- 180 million Americans have more than a half billion teeth restored with fillings made with mercury. A recent decision from the FDA endorses the fillings, but there is an ongoing debate over their safety. Channel 2's consumer investigator Jim Strickland
found two metro dentists in the middle of the controversy.
- There is no question that mercury is toxic. It can poison the brain, liver, kidneys, and more. Mix it with metals to form a filling and it is supposed to be safe. Well, two metro dentists told me mercury poisoned them. Now,
they are trying to get rid of it mouth by mouth, tooth by tooth.
- A Buckhead dental office becomes a Hazmat zone as Dr. Michaela McKenzie gets ready for the procedure that makes up nearly her entire practice: mercury filling removal.
- Mercury is extremely toxic - it is more poisonous than arsenic, and you’re putting it in patients’ mouths.
- McKenzie says mercury readings in her 20-year-old patient's mouth were enough to shut down a school. Elizabeth Lapapan is hoping removing the mercury will clear the brain fog that has plagued her for years.
- I could start concentrating better, I could start thinking more, not forgetting things, and stopped getting a lot of headaches.
- McKenzie says headaches were just the beginning for her.
- I was poisoned when I was in dental school from mercury, and I got very, very sick.
- Gwinnett County dentist Ronald Dressler considers himself a mercury survivor and a reformed pro-mercury dentist.
- Volumes of science say that mercury is a poison and should not be used. There are no studies demonstrating the safety of dental mercury amalgam.
- After taking five years to consider conflicting research, the FDA in January denied petitions to ban mercury or declare it a high risk medical device. The American Dental Association also defends the fillings as having established
a record of safety and effectiveness. An ADA video speaks to the anti-mercury crusaders.
- Unfortunately, there are some groups who don't accept the science, and who like to rely on fear and other factors.
- The ADA takes issue with mercury removal as well. Its code of professional conduct says unless the patient is allergic, taking them out is improper and unethical. Dressler violated their professional code when he took nine fillings
out of this woman's mouth.
- Mercury did this?
- Mercury did this.
- You’re convinced?
- Absolutely, positively, yes.
- So is the woman in the picture.
- Look at my pictures, call me on the phone, come and see me. And I will tell you what mercury poisoning can do and did to me.
- For Angela Cochran, the rash was just part of it. Her diagnosed mercury poisoning caused heart and digestive problems, and blood pressure spikes. She started to feel a difference three weeks after getting her fillings out.
- I had to keep telling myself you feel better today, I know I feel better today, I could actually go down the stairs today. - Cochran went from tears to anger when the subject turned to the FDA's decision to leave mercury alone.
- If they want to call me a crackpot, they can call me a crackpot. I've lived it. I am not the only person that has been sick from this misuse of mercury.
- Now the American Dental Association scheduled then canceled two on-camera interviews. But the debate is not over. The Food and Drug Administration says it is continuing to study mercury in fillings and will take action as warranted.
It took five years for the FDA to respond to the petitions asking for restrictions on mercury fillings.
- So, we have all these agencies involved, what about the EPA since it is toxic?
- Well, this is kind of ironic. The EPA is considering new rules on how dentists should handle the rinse water when they either use mercury or remove it from patients. Dr. McKenzie showed us her state-of-the-art system to trap
mercury particles before they get into the sewer. The EPA says half of all the mercury coming into wastewater plants is coming from dental offices.
- This is so bizarre. “Watch the wastewater.” There is a problem here.