Holistic Dentistry

By: Hout Bay Dental Studio  11-11-2011
Keywords: Mercury, Fillings


Our holistic approach to dentistry takes into account the impact that oral health has on your entire well being. HBDS works closely with complimentary health practitioners and homeopaths. We use natural remedies, bio-compatible materials and minimally invasive treatments. We also make extensive use of the Rubber Dam technique - the use of a latex rubber protective membrane to eliminate the ingestion of amalgam waste materials while treatment is in progress.

Hout Bay Dental Studio has been a mercury free practice for more than ten years

Amalgam fillings have been used extensively over the past 170 years and still remain a contentious issue. The majority of dental associations around the world maintain that they are safe to use. However, there are a growing number of dentists and organisations that are concerned about the negative health implications, as well as the impact on the environment.

Amalgam consists of 50% mercury, 35% silver, and smaller amounts of tin, copper and zinc. Mercury as we know, is one of the most toxic substances known to mankind. It was originally believed that mercury is tightly bound within the filling but it has subsequently been proven that small amounts of mercury vapour do in fact get released from these fillings. It is argued that these quantities are so minute that they do not cause any harm to the patients and are well below the toxic threshold determined by the World Health Organisation, nevertheless we feel that even a small amount of a toxin remains a toxin and there can’t be a safe threshold that applies to all individuals. Continual exposure to low doses can result in symptoms. Some people are more sensitive to mercury than others. Whilst it appears that the majority of the population tolerate their existing amalgam fillings well there are a large number of patients suffering from non-responsive chronic illnesses and fatigue who display symptoms of mercury toxicity and are convinced that these fillings are making them ill. Should they decide to have their fillings replaced it must be done in a safe way using special protocols or else the symptoms could worsen dramatically, as increased volumes of mercury are released and ingested during placement and removal of amalgam.

Due to the unrelenting controversy about the effect of amalgam fillings on systemic health it is sensible to avoid them, especially as there are such excellent alternative materials available. Composite and porcelain. Instead of merely filling a damaged tooth as amalgam does, composite and porcelain correctly applied can actually restore teeth, reinforcing them to their former function, beauty and strength. These materials are more technique sensitive and require special skills. They take longer to place and cost more than amalgam, but are well worth it. Patients should discuss the available options with their dentists prior to having a filling done.

In a recent article, Cosmopolitain approached us to answer a few questions about mercury (amalgam) fillings. Here 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, like the kidneys, liver, nerve tissues (brain) and the gastrointestinal tract. Once present in the organs, mercury may damage the individual cells, 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. This includes; 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 to do is 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. Listen and read. 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 be dissolved in the saliva from where it can be swallowed or be absorbed through the mouth’s soft tissues.

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 born mercury and ‘pull out’ any that are trapped in the tissues so that it can be excreted.) Others feel happy using milder supplements like 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.

There are a great number of alternatives to traditional amalgams. In simple cases we can use direct bonded to easily replace the leaking amalgam in one visit. In more complex cases, where a larger amount of tooth structure has been lost, we use stronger porcelain restorations. These are custom made by our dental technicians and usually require a second visit. (See: )

Here is a case where we did direct composite restorations:

Keywords: Fillings, Mercury

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