Biological Dentistry

by Glen Swartwout

Dental health problems provide one of the most challenging problems in natural health care. The field of Biological Dentistry endeavors to achieve the most bio-compatible approach to the dilemma of placing foreign material in the oral cavity.

Prevention

One of the most common problems encountered in dentistry is caries, or cavities. Preventive factors include avoidance of refined sugars, carbonated beverages and caffeine, as well as limiting foods high in phosphorus, including dairy products. Increases in sugar and acids both on the tooth surface as well as in the bloodstream that feeds each tooth from the inside can dissolve and deplete calcium from the matrix of the tooth. Sugar and refined carbohydrates also support the growth of unfriendly bacteria in the plaque that covers the tooth surface. These undesireable bacteria then release additional acids that dissolve calcium, eventually breaking down the enamel of the tooth. This is a common portal of entry for harmful bacteria because the dental tubules which extend to the surface of the tooth are 10 times the diameter of a bacterium. Well fed friendly bacteria on the other hand, can actually form a protective skin on the tooth, forming a symbiotic community with the tissues of the body just as in every other part of the digestive tract, of which the oral cavity is the first element.

Mineralization of the teeth can be supported with well-absorbed calcium supplements, notably microcrystalline hydroxyapatite, which stimulates a doubling in the absorption of all dietary calcium. In many cases, where soft spots have begun to form, remineralization and regeneration of the dental tissue is achievable. Chewing a microcrystalline hydroxyapatite supplement is recommended, following any dental hygiene procedures like brushing, to supply the minerals needed for this process directly to the teeth, both topically and systemically. Vitamin C is another important nutrient to supply for repairing the matrix of the teeth, bones or other connective tissues. This should be supplied in a non-acid form so that additional burden is not placed on calcium metabolism. The best form is the balanced pH poly-ascorbate form which is absorbed twice as effectively as ascorbic acid and also retained in the body twice as long, due to achieving 4 times higher intracellular levels.

Fillings

Amalgam, or ‘silver’ fillings, which are actually about 50% mercury, along with smaller amounts of silver, tin, copper and zinc, are a common material still placed in the teeth legally in most countries, even though the same material cannot be placed in a waste basket or a landfill. About 500 tons of mercury are used in dentistry each year, with over 100 tons of that used in the United States. Yet, if the mercury content in just one average sized silver amalgam were dispersed in a 10 acre lake, it would require a fisherman’s advisory to avoid eating fish from that source. One of the biggest problems with mercury is methylation, a process which makes mercury about 100 times more toxic than the metallic form found in fillings. Unfortunately, this process can occur right in the body, and is frequently triggered by taking caffeine, chocolate, or even decaffeinated coffee or tea, which still packs about 6% of the original caffeine level. Another known source of methylation within the body is the metabolism of fungi, such as the ubiquitous Candida albicans, which is often a major factor in Phase 3 as well as an underlying problem in Phase 1 terrain. Many bacteria also found in the body can produce this effect as well.

The best solution to the amalgam controversy is to avoid having mercury containing fillings in the first place. When it comes to restoration of existing amalgams with other materials, usually white composite or porcelain materials, a conservative approach is best in most cases. Unless immediate work is necessitated by a cracked filling, decay underlying an amalgam, or some other conventional dental indication, it may be prudent to first detoxify the organs of elimination and any soft tissues potentially affected by mercury toxicity, such as the brain, pancreas, kidneys, bile ducts, immune system, lining of the colon, crystalline lens of the eye, the pituitary, pineal, or other highly susceptible areas. Even following chelation, whether intravenous or oral, many of these tissues may continue to harbor mercury, where it can block key enzymes, including the anti-oxidant enzymes super-oxide dysmutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase. In the crystalline lens of the eye, this is a common contributor to the formation of cataracts, since the eye tissue is the only internal part of the body not protected from the oxidative stress of environmental light by melanin. Mercury in the lens, since it is energized by light seems to be more prone to enter into biological reactions, leading to the lens tissue retaining high levels of mercury longer than any other tissue following exposure. Leakage of mercury from fillings, combined with dietary mercury from tuna, swordfish, and shellfish obtained from polluted waters, plus mercury based preservatives, pesticides and pharmaceuticals accumulate in body tissues over time, especially when the kidneys and other elimination systems are already compromised by synthetic antibiotics and other toxins. It is estimated that about 20,000 tons of mercury are put into our environment each year by burning fossil fuels (10,000 tons) and through other industrial uses of mercury, especially the chlorine industry (5,000 tons). Consider that just the mercury from a single broken thermometer can maintain a toxic level of mercury vapor in a room for several years! About 80% of the mercury vapor that one breathes is absorbed into the body, resulting in 10 times as much mercury accumulation in the brain and other tissues, compared to other routes of exposure, such as diet. Unfortunately, the mere act of chewing can release mercury vapor levels into respiratory air that would be unacceptable in a workplace under OSHA regulations. Increased chewing, as in bruxism (grinding the teeth) or chewing gum increases mercury vapor in those with amalgams to levels averaging 54 times higher than in people with no amalgams. Approximately half of the mercury in a filling can be released over a 10 year period, contributing hundreds of thousands of micrograms to the body’s heavy metal burden. After about 20 years, virtually all of the original mercury that was originally in a filling may be ‘gone,’ but much of it is not gone from the body, as it can be stored for years in the bones and soft tissues.

Detoxification

In order to mobilize mercury from its points of accumulation in the dental area and the soft tissues of the body, one of the most helpful substances is vitamin C. Fortunately, this vitamin not only chelates mercury, it also protects the body from the heavy metal as it is carried out of the body. When someone is not able to tolerate a moderate dosage, such as 1 gram taken 3 times a day, of a neutral pH polyascorbate C, it is often because of the presence of significant amounts of mercury. In such cases, taking the maximum tolerated dosage consistently over a period of years will gradually and safely detoxify the tissues with producing undesirable effects that could be caused by too rapid a detoxification, stressing the immune, cardiovascular, nervous or elimination systems. Supplementation with optimal levels of Vitamin E and Selenium are also helpful, as are the sulfur bearing amino acids cysteine and methionine, and sulfur compounds found in garlic and glutathione. Other frequently used nutrients in mercury toxicity include Vitamin A, folic acid, digestive enzymes, fatty acids (e.g. Evening Primrose oil), iodine, zinc, magnesium, manganese, potassium, chromium, B complex, coenzyme Q10, Germanium (not readily available at this time in the U.S.), beneficial flora, thyroid and pituitary glandulars, as well as solvent herbs and single or complex homeopathics.

The opposite extreme from a systematic program of detoxification, i.e. allowing mercury to continue to build up in already compromised tissues, would promote unnecessary degenerative processes and more rapid aging. It is interesting to note that while selenium protects the body from mercury toxicity, it also increases storage of mercury in the spleen, while alcohol increases mercury storage in the liver and adrenal glands.

To penetrate even deeper in the system to displace and dislodge mercury from enzymatic and other intracellular sites, homeopathic remedies are often needed. Isonosodes, prepared from mercury itself, but in non-toxic potencies are often effective. Homeonosodes, however, when applicable, tend to work even more gently, and drainage complexes that facilitate detoxification and cellular energy recovery can further ease the sometimes halting and often uncomfortable movement of mercury outward from deep within the body’s tissues. Certain trace minerals, including silver, in non-toxic colloidal form, are also often found to be useful for displacing mercury from key metabolic sites. This may well be part of the mechanism by which silver stimulates increased immune function, since mercury is such a commonly present and powerful immunosuppressive. The immune poisoning power of mercury, in fact, may be one of the reason that the material continues to be so popular for dental fillings, since this reduces acute, symptomatic responses of the immune system in the locally affected area.

Chelation

One approach to detoxifying heavy metals from Dental and other sources is chelation therapy. The term “chelation” comes from “claw” and refers to the ability of certain compounds to grab heavy metals and remove them safely from the body. Chelation can be performed intravenously using the chelating agents DMSA, DPMS and EDTA, or when time permits a safer and slower administration, it can be done orally with supplements including EDTA and DMSA. A chelation program can be combined with homeopathic and other natural means of stimulating and supporting detoxification.

Elation!

An oral chelation program designed by Dr. G. M. Swartwout and based on the work of Linus Pauling, Garry F. Gordon, M.D. and others, called Elation! is a perfect health restoration and prevention program for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease including heart attack and stroke, the #1 and #3 killers of our time. The convenient daily packet includes a multi-vitamin that contains 30 essential nutrients including major antioxidants and key minerals involved in cardiovascular function. Because excess iron can contribute to oxidative damage to the cardiovascular system, this special preventive multiple is iron-free. Excess body stores of iron are especially common in men and post-menopausal women.

To improve fat and cholesterol metabolism, another component of the program contains soluble dietary fibers, lecithin, and other nutrients involved in the physiology of lipoproteins, cholesterol and bile acids, plus EDTA which is also used to preserve freshness.

The third component of the program combines the nutritional benefits of allicin-rich garlic with alfalfa, parsley, citrus extract, chlorophyll, aloe and spearmint. Garlic is an excellent source of organic sulfur, important in the detoxification of heavy metals. Garlic also has powerful benefits for cardiovascular health. Additional EDTA is incorporated in this supplement as well.

The fourth aspect of the program supplies activated essential fatty acids often recommended by doctors, including omega-3 from Marine Lipid Concentrate, including EPA and DHA, omega-6 from Borage seed oil and omega-9 fatty acids from olive oil plus additional supportive nutrients lecithin, d-alpha tocopherol, ascorbic acid, niacin, pyridoxine and zinc. Fatty acids can’t do much good unless the body converts them into their active forms, such as prostaglandins. When diets include foods high in saturated fats, cholesterol, or margarine or other processed vegetable oils, containing trans fats, the body may be robbed of these vital nutrients. Stress, alcohol and aging also take their toll. This supplement is ideal for ensuring that you get a plentiful balance of the fatty acids you need, plus the co-factors needed to ensure their proper metabolism.

Elation! is designed to take along with a multivitamin/mineral supplement as well as a good vitamin C supplement.

DMSA

The fifth Nordic Symposium on Trace Elements in Human Health and Disease in Norway (1994) reports that “DMSA may now be considered as the treatment of first choice in cases of acute or subacute lead poisoning and in mercury poisoning.” Both experimental and clinical experience shows a low toxicity for DMSA. Some chemically sensitive patients react adversely to any type of remedy, but DMSA is so safe that it is FDA approved even for young children.

Aaseth J, Jacobsen D, Andersen O, Wickstrom E. Treatment of mercury and lead poisonings with dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) and sodium dimercaptopropanesulfonate (DMPS). Analyst 1995 Mar;120:853ff. Presented at the fifth Nordic Symposium on Trace Elements in Human Health and Disease, Loen, Norway, June 19-20, 1994

Electromagnetic Factors

Electrical factors also play an important role in the release and movement of mercury through the body. Electrically charged mercury ions can be produced via battery effects from metallic (electrically neutral) mercury at the surface of a filling. In fact, mercury is most easily dissolved in sodium chloride solution as found in the body’s extracellular space (as well as in the saliva when eating salty foods), or by weak acids, which build up in the tissues with toxicity and inflammation. Once in solution, mercury salts are more easily converted by bacterial and fungal metabolism to the highly toxic organic forms of mercury, such as methyl mercury, plus mercury salts themselves can be about 1000 times more toxic than metallic mercury.

Mercury salts bind easily to iodine, thus interfering with thyroid function.

Mercury salts can also bond with sulfur-bearing amino acids, , disrupting important enzyme and hormone functions by changing the 3-D shape of proteins which is maintained by sulfur-sulfur bonds. For example, insulin is particularly vulnerable to mercury as it contains 3 sulfhydryl bonds. Another point of vulnerability for cellular energy metabolism is acetyl co-A which contains sulfhydryl groups as well. When mercury blocks acetyl co-A, the cell cannot utilize the Krebs cycle, thus losing most of the efficiency of cellular energy metabolism. This same blockage prevents the production of good cholesterol which is necessary to strengthen the cell membrane against extracellular toxins as well as being a base for the production of most hormones. A third example of the functional disruption caused by mercury is that the enzyme for producing the important neurotransmitter acetylcholine contains sulfhydryl bonds, and can thus be blocked by presence of the heavy metal. Hemoglobin is another protein which relies on sulfur bearing amino acids to maintain its propper shape and function. Unfortunately mercury can block the ability of the red blood cells to carry oxygen without being detected on routine blood tests, since it is incorporated within the hemoglobin molecule itself. DNA is yet another site of mercury’s widespread toxic effects. It can cause single strand breaks, cross-linking, and changes in the sequence of nucleotides. , One of the saddest factors is that mercury not only crosses the placenta, but can concentrate up to 24 times higher levels in fetal tissues, potentially leading to miscarriage, still birth, birth defects, or other severe health problems in the next generation.

Large amounts of mercury can be stored in body tissues over long periods of time through bonding with structural proteins. For example, the lens of the eye is the most concentrated protein in the body and retains mercury longer than any other tissue. When mercury binds to proteins located on the cell membrane, the resulting organomercurial compounds can trigger auto-antibody production leading to autoimmune processes such as multiple sclerosis and lupus. Each tooth is located along a particular pathway or meridian, which carries charged particles (ions) such as mercurous or murcuric salts through the extracellular fluid compartment. Thus particular teeth tend to more strongly affect particular organ systems which are also located along the same drainage channel. When dissimilar metals such as the mercury and silver present in amalgams, as well as gold, stainless steel and other dental materials are placed in the body, they produce a battery effect, since they are effectively connected electronically by the body’s fluids. The resulting movement of ions within the body, called buccal currents, can increase the leeching of mercury from fillings by 100 fold. Because these currents are produced by the presence of dissimilar metals, it is wise to avoid adding any new or additional metals in the body. In some cases, electrical corrosion of amalgams results in a metallic taste in the mouth. If you notice any corrosion of eyeglass frames or jewelry, you should avoid contact with these materials, or use more biocompatible, non-corrosive materials such as titanium.

Dental Interference:

Buccal currents result from the electrolytic interaction of different metals connected by conductive fluid media. This means an actual battery is created within your body. A measure of 3 micro-amps or more is considered likely to be a source of problems. This is equivalent to 54 millivolts or 0.16 micro-watts. This is no small battery when compared to that which your cells must maintain of about 70 millivolts. Those that measure 4 units or more actually excede this cell membrane potential and may therefore be capable of causing heavy metals to either plate out on cell membrane ion channels or actually penetrate into the more delicate intracellular compartment via iontophoresis.

Since each tooth is located on a specific meridian of the biofield, it contributes to stress on other organs and systems along that same communication pathway (see below). Chronic interference with the electrical flow of a meridian also affects elimination and immune processes in that channel. For example, significant buccal currents increase mercury uptake into the central nervous system by a factor of 100. They can also reverse the normal flow of fluid through the dental tubules, allowing bacteria to enter the dental tissue.

Electrical currents caused by the leeching of metals in a galvanic interaction between dysimilar metals (basically a battery effect) is not the only factor in metal release and toxicity. Bruxism, or grinding of the teeth, as well as chewing gum habitually, and even taking food and drink at a high temperature can increase metal release by a factor of 10. Caffeine and similar compounds in chocolate, including the 5% of caffeine remaining in decaffeinated beverages, as well as the metabolic activity of fungi like Candida albicans can promote methylation of mercury, which since it is an organically bound form of the heavy metal can more readily enter into the organic chemistry of life. Methyl mercury is about 1000 times more toxic than inorganic mercury.

Ultimately the effects on health of heavy metals depends on several factors, including the level and chronicity of the exposure, the elimination capacity of the organism, and critically, the specific tissue and metabolic sites at which the toxins accumulate. In general, we have found that it is wise to support elimination of accumulated toxins from critical soft tissues first, and then proceed with any necessary dental restorations slowly, using materials that test for biocompatibility, while supporting continued drainage and elimination.

Each tooth also has specific biofield links to target sinus, tonsil, muscle, joint, and vertebral areas.

Tooth Major organs at risk
1 heart, small intestine, anterior pituitary, inner ear, CNS
2 spleen, pancreas, stomach, parathyroid, mammary glands
3 spleen, pancreas, stomach, thyroid, mammary glands
4 lung, colon, thymus
5 lung, colon, posterior pituitary
6 liver, gall bladder, intermediate pituitary, posterior eye
7 kidney, bladder, pineal, rectum
8 kidney, bladder, pineal, rectum
9 kidney, bladder, pineal, rectum
10 kidney, bladder, pineal, rectum
11 liver, gall bladder, intermediate pituitary, posterior eye
12 lung, colon, posterior pituitary
13 lung, colon, thymus
14 spleen, pancreas, stomach, thyroid, mammary glands
15 spleen, pancreas, stomach, parathyroid, mammary glands
16 heart, small intestine, anterior pituitary, inner ear, CNS
17 heart, small intestine, external/middle ear, peripheral nerves
18 lung, colon, arteries
19 lung, colon, veins
20 spleen, pancreas, stomach, lymph vessels, mammary glands
21 spleen, pancreas, stomach, gonads, mammary glands
22 liver, gall bladder, gonads, anterior eye
23 kidney, bladder, adrenal, rectum
24 kidney, bladder, adrenal, rectum
25 kidney, bladder, adrenal, rectum
26 kidney, bladder, adrenal, rectum
27 liver, gall bladder, gonads, anterior eye
28 spleen, pancreas, stomach, gonads, mammary glands
29 spleen, pancreas, stomach, lymph vessels, mammary glands
30 lung, colon, veins
31 lung, colon, arteries
32 heart, small intestine, external/middle ear, peripheral nerves

Dental Testing Protocol

Dental problems are among the most common and most insidious of all health problems. Even the solutions to problems such as devitalized teeth (root canal), caries (fillings) and missing teeth (bridgework) contribute significantly to both oral and systemic pathophysiology. Dental treatments are at best a compromise. The best solution, of course, as in all cases, is prevention.

Silver amalgam contains 40 to 50% Mercury (Hg) when it is placed in the mouth. Over an average 5 to 7 year life of the filling it may lose a significant amount of that Mercury content. Most of that is released as Hg vapor on chewing, and with hot foods and drinks. Hg vapor is absorbed through the mucosa of nasal and sinus passages from which it can enter directly into the CNS as well as the systemic circulation. Even more acute levels of Hg vapor exposure are encountered when an amalgam filling is drilled out. If a rubber dam is not used, amalgam debris also enters the digestive tract and may even become chronically lodged in the appendix. Caffeine is also known to promote methylation of Hg. Methyl Hg is much more toxic than metallic Hg.

Dissimilar metals, such as Hg and Au (gold) often used in dental work, create a battery effect in the mouth, known as buccal currents. These currents are readily measureable with the Vegadent or other similar instruments. When these currents become a significant stress, this electromagnetic stress will be detected with the ampule Phosphorus D60. In the case where this is severe or critical, the sequence of filling replacement should take this into account, removing first those fillings which will most reduce the total buccal current load.

Another source of current in the body which can increase mercury release is environmental exposure to high levels of static or alternating magnetic fields, including television, computers, microwaves, cellular phones, and even otherwise beneficial magnetic and electromagnetic therapy devices.

Thermal and Mechanical Factors

One more factor that comes into play is that both heat and the act of chewing increase mercury release on the order of 10 to 100 fold. Thus, it is best to avoid hot food and drink, as well as avoiding chewing gum. Bruxism, or grinding the teeth, often found during sleep, can therefore be a problem, too. One indicator of such a tendency is a white line along the buccal (cheek) tissue where the upper and lower teeth meet. This actually indicates scar tissue from catching the buccal tissue in the grinding action. Chewing and heat actually vaporize mercury from the microscopic droplets covering the surface of fillings, often resulting in mercury vapor levels that would be illegal in a workplace by OSHA standards, and far exceeding EPA standards.

Effects of Mercury

Mercury vapor is breathed into the lungs and the sinuses. From the sinuses it can travel directly via the olfactory nerve or the valveless veinous system to the brain, where it is often found in high concentrations in the pituitary gland and other critical areas. People with amalgam fillings accumulate 3 to 4 times as much mercury in the brain as those with no amalgams. The kidneys also show elevated levels in those with amalgams. The highest levels of mercury are often found in the thyroid and pituitary glands. , Organs found to most easily accumulate mercury inhaled as metallic vapor are those with the greatest ability to oxidize mercury into one of its ionic salt forms. These areas include the lungs, heart, brain (including the hypothalamus), pituitary, spinal chord, retina, ovary, epididymis, adrenal cortex, thyroid and brown fat tissue. Mercury even spreads through the valveless veinous system which extends all the way from the face through the cranial cavity to the spinal chord all the way to the pelvic region, often resulting in mercury effects in the prostate or uterus, as well as the gonads, kidneys, adrenals, lungs, breasts and thyroid.

Here is a summary of symptoms that may be linked to mercury toxicity:
Acne
Allergies
Anemia
Angina (chest pain)
Anxiety
Apathy
Appetite decreased
Arteriosclerosis (hardening of arteries)
Arthritis
Asthma
Autoimmune problems
Bloating
Blood pressure low or high
Bone loss around teeth
Breath smells bad
Breathing irregular
Burning sensation in mouth
Cancer
Candida albicans (yeast) infections
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Cold extremities
Colitis (bowel inflammation)
Concentration difficulties
Confusion
Constipation
Convulsions
Cough persistently
Decision-making impaired
Depression
Dermatitis
Dexterity problems
Diabetes
Diarrhea
Digestive problems
Diverticulitis
Dizziness
Drowsiness
Edema
Electrocardiogram (EKG) abnormality
Emotional instability
Emphysema
Energy low
Environmental Illness (EI)
Epilepsy
Epstein-Barr virus
Exercise causes illness
Eye-hand coordination problems
Facial twitches
Fibromyalgia
Fits of anger
Forgetfulness
Gums have dark pigment
Gums bleed
Hallucinations
Headaches
Healing processes slowed down
Hearing problems
Heart attack
Heart burn
Heart murmur
Heart rhythm slow, fast or irregular
Hodgekin’s Disease
Hypoglycemia
Immune deficiency conditions
Inflammation
Insomnia
Intelligence impaired
Irritability
Itching excessively
Joint pain
Kidney damage
Kidney stones
Lack of self-control
Leg cramps
Leg suddenly jerks
Lethargy
Leukemia
Leukoplakia
Low body temperature
Lupus
Lymph node swellings
Manic-depression
Mental disability
Metallic taste
Mononucleosis
Multiple Sclerosis
Muscle coordination problems
Muscle paralysis
Muscle twitches
Muscle weakness
Nervousness
Nightmares
Noises or sounds in head
Numbness in extremities
Osteoporosis
Periodontal (gum) disease
Pressure in chest
Psychological disturbances
Rhinitis
Ringing in ears
Salivary glands enlarged
Salivation increased
Self-confidence decreased
Sexual activity decreased
Short attention span
Short-term memory loss
Sinusitis
Skin flushes
Skin rashes
Skin rough
Sleep disturbances
Sleep too long
Speech problems
Stomach cramps
Stomatitis
Suicidal thoughts
Susceptibility to flu, colds, etc.
Sweating increased
Tartar forms heavily on teeth
Teeth loose
Teeth lost for unknown reason
Tension
Throat sore
Thyroid problems
Tingling in fingers, toes, lips or nose
Tired generally or on waking
Tongue swollen
Tremors of hands, feet or lips
Tunnel vision
Ulcers
Ulcers in mouth
Urination frequent at night
Vision dimmed
Voices in head
Walking difficulties
Weight loss
Wishing to be dead

On July 18, 2000, the Committee on Government Reform of the United States House of Representatives received scientific testimony that the amalgam dental fillings are the largest contributor of mercury body burden in the general population. Meanwhile, the governments of Canada, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom have all issued advisories that mercury dental fillings should, at very least, not be used in children or pregnant females. The Board of Dental Examiners in California has also issued instructions to all dentists in the state that they are required by law to inform patients of the continuous exposure to mercury, including possible reproductive harm.

Even when the body attempts to eliminate mercury, it can cause problems on the way out. Before mercury can be eliminated it must pass through the lymph and blood. This can deliver concentrated amounts of mercury from dental tissues to the thyroid, thymus, and heart areas as well as the involved vessels themselves and the peripheral nerves and other structures including muscles, joints, bones and bone marrow which they supply. Mercury is ultimately eliminated by the salivary glands, kidneys, liver, pancreas and skin. Excreted mercury can cause irritation to the skin, bladder, appendix, and linings of the intestinal tract, especially when constipation or diverticuli allow increased methylation and re-absorption to occur. It often causes sore throats and sores in the mouth, as well as increased salivation. Gum problems including inflammation and bluish-grey ‘tatooing’ may be present and eventually teeth can become loosened as tissue damage extends to the jaw bone. Elsewhere, mercury may cause difficulty breathing, pain in the intestinal tract and eczema.

Mercury excretion can be measured in the hair or urine, but in some cases of mercury toxicity, the heavy metal is stored in tissues and not excreted until specific support is provided, resulting in low excretion levels on initial testing. These individuals are called “non-excreters” and their problems are often overlooked when only chemistry tests are used. Electrophysiological tests are very helpful in this situation, which the author can attest to from personal experience.

Neurovascular damage and other symptoms

One of the main effects of mercury is to damage blood vessels, often resulting in symptoms of puss mixed with blood when seen in superficial tissues. Mercury can also damage the blood-brain barrier, leading to increased mercury uptake by the nervous system as well as increased sensitivity to other stressors. Once in the brain, whether through the lungs (where perhaps 10% will reach the brain), the more direct sinus route or transported up the trigeminal and other cranial nerves by axoplasmic transport from inside the teeth and other oral tissues , mercury can cause a number of problems, usually accompanied by physical and mental fatigue. Other common symptoms include irritability, mood changes, obsessions, compulsions, phobias, sense of unreality (even schizophrenia), migraines, visual disturbances, increased need for sleep, shakiness (intention tremors), Parkinson’s disease, ataxia, exacerbation of multiple sclerosis, numbness, incontinence, chronic stuffy nose, loss of smell, ringing in the ears, hearing loss, dizziness and depression, as well as loss of motivation, memory and concentration. Additional effects can include irritation in the respiratory tract, chest pain after eating, heart attack, increased urination including at night, joint and bone problems, back and sciatic pain, sterility, low blood pressure, liver damage, inflammation and even ulceration in the intestines, as well as blood in the stools.

Hypothalamic damage can result in metabolic disorders ranging from anorexia nervosa to obesity, while pituitary dysregulation can cause changes in function in the gonads (ovaries and testes), adrenal glands, thyroid, kidneys, and pancreas (diabetes insipidus). These areas regulate hunger, thirst, temperature, sleep, sexual behavior, libido and mood, so any of these functions may be affected. Mercury also crosses the placenta, actually concentrating in fetal tissues. Electrophysiologically, mercury causes a slowing of nerve conduction as well as hyper-excitability of nerve cells.

Mercury has been shown to block receptors for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is involved in both sensory and motor functions. Copper, a component of silver amalgams, and found in even higher amounts in copper amalgams (65% mercury, 35% copper) affects adrenergic receptors involved in both the central nervous system and the sympathetic (‘fight or flight’) response which activates increased energy and arousal.

Restoration

In the long term, it is very helpful to eliminate amalgams as a source of chronic stress on the body’s chemical and electrical systems. A practitioner studying the application of natural remedies to achieve and maintain balanced health found a dramatic difference in health maintenence needs of his patients depending upon the presence or absence of amalgam fillings. Patients who had completed an active balancing program and had graduated to an ongoing maintenance phase generally required only one or two visits per year for periodic health needs, unless they still had one or more mercury-based fillings. This one factor increased the frequency of acute, crisis care visits to four or five sessions per year. With many alternative dental materials to choose from and both blood tests and electrophysiological tests to evaluate potential biocompatibility on an individual basis, there is really no excuse today to continue creating such a limitation on our health.

Dental Infections

Chronic infection of gums, teeth or jaw bone may produce bacterial and fungal toxins that can affect the nearby nervous system. Conditions such as epilepsy, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, myasthenia gravis and even high blood pressure may be triggered by such chronic focal infections. Often, surgical removal of the focus is the most effective remedy for such a chronic source of toxic stress on the sensitive nervous system, especially when a chronic degenerative condition is present.

Root Canals

Another critical point in dental care comes with the death of a tooth. The conventional approach of filling the root canal with gutta percha keeps many of these devitalized teeth in the mouth for many years, with the obvious and important advantage of maintaining the ability to chew foods, which is the first and perhaps the most important step in the digestive process. The disadvantage of this approach is that a root canal procedure does not remove all of the necrotic (dead) neurovascular tissue from the tooth, since the root canal has many side branches, and often many main roots as well. This dead tissue continues to putrify, leaking highly toxic peptides that can become a source of chronic stress on organs throughout the body. Especially in situations of chronic degenerative disease, it is wise to consider the alternative of removing the dead tooth. This may result in an overall reduction in systemic stress, and specifically stress on an already weakened target organ, perhaps located on the same meridian. Leaving a gap of course presents problems with chewing, as well as placing mechanical stress on the unsupported teeth to either side. Bridgework creates a different stress pattern, though it can restore the occlusal surface for better mastication. The downside of bridgework is the damage that is done to neighboring teeth to attach the bridge, since some of the healthy tooth structure must be removed from two or more teeth in the area. Most bridgework also contains some metal, as well as other material which must be considered for bio-compatibility.

For more information on Biological Dentistry, see Alternative Medicine which will also direct you to further reading and help you find a practitioner in your area. (Dr. Swartwout incorporates practical information about biological dentistry in his practitioner certification courses)

1 For the name of a biological dentist near you, contact the American Academy of Biological Dentistry, or the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology.

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[see print version for footnote locations]

To find a Biological Dentist in your area, check with these organizations:

American Academy of Biological Dentistry
International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology

Another approach is to seek out a Biological Dentist in Thailand, Bali, or Mexico. The author has also worked with Dr. Erich Wolley in Tijuana, Mexico, who provides completely metal-free dental solutions. His website is:

http://drerichwolley.com/index.html