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MK Dental Clinique

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Mercury-Free Dentist Welcomes New FDA Mercury Fillings Review

Portland, OR, September 11, 2006 --( Last week, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held public hearings (advisory committee meetings) on dental amalgam and its potential mercury toxicity, specifically as it relates to neurotoxic effects.  These were the first government hearings in over a decade reviewing the health risks of mercury metal alloy fillings.  If you would like the FDA to hear your voice, I would encourage you to contact Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, M.D., Acting FDA Commissioner at Food and Drug Administration, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, Maryland 20857 or call (888) 463-6332.

The majority of dentists in the United States today are pretending that a 19th century innovation is a reasonable solution to a 21st century tooth cavity.  They believe, along with the American Dental Association (ADA), that a product such as a mercury metal alloy filling a.k.a. a silver filling, which is 50% mercury and an infamous neurotoxin that the FDA condemns in virtually every other use, is safe to put in peoples’ mouths.  These same people also believe that any mercury that escapes the mercury filling is harmless and free of any long-term effects when on a daily basis is inhaled and swallowed.  While the Pro-Mercury Filling advocates are as strong as ever, there are those vehemently against placing mercury-laden tooth fillings, which include dentists, physicians, researchers, citizen activists, regulators, politicians, and organizations such as International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology, Consumers for Dental Choice, Mercury Policy Project, Moms Against Mercury Amalgams.  Congresswoman Diane E. Watson (D-Calif) has introduced legislation that would effectively ban the use of mercury in dental fillings.  Rep. Watson is pressing the FDA for a ban on mercury fillings and is requesting the FDA to study the environmental impact of dental mercury. 

Today, well over 25% of dentists call themselves “mercury-free” dentists including Dr. Kyung L. Boen, D.M.D., F.A.G.D.  Dr. Boen states “[t]he very best solution to a medium to large tooth cavity on the chewing surface (most common area) is a porcelain filling using CEREC 3D.  The very best solution to a small cavity is typically a tooth-colored composite resin filling.  Finally, be aware that gold foil fillings have many of the same downfalls as mercury fillings.”  As to mercury fillings, Dr. Boen stated that “[m]ercury amalgam filling material is hazardous waste before being placed in the mouth and is hazardous waste after being removed from the mouth.”  She added “[a]nyone with a half dozen mercury fillings has about a half dozen mercury thermometers worth of mercury in their mouth.”  Dr. Boen is confident that a complete vindication of her anti-mercury filling stance and an ADA amalgam support reversal will come by the year 2030.  This may seem an awful long time away, but this is a realistic goal for such an incredible force to contend with i.e. Pro-Mercury Filling advocates.

Dental amalgam has been used in the United States as a tooth filling material for over 170 years.  Amalgam fillings, also known as silver fillings, metal alloy fillings, silver amalgam, and mercury fillings, consists of about 50% elemental mercury along with a mixture of silver, tin, copper, and small amounts of zinc, indium or palladium.  When mercury fillings are first placed and polished, they appear shiny and silver in color.  Over their lifetime, mercury fillings corrode, turn black in color, and slowly release minute quantities of mercury vapor into saliva and inhaled into the human body, especially during chewing and tooth-brushing.  Mercury fillings expand and contract due to heat and cold temperatures in the mouth.  Over time, this ongoing expansion and contraction of mercury fillings contribute to micro fractures within the tooth structure.  The contraction of these fillings creates “leakage” whereby tooth decay producing bacteria regularly travel underneath the mercury filling.  The long-term outcome of having a mercury filling is commonly a broken tooth, requiring a larger filling, root canal therapy, full-coverage tooth crown, or possibly the loss of the tooth. 

Dentists are the third largest users of mercury in the United States.  Of course, this means an outright banning of mercury fillings in the United States would infuriate the mercury producers.  Around the world, countries are slowly moving away from placing mercury fillings.  For instance, Japanese dental schools no longer teach the use of mercury amalgam fillings.  Norway and Sweden have virtually ended mercury filling use, while Germany and Canada give warnings to children and pregnant women.  In California, dental offices are required to inform their patients that “dental amalgam, used in many dental fillings, causes exposure to mercury, a chemical known to the state of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.”

Mercury can accumulate in human organs, particularly in the brain because proteins have a greater attraction to mercury than other heavy metals.  Because mercury is an acknowledged neurotoxin, concerns about the health effects of exposure to this chemical are widespread.  Consequently, many individuals have submitted to the removal of mercury dental fillings, a simple, relatively inexpensive procedure that when using the proper removal protocol, can avoid any significant inhalation of mercury vapor. 

Mercury is a highly reactive metal that has widely recognized toxic properties at high dose, including parethesias, cerebellar ataxia, dysarthria, and constriction of the visual fields.  A growing number of publications claim that amalgam exposure increases the risk of such medical conditions as autism, multiple sclerosis, kidney diseases, neuro-psychological impairment, gene toxicity, connective tissue diseases, oxidative stress, auto-immune diseases, skin allergies, and Alzheimer’s dementia.  Significant levels of mercury exposure can cause permanent damage to the brain and kidneys. Fetuses and children are especially sensitive to mercury.

Although it is estimated that more than 70 million dental amalgam restorations are placed annually in the United States, the health risks posed by the potential chronic release of metallic mercury vapor from mercury fillings remain unclear.  Occupational exposures resulting in urinary mercury levels greater than 50 µg/L have been associated with various neurological, renal, and immunological impairments.  Potential effects of lower occupational levels of mercury have also been evaluated, but results are so far inconsistent.  Studies of dentists have found urinary mercury levels as low as 4 to 10 µg/L to be inversely associated with scores on tests of neurobehavioral function, including memory, attention, motor coordination and steadiness, and mood.

Mercury inhibits and decreases levels of glutathione in the body.  Glutathione is the body's most important tool for detoxifying heavy metals and other potential sulfhydryl poisons. Glutathione works as an antioxidant, keeping in check the potentially destructive process of oxidative stress caused both by normal metabolism and environmental contaminants.  Therefore, mercury can create a considerable imbalance in the oxidant/antioxidant ratio of the human body.

Antioxidants are substances that are believed to protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals.  It is believed that free radical damage may lead to cancer.  Antioxidants interact with and stabilize free radicals and may prevent some of the damage free radicals otherwise might cause.  Examples of antioxidants include beta-carotene, lycopene, vitamins C, E, and A.  Considerable laboratory evidence from chemical, cell culture, and animal studies indicates that antioxidants may slow or possibly prevent the development of cancer.

Dr. Boen graduated from the renowned Oregon Health & Sciences University (OHSU) School of Dentistry in 1994.  Five years later, she received her Fellowship from the Academy of General Dentistry.  Dr. Boen is a solo-practitioner in her high-tech dental clinique and perhaps only one of a handful of dentists on the West Coast that personally offers invisalign, full orthodontics, i.v. sedation, CEREC 3D porcelain restorations, and Waterlase MD laser dentistry.  The doctor holds dental licenses in Oregon, Washington and California.

For information: Mark B. Boen, J.D., Business Manager
Company:  MK Dental Clinique
Telephone:  503-258-1112
Fax:  503-258-1953

Contact Information
MK Dental Clinique
Mark B. Boen, J.D.

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