Though increasingly obsolete due to the advent of safer alternatives, dental amalgams made from mercury are still being used in many clinics around the world, despite the fact that they could cause brain damage and other permanent harm. And one former dentist who suffered extensive health damage because of this pernicious element wants to see dental amalgams outlawed entirely, revealing all in a new book on the intense toxicity of mercury.
Entitled Time Bomb From Within: Mercury Poisoning In Dentistry, this gruesome account by Dr Stuart Scheckner, a Florida native, of how mercury ultimately cost him his job and livelihood makes a strong case for the banning of mercury in dentistry. If you still have any doubts about whether mercury is really all that dangerous, in other words, Dr Scheckner’s story is sure to settle the issue without question.
It all began in 1978 when an accident at his Florida practice resulted in about 96 ounces, or 3/4 of a gallon, of elemental mercury being spilled all over the shag carpet right next to his dental chair. Dr Scheckner’s regular dental assistant was out of the office that day, so he had his dental secretary mix the silver amalgam solution for one of his patients, a decision that would result in many decades of pain and suffering.
Many Dentists Still Don’t Realize The Full Extent Of Mercury Toxicity
At the time, Dr Scheckner was apparently unaware of the extensive toxicity of mercury, and how breathing in its fumes can lead to irreversible organ damage and even death, despite having gone through dental school. He continued working until he fell so seriously ill with physical tremors, nausea, digestive problems and anxiety attacks that he ultimately had to quit his job.
One doctor initially believed Dr Scheckner had Graves’ disease, a type of hyperthyroidism, while another declared him to have a psychological problem that was “all in his head.” It was not until he attended a body chemistry seminar in Orlando that Dr Scheckner began to realize what he was really suffering from: mercury poisoning.
“I thought, ‘Oh my [gosh], that’s me!'” recalls Dr Scheckner about his eventual discovery several years later that his symptoms directly matched those identified by German chemist Dr Alfred Stock, whose extensive research into mercury poisoning back in the 1920s nailed down many of its most prominent symptoms.
Unless Detected Early, Mercury Poisoning Is Tricky To Diagnose
For Dr Scheckner, these symptoms developed many years after his initial exposure, which is common for mercury. As he explains in his book, small amounts of mercury, in his case mercury fumes from the contaminated carpet, build up over time inside the body, and particularly in the brain where they are difficult to expel.
“Mercury vaporizes from the carpeting and about 80%… is absorbed through the lungs into the blood,” wrote Dr Scheckner in a 2003 email to the editors of Readers Digest. “Here, it almost immediately crosses the blood brain barrier. It becomes oxidized within the brain. At this point, it is locked in the brain and cannot go past the blood brain barrier again. So it goes in but can’t get out. This leads to an accumulation of mercury in the brain over a period of time.”
“At a certain point, so much damage is done that symptoms develop mainly as neuropsychological problems.”
At the same time, identifying mercury poisoning early on is difficult, precisely because accumulation takes time. And unfortunately, by the time symptoms emerge, it may already be too late to do anything about them, as considerable damage has likely already occurred.
“Mercury poisoning, if not caught early on, is very difficult to diagnose,” writes Chris Angermann for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “At first, the element will show up at elevated levels in urine tests. But after it damages the kidneys, they don’t filter it out any more and sufferers will actually show less mercury in their urine than the general population.”
Time Bomb From Within: Mercury Poisoning In Dentistry, is available at online retailers and bookstores.