Biocompatible and Holistic Dentistry
Biocompatibility and Holistic Dentistry means patients are treated with materials that won’t adversely react with their body chemistry. There are hundreds of dental materials out there and not all of them are good for everyone.
We at Aesthetic Dentistry work closely with each patients physician and naturopath to customize treatment based on materials that will work best with that person’s body.
Some holistic dentists don’t believe in using metal for any dental restoration,
including metal onlays, crowns, and bridges (most onlays and crowns used today
are gold or other metal alloys). Today, the most prevalent material used in metalfree
dentistry is based on the same composite material that’s used for fillings,
but reinforced with interspersed translucent fibers. When these fibers have been
added to a composite, it can be as strong as the traditional porcelain-to-metal
crown (described later in the chapter), and has the added advantage of being an
excellent replacement for metal crowns and onlays.
Many metal-free dentists believe that any metal dental restoration, aside from
being a possible allergen, will interfere with the normal flow of energy along the
body’s meridians. This belief is based on an eastern philosophy of healing that says
that every organ and every part of the body is directly linked to a specific tooth
via meridians, or energy highways. Not everyone will exhibit a health problem
directly related to having metals in their teeth, but those who are very sensitive,
or whose health has been severely compromised, will be more susceptible.
At the date of publication, metal-free dentistry is still relatively new and
the life expectancy of metal-free onlays, crowns, and bridges is still unknown.
However, one of the positive aspects of this approach to restoring teeth is that
the restorations can be easily repaired.
The composite filling is the material used most often to replace amalgams. Of
course, you’ll always find there are exceptions. For example, the composite should
only be used ifthere’s still enough tooth structure left to support the filling, and if
there isn’t, an onlay or crown is the best choice. I’ll start with composites because
they’re so widely used and questions about their safety have recently been raised
by some dentists and researchers.
Composites have truly revolutionized modern dentistry. Composite material has been available since the late 1950s and, due to the ever-increasing demand for it, it’s constantly being improved. The latest generation of composites are far superior in regard to strength, durability, and adhesion to the tooth surface, than those used just 5 years ago. They’re not only a vast improvement on earlier ones, but are also a far better filling material than mercury fillings in terms of function, aesthetics, and most importantly. . . safety.
Another important quality ofcomposites is that preparing a tooth for a composite filling is far less invasive than preparing it for an amalgam filling, and significantly less tooth structure is lost in the process. A composite is also easy to repair if a piece chips off. Unlike amalgams, which don’t bond to the tooth, the more recent generations of composites will strongly bond with the tooth structure, literally gluing the walls of the tooth and filling together, making the tooth a lot stronger than one with a comparable mercury filling. However, placing a composite takes more skill, experience, and time than putting in a mercury filling, plus special equipment is needed. The additional time involved is due to the fact that a composite has to be placed in layers, and each layer has to be cured by a special light to harden it. As a result, the cost of a composite can be 25 to loo percent more than a comparable amalgam. The lifespan of a composite varies from about 7 to 12 years-similar to an amalgam-and generally speaking, the smaller the composite, the longer it will last. But, most importantly, composites don’t release mercury vapor.
Direct composites are placed in one appointment and will shrink slightly during the curing process and, unless properly placed, the integrity of the margin (where the filling meets the tooth) can be compromised. (I’ll discuss the difference between “direct” and “indirect” composites later in this chapter.) Like any dental filling, composites need to be well cared for to prevent decay. So if you are decay prone, you’ll have to make sure you’ve established a good dental hygiene program. Any filling material placed in, or over, a tooth can cause it to be sensitive to heat and cold, and composites are no exception. Sensitivity usually doesn’t last more than 7 to 10 days but can last for up to 6 weeks. The key here is that the newly filled tooth should get progressively less sensitive each day. If the sensitivity doesn’t decrease over time, or intensifies, make sure you immediately bring it to the attention of your dentist. Sensitivity is more likely to be experienced with fillings that are large, deep, and placed close to the nerve-rich dental pulp. If you’ve been sensitive to the placement of any dental restoration in the past, be sure to let your dentist know ahead of time, as there are ways to minimize sensitivity. Most dentists do this routinely, but it can’t hurt to remind yours.
Composition of Composites
Composites consist of monomers (also referred to as a matrix or a binder) and fillers. In addition to monomers and fillers, composites also contain initiators and stabilizers. Initiators are light sensitive substances that promote the polymerization of the composite when cured with a light source, and stabilizers provide strength to the composite resin. Polymerization is a process where the same monomer is layered together many times to form a larger structure of the same material. Calcium carbonate, also know as limestone, is an example of a stabilizer.
Mercury Amalgam (Silver)
Fillings: What You Need to Know
One atom of mercury is poisonous to your body. That’s right, just one atom! (An atom is the smallest part of an element that still retains its unique characteristics.) We’re not talking about a truckload of mercury here. We’re talking about a single, minute atom of mercury doing some harm to your body. The fact is that:
– Mercury is the most poisonous, naturally occurring, non-radioactive substance on the planet!
– There is no safe level of mercury!
– Amalgam fillings contain and release mercury as a poisonous vapor!
Eighty percent of the mercuryvapor released from amalgam fillings is inhaled. Once inhaled, it passes quickly through the lungs, into and then out of the bloodstream, and accumulates in every cell of the body. As it accumulates, it poisons cells and tissues, particularly the brain and nervous system. This chapter will introduce you to mercury-the poison-not mercury the planet, or the astrological sign, or the car. By this chapter’s end you’ll understand why mercury is so poisonous and why amalgam fillings are extraordinarily hazardous to your health.
Three Types of Mercury
For all of this to make sense, a basic understanding of mercury is necessary. First of all, mercury is classified as a toxic metal-often called a “heavy metal.” Mercury Amalgam (Silver) Fillings: What You Need to Know 17 The term “heavy” is added to “metal” because it refers to any metallic element that has a high density, or weight, and is poisonous in low concentrations. Mercury, being an element, cannot be broken down into anything else but mercury-and it cannot be destroyed or changed. Arsenic, lead, cadmium, nickel, and chromium are the most familiar of the toxic heavy metals. Everyone knows that arsenic is a deadly poison, and I doubt that anyone would consent to being exposed to it on a daily basis. Yet mercury is much more toxic than arsenic, and amalgam fillings release toxic doses of mercury throughout the day!
There are three types of mercury:organic, elemental, and inorganic.
– Organic mercury is mercury that is bonded to carbon in a methyl group (CH,). This methyl, or hydrocarbon, unit is the basis of most organic compounds. Examples of organic mercury are methylmercury (CH3Hg+) and ethylmercury (C2H5Hg+E).t hylmercury is the organic mercury compound found in the vaccine preservative thimerosal, which is believed by many to be the primary cause of, or contributor to, autism and other learning and developmental disorders. Organic mercury is also the type of mercury found in fish.
– Elemental or liquid mercury (Hg) refers to mercury in its pure, natural state-when it isn’t combined with any other substance. In nature it rarely exists in its pure, elemental state and is found most often as cinnabar, a compound of mercury and sulfur (HgS). Cinnabar is mined and the pure mercury removed. Elemental mercury is the type used in amalgam fillings.
– Inorganic mercury is elemental mercury that is chemically bonded with other elements (excluding carbon) to form various compounds. An example is mercuric chloride (HgClj. This compound is, or has been, used in red tattoo dye, photography, skin bleaching creams, paints, preserving biological specimens, and treating syphilis.
While all forms of mercury are highly toxic, organic mercury is considered the most toxic, closely followed by elemental and then by inorganic mercury. Unique Characteristics of Elemental Mercury Elemental mercury is classified as a metal-but a metal with unique characteristics that sets it apart from all other metals. For example, mercury is the only metal that exists as a liquid at room temperature. And it’s the only metal that gives off a colorless, tasteless, odorless, and deadly vapor at room temperature.
Safely Removing Mercury
Amalgam (Silver) Fillings
I’ve spoken with thousands of people over the past 30 years and discovered that the majority of them don’t realize that amalgam fillings are harmful to their health. Most don’t even know that 50 percent of their amalgam (silver) filling is mercury. Still more people don’t know that amalgams give off toxic mercury vapor, and the fraction who do know don’t realize how much vapor these fillings release when removed without a safe protocol. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that those with amalgam fillings receive up to 17 mcg of mercury per day from their fillings. That pales in comparison to the 4,000 mcg of mercury released when an amalgam is unsafely removed. The good news here is that when a dentist uses a safe removal protocol it can reduce your exposure to mercury vapor during the removal process by up to 90 percent or more. So, given the vast amount of mercury that can be released during amalgam removal, it’s imperative to understand the difference between the safe removal procedures that mercury safe dentists use and what pro-amalgam dentists do (or rather, don’t do).
To date, the mercury safe dental community hasn’t reached a universal consensus on a protocol for minimizing a patient’s exposure to mercury during amalgam removal. But the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), a network of dental, medical, and research professionals, has established what I believe to be the best guidelines for safety removing these fillings. My research has shown that their guidelines are those most often incorporated by mercury safe dentist when developing their own removal protocols.
– The guidelines I recommend for safe amalgam filling removal have been taken from several sources: the IAOMT, my own experience and research, and other prominent holistic and biological dental organizations. While using this preventative approach to minimizing mercury vapor exposure is important for everyone, it’s an absolute must for those who:
– are pregnant and nursing
– suspect or know they are allergic to mercury
– have ever had any adverse side effects during or after having amalgam fillings placed or removed
– have a compromised immune system, numerous allergies, or other serious health problems
Some dentists don’t follow every one of the guidelines I list in the following section, while others to even further. I Believe the IOAMT protocol is more than adequate and should be acceptable to most dentists who subscribe to the basic concepts of mercury safe dentistry.
Still, new information emerges each year about the safest way to remove amalgam fillings, and it’s possible that a new technique or approach may be added after the publication of this book. Thus, if your dentist says he or she is mercury safe but deviates from the protocol I’ve included, it doesn’t mean his or her protocol won’t be effective. But if it varies too much, make sure you get a satisfactory explanation as to why.
Mercury Amalgam Fillings: Safe Removal Protocol
There are 11 procedures that most mercury sate dentists use to minimize mercury exposure to the patient, the dental staff, and the environmental during amalgam filling removal. They are divided into four categories:
– minimizing the amount of mercury that could be released from the filling
– intercepting the mercury that escapes the filling before the patient breathes it in
– filtering the office air
– cleaning the patient and disposing of contaminated material, such as patient coverings, gloves, and rubber dam
I . Cooling the Fillings
The amount of mercury vapor released from an amalgam filling is directly proportionate to its temperature. Drilling out an amalgam filling generates a tremendous amount of heat. Cooling the filling by using as much water as possible during the process will significantly reduce the amount of mercury vapor released.
2. Chunking Amalgams
Mercury safe dentists use a removal process called “chunking” in which they use
a special drill bit to section the filling into large chunks. These chunks can then
be easily removed by a hand instrument or suction, which reduces drilling time
and therefore the amount of mercury vapor released.
3. Using High-Volume Evacuation
Mercury safe dentists use a powerful suctionlvacuum system. This important
piece of equipment minimizes your exposure to mercury vapor because in effect
it intercepts the vapor before you can breathe it in. The tip of the suction/vacuum
hose will be placed as close to the filling as possible during the entire removal
process. This procedure captures most of the mercuryvapor and particles released
as the filling is removed.
4. Providing an Alternative Source ofAir
All mercury safe dentists adhere to the first three protocols, but not always this
fourth one-giving you an alternative source of air to breathe. Some feel that
as long as the first three procedures are strictly followed, this isn’t necessary.
But if any one of the first three procedures isn’t followed, you should request an
alternative source of air during the entire removal process. If your mercury safe
dentist doesn’t provide one, be sure to ask him or her if they’re using a highvolume
evacuation system and if the other protective methods listed above are
being used. However, if you are in the high risk category, especially if you are
pregnant or nursing, I would insist on an alternative source of air.
An alternative source of air is provided by a nasal hood, which covers your
nose. Through this hood you breathe either compressed air or oxygen from a
tank. I don’t believe an alternative source of air is necessary after the fillings
have been removed. You should always concentrate on breathing through your nostrils and avoid breathing through your mouth while your mercury fillings are being removed whether you are provided with an alternative source of air or not.
5. Using a Rubber Dam
The rubber dam was designed to isolate the tooth or teeth being worked on,
making it easier for the dentist to see and protect the toothlteeth from bacteria,
moisture, and the tongue. The rubber dam is made from either latex rubber or
silicone for those allergic to latex. It is very thin and flexible, comes in various
colors, and can range in size from 5 x 5 inch to 6 x 6 inch squares. Until recently,
dentists believed that the rubber dam would protect the patient from inhaling
mercuryvapor through the mouth. It’s now known that mercuryvapor can readily
pass through a rubber dam made from latex, the most common rubber dam
material. (Silicone is more resistant to mercury vapor.)
A large percentage of patients believe that the rubber dam offers the greatest
protection from mercuryvapor and insist that it be used. But because the rubber
dam doesn’t actually protect you from inhaling mercuryvapor, it isn’t absolutely
necessary for the safe removal of amalgam fillings. Although the rubber dam
offers little protection against mercury vapor, it does make it easier to evacuate the
filling material and prevent amalgam particles from being swallowed. Amalgam
particles can’t be absorbed into the body, but it’s always wise to avoid swallowing
any dental material. More and more dentists are now using a dental device called the Isolite System that illuminates and isolates the tooth and provides a constant source of suction close to the amalgam. It’s often used in place of the rubber dam, and I believe it’s more effective at protecting the patient from mercuryvapor and amalgam particles. As a rule of thumb, when it comes to choosing between the rubber dam and any alternative, I recommend trusting your mercury safe dentist to decide when and which one is or isn’t necessary-but if in doubt, ask for an explanation.
6. Cleaning Up Immediately
Once the removal process is completed, the dentist and assistant should remove
and dispose of their gloves and the rubber dam (if used) and thoroughly rinse
and vacuum your entire mouth for at least 10 seconds. This process helps remove
amalgam particles and residual mercury captured by the saliva. You should
make every effort not to swallow during the short rinsing procedure. When this
is finished, take a small amount of water and gargle as far back into your throat
as possible. Once you’ve gargled, don’t swallow this watery residue! It should be
evacuated by the dental assistant, or spit into a cup. In addition, when the removal procedure is finished, the dentist or dental assistant should remove and dispose of your protective covering and clean your face and neck. All mercury safe dentists should routinely do this, but remind the assistant if she or he forgets. After all, you don’t want to take any mercury
home with you.
7. Using Additional Air Purification
Some mercury safe dentists use an additional air filtering system that’s placed
as close to the patient’s mouth as is practical. The more popular ones resemble
an elephant’s trunk and have an opening about 4 inches in diameter. This filter
is helpful, but there are other mercury safe dentists who believe that the patient
can be adequately protected without such a system. More and more mercury safe
dentists are using this type of office purification system, and while it’s a positive
addition to the basic removal protocol, I believe this system is more effective at
protecting the dentist and assistant than the patient.
8. Filtering Air in the Dental Operatory
Many mercury safe dental offices filter the office air because they work in it all
day and it’s to their benefit to do so. Thus, doing this is more important for the
dentist and staff than it is for you. Although mercury safe offices don’t put in
amalgam fillings, they certainly remove them. You should be encouraged by the
fact that mercury safe dentists also want to take the necessary precautions to
protect themselves and their entire staff from excessive exposure to mercury.
9. Using Activated Charcoal
Although definitive studies haven’t been done, there is some evidence that shows
that activated charcoal taken 10-15 minutes before amalgam removal can capture
swallowed elemental mercury and mercury vapor, allowing it to be harmlessly
passed out of the intestine via the feces. I consider this to be optional, as only 0.01
percent of swallowed elemental mercury is absorbed through the intestine. But it
can’t hurt to add it, especially if you are in the high mercury risk category.
l0. Vitamin C Infusions
Some dentists and health professionals consider vitamin C (ascorbic acid) infusions
to be an effective method of protecting the body from mercury vapor during the process of removing amalgam fillings. Based on my evaluation of the available data, who support the vitamin C protocol believe that it can protect the body from mercury vapor when it is in the bloodstream. While I don’t consider this an essential procedure for the majority of patients, if you’re allergic to mercury, have numerous symptoms and diseases related to chronic mercury promised immune system, I would recommend these if available. Since its administered intravenously, a vitamin C infusion needs to be coordinated with your dentist and a qualified health practitioner. To date, few dental offices offer this service. But if you feel vitamin C protection would be beneficial and can’t find a dentist who will arrange an infusion, you can take an oral dose. However, this method is less effective because the blood levels of vitamin C obtained with an infusion would be significantly higher than from an oral dose. Still, oral vitamin C could provide some additional protection from mercury vapor while it’s in the bloodstream. Before doing this, discuss it with your dentist. If you are in agreement, obtain a packet of powdered vitamin C from a health food store and take it with you to the dental office. After the area to be treated has been effectively numbed, dissolve the powdered vitamin C in a glass of water and drink it as soon as possible before the removal procedure begins. Because vitamin C may diminish the effect of the anesthetic in some people, I recommend taking it after the anesthetic has been given and the part of you mouth being worked on is numbed. This method works better on an empty stomach because vitamin C is quickly absorbed from the intestine into the blood stream if no other food is present in the stomach.
I recommend that everyone start a mercury detoxification program before the
fillings are removed.
Tags: Mercury free dentistry, Mercury free dentists, Mercury free dentist, Mercury free dental, pain free dentistry, holistic dentist, holistic dentists, holistic dentistry