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Reasons to go Holistic!
There has been a debate raging for decades now (going back to the 1970’s) surrounding mercury fillings and possible mercury poisoning links. The rise of holistic dentistry in Los Angeles has helped to bring this into the spotlight. Studies have been performed on the issue since the 1970’s in the United States and around the world. To date, studies have not proven a direct link between such mercury fillings and poisoning. Yet there is no reason to risk the potential for poisoning or reactions. We offer complete holistic dentistry for Beverly Hills and Los Angeles and so utilize a non-toxic filling in all of our own dental fillings. See you holistic dentist in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills today to learn more about your filling options.
Is Mercury Poisonous In the Body in Any Quantity?
The argument surrounding mercury filling and possible links to poisoning always comes back to a single main debate. Is mercury used in an amalgam poisonous to the human body in any quantity no matter how small? Holistic dentists and holistic dentistry practices will argue that it could be.
It is important to realize that mercury itself is a natural substance that is found throughout nature in soil, water, and air. It is of course utilized in dental amalgam fillings as well. There is no debate that in high enough quantities, mercury has been shown to be poisonous to people. Yet despite this, the bulk of scientific evidence that has been built up over decades backs the argument that clinical evidence does not exist to show amalgam fillings lead to mercury poisoning in human bodies. We will consider this in more detail in this article, and conclude with the opinion of holistic dentists in Los Angeles on the subject.
Cavities are an everyday fact of life for the overwhelming majority of adults. These must be treated by drilling away the decayed material. Dentists then replace this removed material with one of two fillings. The traditional one that is most heavily utilized around the world is an amalgam filling partially comprised of mercury. Newer kinds of fillings are made from a composite material that is the same color as the teeth. Several factors impact the choice of available filling materials. These include the cooperation of the patient, the surface location that must be rebuilt, and various additional factors such as whether or not a holistic dentist is involved in the decision.
The dental amalgam fillings are in fact made up of several metals including mercury. Yet science has long been aware of the potential for poisoning in humans from the metal. This has led scientific researchers to heavily research the presence of dental amalgams in human subjects since the 1970’s even. The majority of such studies have concluded that there is no existing relationship between these amalgam fillings and any indications of resulting mercury poisoning in any aged group of people. It has been established that a smaller group of people do demonstrate allergic reactions to the amalgam fillings. This has been more the case with certain groups, including very little children, breast fed babies, and fetuses still in the womb.
What Is In Amalgam Fillings and Why Are They Used?
Amalgam fillings contain considerably more metals than only mercury. They are a mixture of tin, powdered silver, and copper that is combined with metallic mercury. These various metallic components become mixed together within the dentist office just before they are placed in the mouth of the patient with cavities. So-called silver fillings go back to the 1800’s and remain in use in millions of instances each year in just the United States alone. In fact, the watchdog FDA U.S. Food and Drug Administration counts over a billion such dental amalgam fillings having been place from years 1988 to 2008, in only a 20 year time frame.
The reason these amalgam fillings remain so very popular (outside of holistic dentistry practices especially in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills) is because they are well-proven to deliver durable and stronger chewing surfaces. Another advantage is that dentists can place them much faster than competing kinds of fillings. This makes them more practical when working with children. Another plus is that such amalgam fillings prove to be substantially less costly to create and insert than do rival fillings. Amalgam fillings have proven themselves to substantially outlast rival types as well.
Over the last several decades, the rival composite materials fillings have become increasingly available and practical for patients. These are comprised in part of glass in resin (a plastic) or quartz. Such composite fillings provide a significant aesthetic advantage over the traditional amalgam ones in that the composite fillings match the other teeth in the patients’ mouths. In front locations of the mouth, they are far less noticeable than the older silvery amalgam fillings. They are also effective for surfaces of teeth which do not undergo high amounts of friction and pressure, as in beneath a gum line or on the side of a tooth. Some holistic dentists simply prefer to provide such composite fillings to patients as they are not comprised of any mercury. It makes them the more popular choice with holistic dentistry (particularly in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills).
Yet no matter how strong or practical, finally all fillings will fail. The ongoing pressure of chewing leads to filling materials and the surrounding tooth materials cracking. Filling edges can get detached from the teeth. This allows for bacteria to seep in surrounding the filling and create additional tooth decay, even when the human eye can not detect any cracks and there may be no pain. Assuredly if this is not properly treated, such tooth decay will cause infection, pain, and potentially loss of the tooth. Holistic dentistry seeks to avoid this loss of teeth in particular.
Is Metallic Mercury Dangerous to People in Small Quantities?
It brings us back to the key question: Is metallic mercury dangerous to individuals when utilized in small quantities as with amalgams? It is important to know first that because mercury is so commonly occurring in nature (in water, earth, and air), the majority of people have tiny but still measurable quantities of the substance within their organisms. People who eat more shellfish or fish commonly have still higher mercury levels, as will those who work with smelting gold ore on an amateur basis. Individuals who have amalgam fillings in their mouth will also be exposed to this metallic mercury on a regular basis.
The use of mercury in medical devices like amalgam fillings in not new either. Metallic mercury has been used in both medical and commercial applications over a long history. It existed in the majority of blood pressure monitors and fever thermometers until recently.
Metallic mercury is also not poisonous if swallowed in small amounts. It would simply pass harmlessly through the gastrointestinal organs and not be absorbed into the human organism. The same is true with tiny fragments from an amalgam filling that might break off and be swallowed.
This is not true of the vapor of metallic mercury though. Breathing it in is an entirely different story. It can easily lead to poisoning. As it becomes breathed in through the lungs, these vapors quickly absorb into the human bloodstream. The toxic vapor is then rapidly transported to all organs of the body. The more dangerous destinations are to the kidneys and the brain. In this form, mercury can be passed into a baby through mothers who are breast feeding.
Becoming exposed to significant quantities of the vapor from metallic mercury requires prolonged exposure from work, broken or chipped medical devices, improper handling of liquid mercury, and folk remedies. This level of exposure can cause skin rashes, fever, cough, tremors, kidney failure or abnormalities, memory loss, and problems with walking and muscle coordination.
It takes a certain quantity of mercury vapor to reach an organ for the individual to become poisoned. Physicians can measure human blood levels to accurately ascertain the amount of mercury in an individual’s body. In those cases of more chronic exposure, they measure urine levels of mercury to determine the chances of mercury poisoning. A measurable level of such mercury does not necessarily mean that poisoning has occurred. Holistic dentists will advise staying away from mercury levels in any quantity as much as possible.
Those individuals who have amalgam fillings or restorations will possess quantifiable amounts of this mercury in their urine and blood streams. It happens naturally when mercury out of the filling first evaporates and then becomes inhaled and finally absorbed on in the blood. A larger amount of the mercury will be absorbed as individuals chew or grind their fillings. Even these amounts of exposure are not a risk to a person’s health, according to the overwhelming body of scientific evidence.
Has Science Then Conclusively Proven That Mercury in Amalgam Fillings Is Completely Safe?
The good news is that both international and American scientific institutions have concluded that using mercury in dental amalgams is completely safe. The WHO World Health Organization has declared that these dental amalgam fillings and restorations are safe. The same document later admits that there have been cases of localized allergic side effects and reactions.
Besides this, the FDA Food and Drug Administration has conclusively reviewed at least 200 different scientific articles and another 70 abstracts published on the subject. They declared that dental amalgam remains a commonly utilized device that has low risks of negative reactions reported to them.
The American Dental Association Council for Scientific Affairs has also weighed in on the matter of mercury in filings. They wrote that scientific evidence strongly indicates that this amalgam is viable, valuable, and safe as an option for dental patients. To come to this determination, they reviewed literature on the subject, determining that studies consistently support the idea that dental amalgam remains the safe option for restorative dentistry in both adults and children. They do allude to the differences between real and potential or hypothetical risks. Holistic dentists might seize on this hesitation to encourage their patients in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles to avoid the amalgams altogether.
All of these reports and other review articles that have reached the same conclusion base their findings on research that has been performed in huge quantities on adults and children who are more than six years of age. For babies and younger children, the research is less exhaustive, yet what has been done equally underscores the safety of using dental amalgam in people.
To be clear, literally hundreds of studies and their related published research have looked into the possible link between dental amalgam in fillings and the human tissue mercury levels as well as the absence or presence of mercury poisoning symptoms in individuals who have such amalgam fillings. There simply are no proven links between having dental amalgam fillings and any resulting systemic illness.
Various Studies on Dental Amalgams in Adults and Children
Studies in Children Over Six Years
For those children who are over six years of age, there have been recently conducted studies to determine if those children who had dental amalgams showed any development of renal or neurological impacts from the mercury. The study evaluated 507 individual children who ranged in age from eight up to ten and had dental cavities. Half of these subjects received amalgam fillings while the other half received composite fillings. Both groups underwent evaluation for absence or presence of neurological or other negative impacts. Statistically there were no differences between the two test groups. It was noted that those children with composite fillings required a greater number of replacement fillings than the ones who had the sturdier and better enduring amalgam fillings done.
The scientists also followed up these same children. Authors reiterated that their evidence strongly supported the idea that neurological effects or behaviors resulting from dental amalgam fillings and mercury exposure in these children were not at all significant.
Another study considered 534 different children aged six to ten years old with dental cavities. Again half received the traditional amalgam fillings while the other half received the newer composite fillings. Five years later, both groups underwent tests for any changes to memory, IQ, kidney functions, or neurological issues. The study authors announced that no statistical differences between either group existed at the conclusion of the period studied.
Studies in Adults
Adult studies have been exhaustively conducted on the subject of dental amalgam fillings and any associated ill effects from mercury poisoning. Reviews of many articles on the safety of such amalgam fillings determined that all evidence supports the safe use of amalgam restorations in fillings.
Two authors Buchanan and Chey also released a report where they noted that no currently available scientific evidence underpins any correlation between exposure to amalgam mercury and negative health impacts on either adults or children.
Bates and his colleagues studied fully 20,000 individuals of the New Zealand Defense Force to determine there was nothing to support the idea that dental amalgam fillings were in any way dangerous. Their only dissenting note was that they found seven individual cases of multiple sclerosis in the 20,000 participants, which was a higher amount than expected and worthy of additional study.
Molvar and Fung’s study determined that there is no evidence of dental mercury related health impacts in patients. They did find a few people in the study who were truly allergic to the various components of the amalgam though. Holistic dentistry would tour this as a reason to avoid the amalgams altogether.
Studies in Pregnant Women
Buchanan and Counter considered literature on the sources and impacts on all forms of mercury on kids. They alluded to a number of these studies that indicated any connection between dental amalgam in mothers and mercury found in neonates, fetuses, and infants. They did make note of the potential for negative neurological side effects on such young children and infants. Yet they stated that no real, conclusive evidence of this danger existed.
Another study involved Daniels and his colleagues. They considered 7,375 children who had mothers with dental care performed during the pregnancy. The pregnant women who underwent amalgam fillings similarly demonstrated no ill effects on the birth weights of their infants. They also did not find any negative impacts on the linguistic abilities and development of such children by the time they reached 15 months.
Studies on Breast Fed Infants
The jury is still out on the subject of mercury levels in breast milk and any direct relationship with maternal amalgam dental fillings. The outstanding questions center on the amount of mercury that binds to the milk, how much of it gets passed to the infant in question, and how much of this the under developed gastrointestinal systems of young children can even absorb. Clifton performed an intensive review of mercury exposure reports. In his 500 references, he indicated a need for additional research on the topic. He stated that no conclusive evidence exists that women with these amalgam dental fillings can not safely breast feed their young children.
Should Dental Amalgalms Be Removed Just To Be Safe Then?
There is a school of thought that argues for the removal of dental amalgams in any case, just to be on the safe side. Holistic dentistry would argue for this in many cases. The United States has not issued any such official national recommendations to this effect. Other countries, particularly in Europe though, disagree with their American safety body counterparts. Germany has banned the use of dental amalgam fillings entirely for all ages and segments of the population, while other European countries including the U.K. do not allow them to be put into the mouths of pregnant women.
Yet despite this, the official recommendation of the World Health Organization remains that there is no effective reason to remove amalgam fillings. One of their arguments against such a course of action is that in the drilling process to take out such fillings, the patients become exposed to a still greater amount of mercury vapor absorption in their blood plasma. Holistic dentists will not dispute this, they simply argue that removing the continued exposure to the mercury takes precedence.
An exception to this case might surround those patients who demonstrate a legitimate allergy to the mercury within the dental amalgam. For patients who begin to suffer from hives, itching, burning, soreness, and dry mouth or throat, the recommendation is different. When symptoms do not resolve themselves or react to the administration of antihistamines, then removing the amalgam implants becomes desirable. A holistic dentistry practice in Los Angeles or Beverly Hills will be happy to help with this procedure.
This is because holistic dentists in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles might tend to disagree with the conclusions of the WHO. A holistic dentistry practice may encourage patients to have the amalgams removed to be safe. This is a choice that patients in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills can make after personally consulting with their holistic dentist.
Stilll not sure if Holistic Dentistry is right for you? click here for 10 reasons to visit Smile Angles of Beverly Hills for Holistic Dentistry.