dental amalgam in HIV+ patients

Question

Hello Dr. Frascino !

My girlfriend is hiv + and on meds.She visited her dentist since she had problems vith her memory. He told her she should replace amalgam (because of mercury) with composite. He added this mercury can damage kidney, cause brain lession and DECREASE lymphocytes (!?). I talked after this with my best friend(he's not dentist, but molecular biologist) and he told me that's only ani amalgam myth, because the concentrations of mercury in amalgam-carrier are only minimal higher than in taht who are amalgam-free but that is far away from a value that could cause long term toxicity. He told me also that kidny failure never be seen from dental amalgam, not even in dentist who are working with it and maybe carring it, and immune response is the same(!). So, who is right? Whats hould my girlfriend do , we need your advice, you are internist/HIV specialist and could say even more. THANK YOU IN ADVANCE . Greetings from Germany. Bernd

Answer

Hello Bernd,

Your molecular biologist buddy is correct! The dentist you saw is a quack! I'd strongly recommend you find a more competent dentist. I'll post below some information from the archives.

Dr. Bob

mercury poisening from fillings/HIV status Mar 26, 2005

Have doubted my HIV + status for some time. Began Sustive just after having 11 mercury fillings over 30yrs old removed and going through extreme detox via IV, suppliment and anti-oxidents. Over the coarse of the following several months my viral load went to a completely undetectbable level and I have a ratio of 3. Have felt absolutely great for 3 years. And all labs support that great feeling of health. Was told I would probobly test Neg due to status but am considered positive. Understand how HIV hides in the body etc. I can't find a Med DR. that is able to address any relationship to the possibility of mis diagnosis. Understand no studies have been done on relationship of mercury and HIV. The Dentist that performed the extraction of mercury from my teeth said he has dealt with numerous misdiagnosis of Lukymia, Lymphoma, MS and HIV some time after extraction of "old" mercury. But can offer no hard evidence.

Frustrated.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Frustrated,

I do not believe mercury fillings cause medical problems. In addition, I know of no sound scientific data to support removal of old mercury fillings or "extreme detox via IV, supplements and anti-oxidants" (in relationship to mercury fillings).

If you are indeed HIV positive, you will not subsequently test HIV negative as a result of these very questionable therapies or even from the removal of all your teeth!

That the "dentist" who performed the extractions claims to have dealt with "numerous misdiagnoses of leukemia, lymphoma, MS and HIV sometime after extraction of old mercury, but can offer no hard evidence," should send up about a gazillion red flags that maybe this guy got his dental license on the Home Shopping Network.

I recommend you see an HIV specialist to review your concerns and treatment options.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob


The "Mercury Toxicity" Scam:: How Anti-Amalgamists Swindle People, 2/3/2006 Mercury is a component of the amalgam used for "silver" fillings. The other major ingredients are silver, tin, copper, and zinc. When mixed, these elements bond to form a strong, stable substance. The difference between bound and unbound chemicals can be illustrated by a simple analogy. Elemental hydrogen is an explosive gas. Elemental oxygen is a gas that supports combustion. When combined, however, they form water, which has neither of these effects. Amalgam's ingredients are tightly bonded to each other. Although the types of chemical bonds in water and amalgam differ, saying that amalgam will poison you is just as wrong as saying that drinking water will make you explode and burst into flames.

Very sensitive instruments can detect billionths of a gram of mercury vapor in the mouth of a person with amalgam fillings.

However, the minuscule amount of mercury the body absorbs from amalgams is far below the level that exerts any adverse health effect . One study found that people with symptoms they related to amalgam fillings did not have significant mercury levels. The study compared ten symptomatic patients and eight patients with no reported health complaints. The symptom group had neither a higher estimated daily uptake of inhaled mercury vapor, nor a higher mercury concentration in blood and urine than in the control group. The amounts of mercury detected by the tests were trivial . Some studies have shown that the problems patients attribute to amalgam restorations are psychosomatic in nature and have been exacerbated greatly by information from the media or from a dentist

An extensive review published in 1993 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concluded that "there is scant evidence that the health of the vast majority of people with amalgam is compromised or that removing fillings has a beneficial effect on health." In January 1998, the American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs issued a report on dental amalgam safety, with emphasis on studies that had been published since the 1993 review. The report concluded:

Millions of people have amalgam restorations in their mouths, and millions more will receive amalgam for restoring their carious teeth. Over the years, amalgam has been used for dental restorations without evidence of major health problems. Newly developed techniques have demonstrated that minute levels of mercury are released from amalgam restorations, but no health consequences from exposure to such low levels of mercury released from amalgam restorations have been demonstrated. Given the available scientific information and considering the demonstrated benefits of dental amalgams, unless new scientific research dictates otherwise, there currently appears to be no justification for discontinuing the use of dental amalgam .

Despite these facts, a small but vocal group of dentists, physicians and various other "holistic" advocates claim that amalgam fillings are a health hazard and should be replaced. The leading advocate of such advice is Hal Huggins, D.D.S., of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Dr. Huggins graduated from the University of Nebraska School of Dentistry in 1962 and received a master of science degree from the University of Colorado in 1989.

At best only 10% of the patients responded." Later he claimed that some fillings have "negative electrical current" and that removing fillings in the proper sequence and supplementing with nutrients would improve success rates. Since then he has crusaded against the use of amalgam and limited his practice to advice on these matters.

He recommends replacing mercury fillings with other materials and taking vitamins and other supplements to prevent trouble following amalgam removal.

Anti-amalgam dentists typically use a mercury vapor analyzer to convince patients that "detoxification," is needed. To use the device, the dentist asks the patient to chew vigorously for ten minutes, which may generate tiny amounts of mercury from the fillings. Although this exposure lasts for just a few seconds and most of the mercury will be exhaled rather than absorbed by the body, the machines give a falsely high readout, which the anti-amalgamists interpret as dangerous.

Some antiamalgamists administer a "patch test" with a dilute solution of mercuric chloride. Redness of the skin or any of a large number of other symptoms are then misinterpreted as signs of "mercury poisoning," and the patient is advised to have all amalgam fillings removed.

FDA action appears to have driven Amalgameters from the marketplace . However, many anti-amalgam dentists use other devices for the same purpose.

In addition to seeing patients, Huggins operated a consultation service through which patients were evaluated and received advice by telephone or mail. The advice centered around a "Mercury Assist Program," based on the results of hair analysis, a complete blood count, a chemistry profile, a urine mercury test, and a detailed questionnaire about diet, lifestyle, past medical history, and current symptoms. The resultant data were incorporated into a lengthy report containing recommendations for diet, supplementation, lifestyle, and amalgam removal. Huggins claims that to successfully rid the body of mercury, one must be on a restrictive diet, take supplements that stimulate the cell membrane, and have the mercury fillings removed in the proper sequence.

In the late 1980s, when Huggins charged $1,500 for an in-office consultation and $378 for the assist program, I went through the assist program by mail. The report claimed that my urine mercury level "suggested toxicity" (because it was too low!), and that my hair sample showed "deficiencies" in chromium, iron, manganese, potassium, and lithium, and "excesses" in calcium, zinc, and copper. The report included 17 pages of biochemical nonsense related to these findings and more than 30 pages of other advice. The accompany instructions said to contact Huggins' facility for the name of a dentist who would replace my amalgam fillings. The report recommended that I begin taking vitamin C (3 grams per day), potassium, and three of Huggins' special supplement products two days before the old fillings were removed and that I have blood, urine, and hair tests three weeks after removal is completed. The cost of the follow-up interpretation would be $100 plus the cost of tests done through Huggins's office.

There is overwhelming evidence that amalgam fillings are safe. Since 1905, although billions have been used successfully, fewer than fifty cases of allergy to the amalgam have been reported in the scientific literature. In 1986, the American Dental Association Council on Ethics, Bylaws, and Judicial Affairs concluded that "removal of amalgam restorations solely for the alleged purpose of removing toxic substances from the body, when such treatment is performed at the recommendation of the dentist, presents a question of fraud or quackery in all but an exceedingly limited spectrum of cases." The ruling was triggered in part by the case of an Iowa dentist who had extracted all 28 teeth of a patient with multiple sclerosis. The dentist received a 9-month license suspension followed by 51 months of probation.

"Mercury-free" dentists typically use scare tactics to promote their services. For example, a February 1998 newspaper ad by a Michigan dentist stated: "After ten years, 85% of the mercury can be lost. Should we allow our bodies to become a toxic waste dump?" The National Council Against Health Fraud has pointed out that practitioners who do not wish to use amalgam can still practice ethically by giving appropriate advice and and referring patients elsewhere when amalgam is the best choice. But advertising a practice as "mercury-free" is unethical because it falsely implies that amalgam fillings are dangerous and that "mercury-free" methods are superior .

In 1990, researchers at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, reported on an experiment in which they placed 12 amalgam fillings in each of six sheep. Within two months, the researchers claimed, the sheep lost much of their kidney function while a control group (two sheep) had lost none. Newsweek, which accepted the report at face value, described it as the first evidence that the amount of mercury escaping from fillings and winding up in body tissues is harmful. (Newsweek's article was coauthored by very same writer who had panned fluoridation earlier in the year.) However, experts in biochemistry, toxicology, dentistry, and veterinary medicine consider the sheep study meaningless.

The Canadian researchers prepared their amalgam with a method that has been obsolete for more than 40 years. The resultant amalgam contained excess mercury and was softer and therefore more easily worn by chewing, especially in a cud-chewing animal such as a sheep.

Because rubber dams were not used when the fillings were placed, scrap amalgam was free to enter the sheeps' mouth and be swallowed.

The "60 Minutes" segment on dental amalgam, which was considerably longer than most of its reports, was called "Poison In Your Mouth." It interspersed remarks from an American Dental Association representative with statements by three amalgam critics and four patients who claimed to have made a remarkable recovery from arthritis or multiple sclerosis after their amalgam fillings were removed. The most powerful segment featured a woman who said that her symptoms of multiple sclerosis had disappeared overnight. The fact that arthritis and multiple sclerosis normally have ups and downs was not mentioned during the program. Neither was the fact that removal of fillings temporarily raises

Stay Away from Holistic and "biological" Dentists, 26/5/2008 Dentists who identify themselves as "holistic" or "biological" typically claim that disease can be prevented by maintaining "optimum" overall health or "wellness." In their offices, this typically involves inappropriate diagnostic tests, recommendations for expensive dietary supplements and/or homeopathic products; a plastic bite appliance; unnecessary replacement of amalgam fillings; and/or removal of root-canal-treated teeth. John E. A few hundred dentists claim that the mercury in amalgam fillings is toxic and causes a wide range of health problems, including multiple sclerosis, arthritis, headaches, Parkinson's disease, and emotional stress. They recommend that mercury fillings be replaced with either gold or plastic ones and that vitamin supplements be taken to prevent trouble during the process. However, scientific testing has shown that the amount of mercury absorbed from fillings is only a small fraction of the average daily intake from food and is insignificant. In 1992 an extensive review by the U.S. Public Health Service concluded that it was inappropriate to recommend restricting the use of dental amalgam . The American Dental Association Council on Ethics, Bylaws, and Judicial Affairs considers the unnecessary removal of silver-amalgam fillings "improper and unethical."

The most outspoken advocate of mercury-amalgam toxicity has been Hal A. Huggins, D.D.S., of Colorado Springs, Colorado, who describes himself as one of Page's students. Huggins promoted "balancing body chemistry" so vigorously that in 1975 the American Dental Association Council on Dental Research denounced the diet that he recommended. Another Price follower is George A. Meinig, D.D.S., whose book Root Canal Cover-up Exposed was published in 1994.

In the mid-1980s the FDA forced Huggins to stop marketing mineral products with false claims that they would help the body rid itself of mercury. Huggins has also claimed that root canal therapy can make people susceptible to arthritis, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and other autoimmune diseases. As with mercury-amalgam fillings, there is no objective evidence that teeth treated with root canal therapy have any adverse effect on the immune system or any other system or part of the body . Huggins's dental license was revoked in 1996. During the revocation proceedings

Benson JS and others. Dental Amalgam: A Scientific Review and Recommended Public Health Strategy for Research, Education and Regulation. Washington, D.C., 1993, US Public Health Service.