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Mercury Amalgam Fillings, Chronic Mercury Poisoning, Mercury Detoxification, and Dental Wellness Articles

I will regularly include articles that deal with Breaking News in every aspect of oral health, including its relationship to overall health, chronic mercury poisoning, mercury detoxification, dental materials, equipment, and preventive dental products. In order to provide this service to the greatest number of people I will review articles and studies that affect the largest number of people.

When the article or study sufficiently explains the issue and provides functional solutions, no additional comment from me will be necessary. But when I believe an article is incomplete, or confusing, I will follow the article, or study, with my comment. This will include suggestions regarding how to take full advantage of this information in your quest for optimal health.

Amalgam Fillings and Mercury Poisoning

Mercury-Free versus Mercury-Safe: What's in a Name?

FDA Ruling on Amalgam Fillings

Oral Health Articles: Table of Contents

Periodontal (Gum) Disease & Overall Health

Chronic Mercury Poisoning & Amalgam Fillings

Dental X-Rays & Low Birth Weight Babies

General Dental Topics

What is the Difference between a Mercury Free Dentist and a Mercury Safe Dentist

Mercury-Free and Mercury-Safe: What’s in a Name?

Strictly speaking, the term “mercury-free” refers to dentists who do not put amalgam fillings in their patients’ teeth. But over time, the term “mercury-free” was also used by those dentists who not only didn’t put mercury amalgam fillings into their patients teeth but those who also safely removed them.

However, mercury-free really isn’t an accurate description because as long as dentists still remove amalgam fillings, their offices technically aren't “mercury-free.” Therefore, mercury-safe is a more accurate description of those who not only don’t put amalgam fillings in, but also remove them as safely as possible. Thus, more and more mercury-free dentists, who also use safe amalgam removal protocols, now use the term “mercury-safe” to describe themselves. You can Click Here to access a list of the removal protocols and read more about why the protocols used to specifically protect patiensts are so important.

Today it’s even more important for dental patients to know the difference between a mercury-free and mercury-safe dentist. In 2008, for the first time, over 50% of general dentists no longer use amalgam, primarily because it simply isn’t a good filling when compared to the newer composites. But because they no longer use mercury amalgam fillings, these dentists are now promoting their practices as being "mercury-free".

However, that doesn’t mean that they believe mercury fillings are a health hazard, or will use established and safe removal protocols to protect you from excessive occupational exposure to mercury during amalgam removal. Bottom line . . . you can’t assume that a dentist who advertises his or her practice as being "mercury-free", is also "mercury-safe"! You must take the responsibility to specifically ask if they are also mercury-safe.

The Difference between a Mercury-Safe and a Pro-Amalgam Dentist

By the third year of dental school, every dental student knows how to remove and replace amalgam fillings. In private practice every pro-amalgam dentist removes and replaces old amalgam fillings with new amalgams many times a day. Removing amalgams without using a safe protocol is a simple and quick process. What really separates mercury-safe dentists from a pro-amalgam dentists is that mercury-safe dentists know that:

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  • unsafe removal of amalgam releases unnecessary and excessive amounts of toxic mercury vapor.
  • the amount of mercury released is far in excess of what is allowed by every government regulatory agency.
  • the mercury vapor released is harmful to the health of everyone exposed to it.
  • if a mercury separator isn't used unsafe levels of mercury are released into the wastewater and environment.

In addition, mercury safe dentists have the training, experience, skills and specialized equipment necessary to make their practices as mercury safe as possible.

The American Dental Association (ADA) continues to promote amalgam fillings as being safe and the controversy surrounding their use is still on-going. However, it’s one thing to believe that the mercury released from a patient’s amalgam fillings on a daily basis isn’t a health hazard. But it’s another thing entirely not to offer the dental patient protection against mercury vapor exposure during the removal process. These are really two separate issues because there’s a huge difference between the amount of mercury emitted from the fillings on a daily basis and the amount released during their removal at the dental office, up to a 1000 times more during unsafe removal.

If you want to have your amalgam fillings removed I can’t stress enough the importance of finding a mercury-safe dentist who has the qualifications to safely remove them. It may cost a little more to get this kind of protection, but it’s well worth it. Safe removal is particularly important for those who may be allergic to mercury (it is a well-known allergen) and those whose immune system is compromised and have symptoms, or health issues directly, or indirectly, related to chronic mercury poisoning. (To learn more about the many symptoms and diseases Click Here.)

Another advantage of going to a mercury-safe dentist is that you won’t have to debate why you believe amalgam fillings are a health hazard, why you want them removed, and why you want to minimize your exposure to mercury during the process. In fact, no regulatory agency, scientist, or health professional would ever suggest not doing everything possible to minimize your exposure to mercury, regardless of its source; except for one group—pro-amalgam dentists. This in spite of the fact that the ADA actually promotes mercury safety in the dental office.

Amazingly, the dental profession uses more mercury per year than any other business. In fact, it's the only industry using elemental mercury that isn't regulated by the government. Hopefully that will change soon. But in the meantime you can dramatically minimize your exposure to mercury vapor during amalgam removal by making sure they are removed by a "Mercury Safe & Amalgam Free" Dentist!

Tom McGuire, DDS

To learn more about the health hazards of mercury amalgam fillings I encourage you to read my book, The Poison in Your Teeth: Mercury Amalgam (Silver) Fillings . . . Hazardous to Your Health! To find dentists who will safely remove amalgam fillings link to Mercury Safe Dentists and Mercury Free, Holistic Dentists.

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The FDA Does an About Face: New Warning About Amalgam!

The most important section in this article is where the FDA now states that amalgam fillings “may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of developing children and fetus,”. What wasn't included in the article but you should also know, particularly if you are planning a child, is "Pregnant women and persons who may have a health condition that makes them more sensitive to mercury exposure, including individuals with existing high levels of mercury burden, should not avoid seeking dental care, but should discuss options with their health provider."

What this really means is that if mercury isn't safe for pregnant women, others with high levels of mercury (this includes the majority of people with amalgam fillings in their teeth), the fetus and developing children, it isn't safe for anyone. It also means you should do whatever possible to eliminate your exposure to mercury from all sources, but especially mercury amalgam fillings. Find Mercury Safe Denitsts, Mercury Amalgam Filling Free Dentists, & Holistic Dentists.

Mercury Tooth Fillings: FDA Does an About Face

Newsweek: Posted Tuesday, June 10, 2008 5:30 PM

Sharon Begley

When you’re sitting in the dentist’s chair waiting to have a cavity filled, you don’t see the package the amalgam filling comes in. But if you did your eye might well be drawn to a couple of “contraindications,” med-speak for “situations in which the dentist should not use this product.” In addition to ho-hum warnings about not using the amalgam, which contains about as much mercury as a thermometer, in patients known to be allergic to amalgam (duh), the manufacturers say it should not be used in children age 6 and under, or in pregnant women.

The reason, of course, is that mercury is a known neurotoxin, especially dangerous to developing brains. For decades anti-mercury activists have pushed the industry to develop substitutes (so-called composites, or resins, are now available), and even to persuade people to have their fillings ripped out, but have made very little headway.

Now they have won a big one. In a legal settlement signed last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has changed the information on its Web site about amalgam fillings to say that they “may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of developing children and fetus,” and that pregnant women“ should not avoid seeking dental care, but should discuss options with their health practitioner.” Previously, there was no such warning. The FDA also agreed to decide by next year whether mercury fillings need more regulation.

The FDA had been dragging its feet for so long on mercury in dental fillings that even the judge, Ellen Segal Huvelle of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, castigated the agency: “This is your classic failure to act,” she said. (The case is Moms Against Mercury et al. v. Von Eschenbach, Commissioner, et al. The “et al” plaintiffs are other consumer and environmental groups, as well as state officials.)

In a press conference yesterday, the anti-mercury groups claimed victory: “Gone are all of FDA’s claims that no science exists that amalgam is unsafe, or that other countries have acted for environmental reasons only, or that the 2006 FDA advisory panel affirmed amalgam’s safety, all of which are untrue,” said plaintiff Michael Bender of the Mercury Policy Project.

The foot-dragging that the judge called the agency on has been particularly noticeable since 2006, when members of an FDA advisory panel recommended [http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/meetings/090606-summary ] that the agency consider informed consent for patients receiving amalgam fillings, as well as possible labeling changes restricting their use in pregnant woman and children. None of that happened, although a number of other countries are much more cautious when it comes to amalgam fillings, including Canada, France and Sweden.

So what does the science say about any risks posed by the mercury in amalgam fillings, which make up about 30 percent of the 150 million fillings used each year in the U.S.? Don’t bother with the many old studies concluding that they pose no risk, for until 2006 there has not been a single one following the gold-standard for this kind of research, namely, randomized controlled trials following children with and without mercury fillings for at least five years. The first (and so far only) two were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in April 2006. The conclusion: after following just over 1,000 kids for five years in one study and seven years in the other, the scientists found no evidence of harmful effects. As one team put it: “no statistically significant differences were found between children in the amalgam and composite groups” in IQ, in memory abilities, in visuomotor skills. In all, “there were no statistically significant differences in adverse neuropsychological . . . effects observed over the 5-year period in children whose caries were restored using dental amalgam or composite materials . . . [a]though it is possible that very small IQ effects cannot be ruled out.”

Here’s where it gets interesting. The JAMA editors commissioned an editorial on the two papers. It was written by Herbert Needleman, the scientist who did more than any other to document the toxicity of lead to developing brains. He didn't exactly find the studies to be the last word on the subject, writing, “there are, as the authors clearly delineate, limits to the inferences that can be drawn from these data. It is predictable that some outside interests will expand the modest conclusions of these studies to assert that use of mercury amalgam in dentistry is risk free.” (Indeed, the American Dental Association continues to do exactly that.) “This conclusion,” Needleman said, “would be unfortunate and unscientific.”

Why? Even the impressive 5- and 7-year periods that the children were followed and tested may not be enough, for early exposure to toxic compounds can have effects even later in life. Said Needleman, “The hints that mercury has an effect on the aging brain emphasize” that concern. Also, even with 1,000 children the studies cannot rule out the possibility that mercury fillings cause a loss of several IQ points. Since 50 million children are walking around with amalgam fillings, “if mercury caused subtle effects in 1% of those exposed, up to 500 000 children could be affected,” Needleman pointed out.

One wild card here is that, as scientists are finding with so many other toxic compounds, who’s harmed depends on genes. Millions of baby-boomers with a mouth full of fillings are probably saying right about now that their brains work just fine, thank you, despite decades of living with mercury in their teeth and therefore mercury vapors wafting into the blood and brain. But “sensitivity to mercury toxicity may have a genetic basis,” Needleman wrote: variations in a gene called coproporphyrinogen oxidase (CPOX4) “altered the impact of mercury on cognitive and mood scores. Approximately 25% of the US population” has the sensitive-to-mercury gene.

What to do? No one with any sense recommends having your existing mercury fillings ripped out. That’s not only costly and possibly painful, but could expose you to a big pulse of mercury. Still, surely it is reasonable to stop pretending that putting neurotoxins in our mouths-where they stay for decades, with tiny puffs of mercury being released every time we chew-is a good idea. After all, there was also a time when "experts" pooh-poohed the suspicion that lead was bad for children's brains, too.

Epidemiological studies and clinical trials have not connected amalgams to health problems, but in animal studies, mercury vapors have damaging effects. Numerous human studies have found that mercury in the blood, brain, and other tissues increases with the number of amalgam fillings.

Mercury has been removed from thermometers and vaccines, controls have been tightened on mercury emissions from coal power plants, and pregnant women have been warned about consuming fish tainted by mercury.

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Periodontal (Gum) Disease & Overall Health

The usual format when speaking about holistic or biological dentistry is centered on mercury fillings, root canals and fluoride.  Dental materials are very important in the treatment of the teeth and the effects of total health.  However, there is a whole area of research that correlates periodontal health (gums and bone) to systemic disease.  The average person has 1500 billion bacteria in the mouth, comprised of 300 species of microbes living under the gums and along the roots of the teeth.  When the microbes increase to proportions of high viral, bacterial and fungal loads they spill into the blood and travel to all parts of the body.  In their New York Times best seller “You: The Owners Manual” Michael F. Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet C. Oz, M. D. state that “you need to combat gingivitis and periodontal disease which can cause inflammation in your body and aging of your immune and arterial systems.”

A number of studies show a correlation between periodontal (gum) disease and systemic diseases such as cardiovascular (heart) disease, diabetes, sinus problems and multiple other concerns.  So the head is really connected to the rest of the body!  It has been suggested that all diseases start orally and the challenged immune system shows up as problems in the mouth.

When we are born the cells in the body are non-pathogenic.  The toll that is placed on these cells through toxins, lack of exercise, life style choices, acidic blood environment, diet and a weakened immune system pushes these microbes to pathogenic forms causing tumors, cancer and other maladies.  A simple scheme suggests a transition from normal cells to viral forms and a state of accumulation with urogenital tract diseases, colitis, and lymphatism.  The next form would be bacterial and produce a state of inflammation with disease such as otitis, acne, laryngitis, pulmonary diseases, asthma, prostate adenoma, etc.  The following stage would be fungal and a degenerative stage producing anemia, embolism, diabetic gangrene, glaucoma, varicose veins and so on.  The immune system at this point would be under heavy stress.  It has been said that the mouth is the gateway to the immune system and by treating the mouth you can treat the entire body.

The American Dental Association has estimated that 80% of American adults have periodontal disease, including gingivitis.  Also patients with diabetes have twice the chance for heart attack and three times chance for stroke.  The Journal of Periodontology demonstrates clearly that infections in the teeth and gums have been linked to many diseases. Healthy Teeth-Healthy Body: How to Improve Your Oral and Overall Health will guide you in your efforts to eliminate gum disease and restore your mouth to health and function.                             

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Chronic Mercury Poisoning & Amalgam Fillings

Heavy Metal Self Defense: How Dangerous Is Mercury?

Many of us know that mercury is toxic and that we should limit our intake of certain types of seafood because of it. However, what you may not know is precisely how toxic mercury is and how vulnerable we are to exposure to it, in particular through silver-mercury amalgam dental fillings and vaccines.

Is Ignorance Bliss?

When it comes to mercury, ignorance is deadly. Mercury is one of the most poisonous naturally occurring substances on the planet, with even the most minute levels of exposure potentially contributing to chronic health problems, warns Tom McGuire, DDS, a leading authority on silver-mercury amalgam fillings and chronic mercury poisoning. Chronic mercury poisoning has a cumulative effect on the body, meaning that if the amount taken in is greater than the body can remove, the difference is stored. As long as it accumulates, over time it can affect your health in many ways. For example, it has been linked with brain disorders including Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, autism, learning disabilities and chronic neurological dysfunction. Symptoms of low-level poisoning include weakness, fatigue, impaired concentration and memory, persistent headaches, tremors and skin rashes. High doses can be fatal.

Dr. McGuire points out that mercury is classified as a toxic heavy metal like arsenic -- in fact, it is far more toxic than arsenic. While arsenic is the poison of choice in mystery novels and no one in their right mind would think of innocently slipping it into your meals on a daily basis, we have somehow grown used to the idea that routine, everyday exposure to mercury is okay. Many of us have silver-mercury amalgam fillings in our teeth... pharmaceutical manufacturers use the mercury-based preservative thimerosal in vaccines... and the larger the fish you eat, the more mercury you ingest. Dr. McGuire talked about these hazards with me and offered helpful advice on how to avoid them.

Mercury: The Poison in Your Teeth

There is nary a person in the US who does not have a dental cavity filled. Dentists routinely plug up cavities with silver-mercury amalgam fillings, which are easy to put in and inexpensive. However, Dr. McGuire warns that a tiny amount of mercury vapor is released from these fillings every time you generate friction and heat -- for example, when you brush your teeth or grind them or chew gum or drink hot liquids. The more amalgam fillings you have, the greater your exposure.

When I discussed this subject with my own dentist years ago, he told me that the mercury toxins "evaporate" soon after the filling is put in place so there was no need to replace silver-mercury amalgam fillings. According to Dr. McGuire, this is not correct. Mercury comprises approximately 50% of an amalgam filling, and its vapor can be released from these fillings over a period of many decades. Many dentists assume that it forms a complex with zinc and other metals, such as silver and copper, on the surface of the restoration, blocking further mercury vapor release. This is false. Even the mechanism of tooth brushing can cause up to a 10-fold increase in the rate of mercury vapor release.

Even though the daily amounts are relatively small, Dr. McGuire believes that exposure to any mercury at any level is a health hazard. When you add the amount of mercury from fillings to the mercury absorbed from your diet or annual flu shot or workplace (mercury has many industrial uses), the exposure from your fillings could be the straw that breaks the camel's back. The first indication would normally be one or more symptoms that are related to chronic mercury poisoning, such as weakness, fatigue, skin rashes, etc. Over time, that could lead to other related symptoms and a worsening of symptoms. Generally speaking, a disease forms when a set of symptoms becomes more or less permanent and are no longer isolated symptoms. This is easier to visualize when you think of one cell being affected, then two and so on. We have a redundant system, and it will take a number of cells dying or being wounded before the first sign of a symptom will appear, but that doesn't mean the damage isn't being done when we are not aware of it.

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What You Can Do About It

Composite fillings are an excellent alternative to amalgams, observes Dr. McGuire. Made from a plastic dental resin combined with porcelain and glass particles, composites are the most natural-looking fillings, and recent improvements have made them stronger and more resistant to temperature changes and decay. Mercury-free dentists (who refrain from using mercury of any kind in their practices) specialize in composites and are your best bet to see for this type of filling. Click Here to Visit Dr. McGuire's Web site and to find Mercury Safe Dentists in your area.

But what if you are one of the 150 million Americans who already have amalgam fillings in your teeth? By all means have them safely removed and replaced, advises Dr. McGuire. To make certain that amalgam fillings are removed in a safe manner that does not expose you to large doses of mercury vapor, Dr. McGuire suggests that you have them removed by a mercury-free dentist. Most follow a mercury-removal protocol established by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT). If these recommendations are followed, a patient's exposure to mercury vapor is decreased by up to 90%, when compared with the standard removal procedure followed by pro-amalgam dentists. You can find Dr. McGuire's evaluation of the IAOMT protocol by clicking on mercury amalgam filling removal protocol. In a majority of cases, people will see an improvement in related symptoms, but in some cases it could take months or years. The rate at which the body removes mercury can be increased by participating in a sound and safe mercury detoxification program. 

Mercury in Vaccines

The mercury-based preservative known as thimerosal has increasingly come under fire in recent years. It has been implicated in the skyrocketing rate of autism in young children. In Dr. McGuire's opinion, one must take all forms of mercury exposure (from vaccines to a mother's amalgam fillings to environmental pollutants) into account when looking at potential causes of autism.

In 2001, the Institute of Medicine recommended that children and pregnant women avoid thimerosal whenever possible. Since then, an effort has been made to remove it from infant vaccines (although it still appears in adult vaccines, such as flu and tetanus shots). Nearly 5,000 lawsuits have been filed urging state and federal legislation to ban thimerosal. 

What You can Do

Although this remains a controversial issue, Dr. McGuire believes that every effort should be made by the government, health organizations, general health-care practitioners, dentists and responsible parents to make sure that mothers and children are not exposed to mercury in any form. Because adult vaccines still contain thimerosal, ask your physician about mercury-free alternatives to standard adult shots, such as flu and tetanus, and consider alternate ways to boost your immune system to prevent the flu without getting a vaccine.

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Mercury in Fish

Fish is an excellent source of lean protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, nearly all fish are contaminated to some degree with mercury, thanks primarily to industrial pollution that accumulates in oceans and streams. Older, larger, predator fish -- those at the top of the food chain who live longer and spend their lives feeding on the little guys -- contain the most mercury and pose the greatest health risks, especially to pregnant or nursing women and young children. Shark, swordfish, tuna, tilefish and king mackerel top the charts with the highest levels of mercury and should be avoided altogether by people in these high-risk groups.

What You can Do

Whatever your age and gender, your best bet is to steer clear of fish that have the highest mercury content. Although some purists have sworn off fish altogether, Dr. McGuire does not believe it is necessary to go this far. Fish is still a healthy choice, especially for those who don't eat meat. You simply have to choose the fish that are lowest in mercury. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), safer, low-mercury alternatives include shrimp, salmon, pollock and fresh water fish such as catfish, bass and trout.

When it comes to mercury poisoning, the more you know, the more effectively you can avoid it. 

For more information about the safety of locally caught fish and shellfish, go to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Web site by Clicking Here. And to learn more about mercury concerns in general, visit Dr. McGuire's Web site.

Tom McGuire, DDS

Dr. McGuire , is leading authority on dental wellness, mercury amalgam (silver) fillings, chronic mercury poisoning, and mercury detoxification. Dr. McGuire is president, Dental Wellness Institute... founder, International Association of Mercury Free Dentists (IAMFD) . . . and author of:

Dr. Tom has the largest, most informative and most visited website dealing with the relationship of Oral to Overall Health, Mercury Amalgam Silver Fillings, Chronic Mercury Poisoning and Mercury Detoxification. You can visit his informative Website by Clicking Here.

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Dental X-rays and Low Birth Weight Babies

Low Birth-Weight Babies and Dental X-Rays

Pregnant women who undergo dental X-rays may raise their risk of having low birth-weight babies, researchers said on Tuesday. 

The association could be related to exposing the mothers' thyroid, pituitary or hypothalamus glands to radiation, even early in the pregnancy. 

"Up until now, people assumed that head and neck radiation will not have any adverse effects on pregnant women. They assumed that only direct radiation to the uterus or the fetus would be associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes," said Philippe Hujoel of the University of Washington in Seattle, who led the study. 

But a seven-year review of a dental insurance company's records in the state of Washington found pregnant women who underwent extensive dental X-rays were at three times the risk of having a low birth-weight baby, characterized as weighing 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) or less. 

Some 20 percent of the 5,585 infants in the study had low birth weight. 

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, divided women into three groups, with the highest level of radiation exposure from dental X-rays comparable to that received in four to 16 round-trip flights between New York and London. 

"Since women may not always be aware of their pregnancy status, it may not be possible to eliminate all dental radiography during pregnancy, but if this goal could be achieved and if the identified association is causal, the prevalence of (term low birth-weight) infants could be reduced by up to 5 percent," the report said. 

CHICAGO (Reuters) -Tue 27 April, 2004 21:10

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Tom McGuire, DDS: Comment

This is an important study and should be taken seriously by every woman who is now pregnant or is planning a pregnancy. In the study, not every pregnant woman who was exposed to dental X-rays delivered a low birth-weight baby but the risk was still one-in-five and there is no way to predict in advance if you will, or won’t, be in the high-risk group. I can’t speak for you but even if it were 1%, I wouldn’t take the chance if only for my baby’s sake. Particularly when there are things you can do to protect yourself and the fetus. Now that you are aware of the problem I’ll offer the following recommendations:

Inform your dentist that you are, or may be pregnant and are concerned about dental X-rays.

  • If you even think it is a possibility that you are pregnant don’t have a dental X-ray taken unless it is an emergency situation.
  • If you have to have an X-ray taken the least harmful type is a digital X-ray. I’d check with your dentist’s receptionist to see if he or she uses digital X-rays and if not, I’d consider changing dentists. (More and more dental offices are using digital X-rays and they are believed to reduce your exposure to X-rays by up to 90 %.).
  • Make sure you are not only provided with the lead chest protector, but one that covers neck. If it isn’t provided, ask for it and don’t have an X-ray taken without it.
  • Make sure you have a full dental examination, including X-rays if needed, prior to becoming pregnant.
  • If the examination determines you have an emergency situation, or a potential one, have it dealt with prior your pregnancy. 

Please keep in mind that dental X-rays aren’t the only oral health issue that can affect the health of you and the fetus. Gum disease is a concern and so are mercury-amalgam fillings. I strongly recommend that you deal with these oral health problems before you become pregnant. In this case, because you are responsible for another being, an ounce of prevention is worth much more than a pound of cure. Important information regarding the effects of chronic mercury poisoning from amalgam fillings can be found The Poison in Your Teeth: Mercury Amalgam (Silver) Fillings . . . Hazardous to Your Health!

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Mercury Safe & Mercury Free: What’s the Difference

One of the questions I’m asked the most is “What is the difference between Mercury-Free Dentists and Mercury-Safe Dentists?” It is a great question because there is a significant difference between the two and it is important for patients to know the difference between the two terms. (For those who may not be aware of it – silver/amalgam fillings contain 50% elemental mercury – the most poisonous, non- radioactive, naturally occurring substance on the planted. Toxic mercury vapor is released from them during any form of stimulation – including when they are removed. Watch the YouTube Video by Clicking on Mercury: The Poison in Your Teeth!)

Strictly speaking, the term “mercury-free” refers to dentists who do not put amalgam/silver fillings in their patients’ teeth. This term was first used over 40 years ago by dentists who wanted to distinguish themselves from dentists who felt that amalgams were a harmless filling material and continued to use them. Simply put it, becoming mercury-free is a decision a dentist makes to no longer use silver/amalgam filling material to fill patients’ teeth– for whatever reason.

However, the term mercury-free wasn’t a truly accurate description because even dentists who didn’t put in amalgam fillings still had to remove them – and the removal process released excessive and unnecessary amounts of toxic mercury vapor. Even though not placing them didn’t eliminate exposure to mercury when they are removed - it was a good beginning.

Over time, dentists who were mercury-free developed more effective protocols* and equipment that allowed them to dramatically minimize a patient’s exposure to mercury vapor during the removal process. In effect, using these safe protocols meant that their practices were not just mercury free, but also mercury safe.

Yet they mistakenly continued to only use the term mercury-free to describe themselves. That was effective for for many years because dentistry consisted of those who used amalgam and those who didn’t - but things have changed!

Today it is no longer enough for a dentist who is both amalgam-free and mercury-safe to just promote his or her practice as mercury-free. Why? Recently a survey showed that 52% of general dentists no longer use amalgam and now call their practices mercury-free. But, and this is important for every dental patient to know; not because they were concerned about safely removing them – but because the majority no longer felt amalgam was a good filling material when compared to the newer composite fillings.

The fact is that dentists who promote their practices as being mercury-free - but are not mercury-safe - has created a problem for patients who had believed that dentists who said they were mercury free (amalgam silver filling-free) also meant they used protocols to safely remove amalgam fillings.

But there is an easy solution to this dilemma for the dental patient. Patients who are looking for a dentist who will safely remove their amalgam fillings must ask the question: “Are you both mercury safe and mercury free?” Bottom line . . . you can no longer assume that a dentist who advertises his or her practice as being mercury free (or amalgam free) is also mercury safe – unless you ask!

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The Main Difference between a Mercury Safe and a Dentist who is only Mercury Free

Unsafe removal of amalgam fillings can generate huge amounts of toxic mercury vapor, easily up to a 100 times more than the maximum levels of mercury vapor allowed by all government regulatory agencies at the workplace. What really separates mercury-safe dentists from those who are only mercury-free, is their understanding that:

  • When unsafely removed, amalgam fillings release huge amounts of poisonous mercury vapor.
  • The mercury released from amalgam fillings is readily inhaled and can negatively affect a patient’s health.
  • Patients (along with the dentist, staff and the environment) need to be protected from exposure to excessive and unnecessary amounts of toxic mercury vapor during the amalgam removal process.

Mercury-safe dentists also have the specialized equipment, training, experience, and skills necessary to dramatically minimize their patients’ exposure to mercury during amalgam removal. If you want to protect yourself from excessive and unnecessary occupational exposure to mercury vapor at the dental office - make sure your dentist is not just mercury-free - but also mercury-safe!

Note: Dr. McGuire’s website has more detailed information about the philosophy and recommended protocols used to safely remove amalgam fillings. To access it please go to the Mercury (Amalgam Filling) Safe Removal Protocols page by Clicking on Amalgam Removal Protocols.

If you are a dentist who wants to be make your practice Occupationally Mercury Safe, or a patient who wants to let their dentist know how to become Mercury Safe - Click on How to Make Your Practice Mercury Safe for more information about the DVD Course available!

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About Dr. Tom

Tom McGuire, DDS, is a leading authority on mercury detoxification, mercury amalgam fillings, chronic mercury poisoning and holistic dental wellness. Dr. McGuire is president of the Dental Wellness Institute, founder of the International Association of Mercury Safe Dentists (IAMSD) and author of a number of books on holistic dental wellness, including:

To learn more about him: Tom McGuire, DDS: Biography

Click Here to visit his Website. He is available for consultations regarding mercury detoxification, second opinions, and other oral health issues. For scheduling call toll free at 800-335-7755. Dr. Tom McGuire: Consultations.

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© 2021, Tom McGuire, DDS, founder and Director of The Mercury Safe Dentist Directory.