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    You are here : Home » MS Research News » Mercury Amalgam Fillings Research

    Mercury Amalgam Fillings Research

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    Mercury Fillings RemovalMany people believe there is a connection between MS and Amalgam Mercury Fillings and that it is beneficial to have them removed.

    For a comprehensive overview of Amalgam Mercury Fillings and their possible affects on MS patients please go to the Huggins Applied Healing Site.

    For an alternative view on Mercury Filling Removal please refer to the Mercury Fillings page on the WebHealth website.

    If you wish to have your Mercury fillings removed then please ensure you seek out a professional who will do the job properly and protect you from toxic metal poisoning.

    To read people's personal experiences with Amalgam Mercury Filling removal please click on the links below.

    Below you can read all the latest research and views on this controversial subject. 

    Growing number of dentists choose not to use dental amalgam
    As a dental student almost three decades ago, Dr. C. Frederick Smith of Lynchburg says he became concerned that dental amalgam filling material contained mercury.

    Though his professors assured him that the mercury could not leak out of the filling material, Smith said he doubted the validity of that statement because he had worked as a research chemist before entering the dental field. Still, he said in a letter sent to the newspaper last week, "I did not think it wise to disagree with my professors."

    But after graduation from dental school in 1977, he began to research the safety of dental amalgam, which is made up of 50 percent mercury. He said his master's degree in chemistry gave him a high respect for the toxicity of elemental mercury.

    Smith says now he has no doubt: Dental amalgam isn't safe.

    "Scientific research has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that elemental mercury evaporates from amalgam fillings as mercury vapour. When a piece of 25 year old amalgam filling that had been removed from a patient's tooth was lightly touched and then examined with an electron microscope, tiny balls of liquid unbound mercury could be seen beading up on the surface of the filling. With special black lighting mercury vapour has even been photographed evaporating off of dental amalgam," he stated.

    Smith stopped using dental amalgam in most of his patients as early as 1984 and as of 1998 he stopped using it altogether.

    He said he's among a growing number of dentists choosing alternatives to dental amalgam. According to Smith 30 percent of dentists in the United States don't use dental amalgam fillings at all and half of all the fillings now used are with materials other than dental amalgam.

    One issue dentists in Virginia who are mercury-free face is that they can't advertise that fact. According to the Virginia Board of Dentistry, doing so would be tantamount to making a claim of superiority and therefore they become subject to disciplinary action.

    Sandra Reen, executive director of the Virginia Board of Dentistry, said the board does not have a guiding document specific to the use of dental amalgam.

    "We refer people to the research literature that exists ... There's quite a bit of literature available from the research community in regards to the safety," she said.

    Smith said he also points his peers to scientific information so "they can come to their own conclusion" on the safety of dental amalgam.

    "I just think a lot of the scientific literature is not available to the majority of dentists," he said of why some dentists still choose to use dental amalgam. "You really have to go hunting and looking for it. If they did (study it) they would really begin to question it as I did when I read it," he said.

    Smith belongs to the dental professional organisation the International Academy for Oral Medicine and Toxicology which deals with the safety of dental materials used by dentists to restore teeth.

    He said studies have shown that mercury vapour breathed in is 80 percent absorbed by the blood in the lungs and then becomes a cumulative toxin that the body must dispose. He said the studies have shown that mercury from amalgam fillings accumulates in distant organs within just a few weeks of being placed in the mouth.

    The American Dental Association, however, does not believe any vapour which might be released is harmful.

    Dr. Robert Kelly, a spokesman for the ADA from the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, said the ADA's position supporting the safety of dental amalgam has been formed from a lot of people outside the field of dentistry.

    He said the amount of exposure to mercury from amalgam fillings is minuscule relative to exposure from a normal diet or "from the air we breathe."

    "It's not for lack of looking. People just haven't found any relationship (between dental amalgam and health problems) at all," he said.

    "The health side seems to be well settled," he added. "There just isn't anything out there to raise a health concern."

    Kelly said at best having amalgam fillings adds one microgram of extra exposure per day, compared to some 10 micrograms of exposure per day in a normal diet.

    He didn't question that people are having health issues, but Kelly said those health issues are being wrongly attributed to the use of dental amalgam fillings. Instead, he said symptoms of health problems such as Multiple Sclerosis, which tend to come and go, may coincide to an issue with a filling during a time when such a health issue is progressing naturally.

    "It's clear to me if they had a problem related to the neurologic and auto-immunue diseases they would have been found. There's been a lot of looking," Kelly said.

    He said the use of dental amalgam provides an effective and inexpensive option. "It's the cheapest and most long-lasting filling material we have," he said. "There are a lot of people who are healthier because of its use. "

    He said if there was a problem, the ADA would be among the first to advocate against its use. " They have an active interest in the patients we treat," he said.

    "If dentistry could cure Alzheimer's, wouldn't that be wonderful. But we can't. The same with Multiple Sclerosis. We just can't," Kelly said.

    But Smith disagrees with the ADA position stated by Kelly. Smith said the World Health Organisation believes any mercury vapour released is harmful.

    "The consumer is now put in the awkward position of whom to believe: the ADA who is in favour of amalgam use or the WHO that states that it is the major contributing factor to human mercury exposure," he said.

    He said the recent hearings before an advisory panel of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the safety of dental amalgam should send a message. Those hearings, he said, showed there was skepticism as to the claims by the ADA that dental amalgam is safe, and stated that an overwhelming majority of the neurologists on the panel voted that "Given the amount and quality of information available for the FDA Draft White Paper, the conclusions [that amalgam is safe] were not reasonable.”

    Those hearings have been followed by several thousand submissions from individuals claiming adverse reactions to dental amalgam.

    Smith wrote: "As I understand it, the FDA has only two positions. A material is either safe or not safe. If the advisory panel would not make a statement that amalgam is safe, then what are we to assume but that it is not safe?"

    The use of tooth-coloured composite restorations, though they require more time and cost more, have advantages, he said. Those advantages include requiring less of the patient's tooth to be removed and being able to bond the remaining tooth structure together, "giving the tooth back almost its original strength which reduces the risk of fracture."

    He also said tooth-coloured composite restorations match the natural tooth color. "They can even be placed on the surfaces of a child's permanent teeth as a sealant to prevent decay from penetrating the grooves that are so often the first site of a filling in a child," he added.

    He said it's important that if amalgam fillings are removed, they be done so safely.

    "Unfortunately, when dentists place and remove dental mercury containing amalgam, they expose themselves, their staff, and their patients to toxic mercury vapour and amalgam dust particles unless they take special precautions to minimise the exposure as recommended by the IAOMT. Mercury vapour is colourless, odorless and tasteless. If we cannot see it, smell it, or taste it, it's very hard to believe that it is present. The ADA recommends that the dental treatment rooms be well ventilated, but without some sort of monitoring and well defined protection and containment procedures, mercury exposure will inevitably occur," he wrote.

    He said other countries have already eliminated or restricted the use of dental amalgam fillings.

    "When other countries have had a fair and balanced review of the currently available scientific research on mercury containing dental filling material, and have found it to be unsuitable as a dental restorative material, it is disturbing that the United States, usually a leader on these issues, is so far behind other countries," he said.

    He hopes the use of dental amalgam fillings will be discontinued in this country soon.

    "If the discontinued use of mercury containing amalgam has been successfully accomplished in other countries, I am sure we can be as equally successfully in eliminating its use in the United States," he wrote.

    In his letter, Dr. C. Frederick Smith noted that the information he gave was his opinion and anyone with questions should consult their local physician for more dental health/medical information.

    Source: Bedford Bulletin Copyright © 2006 Bedford Bulletin

    FDA panel urges research into safety of dental fillings containing mercury
    Rejecting a government report that declares dental amalgams containing mercury safe for human health, a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel, on Thursday, urged greater research into the safety of mercury on vulnerable groups like pregnant women and children.

    Falling short of declaring the fillings unsafe, the panel voted 13 to 7 against adopting the findings of the government report, asserting that the report was not objective and clear and did not give a better evaluation of the effects of such fillings on the above mentioned groups. In the federal report, which was a review of 34 related studies, researchers said that there was 'no significant new information' that such fillings were harmful for humans, except those who were allergic to mercury.

    For ages, dental amalgams, a 50 per cent combination of mercury with metals like silver, copper, tin and zinc, have been used to support decayed teeth. While dental experts have declared such use of mercury safe because it is bound with other metals and is rendered harmless, critics assert that some vapours of mercury do seep out of the fillings and have the potential to cause neurological diseases like Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis.

    The panelists, though urging deeper research, did not feel that the dental amalgams were risky. “The vast majority of the population ... is extremely unlikely to have any complication. For the general population, amalgams are safe. There is evidence of that,” said Dr Karl Kieburtz, who co-chaired the panel. Panel member Dr Ralph Sacco warned patients against panic responses and said they should not rush to remove their fillings till a clearer picture emerges. “I'd hate to see an overreaction and a panic,” the Columbia University neurologist said.

    The panel urged for deeper studies into pregnant women with fillings and children. “There are too many things we don't know and too many things we have excluded.” said Michael Aschner, a panel member from the Vanderbilt University.

    Dental amalgams are preferred to other options mainly because they are stronger, more durable and cheaper. But in the wake of their concerns, some consumer groups have urged for a partial ban on their use. Due to the availability of ceramic fillings, the use of silver fillings has been declining, American Dental Association (ADA) figures say. The experts' group, while welcoming the FDA panel's conclusion, said only 30 per cent of all fillings in 2003 involved silver fillings.

    However, it extolled the virtues of using the silver fillings, as it hardens fast and is also useful for deeper cavities. “The more well-designed studies that are considered, the better the pool of evidence for making treatment recommendations to patients. First and foremost, we want scientific evidence to lead the way when it comes to health care treatment,” said James Bramson, ADA's executive director. He warned against a ban as costs would go up, forcing more people to live with cavities instead of getting them filled.

    Another lobby that hailed the verdict was those looking for a ban on use of mercury in dentistry. “I think this is a turning point,” said Freya Koss, who established the Pennsylvania Coalition for Mercury-Free Dentistry after facing neurological problems when she got silver fillings.

    Source: (c) 2006, All Rights Reserved.

    Study finds mercury fillings not harmful
    Silver fillings used to patch cavities aren't dangerous even though they expose dental patients to the toxic metal mercury, federal health researchers said Friday.

    The Food and Drug Administration reviewed 34 recent research studies and found "no significant new information" that would change its determination that mercury-based fillings don't harm patients, except in rare cases where they have allergic reactions.

    The FDA released a draft of its review ahead of a two-day meeting next week to discuss the safety of mercury used in dentistry.

    Consumer groups opposed to its use disputed the FDA's conclusions. The groups plan to petition the agency for an immediate ban on use of the cavity-filler in pregnant women.

    "The science is over. There is no safe level of exposure," said Charles Brown, a lawyer for one of the groups, Consumers for Dental Choice. "The only thing standing between this and a ban is politics. They are still pretending it is a scientific question, but it isn't."

    Amalgam fillings, also called silver fillings, by weight are about 50 percent mercury, joined with silver, copper and tin. Dentists have used amalgam to fill cavities since the 1800s. Today, tens of millions of Americans receive mercury fillings each year. Amalgam use has begun to decline, however, with many doctors switching to resin composite fillings, considered more appealing since they blend better with the natural coloring of teeth.

    With amalgam fillings, mercury vapour is released through tooth-brushing and chewing. In general, significant levels of mercury exposure can permanently damage the brain and kidneys. Fetuses and children are especially sensitive to its harmful effects.

    Scientists have found that mercury levels in the blood, urine and body tissues rise the more mercury fillings a person has. However, even among people with numerous fillings, exposure levels are well below those known to be harmful, the report said.

    "If substantial scientific evidence showed that dental amalgam posed a threat to the health of dental patients, we would advise dentists to stop using it. But the best and latest available scientific evidence indicates that dental amalgam is safe," Dr. Ronald Zentz, senior director of the American Dental Association's council on scientific affairs, said in prepared remarks to be delivered Wednesday to the joint meeting of FDA experts on dental products and neurology.

    Among those expected to address the joint panel is Rep. Diane Watson (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif., who has introduced legislation that would effectively ban the use of mercury in dental fillings by 2008. Watson will press the FDA for a ban and call on the agency to study the environmental impact of dental mercury, spokesman Bert Hammond said.

    Also on the legislative front, Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and other Senate colleagues have asked President Bush's nominee to head the FDA about the safety of mercury fillings. An Enzi spokesman said the lawmaker has yet to receive Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach's answers to those questions.

    Meanwhile, representatives of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Alzheimer's Association are expected to testify that there is no known scientific evidence to connect mercury fillings and the two diseases that are the focus of their respective groups. And Swedish and Canadian experts are to discuss how their countries regulate amalgam fillings.

    The meeting likely won't be the last word in the drawn-out fight over mercury fillings. As early as the 1840s, dentists were squabbling over whether gold or mercury-silver fillings were better — a feud that led to the disbanding of the first national dental society in the United States, according to a March article in the Journal of the California Dental Association.

    Source: Yahoo News Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press

    New Research Finds Mercury Fillings Are Safe
    Two new studies that found amalgam fillings to be safe are sure to revive the debate over whether or not "silver" fillings can harm other parts of the body.

    While the latest research did report higher levels of mercury in children's urine after they received amalgam fillings, there were no statistically significant ill effects on the children's kidney function or their neurological capacities.

    "We saw no observable differences in neuropsychological or kidney outcomes. I think the findings should be fairly reassuring," said the lead author of one of the studies, David Bellinger, a professor of neurology and environmental health at Harvard Medical School and a senior research associate at Children's Hospital in Boston.

    However, he added, "We can't reject the hypothesis that there is a sensitive subgroup that may confer a little more vulnerability [to mercury in fillings]."

    Amalgam fillings are actually composed of more mercury than silver -- they're about 50 percent mercury. Dental experts contend that when mercury is bound to the other metals it's encapsulated and doesn't pose a health risk. Consumer groups, however, contend that mercury, a known neurotoxin, does leak out in the form of mercury vapor and then gets into the bloodstream.

    Results of the latest studies appear in the April 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

    Bellinger's study included 534 children between the ages of 6 and 10 at the start of the study. The children were from either the Boston area or from Maine. None of the children had amalgam fillings before the study.

    On average, the children needed 15 tooth surfaces restored. That doesn't mean an average of 15 cavities -- one tooth can have multiple surfaces that need restoration.

    The youngsters were randomized into two treatment groups. Half received amalgam fillings, and the other half received resin composite fillings.

    The researchers then followed the children for five years, and periodically tested their IQs and their kidney function.

    After five years, they found no statistically significant differences in the two groups. There was, however, a slight decrease in IQ score in the amalgam group.

    The second study was done on 507 children from Lisbon, Portugal, between the ages of 8 and 10. As in the first study, the children were randomized to receive either amalgam fillings or resin fillings. In the amalgam group, an average of 18.7 tooth surfaces were restored and an average of 21.3 surfaces were restored in the resin composite group.

    The study lasted seven years and the researchers periodically measured memory, attention and concentration, motor skills and nerve conduction velocities.

    These researchers also found no statistically significant differences between the two groups.

    "These are two well-done studies designed by scientists that have no particular axe to grind," said Dr. Rod Mackert, a professor of dental materials at the Medical College of Georgia and a spokesman for the American Dental Association. "They have carefully looked at this issue and shown there is no effect on the target organs of concern in children. We can be confident that amalgam doesn't cause adverse health effects."

    Not everyone agrees that these studies are the final word on amalgam's safety, however.

    In an editorial in the same issue of the journal, Dr. Herbert Needleman, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, pointed out that since it's well known that mercury is toxic at doses much higher than those in fillings, it's not unreasonable to suspect that in lower doses it could still have some adverse effects. He said that dentists and dental assistants have motor function and cognitive deficits that correlate with the number of fillings they've put in, and that some studies have suggested that mercury may be a risk factor for multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's.

    "Although the studies by Bellinger et al and by DeRouen et al provide important new data on the health effects of mercury containing dental amalgam in children, there are, as the authors clearly delineate, limits to the inferences that can be drawn from these data," he wrote.

    Needleman said the length of the studies may have been too short to pick up more subtle neurological deficits.

    Charlie Brown, national counsel for Consumers for Dental Choice, a group that favors banning mercury-containing fillings altogether, said the studies have significant limitations, and don't prove that amalgam fillings are safe. For example, he pointed out that the study done on the children in Lisbon didn't control for mercury in the children's diet. Since they're close to the ocean, it's likely that fish -- which often contain mercury -- were a large part of their diet.

    Brown also expressed concern that the researchers on the Portuguese studies already had their minds made up that amalgam was safe before they began the study. He said the lead researcher had already testified for the American Dental Association on the safety of amalgam fillings. "This was a handpicked group. They were already advocates for mercury fillings," he said.

    Brown said the use of amalgam fillings is all about convenience and money, and said that "modern dentists don't use mercury fillings."

    Mackert, however, said that studies have shown that amalgam tends to last longer and is more durable than resin composite fillings.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced that they will hold hearings to assess the safety and potential neurotoxicity of dental amalgam. Those hearings are scheduled for September 2006.

    Source: Yahoo News Copyright © 2006 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

    Mercury in Dentistry - Still a Problem

    The production of metallic mercury is limited to about ten thousand tonnes each year, worldwide. Estimates of the amount used in dentistry suggest that about 150 tonnes are used in dental restorations each year, the average dentist using 2 or 3 pounds (1 to 1.5 kg) annually. This seems insignificant compared with up to 150 kilotonnes released each year into the biosphere by degassing of the earth's crust and by burning fossil fuels.

    However, in the confined space of a contaminated dental surgery, the comparatively low partial pressure of free mercury means that at room temperature, saturation of air with mercury vapour can theoretically give rise to levels of 20 mg per cubic metre. This is a massive 400 times the recommended time-limited value (TLV) of 0.05 mg per cubic metre proposed by the World Health Organisation for occupational exposure. The TLV is the theoretical amount to which an adult can be occupationally exposed during an 8 hour day without supposed adverse effects on health.

    By contrast, the normal atmospheric level of mercury vapour has been measured as between 1 and 4 ng (0.000001 to 0.000004 mg) per cubic metre and is the result of natural processes combined with pollutant emission and, for example, the release of mercury from dental fillings by cremation. It is easy to see, therefore, that unchecked mercury contamination of the dental surgery can theoretically give rise to vapour levels well in excess of the accepted working safety limit. In surveys of mercury concentrations in the atmosphere of dental practices, it has been established that at least 10 percent of surgeries have vapour concentrations greater than 0.05 mg per cubic meter and the occupants are therefore at risk of mercury toxicity. But how sure are we of the TLV guidelines ?

    To read more on this please click on the link above

    Is mercury safe or not? The argument goes on.

    "The use of dental amalgam is free from the risk of systemic toxicity" - British Dental Association

    Many people's view is not shared by the British Dental Association, who have asked us to print the following:

    We have every sympathy with people suffering from MS and completely understand why those with the illness want to establish a cause. The last thing that dentists want to do is to be responsible for contributing to general ill-health.

    Dentists are not toxicologists and are not therefore in a position to assess whether there is a link between amalgam fillings and MS. We depend upon the advice of experts in the Department of Health and their Committee on Toxicity (COT) on the safety of all dental materials.

    These experts have found no evidence to suggest that MS can be caused by amalgam fillings. The COT issued a statement on the safety of dental amalgam in 1998 and concluded that the use of dental amalgam is free from risk of systemic toxicity - and that only a few cases of hypersensitivity have occurred. We do of course support further research in this area.

    Yours sincerely, Ian Wylie,
    Chief Executive,
    British Dental Association, 64 Wimpole Street, London, W1

    There are many dentists who do not agree with the above. Dr Robert Hempelman, leading light of the British Society for Mercury-Free Dentistry, who has successfully treated many people with MS, says, "They keep on coming up with the same message when it's completely untrue. I think they are worried people are going to sue." Dr Templeman advises anyone with doubts to read "Menace In The Mouth" by the Dr Jack Levenson.

    If you have any comments about the removal of mercury fillings, please write to us at the MSRC.

    The debate over whether mercury in dental fillings can leach out and cause a wide range of health problems — from multiple sclerosis and cancer to Alzheimer's disease — refuses to die down.

    The mercury in dental fillings is an amalgam, or blend, of copper, silver, and mercury that has been used for more than 150 years. Silver dental fillings contain very small amounts of inorganic mercury, which is not easily absorbed by the human body, according to the American Dental Association (ADA) and other public health groups.............................

    For full story click the link above

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