image of lock and key

Lock and Key
Courtesy of: Craig Sommer DDS

Symptoms Of Mercury Poisoning Vary from Anxiety To Vomiting, And Many In Between

I attended a small conference about mercury toxicity and vaccinations lead by a Canadian physician Dr. Andrew Moulden. During the Q and A discussion at the end of the conference an older dentist stood up and addressed the group stating that mercury is not a problem, it does not cause any symptoms and is perfectly fine to use to fill patient’s teeth. He said he had been doing so for close to forty years. He was visibly irritated that anyone would malign the use of mercury.

Another dentist stood and respectfully disagreed with the first. The second dentist believed that mercury was extremely toxic and should never be used in fillings for any patient. He stated that mercury is considered a toxin in every industrial use outside of dentistry and it’s use should be discontinued.

So What Is The Truth About Mercury?

Is it or is it not safe for use in dental fillings?

What’s the link between mercury from dental fillings and cardovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke and many other diseases? Why are so many varied symptoms and diseases caused by mercury?

Mercury Is Unique

Mercury acts differently than many other heavy metals in that it has an extreme  affinity for sulfur atoms, one of the building blocks of proteins.

Whenever mercury “sees” a sulfur atom in our body it grabs onto it. It bonds to sulfur, so tightly that it bends and twists the molecule containing the sulfur atom into a different shape. The different shape aspect is the important feature.

Millions of Complex Chemical Reactions

Millions of complex chemical reactions occur in our bodies every second. They allow our heart to beat, nerves to pulse  so we can exist and function well. They keep us healthy and depend on the proper fitting together of various molecules for just an instant.

Imagine coming home one night and finding the key to your front door no longer fits. You can’t open your door. The key won’t go completely into the opening because it’s bent. You don’t get inside tonight.

Each of those chemical reactions also requires a “key” and corresponding “lock” fitting together precisely, so that the turning of the “key” within the “lock” occurs. When the lock “turns” successfully, the next step in the sequence of life giving chemical reactions occurs and we don’t miss a beat. Everything is good.

If The Key Doesn’t Fit, The Reactions Quit

If the molecule “key” doesn’t fit the “lock” for some reason, it doesn’t turn correctly and the chain of reactions is broken. The next step in the sequence doesn’t occur and your body starts to deteriorate.

Mercury bends the “key” so it never fits again. It poisons the “key.” Mercury is one of the best “key” benders known to science.

If enough mercury is present (many keys are bent) symptoms develop and a diagnosis is hopefully made. The named disease is the result of the slow gradual accumulation of mercury, but still misses the underlying mercury cause. Who would think that chronic mercury exposure could be responsible for many of the most common diseases of aging?

Why Is Your Body So Susceptible To Mercury?

The reality is that sulfur exists in so many of the basic building blocks of life within our bodies. It exists in the proteins we eat and the amino acids derived. It’s in the very DNA that acts as the construction drawing for every cell and molecule in our body. It’s DNA’s job to code the specifications for every aspect of our existence. Without proper functioning DNA nothing works reliably. And there is the rub.

Mercury has such a strong affinity for sulfur, it’s no wonder it exerts such a myriad of affects that overwhelm one’s ability to grasp. The significance of a toxin such as mercury can only be appreciated when one understands how it affects so many parts of the body that appear totally unrelated. It bends and twists the basic building blocks the “keys” to our existence. Proteins, amino acids and DNA are all at risk of permanent damage.

Are Dentists Victims Of Mercury Poisoning?

You can just about drive your self crazy wondering why so many dentists think it’s such a great material to use for dental fillings, when it can be so damaging to your body.

I think the answer is really quite simple. We are just like children with parents that guide and direct us through the learning processes as we grow up. We grew to trust/fear our teachers in school and when entering dental school it was no different. We believed what we were taught was fact, because we had no reason to believe otherwise. Why would they lie to us? There is no good reason.

Turning Beliefs Upside Down

Then someone introduced a different set of facts during our lifelong education and espoused a different belief. The belief that mercury is a poison. Now we have to pause and decide who am I going to believe? Where do I place my faith? In my professors and colleagues or in the oddball, the outlier who contradicts everything I have been taught? Mulling over the possibilities turns more than a few things on their head.

I came into dental school with a bit of skepticism, because I knew that doctors don’t always have all of the answers. That was from my own life experience. I also had previous professors in a previous undergrad major that encouraged skepticism and looking at facts carefully. They used a different style of teaching. A problem solving style, a look at the root cause style of teaching. Unlike many dental schools.

It’s Not Deliberate, It’s Just Human Nature

Remember the older dentist in the conference I attended? He spent years taking care of his patients with the belief that he was providing excellent care using safe materials because that was what he was taught. And with the right filter, everything he heard over the years remained in agreement with what he was taught in dental school. Well most of it anyway.

For him to even consider that he was  responsible for causing harm to his patients all of those forty years of practice could be a terrible blow. No doctor wants to think that he is causing deliberate harm.

Perhaps he heard a few “crazy” dentists talking about how it was unsafe to use mercury. But to really give it serious thought would be incredibly disruptive.

I believe the term that best describes what he was experiencing is something called “confirmation bias.” It’s a psychology term, where we, as normal healthy adults, tend to avoid considering important information that differs from what we already believe. We simply ignore whatever challenges our existing beliefs. It’s safer that way, more comfortable. It’s human nature and it’s always been this way.

Could Professionals Make Mistakes?

Of course. For years physicians never even washed there hands between doing autopsies and examining pregnant women in maternity wards. No wonder so many women died around childbirth. And the doctor that suggested they start, because it might be safer for mothers, was the brunt of incredible ridicule (Ignaz Semmelweis).

If you are open to the possibility of errors being made by learned professionals, then it might be reasonable to consider that we don’t always know everything. It is inevitable, that new research, and new information may lead us to changing our minds and our belief systems. And it will often make for a better future.

Given enough time, I believe all dentists will eventually agree it’s obvious that mercury is a toxin. And they’ll be astonished it was used in fillings for so long. Though mercury, due to it’s effects on the brain, may slow the adoption of a new stance on mercury filling hazards.