A Brief History of Holistic Dentistry

1819: First mercury-amalgam filling invented in England

1830: Amalgam fillings endorsed by the American Society of Dental Surgeons (ASDS). Use of mercury fillings becomes widespread.

1840: Due to mounting research about the dangers of mercury, The ASDS withdraws support for amalgam fillings and required its members to not use amalgam fillings. Many dentists continue using amalgam because of its ease of use, longevity, and price.

1859: A pro-amalgam faction of the ASDS rebel against the organization’s anti-amalgam stance and form The American Dental Association (ADA). The ADA’s membership grows to become the main authority and licensing body for American dentists. ASDS  membership shrinks and they close their doors soon after.

1926: German chemist, Alfred Stock, discovered that his amalgam fillings were leading to mercury toxicity. He began studying the release of mercury vapor from amalgams, published his findings, and led an international movement to stop the use of silver fillings.

1930’s: Stock’s lab is destroyed in a World War II bombing raid and his movement loses traction.

1939: Dr. Weston Price publishes Nutrition and Physical Degeneration after studying Swiss, Native American, Polynesian, Pygmie, and Aborignal peoples. Price concludes that many western diseases, along with tooth decay and alignment, is linked to nutrition.

1978: Holistic Dental Association (HDA) founded to develop and promote methods of treatment not traditionally taught in dental schools.

1983: International Association of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) founded to educate the public about potentially toxic materials in the mouth (predominantly mercury and fluoride).

1987: Swedish scientists Nylander, Friberg, and Lind publish a study correlating mercury levels in the occipital lobe brain cortex with the number of amalgams in a person’s mouth.

1987: Nylander and Friberg publish another study showing that dentists and dental staff had 40 times the levels of mercury in their pituitary glands as those in the non-dentist control group. Mercury in the pituitary gland is correlated with irritability, depression, and mood disorders. Dentists are found to have a six times higher rate of suicide than other white collar professions.

1990: Lorscheider and Vimy at the University of Calgary School of Medicine place amalgam fillings in pregnant sheep and monkeys. 29 days after the mercury was placed, mercury was found in the animals’ kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract, pituitary gland, and in the fetus.

1993: Microbiologist Anne Sommers finds that amalgam fillings cause a shift in the kinds of bacteria found in the intestines. The bacteria that survive the mercury also tend to survive anti-biotics. Sommers concluded that amalgams produce higher anti-biotic resistance.

1994: Sweden becomes the first country to phase out amalgam.

1994: A human autopsy study of babies who died from SIDS finds a correlation between the levels of mercury in a mother’s teeth with the level of mercury in the baby’s brains.

1996: A Colorado court revokes the license of Dr. Hal Huggins, campaigner and anti-amalgam activist, for claiming that amalgam fillings cause disease.

2002: The FDA bans the use of mercury in horse medicine, leaving no medically approved use of mercury for animals. For humans, the FDA approves a mercury level under 1 part per million (ppm) with the exception of dental amalgam which contain about 500,000 ppm.

2013: Dr. Mehmet Oz airs information about the dangers of mercury fillings. As a result, the ADA announces that they are parting with Dr. Oz’s Sharecare organization.

2015: The IAOMT files suit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its failure to protect the American public from the risks of dental amalgam mercury.

Present day: ADA still claims amalgam fillings are safe. Students in dental schools are still taught to place these fillings and are rarely told about the risks involved in breathing mercury vapor or about ways to protect themselves and their patients. Recommending replacing a mercury filling with a composite because of its composition is still considered unethical behavior by the ADA.

Sources: International Association of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, CBS 60 Minutes, Holistic Dental Association, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Food and Drug Administration

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