Early Mercury Amalgam Debate on 60 minutes

Well, it’s been an awfully long time since my last post… and do I have some stories to share regarding my amalgam removal journey. Meanwhile I want to share and spread this 60 minutes episode on the mercury amalgam debate, aired on December 16th, 1990. It was never aired again and from what I’ve heard most 60 minutes episodes are aired at least twice. The ADA went on the serious defensive and also attacked CBS for irresponsible journalism. The following article excerpt details the response.

“The dental establishment was furious with CBS. The ADA attacked CBS in the January 7, 1991 edition of its newspaper for “the irresponsible ways in which viewers were led to the conclusion that amalgam fillings are unsafe.” To the contrary, said the ADA, “scientific evidence suggests mercury amalgam is safe to use.” The ADA newspaper published statements by Dr. Harold Loe, director of National Institute of Dental Research, criticizing CBS for having “an obvious bias” against amalgams. Dentists all over the country received information packets from the ADA, including copies of the ADA newspaper and a 1986 article from Consumer Reports. The ADA also promoted its message in a two-minutes video news release sent to 700 TV stations on December 17, 1990, on its weekly radio show on December 18, 1990, and in its journal, the Journal of the American Dental Association. (From the article “Is Mercury Toxicity an Autoimmune Disorder?” by Keith W. Sehnert, M.D., Gary Jacobson, D.D.S., Kip Sullivan, J.D.)”

My mercury fillings… One down three to go!

My dentistYipppeeeee! One mercury amalgam is out, just three more to go.

Leading up to the dentist appointment, for about 6 weeks, I had been following a series of steps to make sure that my body was ready for it.  Mercury levels tend to spike in the blood when you have amalgam removed, even if you go to a dentist who takes precautions. So, I wanted to make sure that my liver, kidneys and digestive tract were ready for this potential increase in mercury load. I ate good clean whole food, avoided alcohol & caffeine, started my day with a superfood smoothie (which included bioactive whey proteinE3 live and a whole lot of other good stuff), took key supplements and drank plenty of super awesome spring water.

And you know what, I felt great. My energy levels were high, my sleep was good, my mood was buoyant. Then, last Monday I made the trip down to Brantford, ON to get this amalgam removal ball rolling. The procedure was as fun as a trip to the dentist can be. That drill is such a grin-and-bear-it experience. Though, this time it wasn’t quite as bad considering the end goal. I left the dentist office with a bright and shiny new molar (and in non-mercury related news two lovely new non-chipped front teeth!)

Waking up the next day is where this story get’s interesting. The first thing I noticed is that my neck was really stiff down the sides. Initially I thought it was just from sitting with my mouth cranked open for an hour while the dentist probed it (ya ya ya) but it continued for days so I can only assume that it has a mercury link. Lot’s of lymph nodes are concentrated in the sides of the neck and the lymph system is where toxins flow through the body. Perhaps I was pushing out an increased amount of mercury (toxin) and the lymph nodes were getting clogged? If you check out this, they definitely associate swollen lymph nodes with amalgam-related mercury toxicity.

And then my energy levels, ugh, all that high energy I had prior to amalgam removal seemed to dissipate. It was really hard to lift my head off of the pillow in the morning over the last week. Before getting the filling out, I had been getting up with mostly no problems, certainly not feeling like I’d been hit by a truck. Once I was up I’d lug myself through the day, dreaming of a bedtime more appropriate for a 5 year old (please, please can I go to bed at 8 o’clock!?).

So if being tired and stiff wasn’t enough, my mood went from like a solid 10 down to a crusty 5. I spent my week feeling reactionary, impatient, irritated and frustrated by little things (woe the lady who asked me to turn down the already quiet music at work or the guy who pushed his way ahead of me on the streetcar to grab the last seat… nostril flare). I’m not usually like that. Sure, I’m human, I succumb to frustrations on occasion but I’ve spent a lot of time practicing balance, equanimity, patience and understanding, so the intensity of my irritation has been something else to watch (on the inside). When I checked out this website about amalgam illness, they list potential emotional symptoms as “impatient/hostile disposition, moodiness and irritability. Yup, that sums it up. I guess mercury, being a nervous system poison, affects the brain and all it’s happy chemical making ways.

So, it’s been a week since the removal and I think I’m feeling a bit better. I know this can be a long slow process and I’m ready for it. It will definitely be a few months before I tackle the next filling. Slow and gentle is the way to go here.

Oh yeah, and the man in the picture up above? My awesome and deep-thinking dentist.

So if not mercury amalgam, than what?

list of dental materials and my response to themThis is probably jumping ahead a little bit, I haven’t even shared with you my symptoms, why I want my mercury fillings out now or how I picked a dentist. But this just happened Friday so it’s timely and I’m excited!

The question is, if you’re going to get your mercury amalgam’s out, what exactly are you going to put in it’s place. As for me, I’m too young for dentures or to go around gumming food for the rest of my life, tooth loss is not an option, so I need a solid material that will last. I have also heard stories of BPA-laden white composite fillings, so that doesn’t sound ideal either. So on the recommendation of my dentist I went to get assessed for which dental materials will work best for me. Ultimately, we’re not all the same cookie cutter version of each other as reductionist science would often like us to believe. Allopathic (conventional) medicine generally works this way, it treats everyone as if our insides are a standard piece of machinery. But I am my own unique makeup of living biochemistry and what works for me may not work for you. And this holds true for dental materials. Considering that the fillings are going to be implanted in my head right next to my brain for the next decade or two figuring this out is really important.

There are a few ways to determine personal best dental materials and my plan is to seek out as many of them as possible in order to see what the different tests say. The first test I chose was the electrodermal screening test offered at the Red Paw clinic in Toronto. This test might be a bit out there for some, but I find the concept kind of interesting. Simplified, the process involves a computer that is programmed with the electromagnetic frequencies of hundreds of different dental materials. While holding onto a probe, these frequencies are sent into your body and the resulting response is monitored through an acupuncture point on your finger. I have to admit, I was surprised to see the probe react different every time. It made this great whirring sound as the frequency was sent into my body and it would peak at a certain level. After all the materials were tested for a list of the results was printed off.  I had about 100 of the 300 materials show up as “reds”, which indicate materials that I can’t tolerate. It might be small, but notice the first material on the left in the photo. Yup, mercury scored 100, which is the worst possible score. And the second worst, “silver amalgam”, which of course by now we all know is basically just mercury.

The practitioner doing the testing said a big theme in my list of intolerables was anything containing metal. He asked if I had ever had metal sensitivity reactions on my body to jewelry. Not sure why I had never put the two together, but yup, my skin had most definitely reacted to metal jewelry throughout my life. So a scientifically unverified but seemingly common sense theory, if you can’t handle metal on the outside, you probably can’t handle metal on the inside.

The good news though is that there are about 200 dental materials that my body can tolerate according to this test.  But my quest for the best dental material doesn’t end here. I find the electrodermal testing interesting but my science brain wants a bit more confirmation. My next step I think will be to seek out a naturopath who does MELISA testing, a test that involves ones own immune response when fed a triggering material.

Hope you are all having the greatest day!