Biological Dentistry Frequently Asked Questions

How can I be sure a dentist is really practicing Biological dentistry?

Simply by asking the following questions one will be able to tell if the dentist and his staff are practicing Biological Dentistry:

  • Do you place mercury amalgam fillings?
  • Do you remove mercury amalgams safely? What safety equipment do you use and how is this done?
  • What training have you had in Biological Dentistry? How about your staff’s training?

How and whom do you work with (integrative physicians, nutritionists, etc.) to help your patients detoxify themselves and/or improve their existing health?

A biological dentist will not use mercury and he will be very well versed in the protocol for its safe removal from the mouth when needed. He/she and their staffs’ training and affiliations (with some of the many associations for biological dentists) will add to his knowledge and credibility.

What can I expect from my first dental appointment?

Initial Comprehensive Examination:

Medical Record:

  • Review medical history, chronological health history, family history and environmental living conditions.
  • Discuss chief complaint of patient and priority of oral and systemic treatment needs. This can include but not be limited to drainage remedies, oral chelating agents, nutritional supplementation, etc…

Dental records:

  • Dental images include- a panorex and bitewings (minimum), others are suggested depending upon the circumstances.
  • Dental charting includes: charting of oral hard and soft tissues, periodontal screening (PSR), pharyngeal tissues including the tonsils, TMJ screening, and oral cancer screening.
  • Intra and extra oral photographs
  • Electrogalvanic charting (optional)
  • Mercury vapor testing

Dental materials evaluation:

  • Clifford blood test

Prioritization of Dental Treatment around Whole Body Health Concerns

Why do I need to see a biological dentist?

If you currently have health challenges he/she will work with your current health care providers to encourage your body’s natural healing abilities. This will revolve around placing biocompatible dental materials in your mouth, as needed, in as non-toxic and environmentally safe surroundings as possible. The building up of your health is a coordinated effort which may include dietary changes, nutritional supplements, detoxification strategies and other therapies to enable you to maximize your health. If you are in good health then you are promoting the continuation of this by having any needed dental treatment done in as non-toxic and environmentally safe atmosphere as possible.

What is the controversy about silver fillings?

Silver Fillings: the Basics

There is a controversy in the field of dentistry over the use of mercury-containing materials. The primary material, one of the most commonly used in the world, are amalgams, better known as silver fillings. Some people believe that the mercury from dental fillings may be harmful, even dangerous.

But what are the facts?

These silver fillings are comprised of five elemental metals: mercury, silver, tin, zinc, copper and mercury. Of these five, mercury is present in the largest amount, being roughly 50% of the volume of the filling (the exact amounts of these metals vary from manufacturer to manufacturer). In school we were taught that these five positively charged metals formed an alloy which was inert to degassing or breakdown under normal conditions. However, it is really classified as a solid emulsion which immediately starts to breakdown and release mercury vapor as soon as it is mixed and placed into the mouth. Acceleration of mercury amalgam filling breakdown occurs with hot liquids, clenching/grinding, and acidic foods. (See links and references section).

Why Mercury is a Problem

Mercury is a liquid at room temperature. Mercury will begin to evaporate (creating mercury vapors) at 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and double its vapor pressure with each 10 degrees Celsius increase above that. Mercury evaporates at 22 degrees below the freezing point of water! At body temperature, this ensures a relatively constant exposure to mercury vapor. This vapor has no electrical charge to it (unlike metallic mercury, which has a valence of +2), making it uncommonly able to insinuate itself into bodily tissues.

Mercury is a highly toxic and oxidative substance. Eighty percent of human exposure comes from inhalation and due to its zero charge in the elemental form it is able to pass through any fatty membrane; fat cells, nerve cells, red blood cells, etc.. Once inside these cells it is further oxidized and thus trapped in the cells. It generates free radicals. Mercury binds to sulfur (thiol groups) and other mineral binding sites inactivating enzymes, cellular membranes, cross linking proteins (aging), and reducing the detoxification capacity and biochemical function of the person. One of the findings that Dr. Pendergrass( a toxicologist from the University of Kentucky) presented was on the effect of mercury on brain tubulin. Tubulin is the most abundant protein found in brain matter, and is frequently used to determine neurological impact of differing toxins. By studying the pattern of inhibition, it is possible to determine the specific impact of the toxin, and determine whether or not it is a contributor to different diseases. Not only does mercury from silver fillings affect the brain tubulin, but it does so in a pattern similar to Alzheimer's disease.

Hype or Science?

“…So far, we have made assertions based on clinical observations. In other words, we have made the statement that the above list of potential toxic effects is due in part to the presence of mercury. But is there any proof that silver fillings are the greatest exposure we have to mercury? What about other sources, such as mercury present in seafoods? This is an excellent question.

In the 1988 publication, Biological Monitoring of Toxic Metals, Thomas W. Clarkson of the University of Rochester School of Medicine along with Lars Friberg and Magnus Nylander of the Karolinska Institute, conclude that, “The release of mercury from dental amalgams makes the predominant contribution to human exposure to inorganic mercury including mercury vapor in the general population.”

Dr. Nylander was published again in 1989’s Mercury and Other Toxic Metals in Humans, published by Life Sciences Press with an article entitled, Mercury Concentration in the Human Brain and Kidneys in Relation to Exposure from Dental Amalgam Fillings. In this article, he concludes that a positive correlation exists between presence of mercury in brain and kidney tissues and the number of amalgam fillings in a subject’s mouth. This supported an earlier study performed by Dr. David Eggleston in Los Angeles.

Perhaps the most telling and controversial studies were performed at the University of Calgary in 1989 and 1990, respectively. In the first study, radioactive mercury was mixed with the other components of amalgam fillings and placed into the mouths of sheep. The sheep were sacrificed 30 days later and assayed for the presence of the radioactive mercury. The greatest single accumulation of mercury was found in the kidneys, with dramatic increases in almost all other areas of the body, including the brain and nervous tissue.

The established dental community raised a number of questions regarding the validity of this study; after all, they argued, sheep are ruminants. They spend a great deal more time chewing than humans, therefore creating greater stress and pressure on the fillings. This was a sign of “poor science,” according to Dr. John Dodes of the National Council Against Health Fraud.

However, argued the scientists who performed the study, they wished to learn the value of continuation of the study by evaluating an extreme case first.

Once completed, the same group, led by Dr. Fritz Lorscheider, repeated the study using monkeys as the animal model in 1990. The monkey’s dentition and dietary patterns are similar to humans, making it a more viable comparison. They found the same results in the monkey model. These data, and those of the sheep study, were published in the FASEB Journal, a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Since that time, there have been a great many studies linking the presence of mercury to many different diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease. Affinity Labeling Technologies and the University of Calgary have both published studies showing the potential risks of mercury from “silver” dental fillings.

With all that is known of toxins present in our daily environment, most of us are prompted to make decisions about our state of health. We may elect to avoid certain foods, install carbon monoxide detectors in our homes, or change our lifestyles to improve our state of health. With all the science behind the issue of mercury, a prudent person may also elect to seek alternatives to the use of dental amalgams, preferably by avoiding dental disease from the outset.

Biologic dentists are focusing on biocompatible materials and their influence on the immune system, nutritional support for maintaining oral health, focal oral infections from root canalled and bone sites from previously extracted teeth, energy disturbances to the whole body, and the direct influence of the three dimensional relationship of the way the teeth mesh together to the stability of the spine and low back….”

How can I begin to find out if I have Heavy metal Toxicity?

This can be begun by filling out the following questionnaire. If you have many of the symptoms listed and/or have had any of the higher ‘exposure rate’ jobs then further inquiry may be needed. Blood testing only shows very recent and very acute exposures. Remember that these heavy metals hide in cell membranes, nerves, fat, etc… In order to ascertain levels of heavy metals within the body very specific ‘provocational tests’ need to be done with specific agents (chelators) under strict medical supervision. This is an initial screening test to see if further investigation may be warranted. If it is then this can been done at our office.