Pascal's wager for mercury homeopathy?
October 9, 2007 5:59 AM   Subscribe

just got some amalgam tooth fillings removed, do I really need the (homeopathic) selenium and zinc my dentist prescribed to get the mercury out of my system?

Thing is, I just don't believe in homeopathy and asked a pharmacist about a regular supplement, but she didn't think that would be necessary. So, what should I take? Nothing? Supplements? Homeopathic sugar pills?
posted by meijusa to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you've already bought them, it can't hurt you. Otherwise I wouldn't bother. Find a dentist who doesn't take you for an idiot.
posted by stereo at 6:33 AM on October 9, 2007

Don't bother.

(I'm going to spare you the rant about heavy metals and malicious pseudoscience)
posted by aramaic at 7:03 AM on October 9, 2007

According to homeopathic theory, which states that the strength of their medicines increases with dilution, ocean water is the most powerful homeopathic medicine there is, as it contains the remnants of all the other homeopathic remedies diluted in all the water available on the planet. So go to the beach and drink some sea water. But just a little, it is potent stuff.

Aramaic and stereo have good advice, too.
posted by TedW at 7:20 AM on October 9, 2007

If my dentist recommended that I take a homeopathic remedy for mercury I'd probably report them to the dental board.
posted by grouse at 7:34 AM on October 9, 2007 [3 favorites]

Everyone has some traces of mercury in their body. Ain't nothing gonna remove it, sorry. Don't take my word for it, ask a toxicologist or other evidence-based scientist.
posted by OlderThanTOS at 7:42 AM on October 9, 2007

My god. I will also spare you the rant, but you have been sold a total bill of goods.

Amalgam fillings are only dangerous if they are disturbed, like asbestos. Chipping it out of your tooth exposed you to more mercury than a lifetime of wearing the filling, if it was intact.

And it was still an utterly trivial amount. This is utterly bogus pseudoscientific nonsense.

As for the homeopathic potion, what others have said holds. Any dentist who would prescribe fake medicine or advise removal of intact amalgam is a quack.
posted by spitbull at 7:42 AM on October 9, 2007

Spitbull is right. My MIL is a dental hygienist and we had this conversation less than a week ago. Don't get any more fillings removed and see a different, more reputable, dentist to see if there was any damage done with the fillings that were removed.

(Also: sorry.)
posted by cooker girl at 8:11 AM on October 9, 2007

If you're seeing a reputable environmental specialist, have been diagnosed with high mercury levels, and are following their recommendation to eliminate dental amalgam before going through a treatment protocol, good for you. The sad part of dealing with high mercury levels is that you have to cope with a bunch of crap from people who don't believe that such a thing exists, or can be a problem. That there's a lot of nonsense on the fringe doesn't help, either.

My dentist has gone from "nothing to worry about" to quietly eliminating amalgam from his practice over the last 7 years. Still, you're at much, much higher risk from some fish than you likely are from amalgam.

The best source of info I've found is Andrew Cutler's book, Amalgam Illness, Diagnosis and Treatment : What You Can Do to Get Better, How Your Doctor Can Help. It's fairly technical, has plenty of references to studies, and is good for helping separate out the quacks.

That said, "homeopathic" anything raises a flag for me. Selenium is used in the protocol I'm familiar with, but not at homeopathic levels. Get a second opinion on that from your doctor.
posted by dws at 9:17 AM on October 9, 2007

Go ahead and humor him, the homeopathic supplements will do you no harm.
A prestidigitator who, putting metal into your mouth, pulls coins out of your pocket.
The humorist of the medical profession.
posted by hortense at 9:24 AM on October 9, 2007

a bunch of crap from people who don't believe that such a thing exists, or can be a problem.

No one responsible is saying high mercury levels are not a problem, or that the threat of mercury poisoning is not a real one. The "crap" is the hysteria foisted on people without mercury poisoning by venal medical practitioners who prey on the ignorant and easily alarmed.

If you have mercury poisoning, it wasn't caused by amalgam in your teeth. And dentists are eliminating it from their practices for two reasons: 1) the health scare quacks have made every patient believe amalgam is dangerous; and b) amalgam is dangerous -- for your dentist, who spends every day of her career drilling it and being exposed to its powdered form; it is also dangerous to manufacture. No one thinks mercury is good. But the plain truth is that removing an intact amalgam filling *does* expose you (and your dentist) to mercury toxicity; leaving it alone is safer, or replacing them on a schedule, not all at once.

And spare me the bull about "offgassing." Disproven.
posted by spitbull at 9:53 AM on October 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

Trivilializing mercury poisoning as if it were (name your fad diagnosis) hypoglycemia, yeast toxicity, or any of the other BS fads of the last few decades seems problematic to me. Real mercury poisoning is a horrible thing.
posted by spitbull at 9:55 AM on October 9, 2007

Thanks for the comments! Just to clarify my original post:

- The fillings were taken out due to cavities under the amalgam and serious toothache.
- I did not buy the homeopathic stuff, because, as I said, I don't believe in it.
- The question was more supposed to find out whether supplements can help get rid of the mercury that was released by drilling on the fillings. So far, it doesn't seem like it.

That said, several countries have banned amalgam fillings, so I will not use amalgam fillings to replace the temporary cement that replaced the old amalgam fillings.

As an aside, I'm in Europe and from the wikipedia article on homeopathy, it seems that up to 50% of Europeans have used homeopathic "treatment" as opposed to about 2% in the USA, so my misled, or shall we say deluded in this case, dentist has a lot of company.
posted by meijusa at 10:14 AM on October 9, 2007

If your dentist removed fillings simply because they were amalgam, please report this person to the dental board. That would be very bad dental practice with extra mercury exposure for you and unnecessary treatment & cost.

If the fillings needed to be replaced and your dentist recommended treatment because of that mercury exposure, it shouldn't hurt, and might provide some benefit. I wouldn't stay with a dentist who recommended homeopathy.
posted by theora55 at 10:17 AM on October 9, 2007

oh. never mind.
posted by theora55 at 10:18 AM on October 9, 2007

What, like this stuff?
posted by goshling at 11:31 PM on October 9, 2007

Yeah, that's the ticket...
posted by TedW at 6:16 AM on October 10, 2007

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