Is Dental Care Toxic?
Posted On Jul 11, 2016
Grin and bear it: Here’s the low-down on the toxic side of dentistry.
BY Kevin Wilson PHOTOGRAPH by Travis Rathbone; STYLING by Ariana Salvato
The modern mouth has many reasons to smile these days. The burgeoning field of holistic (or integrative) dentistry has begun to address the link between oral health and overall health, applying an interdisciplinary approach to dentistry that optimizes full-body well-being.
“There is a definite link between oral and systemic health—and an easy way to determine overall health is to examine the mouth,” says New York City holistic dentist Dr. Victor Zeines. “Many diseases of the mouth are really symptoms of the body being out of balance.”
Gingivitis—or inflammation of the gums—is an early form of gum disease, and is a warning sign that the body is operating below peak level. The later stage of gum disease, periodontitis, is more serious, indicating more serious health concerns, and can require laborious treatment such as teeth extraction.
Silver amalgam fillings contain 50 percent elemental mercury, a known toxin to humans. As one bites down on a silver amalgam filling, microscopic mercury vapor is released into the mouth, which is then absorbed by the gums and mouth lining. According to Dr. H. Richard Casdorph and Dr. Morton Walker in their book Toxic Metal Syndrome, the worst effect of mercury poisoning is dementia (Alzheimer’s disease in particular). The amount of vapor actually emitted, the number of fillings present that can cause toxic levels, and the age of fillings (older fillings corrode, releasing larger amounts of mercury vapor), are all heated talking points in the controversy over mercury fillings.
The American Dental Association (ADA) maintains that silver amalgams pose no risk to patients. While the FDA has stated similar claims, the Dental Products Panel of the FDA Medical Devices Committee has encouraged the FDA to consider limiting the use of dental amalgam in pregnant women and children, and to consider labels warning consumers about the risks of this mercury-containing product.
In the wake of such debates, many dentists have voluntarily discontinued the use of mercury in their practices. You should consider having your silver fillings removed only if you have a high number (eight or more), if they are older or showing signs of corrosion, if you grind your teeth, or if you are experiencing any symptoms of mercury exposure— and only after you have met with a experienced qualified dentist in amalgam removal.
Newer fillings are now made using a much safer material called composite. “The restoration of teeth using composite—which is a plastic-glass material—is much less likely to cause problems than amalgam,” says holistic dentist Mark Breiner of Trumbull, Connecticut.
Get to the Root
During a root canal, an attempt to save a damaged tooth is made by sealing off the “dead” tooth. While the ADA maintains that root canals are a safe procedure, there is concern that due to the mouth’s wet environment and the advanced network of nerves and blood vessels that extend far beyond the root of the tooth, it’s virtually impossible to remove all bacteria associated with the infected tooth. These bacteria have the potential to cause infection that cannot be reached with antibiotics.
The Toxic Element Research Foundation (TERF) has found bacterial contamination in 100 percent of the samples of root canal teeth tested with DNA analysis. If you are prone to infections or have an autoimmune disorder, you may want to opt for an alternative procedure. Such methods involve the removal of the affected tooth and the employment of one of the following replacement options: partial dentures, bridges, or implants.
(Consult your dentist to determine the option that is best for you.)
From Paste to Polish
Oral hygiene products are big subjects of debate, as they may contain ingredients that adversely affect their users’ health. “Whiteners, mouthwash, and toothpastes contain various chemicals,” Breiner says. “In some cases, your teeth or the mucous membrane of the mouth may absorb these chemicals, or they are inevitably swallowed.” The majority of toothpastes contain fluoride, and while the ADA maintains the benefit and safety of adding the mineral in small doses, fluoride in large doses can be very toxic. It has been linked to loss of concentration, lowered immune function, fertility issues, and dental fluorosis (malformation of tooth enamel).
Cosmetic or whitening dental products are among the popular items within the beauty industry. These products have warning labels stating that they “may irritate the gums or heighten sensitivity to hot or cold beverages.” The ADA states that whitening agents containing 10 percent carbamide peroxide or less are safe for consumers. However, if you feel any discomfort, you should immediately discontinue use. (An alternative to tooth whitening agents is to make a paste using baking soda and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Apply the mixture evenly to freshly brushed teeth. Leave on for one minute before removing with a toothbrush.)
Holistic Steps to Take
To detoxify your daily regime, try fluoride-free and natural products, which are available at national retailers like Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and Wild Oats markets. Most of these products contain baking soda and herbs that help naturally clean teeth. In the spirit of “holistic dentistry,” factor in a healthy, whole food diet. Add in healthy-mouth supplements such as calcium and vitamin D for strong bones and teeth; B vitamins to prevent mouth sores; vitamin C to prevent bleeding gums; probiotics to support healthy oral bacteria and fight infection; and omega-3s, which inhibit the growth of harmful oral bacteria. (To find a holistic dentist in your area, visit toxicteeth.org or holisticdentalnetwork.com.)
Safe removal of amalgam fillings
Holistic dentists are best qualified to remove silver amalgam fillings, because they understand how to minimize the toxicity from the mercury released during the removal process. Here are some items your dentist should provide:
? Air source during procedure
? Use a dental dam to prevent inhalation or ingestion of toxins
? Use of suction or air evacuator to remove mercury vapor
? Cold water rinses to minimize mercury vapor
? Protective coverings for both patient and treatment provider