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Dental Fillings and Mercury

October 30, 1999

"A Debate on Mercury in Fillings" (Oct. 25) has brought nothing new to the "debate" about the value or supposed dangers of mercury-containing fillings. The losers from such obfuscation are the general public, who no longer know which side of the argument is to be trusted. The winners are those dental practitioners who garner enormous fees for removing amalgam fillings, producing testimonial "instant cures," when such are physiologically impossible. Even if one allows that dental amalgam can cause toxicity, mercury poisoning cannot be cured by simply removing fillings from the mouth. True mercury toxicity is caused by accumulation of the heavy metal in body tissues, which would often require chelation therapy (also offered by some dental quacks and so-called "clinical ecologists").

Do amalgam fillings contain mercury? Yes. Do people with amalgam fillings ingest some mercury? Yes. But the amount of mercury involved is minuscule--well below established health safety standards and hardly any more than people without amalgam who ingest a regular diet. That's right; everyone ingests mercury, lead, arsenic and many other toxic chemicals every day in trace amounts. It's the dose that's important.

The article states that mercury's toxicity is "second only to uranium as a human poison." There are many poisons more potent than mercury: botulinum toxin, plutonium, ricin, nerve agents (VX, sarin, soman), etc.

JEFFREY R. SUCHARD MD

Medical Toxicologist

UC Irvine

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Your article highlights one practicing dentist who does not give us any scientific evidence of harmful effects, only an opinion. Most dentists use silver fillings because they have seen the scientific evidence that shows no harmful effects. Why was this not researched?

I'm glad the article mentioned the State Board of Dental Examiners. They are there to protect the public and that is exactly what they do. If you have good silver fillings, leave them in. Don't have them replaced because a dentist says the mercury is poisoning you. Remember, those dentists make money from removing good fillings. If you don't like the look of them, then that is reason enough to have them replaced with tooth-colored fillings.

CLAYTON FULLER DDS

Del Mar

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