One of my bucket list items is to remove the mercury amalgam fillings from my mouth. With the recent sale of my home I found myself with some extra cash and when I asked myself if there was anything I wanted, silver filling removal came to mind. I estimated that to replace the six metal fillings and crown with composite material would cost about $5,000. I was excited to do this.
I know, many people with some extra cash might instead go on a dream trip to Paris or Africa, but I have learned that I am different from other people. One of the highlights of my life was my colonoscopy without anesthesia. And now I had another opportunity to have a medical procedure to improve my health.
Mercury and heavy metal toxicity is one of my areas of interest. Indeed, research on using modified citrus pectin for metal chelation was part of my doctoral research. During my doctoral studies I also followed research on mercury toxicity and published the paper, Are Mercury Amalgam Fillings Safe for Children? in a peer reviewed journal.
I know that mercury interferes with the function of the immune system and is a potent neurotoxin. Mercury is also implicated in a wide variety of illnesses including heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease; both of which run in my family. I know from experience, and it took me months to figure this out, that eating too much fish will result in my heart skipping a beat at an annoyingly frequent rate.
Silver fillings are about 50% mercury and it has been well documented that mercury fillings release that mercury into the air and subsequently into the body, especially when one is chewing or consuming hot foods. The more fillings you have, the more toxic mercury you are exposed to.
Yet, despite being exposed to the mercury leaching off my six fillings, I didn’t sense that there was any urgency to have them removed. I sensed that my body was doing a good job at handling the mercury detoxification and elimination. Researchers have shown that there is genetic variability that results in person to person differences in the ability to detoxify and eliminate mercury from the body. I was pleased to get have “gotten the good genes”.
As I started looking into biological dentists to remove the amalgams I became curious about my mercury body burden. I stumbled onto a lab: Quicksilver Scientific that measured mercury levels in the blood, hair and urine in order to determine the mercury burden in the body and how efficiently the body was processing it.
I signed up as a practitioner with Quicksilver and ordered the Mercury Tri-Test. The urine sample was easy to get. The hair sample was a little more challenging. I accidentally shaved more hair from the back of my neck than was required. Opps! The blood draw was the most exciting. I ordered a blood collection kit and on my second poke managed to fill up a tube with blood. Victory! Nevermind the blood all over the kitchen. It is hard to collect blood with only one hand.
My blood results came back very low for both inorganic mercury and the more toxic methlymercury form. This affirmed my suspicion that I was effectively detoxing and eliminating mercury from my system. Typically blood levels of mercury will reflect mercury levels in all fluid compartments of the body – meaning in and around the cells.
Methylmercury is mainly from seafood and a small amount from the biological activation of leached amalgam mercury. The body gets rid of this form of mercury in the hair. Any inorganic mercury, which is primarily excreted in the urine, comes mainly from amalgams and perhaps a little from the detoxification of seafood derived methyl mercury.
The results of the urine and hair tests when compared to blood levels give a complete picture of how well the body is eliminating mercury from the body. My ratios of inorganic mercury in the blood to urine and methyl mercury in the blood to hair indicates optimal excretion and suggests I have not build up of mercury in body stores.
I am pleased with the results of the Quicksilver Scientific Mercury Tri-Test. The results suggest that removing my amalgams is not an urgent matter. This is a relief to me since what I found out about the alternative filling materials made me wonder if switching was such a good idea.
When I started looking into the materials that composite fillings are made of I quickly learned that the most common material used contains BPA, a material that manufacturers recently pulled out of plastic bottles due to consumer concerns over it’s safety. Further, researchers have found an association between composite fillings containing BPA and behavioral issues in children.
Fortunately, newer, safer materials are available. You just have to find a dentist that offers these more expensive alternatives. I was pleased to see a composite material called Filtek had research investigating toxic effects. If performed quite well. Unfortunately, a couple of short studies in animal models does not mean it will be safe for me or safe for anyone long term.
I have decided to postpone swapping out my fillings until they naturally need to be replaced. Two of my teeth with fillings are cracked and I imagine they will require some restoration in the near future. When that occurs I will pick the best filling material available to me. Perhaps gold….
Rode, D, 2006. Are Mercury Amalgam Fillings Safe for Children: An evaluation of Recent Research Results, Alternative Therapies 12:4