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Here's a great idea: Let's take one of the most toxic elements on the periodic table and put it in people's mouths. Exactly what dentists have been doing in the United States for decades, as they've been filling dental cavities with none other than mercury. Of course, they call them "silver" fillings, but they're really a combination of silver and mercury, which is, again, one of the most toxic substances on the periodic table of elements.
What A Dentist Sees On the Back of a Package of New Amalgam
How is it that the only place mercury is safe is in the mouth?
Mercury is known to promote Alzheimer's disease, dementia and other nervous system disorders. However, when it comes to removing mercury, too often we're still in the dark ages of modern dentistry, because a lot of dentists don't know how to properly remove mercury from your mouth. It is actually not enough to have your mercury fillings drilled out, because the interaction between the dentist's drill and the amalgams creates vapors of mercury which - without the proper protection - the patient can breath into the sensitive lung tissue.
There are still many dentists in this country who are putting mercury into people's mouths. It's something that should be relegated to the dark ages of modern dentistry. Then again, dentists are also many of the same people who are still promoting the ingestion of a highly toxic chemical called fluorosilicic acid, which is sourced from the waste products of smoke stacks and industrial incinerators. This fluorosilicic acid is mislabeled fluoride and then dripped into the water supply based on the advice of half-crazed dentists whose mouths are apparently filled with lots of mercury, because they think they alone have the right to determine whether an entire population should be medicated with a highly toxic substance like fluorosilicic acid.
Naturally-occurring fluoride is not the stuff obtained by scraping the chemicals off the inside of industrial smoke stacks. That's where they're getting fluorosilicic acid, which is what most municipalities are actually dripping into their water supply. Seriously, if you take a look at modern dentistry, it's a house of horrors. Some of the most ignorant and unscientific procedures of all are practiced in dentistry.
Mercury, considered to be both the most toxic non-radioactive element and the most volatile heavy metal, is being removed from all health care uses--save one. The disinfectant Mercurochrome is banned; mercury thermometers have been outlawed in over a dozen states (including
A number of studies have shown blood levels and oral levels of mercury are substantially increased by chewing ordinary gum and even a piece of rubber tubing. Hot liquids or foods also have been proven to substantially raise oral mercury vapor levels as well as blood levels.Dr. Boyd Halley has conducted some of the most important research on the biochemical effects of inorganic mercury, specifically from dental amalgams. His results have never been refuted. Dr. Halley has proven, beyond any challenge, that mercury vapor is released from dental amalgam fillings in large concentrations, even in fillings more than 20 years old.
Each amalgam filling has as much mercury as a thermometer, and its poisonous vapors are constantly emitted from the teeth to the brain, a particular risk, according to the
If a single large amalgam filling contained 1 gram of mercury (1 million micrograms) and lost a significantly toxic 10 micrograms per day there would be enough mercury for 100,000 days or about 274 years of exposure. A small tenth of a gram mercury filling would last 27 years. So enough mercury is within amalgam fillings to provide a consistent chronic toxic exposure for the life of most fillings.
Consumers aren't being told the truth, that amalgam fillings contain 50% mercury, a known neuro toxin. Worse, they are deceived: the
Substitutes exist for amalgam, including composite (or resin), ceramic, porcelain and gold. Because of the slightly higher cost of placing composites, the most commonly used alternative dental filling, Medicaid and barebones insurance plans force children to use amalgam, even though it is well known that some will have adverse reactions.
Mercury is a multipotent cytotoxin that intervenes in the primary processes of the cell by bonding strongly with sulfhydryl and selenohydryl groups on albumen molecules in cell membranes, receptors and intracellular signal links, and by modifying the tertiary structure. The structure of albumen molecules is genetically determined, and this leaves ample scope for genetic polymorphism to manifest itself in varying sensitivity and types of reaction to mercury exposure. Mercury is toxic because it induces production of free oxygen radicals and modifies the redox potential of the cell.
How can the FDA and EPA honestly believe they are protecting the general public from environmental mercury exposure when they crack down on emissions from coal fired electric utilities and limit the consumption of seafood while at the same time they completely ignore the most prevalent source of environmental mercury exposure in the non-occupationally exposed population, dental 'silver' amalgam fillings?
According to Professor Boyd Haley, Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry, Professor in the College of Pharmacy and in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Kentucky and an NIH Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Physiology, at Yale University Medical School:
"There is a total lack of high quality epidemiological research that would show amalgams to be causal or safe and not involved in human health problems. In the USA, the American Dental Association (ADA), FDA, National Institute of Health (NIH) and especially NIDCR have totally dropped the ball in regards to doing significant studies in this area as they are the only agencies with the funds and data bases available for such research. However, research from
"There are also reports that individuals with multiple sclerosis had less deleterious events when their amalgams were removed. Research has shown that individuals who died of idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy have 20,000 times more mercury in their heart tissue that found in other forms of heart disease. This was published in a 1999 issue of the Journal of American Cardiology. Yet no NIH grants or programs have been developed to pursue this lead. This is consistent with American NIH supported research to never follow up on numerous such leads as these, if mercury is implicated. Se we should not be surprised to see an NIDCR sponsored and orchestrated review panel come to the decision that amalgams are safe. Don’t look for causes of mercury induced diseases and you won’t find any seems to be the mantra of the NIDCR and NIH.
"But we must also ask ourselves why we cannot find after spending billions of tax dollars, the cause of Alzheimer’s disease, MS, ALS, and Parkinson’s while we readily find the cause of diseases like AIDS, polio, etc. I think it is because scientists are not funded to look for causation in certain areas, like heavy metal or mercury toxicity. We have solved numerous other diseases, but not the neurological diseases mentioned above. If these diseases have their basis in mercury exposure, then we will never solve them following the path of ignoring basic research in the area of mercury toxicity and just believing what the dental establishment tells us. Are we to be dumb enough to believe that newly placed dental amalgams, which contain about 500,000 micrograms mercury/gram amalgam, which break down and need replacement do not loose a huge amount of mercury in the number of years they are in our mouths, and that this mercury ends up in our central nervous system?
"If a single small one gram amalgam lost 5 to 10 micrograms per day (a toxic exposure) then it would take about 137 to 274 years to loose all the mercury. Also, if 5 to 10 micrograms per day were lost from this amalgam this would amount to 0.365% to 0.73% of the mercury per year. So you don’t have to have a great loss per year to experience a toxic exposure.
"Studies on populations with dental amalgams and fish consumption have shown that the major contributor to mercury body burden is the subject’s dental amalgams, not fish. So to speak, the dental claim that fish is the major exposure to humans is a red herring.
"Further, mercury vapors from dental amalgams enter the brain with ease and are oxidized to Hg2+, the toxic form, and cause damage to the same biochemical systems found damaged in Alzheimer’s diseased brain. This has been proven by exposing rats to mercury vapor and by exposing neurons in culture to Hg2+. Several studies, including one from the NIH, have shown that dental amalgams are the major contributor to human body burden. Why would anyone with good sense recommend placing a material in human mouths that can easily be shown to release mercury at a constant rate for many years-- especially knowing that mercury concentrates in the fetus with an average of mercury in the infant’s cord blood being 1.7 times that in the birth mother’s blood?
"Mercury is an element, not a compound. The mercury that is emitted from a dental amalgam is pure mercury vapor and its release can be measured and quantified quite easily. Using a mercury vapor sniffer or, for more elegant experiments, by using a mercury cold-vapor analyzer after collecting the water in which an amalgam has been placed for a few hours or less, have confirmed the release of mercury from dental amalgams.
"Further, electron microscopy of dental amalgams clearly shows droplets of mercury liquid in dental amalgam pores. Heating the amalgam releases this mercury quickly and causes the droplets to disappear. A massive German university study found toxic levels of mercury in the saliva of several thousands of subjects and the amount was correlated to dental amalgams.
"There is no scientific controversy about the nature and amount of mercury being emitted from a dental amalgam. The only controversy is maintained by the inaccurate and manipulated data (as well as Congressional lobbying efforts) put forth by the pro-amalgam elements in organized dentistry, including the dental branch of the FDA and the NIDCR.
"Would one expect dentists from the NIDCR to admit, after scores of years of denial, that mercury released from dental amalgams could cause medical deficits? In light of the recent FDA record on Vioxx and the contaminated flu vaccines, citizens should severely question their input to this report. The FDA has steadfastly refused to test or evaluate dental amalgam safety for the past 40 years even though they are 50% mercury and everyone agrees some of this mercury is constantly being releasedthe argument is how much. I have measured the mercury emitting from a dental amalgam and it is not insignificant. So it is my opinion that the bureaucrats in the FDA dental branch will do anything to prevent a solid, unbiased study in this area that simply shows that amalgams in a sealed test tube still releases a lot of mercury and that this level increases dramatically (about 8-10 fold) on brushing 30 seconds with a standard toothbrush. The latter fact is incredibly easy to demonstrate.
"The initial question of mercury leaving amalgams and entering the body is a question of science, not administration or legal judgment. For example, in the Congressional hearing chaired by Congressman Dan Burton, the spokesman for the American Dental Association fought against funding for a simple, straightforward, inexpensive research project that would put the matter or mercury release from dental amalgams to rest.
"The proposed project entailed making about 200 dental amalgams of one spill each outside the mouth so that these amalgams would be of identical weight and surface area. These amalgams were to be divided into 10 lots of 20 each and sent to the best academic laboratories in the
"Instead of doing this simple, straightforward project to answer the question of how much mercury is released from amalgams, the NIDCR and FDA orchestrated a costly (they won’t admit how much it cost) panel review of the existing literature organized by a group of questionable expertise selected by dental administrators. Why would they do this? In my opinion, hard scientific data produced by 10 different universities would be hard to question or manipulate. It is apparent to me that panels formed to look at certain issues can be hand selected and manipulated to give the answers wanted, just as epidemiology data can be massaged to give the answer wanted. These appear to be the two favorite approaches by the FDA, NIDCR and the CDC. I don’t wonder why.
"While the rest of the civilized world is eliminating dental amalgams to reduce human mercury exposure, our FDA and NIDCR is now saying it’s safe because research, done by dentists in areas where they have little or no expertise and big vested interest, says so. Now they have generated a panel of hand selected “experts” that agree with them. This panel evidently ignored the obvious science considered by the World Health Organization (WHO), many European countries, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the
"Urine mercury is not a reliable measure of mercury exposure. The reason most mercury from fish and amalgams is not found in the urine is that about 90% of mercury is excreted in the fecal material. The half life of mercury vapor in the urine and blood is very short and such levels are not a good measure of exposure. Many acutely exposed individuals will have urine levels considered non-toxic, yet have high mercury levels in their organs years later when they die. Most studies on children indicate that the ones with the highest urine, blood or hair levels of mercury were the healthiest. That is because of those exposed to mercury; the ones with the highest urine, blood and hair levels are the ones effectively excreting the mercury. Three different research groups have shown that autistic children have much lower mercury in their hair, yet have higher body burdens of mercury. This implies that an inability to excrete mercury by a subset of the population represents those that will respond badly to a low chronic exposure to mercury.
"The only reliable measure of exposure and retention would require sacrificing the test subject so each organ could be analyzed for mercury retention. Mercury levels in body organs have been done on expired humans and the levels correlated to existing dental amalgams in the organs of the corpses. Results have also shown that the major amount of mercury found in the first hair cut of normal infants is accounted for by the number of dental amalgams in the birth mother. Therefore, again, there is no scientific controversy about mercury in human bodies coming from dental amalgams. The controversy has been manufactured by pro-amalgam dental organizations to allay any blame for the massive neurological problems their procedures have generated in generations of Americans.
"Retention is the key issue, and inhaled mercury vapor is known to be 80% absorbed and retained by the body with each organ having a different time for the amount to decrease by 50%, with the brain having the longest retention time for mercury vapor, which is why this vapor form is more neurotoxic instead of renal toxic."
The next time you take your child to the dentist to have a cavity filled and they recommend silver amalgam, ask your dentist "what restoration material they use on their own children and why?" If they answer "ceramic or composite because they are white and match the color of the teeth unlike silver amalgam fillings", ask yourself "is it really just for cosmetic reasons or is it simply because your dentist doesn't want to place as much as 500 mg of mercury, the most toxic, nonradioactive metal known to man, 5 centimeters from their own child's brain?" Which reason do you really believe? More importantly, why is mercury amalgam good enough for your child but not for your dentist's own children?
Each year, more than 100 million amalgam fillings are placed in the U.S. alone. In this country, approximately 150,000,000 people have amalgam fillings. The average life of an amalgam filling is 5.5 to 11.5 years. Since amalgam has been used for more than 150 years, literally billions of amalgam fillings have been used to restore decayed teeth. Amalgam fillings contain approximately 50% mercury, 30% copper, 14% each of tin and silver, and 1% zinc. All five metals in amalgam fillings are toxic. These metals react with each other and form sixteen more corrosion products, all of which are toxic.
The continued use of mercury amalgam restorations has spawned whole industries whose livelihoods are dependent upon removal of this toxic metal from dental office waste streams where amalgam restorations are both placed and removed.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency safety limits for mercury vapor exposure are 10 µg per day. Numerous studies have shown that mercury amalgam fillings release anywhere from 1 to 29 µg/day, 3 times the limit. The rate of mercury release from dental amalgam is dependent upon several factors including the number of amalgam restorations, the composition of the amalgam (high vs. low copper amalgam), the location (occlusal vs. nonocclusal teeth), and the amalgam surface area.
After implantation in your teeth, and for an indefinite period of time, silver mercury fillings outgas detectable amounts of mercury vapor, in the range of 1 to 50 micrograms of mercury per cubic meter of air. An adult breathes about 1/2 liter of air per breath, breathing over up to 20,000 times each day. As long as you have mercury dental fillings, you inhale mercury vapor 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The body's tissues, especially brain, kidneys, jaw, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and liver, absorb and store mercury. Mercury toxicity has destructive effects on kidney function and contributes to cardiovascular disease, neuropsychological dysfunction, reproductive disorders, birth defects, and more. Like other heavy metals, and x-rays, mercury causes damage to the lining of arteries.
How can mercury amalgam be considered a safe and effective dental restorative when, according to Dr. Gary Schumacher, a dentist and chief of clinical research at the American Dental Association Health Foundation's Paffenbarger Research Center, secondary cavities that form under or adjacent to conventional (amalgam) fillings are "probably the biggest problem facing most dentists today"? Dr. Schumacher estimates more than half of the fillings done by dentists are necessitated by secondary tooth decay.
A recent study completed in 2003, states patients with certain autoimmune diseases such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune thyroiditis and allergic disease “often show increased lymphocyte stimulation by low doses of inorganic mercury in vitro.” In their study, they removed amalgams from a group of 35 patients with autoimmune diseases and replaced them with composites. When examined six months later, 71 percent had shown an improvement in health, with the greatest improvement in those with multiple sclerosis. Their conclusion: "Mercury-containing amalgam may be an important risk factor for patients with autoimmune diseases."
Pendergrass and Haley in a 1997 performed a study published in the journal Neurotoxicology. In their study, they showed concentrations of mercury vapor, known to be released by dental amalgams in people, increased mercury concentrations in rat brains from 11- to 47-fold higher than controls. At this level, the mercury produced the identical lesions seen in Alzheimer’s disease (neurofibrillary tangles) by interfering with normal tubulin maintenance.
A second mechanism of producing neurodegenerative diseases is even more impressive, called excitotoxicity. Excitotoxicity, a mechanism by which excess glutamate accumulates outside the neuron, thereby leading to death of the cell by an excitation process, has been linked to mercury neurotoxicity as early as 1993. More recent studies have confirmed this mechanism and clearly demonstrate, even in concentrations below that known to cause cell injury; mercury can paralyze the glutamate removal mechanism, leading to significant damage to synapses, dendrites and neurons themselves.
This glutamate removal mechanism is critical to brain protection. Additionally, mercury in very low concentrations increases glutamate release, primarily by stimulating the brain’s immune cell, the microglia. Chronic microglial activation, as seen with mercury exposure, has been solidly linked to all of the neurodegenerative diseases.
At least two studies have shown that mercury increases the toxicity of glutamate. Interestingly, excess glutamate can also produce the same neurofibrillary tangles seen with mercury exposure. In essence, we have the mechanism by which these diseases are produced by mercury vapor and know that it can occur in concentrations commonly found in people having dental amalgam fillings.
Only one microgram of mercury is enough to destroy any type of cell in the body, especially nerve tissue. Mercury releases from 20 to 150 micrograms per day depending on the conditions and the type of amalgam. The state-of-the-art high-copper amalgams release 50 times more mercury in a given time than the older conventional amalgams. If one microgram is absorbed, it will take 70 days to several months to eliminate half of it. Meanwhile, the next day you absorb another microgram, and 69-and-a-half 70ths of the original one microgram will still be there. On day three you absorb another microgram, and you still have 69/70ths from the first day, and 69 and-a-half 70ths from the second day, so you can see that even with the fastest elimination, excretion is negligible compared to intake if you have amalgam in your mouth. You will still increase your total body burden of mercury daily.
Not all of the mercury escaping from a filling stays in the vapor form, especially if it is on the surface of a filling registering a negative electrical charge. In the electrical environment on the surface of a filling, mercury vapor is rapidly converted into the highly toxic methylmercury. The chemical product formed by the setting of the five metals is chemically reactive. A mercury vapor meter placed over a filling can detect toxic amounts of mercury vapor within ten seconds. Fillings release mercury just sitting undisturbed in the mouth, but there are several ways that we can cause our fillings to release increased amounts of mercury.
The action of chewing foods increases the vapor release due to abrasion as well as compression of the filling for up to an hour and a half after we stop chewing it. Heat from coffee or other hot beverages increases the vapor release from the fillings. When there are dissimilar metals in the mouth, and the mouth contains saliva, an electrolyte solution, you have a battery working twenty-four hours a day in your mouth, and metals and metal oxides, sulfides, and sulfates draining out of the fillings into your mouth; you can experience it as an unpleasant metallic taste. During detoxification, after removal of fillings, the body is dumping metals in the saliva, and the taste can persist for several weeks.
The total of the toxins is far greater than the sum of the toxins. With lead and mercury, for instance, a toxicity rating of 1 for each mercury and lead equals not 2, but 60 when the two are combined. With nickel, copper, beryllium, mercury, tin, silver, zinc, cobalt, chromium, and root canal toxins in the mouth, with just one crowned root canal and one amalgam filling--you can have a witches' brew of complex toxic reactions, made even more complex if you include the cements.
On the other side of the problem we have the proponents who advocate continued use of amalgam fillings. The combined credentials and strength of this group is awesome. It includes the National Institute of Dental Research, National Bureau of Standards, The American Dental Association (ADA), The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), most of the state dental societies, all of the teaching college and university dental schools and most of the medical doctors. Of the 100,000 plus practicing dentists in the U.S., there is only a small minority at this time (somewhere in the order of 2,000) that do not accept the ADA position on the use of amalgam in dentistry.
The type of material used to fill teeth has always presented problems of one kind or another to the dental profession. Manipulation of it to "fill" a small area in a tooth always presents difficulty to the dentist. Over the years, it was a constant challenge to the ingenuity and inventiveness of the dental practitioner to eliminate the difficulties of working with single metals to make them more pliable and capable of being molded (plastic) so that they would then harden and have some permanence.
There are literally hundreds of scientific papers that show mercury can effect and cause some detectable damage to almost every component of the human body or comparable component of an animal body. However, there does not seem to be any way of proving or demonstrating in a human body that mercury is the sole cause of the detectable damage. To prove this in humans, we would have to be maintained in a totally sterile environment and not subjected to thousands of chemicals and pollutants in the course of our lifetime simply from the routine acts of eating and breathing.
There is a substantial flow of anecdotal evidence being reported by dentists and physicians who believe that the research to date has indicated with sufficient clarity that amalgams in teeth may be injurious to our health. These health practitioners have recommended removal of amalgam fillings and replacement with new composite materials that are basically non-toxic. Where the patient has agreed to this type of reconstruction and the work was performed, there has usually been an abatement, amelioration or complete clearing of symptoms.
Dentists routinely remove amalgam fillings every day and replace them with other amalgam fillings. The ADA's own statistics are that 75% of all restorations replaced are amalgam. The average life of an amalgam filling is 5.5 to 11.5 years. Most fillings are replaced because of decay under the filling, excessive corrosion, fracture, etc. The procedure is so commonplace that the insurance companies will pay for replacement of an amalgam filling after only one year. The primary risk to a patient's health is the competence of the dentist, his/her ethics and integrity in taking the requisite precautions to protect their patients and staff. Newer materials are so much more flexible and advantageous to work with that, in many instances, teeth can be saved that would otherwise be lost if amalgam were the only material available.
There are special techniques used by your dentist to remove amalgam fillings. If done properly, there is minimum exposure to increased levels of mercury vapor caused by the removal procedure. The correct protocol requires the use of high volumes of cold water both from the drill and separate irrigation by the assistant, who should also be simultaneously using high volume suction evacuation of the vapor and particles resulting from the removal procedure. The assistant should hold the high-volume evacuator next to the tooth being worked on until all of the cut filling and cavity have been cleaned out. It is the volatility of mercury that necessitates all the precautions and correct techniques. Mercury vapor pressure doubles with every ten degree centigrade rise in temperature. One acceptable procedure that minimizes extensive grinding involves sectioning the amalgam into chunks versus just grinding it out.
During amalgam removal, the dentist and assistant are at greater risk from exposure to mercury aerosol spray and vapor. They will be wearing special clothing, masks and surgical gloves. These actions protect them from excessive exposure to mercury during repeated removal operations. Some dentists utilize a rubber dam during the amalgam removal procedure. This is a square of latex rubber stretched on a frame. It isolates the tooth or teeth being worked on. The rubber dam prevents the patient from swallowing ground out amalgam particles and accidentally inhaling mercury fumes. The office and operatory should be well ventilated. Many mercury-free dentists are now installing central vacuuming systems in their offices. This provides an additional high vacuum suction source, drawing out mercury vapor and mercury aerosol generated during the removal process. Current information indicates that it is better to replace only a few amalgams at a time, with several weeks in between appointments.
Some individuals may experience reactions to the mercury released during the removal procedures. These are described as flu-like and can last from 1 to 7days. Symptoms may include fever, nausea, headaches, etc. Sequential removal requires the dentist to measure and chart the electrical current of each filling and to remove/and or replace the amalgam fillings based on the charted information starting with the highest negative readings. Most dentists around the world replace fillings by quadrant, thus removing the largest source of mercury first. If all available dentists worked at it full time, it would take 10 years to completely remove the toxic metals from people's mouths.
The vast majority of individuals who have undergone amalgam replacement and the reduction of their mercury body burden have experienced improvements in health that have ranged from minor to startlingly dramatic. Dentistry has relied on and utilized potentially toxic metals in the oral environment because there were no acceptable alternatives available. But, today, there is a surplus of options available for consideration. The most common composite material used is called white stuff.
The white composite is all made with petroleum derivative resins and often with aluminum dioxide, which is quite toxic itself. Unlike aluminum trioxide or sand, aluminum dioxide can have very strong reactions in the body. The newer materials available on the market today are referred to as bonded resin ceramics, composite resins or just composites. Although there are several types available, their composition is essentially one of a quartz-filled Bis-GMA resin. The data produced by studies on these materials indicates a very high degree of biocompatibility when properly placed.
A key feature of composite plastics is their extremely large molecular size, which prevents penetration of body cells. However, some composites contain elements such as aluminum, which can be harmful if they're not bound to the material. The newer composites being used haven't been around long enough to be subjected to years of wear with longitudinal studies. However, there are several 5-7 year studies that indicate wear characteristics are as good, if not better, than amalgam. Some benefits of the composite materials are:
1) They do not contain mercury.
2) They are esthetically pleasing. When you smile, people do not see black, gray, or silver areas. All they see is what looks like natural tooth color.
3) They do not generate any electrical currents and therefore do not help to corrode any other metallic fillings or restorations you may have in your mouth.
4) There is less loss of your natural tooth structure because the dentist doesn't need extensive preparation for the new materials.
5) The end product using these materials can truly be called restorations rather than fillings.
Which composite your dentist uses is very important. Many people seeking mercury removal are sensitive to other chemicals. Some chemicals may be in one composite and not another. helping to determine which composite or other dental material might be better for you is the purpose of compatibility testing. There are many methods including blood testing, kinesiology, electro acupuncture as per Voll (EAV), or electro-dermal screening. Individual dentists may use the most chemically inert filler for composite filling materials, which is quartz. Most new composites do not use quartz, but various glasses and ceramics that contain heavy metals which are added so the fillings show up on x-rays, making it easier for dentists to tell the difference between the tooth, filling, and possible new decay.
The heavy metals added are barium, strontium, and zirconium, the most common being barium. Barium does leach out of the fillings and is associated with breast cancer. In the mouth, everything leaches. If you really wish to be metal-free, then the composite you use must be metal-free. There aren't too many composites without heavy metals because dentists want them to show up on x-rays. They're used to seeing the mercury fillings on x-rays and it's more comfortable for them to see the composites the same way. The goal of the ADA and manufacturers is to have a composite that handles just like mercury fillings so dentists can switch effortlessly. Amalgam doesn't restore anything.
Composites are bonded to remaining tooth structure, are thermally insulating, and, with the bases and bonding agents used to place the composite, there is much more protection for the pulp and enamel structure of the tooth. In fact, tooth strength increases, and the tooth can be restored to up to 98% of its predecayed state. Today, there is a much wider selection of materials available in dentistry that can be used as suitable alternatives to the metal. For example, there are products available that are heat and pressure cured, which imparts different structural and finishing properties to the final product. These types of materials are excellent for metal free crowns and for cosmetic dentistry applications such as thin laminates that can be bonded to teeth to cover bad stains, or to cover diastemas (spaces between teeth). There are also porcelain laminates and veneers being used for cosmetic applications; and there are metal-free ceramic and/or glass crowns available.
There is now a metal-free partial denture material available. These flouropolymer thermoplastic materials are chemically inert and possess remarkable stability. We have in our mouths (1) oxygen, which can cause metal to give up electrons by a process called oxidation (just like on your car when it starts to rust); (2) strong and weak acids from our food and drinks, such as coffee, tea, colas and citrus juices that can cause a chemical action to occur in the metals. (3) Heat and temperature differences caused by friction and from chewing as well as from the hot and cold food and drinks that we ingest.
All of these are capable of exciting or generating activity in metal. Where do we stand when we have metal in our teeth like amalgam, or gold or chromium or aluminum, etc.? What we have, is a potential electrical generating plant. Everything needed for electrons to flow from point to point is present. We also have tissue composed of millions of cells that all have some of the electrolytes around them or inside of them. We also have nerves that, for this over-simplified description, can act as transmission lines carrying electric charges to other parts of the body. When an amalgam filling is placed in a tooth, it is subjected to all the chemicals we put in our mouths (which are part of our normal intake of food and drink), and also to some of those produced by our own bodies. The acid or alkaline status of our saliva will vary with our food intake and individual body chemistry.
All of this starts corroding or rusting away that amalgam as soon as it is installed. That's one reason why you periodically have to have amalgam fillings replaced when they become loose and fall out. Besides the chemical corrosion in our mouths, we also have the corrosion that can be caused by the electrical activity previously discussed. We have both of these factors increasing the corrosion of the amalgam, which, in the process, is releasing metal ions into our saliva. This corrosion may also reduce the strength of the filling and cause increased marginal breakdown of the amalgam. There are processes by which mercury (and other metals) is continually being released as vapor and abraded particles. Electrogalvanic activity associated with metal in the mouth is not a new discovery or phenomenon. Dr. Henry S. Chase of St. Louis and Dr. S.B. Palmer of Syracuse N.Y. first discussed it in scientific literature in 1878. There have been a tremendous number of studies published since that date, all confirming the electrical discharge phenomenon associated with metals in the mouth.
Get all the mercury taken out of your mouth as quickly as possible for a variety of health reasons -- make sure you get it done right so you don't expose yourself to mercury vapor or particles during the removal process, or else the removal can be far more toxic than just leaving it in place. However, a good removal will, of course, get this heavy metal out of your body in the safest way possible, without exposing you to dangerous vapor.