Dental Amalgam Causes Poisoning. Advocacy Groups Call for Immediate Ban.

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Presented with the key findings of the Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER), the EU scientific community finally acknowledged that the continued use of dental amalgam fillings and its resulting wastes could cause second-hand mercury poisoning when tainted fish is consumed.

“While we are pleased with the announcement, we can’t help but wonder why it took this long.,” states Dr Lillian Lasaten-Ebuen of The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) in the Philippines. “We have been talking about the dangers posed by dental amalgam fillings for years and this acknowledgement by the European scientific community validates our statement.”

Often regarded by supporters as harmless and safe, European scientists found that dental amalgam fillings can methylate and turn into methylmercury – mercury’s most toxic form – and can contaminate fish. Mercury does not dissolve or breakdown, but instead it accumulates and increases at every level. Once consumed by humans, mercury content in large predatory fish such as tuna, mackerel, and swordfish have exceeded acceptable and safe levels,   leading to second-hand mercury poisoning.

With long-term exposure or consumption, mercury can wreak havoc on the body’s systems primarily targeting the brain and nervous system. Children and pregnant or women of child-bearing age are more vulnerable to mercury poisoning as the neurotoxin can accumulate in vital organs and can easily break the blood-brain barrier. 

Recently, IAOMT-Philippines collaborated with social and environmental justice group BAN Toxics! and measured the levels of mercury emissions in locations where dental amalgam fillings are used or stockpiled. The tests yielded high results that confirmed Dr Ebuen’s suspicions all along. 

“The astonishingly high mercury levels would require an evacuation by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) but sadly, even some in the dental health profession remain resolute.” Dr Ebuen shares. However, IAOMT-Philippines is working with the Department of Health (DOH) and other concerned groups in pushing for a mercury-free approach to dentistry.

Through a series of training-lectures, dental outreach programmes, and information dissemination, IAOMT-Philippines is reaching out to vulnerable sectors such as dentists, women, and youth. Together with the removal and phasing out of mercury-containing products and devices in all (dental) healthcare facilities including dental institutions, IAOMT-Philippines is pushing for dental amalgam ban and a revision in the dentistry curriculum that endorses the use of the material.
“Our research and the EU’s stand are a wake-up call to the government and the dental health sector in the country. We all should take heed and impose a ban on the use of dental amalgam fillings and implement effective measures in handling dental mercury wastes.” 

For more info on dental amalgam fillings, visit iaomt-philippines.


Testing for Mercury

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 Photo by Diana Mendoza/Rappler

Confirming suspicions raised by different environment and health groups on dental amalgam fillings, recent research revealed that there is a substantial amount of mercury emissions coming from facilities with a considerable volume of the mercury-containing product.

With support from the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC), researchers from the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) in the Philippines and BAN Toxics!, measured ambient mercury vapour levels in selected dental schools, clinics, and supply stores around the country. Sampling the air with a Lumex RA915+, the research group found that mercury emissions in and around those facilities are high and “(e)xceed generally accepted human exposure limits.” 

According to lead researcher, Myline Macabuhay, “The results ranged from a low 967 nannogram per cubic meter (ng/m3) to high levels that would require an immediate evacuation by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).”

Presenting the results to a group of dental health professionals and government representatives, IAOMT-Philippines’ Executive Director, Dr Lillian Lasaten-Ebuen cited the use of dental amalgam fillings as the cause of the elevated mercury emission levels. “This restorative material is an alloy of mercury, silver, tin, copper, and other trace materials. Due to its high mercury content, toxicologists have continuously warned us of its effects on the body’s system.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that as one of the most toxic elements known to man, mercury can damage the nervous, reproductive, and immune systems – and in some cases, can even be fatal.

In an effort to reduce and control the environmental and health hazards posed by mercury, various groups have called for a stop to using this toxic element. Resulting in the Minamata Convention on Mercury, this treaty is designed to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.

However, despite the local and international endeavours to phase-out mercury and mercury containing products, the dental sector in the Philippines is somewhat adamant as some dentists persist in using dental amalgams and dentistry schools continue to require students to practice and hone their skills using this type of restorative material.

“We cannot continue to ignore the situation,” adds Dr Ebuen. “Continued exposure to mercury vapour has its consequences and we are putting the health of dental professionals, students, patients, and the community at stake.”

Concluding the study, IAOMT-Philippines and BAN Toxics! recommend steps to be taken by the government and other concerned institutions. This includes the immediate prohibition of dental amalgams, revision of school curriculum, the ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, and putting up an environmentally sound system for the storage and disposal of mercury and mercury-containing products.

The full research will be released later this year. For more information, visit our website at http://iaomtphillippines.org

3 Great Reasons to Get a Dental Cleaning (Or to Visit the Dentist)

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Going to the dentist may sound awful for many folks but keep in mind that perfect health includes great teeth.  So instead of trudging heavily to the dentist’s office, think about the following benefits:

1.    Preventing Diseases. Through cleaning, dentists also get a chance to look at tell-tale signs of disease. This is not only limited to gingivitis but also oral cancer. These oral diseases are debilitating in the long run but with early intervention these ailments can be reversed. Thorough cleaning also removes any plaque and any other residue that ordinary brushing and flossing can’t get rid of. Still, it’s no excuse to ditch the regular oral care regimen. Cleaning and check-ups are there to supplement the daily maintenance and to gently guide or remind patients the right procedures to oral health care.

2.    Early Detection. With early detection and diagnosis, dentists can prescribe appropriate treatment and care as soon as possible. This goes not only for gum disease and cancer but for other complications such as chipped teeth or compromised fillings as well.

3.    Teeth Maintenance. Routine cleaning will ensure a set of healthy teeth and gums. Apart from checking the overall health and stability of teeth, dentists will also buff and give teeth a much needed perk up. Coffee, curry, tea, and all other foods and drinks can stain teeth and there’s nothing like a thorough cleaning to bring out that bright, sunshine smile.

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February Is Not Just For Lovers

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February is not only for hearts, flowers, and chocolates but for dental health professionals as well.  Each year, dentists gather to have fun, exchange ideas, and reaffirm their Hippocratic oaths.

Known as the “National Dental Health Month”, February is marked in the national calendar as a month for raising awareness on oral health and for recognizing the important role that dentists and other dental health professionals play in the nation’s health.

As always, this year’s events will be spearheaded by the Philippine Dental Association (PDA) and will see the active participation of dental health professionals from around the country. This year's theme - Ngiping Pinatibay, Ngiting Walang Humpay, Para sa Kinabuksa’y Maginhawang Tunay – stresses the connection between strong teeth and a healthy and prosperous future.

Dr. Lillian Lasaten-Ebuen of Total Body Dentistry and Executive Director of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) in the Philippines expressed support for this year’s events stating that it is in line with her group’s call for less toxic dental treatment procedures. “We’ve always stated that good health begins in the mouth. What you eat, how you take care of your teeth, and the type of dental procedures all affect an individual’s overall health.”

“The past year has seen advances and revelations in the field of dental research,” she continues, “but the big boost came from the ratification of an international treaty on mercury-use.” Explaining that mercury amalgam – a restorative material used by dentists for filling teeth cavities – is hazardous to human health and the environment - the treaty finally gave the push needed to eventually halt its production and use.

According to Dr. Ebuen, The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimated the global use of dental mercury at between 300 – 400 metric tonnes per year thus justifying a need for a phasedown and elimination.

“Our main focus now is to work with the Department of Health (DOH), dental schools, and dental health associations such as the PDA in raising awareness regarding mercury’s toxicity.” Dr. Ebuen explains. “At this stage, many dental health professionals remain adamant and with the help of the DOH, we’ll conduct trainings and other awareness raising programs around the country.”

Emphasizing the need for consumer education and dentists offering alternatives, Dr. Ebuen reassures that IAOMT-Philippines will continue to promote and foster initiatives to completely remove not only mercury but also other toxins used in dental health.

For more info, please visit the IAOMT website at iaomtphilippines.org or email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Tongue Scraping: The Benefits

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Unless you live in India, chances are tongue scraping is a novelty. It is not a new concept however as the ancient practice of Ayurveda espoused daily tongue cleaning as part of a holistic approach to health. 

The Process

With a tongue cleaner, extend out your tongue and reach down to the base, gently but firmly scrape from the base and up to the tip the tongue. Do this with one long stroke. Rinse the tongue cleaner and repeat until the cleaner is clear of residue.  Do this every morning and keep in mind to go about it gently.

Tongue scraping takes a little getting used to so don’t force it. Reaching down to the end of a tongue with a cleaner is an exercise in gag control, as you will find out. Eventually though, learning the method to scour the ridges and surface of the tongue has its rewards. Far from being a mystery, the handful of research studies have all shown that tongue scraping or tongue cleaning is really an effective means of controlling bad breath.

The Benefits

Exploring the benefits of this practice is relatively new but so far, experts have found the following advantages to tongue scraping.

1.    Controls bad breath. Tooth brushing and flossing removes food residue and other dead cells in the mouth. Tongue scraping does this as well except its focus is on the tongue. Regular toothbrushes can only clear a portion of debris and bacteria in the mouth but a tongue cleaner can significantly remove/reduce a large chunk of mouth bacteria.

2.    Enhances taste buds. Removing the build-up of gunk and goo on the tongue surface enriches the tongue’s capacity to taste flavours. This is a delightful benefit indeed.

3.    Removes toxins. Most of the bad and foul bacteria in the mouth is on tongue surfaces, tongue scraping removes these and prevents it from getting absorbed by the body.

4.    Improves oral health. Regular brushing and flossing gets a boost from tongue cleaning. Bacteria removed helps control the development of caries and periodontal disease.

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Avoid Bad Breath!

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Because it is a cause for embarrassment, we try and avoid it like the plague. If you’ve dealt with this, you know how ego crushing bad breath can be. However, do not despair as it is quite common and that a considerable chunk of the demographic suffers or have suffered from it. While for some, bad breath may happen only on occasions, for some unfortunate soul – the problem may be quite persistent.

Although reasons vary, the more common cause for bad breath or halitosis is bacteria chomping on dead cells. This can be easily remedied with a good brushing and a dependable mouthwash. Then again, for others, stubborn bad breath may be a symptom of an underlying illness.

From gum disease to diabetes, infections and lung, kidney, or liver disease – these causes require treatment prescribed by doctors.  If you have recurring bad breath, it is best to seek medical advice from dentists and doctors but for light cases, observing proper oral hygiene is enough to freshen the mouth.

Below, we’ve listed other tips and suggestions to keeping your breath smelling fresh and pleasant.

A.    Practice proper oral health care. You’ve heard and seen it on radio, TV, and magazines but the adverts are true and we cannot stress this enough as well. Sticking to a daily regimen of brushing and flossing will remove food residue and avoid the build-up of plaque.

B.    Don’t forget the tongue. Some people often neglect it but the tongue can also be home to bacteria. Take time to brush the surface or for more thorough cleaning, get a tongue cleaner to do the job.


C.    Rinse. Get an anti-bacterial mouthwash. Together with brushing and flossing, mouthwashes further remove leftover food articles while offering extra protection for your teeth.

D.    Drink plenty of water. Water encourages saliva production. While saliva is mostly water, it has antibacterial properties that protect teeth and gums from decay.

E.    Avoid certain food and drinks. This is hard to suggest, especially for people who love theirspices but to counteract the unpleasant effects, there’s always a healthy glass of water.

F.     Do not smoke. Aside from foul breath, smoking causes a myriad of health problems.

G.    Go for sugarless gum. Recommended if you can’t brush right away after a meal.  Also go for raw carrots and celery.

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