt. After several years on the job they become ill, developed mental disturbances, and had to quit their job.
Research regarding the toxicity of mercury is very clear. Several nations including Sweden banned the use of amalgam fillings entirely. Other nations permit them, but not in pregnant women. Studies prove that mercury continues to leach from amalgam fillings for years after they are place in the mouth. Biological dentistry has much to offer, and much to teach about the relationship of dental health to overall health. Some day, the insights will spread to all of dentistry. In the meantime, it is up to consumers to demand the dentistry we desire.
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