May/June 2012 Alternative Health
Happy Teeth, Healthy Body: Mercury-Free Dentistry
by Elisabeth Dunham
Dr. Jeffrey Williamson of Centerpointe Dental in Lake Oswego runs the oldest mercury-free dental practice in the state of Oregon. With more than 30 years under his belt as a holistic dentist, we asked him to shed some light on the controversial mercury issue in American dentistry.
Q. How did you start specializing in the removal of mercury fillings?
A. A little over 30 years ago I had a practice close to the naturopathic college in Portland. I had several friends and patients who were students there. They said, “Hey, have you looked at this mercury issue with dental fillings?” I said, “No.” They told me about this one dentist in Colorado, Hal Huggins, who had just announced he was going to give his first course on mercury in dentistry. He was one of the pioneers. So I took his course and started applying the principles in my practice. In those years we had alternative composites — resin materials — they were poorly advanced but functional. And of course that art and science has come a long way since then.
Q. What made you concerned about mercury?
The fact that it vaporizes off fillings from the day they are put in until the day they are removed. Mercury is one of the most toxic elements on earth. It escapes in micro amounts from these fillings. It doesn’t take a lot. The body does not excrete mercury very well and everybody has a different threshold limit for toxins, including heavy metals. When someone reaches that toxic threshold limit on a cellular level then organs start showing signs of mercury toxicity.
Q. What are the signs?
A. There are hundreds, many of them neurological, including loss of mental clarity, paralysis. Mercury has been linked to multiple sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson’s disease as well as autoimmune problems, arthritis, fibromyalgia. Chronic fatigue. Gastrointestinal disturbances are common because mercury alters the intestinal flora. Even heart problems.
Q. What about mental health issues such as anxiety and depression? Can they be linked to mercury toxicity stemming from amalgam fillings?
A. That’s another part of the neurological aspect of mercury. The brain is particularly susceptible because it has a lot of fat with sulfur molecules that attract mercury. There are different kinds of brain lesions associated with multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s, and mercury has been linked to both of those types of lesions. We know that mercury causes the destruction of the myelin sheath, which is associated with MS. But it’s also linked to the lesions associated with the neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer’s. We know that mercury passes through the blood brain barrier.
Q. What kind of health problems have you seen turn around with mercury filling removal and the right kind of health care?
A. The more minor issues like chronic fatigue and loss of mental clarity respond well. Fibromyalgia and arthritis respond well. I had an MS patient who came to see me who had to use a wheelchair part time. After mercury removal she eliminated the use of her wheelchair and she hasn’t had symptoms since.
Q. Why is it important to see a dentist who specializes in mercury filling removal?
A. To date 50 percent of American dentists no longer place mercury fillings. However, very few of those dentists are removing it using a safe removal protocol. We know there’s a safe protocol that’s effective. Because those dentists are not using a safe protocol some patients get sicker after removal.
Q. Are you encouraged by the fact that 50 percent of dentists no longer use mercury in their practice?
A. The word is getting out there. However, when I first got into this issue over 30 years ago, I was thinking it might take five or 10 years at the most (to see mercury fillings disappear from the dental industry). And here we are more than 30 years later and mercury amalgam is still being promoted.
Elisabeth Dunham, a 24-year news and features writer for large news organizations, runs a practice in Northeast Portland focusing on detoxification for chronic illness. Visit www.elisabethdunham.com.