INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE
MERCURY -- A Red Herring?
Regarding the on-going controversy over the use of mercury fillings in teeth,
this mis-use of mercury (Hg) is a terrible problem, but it may not be
the central problem. Athough mercury fillings certainly make
a bad situation worse, emphasis on mercury without some
clarification can cloud the all-important central fact that:
THE TOOTH IS BASICALLY A BONE -- LIVE TISSUE!
If live tissue is infected, the infection cleaned out, and the resulting
open wound packed with a foreign substance, even an inert one, the wound
will not heal. If packed with a foreign substance that is also very toxic,
such as mercury, the situation is even worse.
Mercury, also known as quicksilver, was historically rubbed into skin by
medical practitioners known as "quacksalvers", poisoning their patients and
giving us the term "quack" to signify worthless medical practices. It's also
the substance that made the mad hatter mad, according to one post on the
HgRing on the web.
Simply stated, any dentist who implants mercury in a tooth is at a minimum,
by definition, historically, classically and indisputably, a quack. (One might
implanting quicksilver permanently in a tooth is clearly worse than merely
rubbing it on the skin, in which case the label of quack for such an absurd
dental practice would be too benign.)
Unfortunately, we still don't, and may never, have a totally "safe" substance
that can be packed into a wound in a tooth-bone (a.k.a. a "cavity"), i.e. there
is no known filling substance that will allow the tooth-bone wound to heal. By
shutting out the oxygen required for healing, any filling dooms the healing
If the filling substance is not quicksilver, we are technically not involved
with a classical case of quackery. But implanting any type of fillings in a
permanent fashion is nonetheless more invasive than the salve of the original
quacks, contrary to sound physiologic and medical principles, and invariably
harmful to the host.
When future generations and millenia speak of the dark ages of medicine, all
will remember its darkest period, its blackest mark, its greatest shame, and
will marvel at how 20th Century humanity transcended quackery and came up with
a new gold standard for contra-medical wackiness -- state-of-the-art
And how in the world will we ever extricate ourselves from this mess, within
any reasonable time frame? There
is only one discipline with all of the essential training, basic skills,
equipment and organization required to bring about this revolution in
medicine, human health and longevity. That discipline is ... none other than
... one and the same ... a properly
refocused, state-of-the-art modern dentistry.
In 1913, the late great Charles H. Mayo said "The next great step in medical
progress in the line of preventive medicine should be made by the dentists.
The question is, will they do it?"
In fact, the dentists are the only ones that
can do it!!
Yes, ironically, modern dentistry is both the most abominable scourge
human health imaginable and,
at the same time, our only hope for correcting this deplorable
situation in the forseeable
future. In the spirit of this knowledge, let us applaud 1998 initiatives
of both the J.A.D.A. and British Dental Journal to revive interest in the
principle of (oral) focal infection, and do what we can to remove those
obstacles (including political, legal, and educational)
that may otherwise hinder dentistry from moving aggressively and properly
in this area.
S. H. Shakman
1 December 1998
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1998 SHShakman; all rights reserved.