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206: Dental Exposures: Mercury, Fluoride + Whitening Agent w/ Dr. Kelly Blodgett

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My guest today is Dr. Kelly J. Blodgett, a recognized leader in holistic and integrative biological dentistry, a published researcher, author, and top clinician.

His educational background in psychology, traditional dentistry, naturopathic medical dentistry and integrative biological dental medicine provides him with a unique perspective as a healthcare provider.

He understands and respects the interconnectedness of oral health, systemic health and the feelings and emotions which accompany most people’s dental experience.

Dr. Blodgett’s professional vision is to reverse the negative stereotype associated with dentistry by sharing loving care in an environment free from judgement.

Join us as we talk about how different chemicals typically used in the mouth can affect our overall health.

Have you ever experienced side effects from a dental exposure? Tell me about it in the comments!

In this episode:

  • Mercury's impact on your health (especially your gut)
  • How to safely remove mercury fillings
  • Website to find reputable dentists to help with filling removals
  • Information about teeth whitening
  • Dr. Blodgett's thoughts on fluoride

Quotes

“It's pretty darn hard to change the tone, if you will, or the color of a tooth when the internal aspect of it is darker.” [13:48]

“For children, there are a lot of studies that show significant decrease in neurological functioning from exposure to fluoride.” [20:42]

Links

Find Dr. Blodgett online

How to find a holistic dentist

iaomt.org

iabdm.org

EWG’s Healthy Living App

Healthy Skin Show ep. 171: Can A Root Canal Cause Eczema, Psoriasis or Other Skin Rashes? w/ Dr. Kelly Blodgett

Berkey Water Filters

Healthy Skin Show ep. 016: Can Fluoride Be A Hidden Trigger For Your Skin? w/ Melissa Gallico

Healthy Skin Show ep. 116: Can Chlorine In Water Harm Your Skin? w/ Lara Adler

Follow Dr. Blodgett on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Dental Exposures: Mercury, Fluoride + Whitening Agent w/ Dr. Kelly Blodgett FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer: Thanks so much for joining us back on the show, Dr. Blodgett. I'm really excited to have you after our first conversation, which I know for many people listening, probably blew their minds, if they've never heard the whole connection between root canals and the microbiome issues that can result from these sort of like hidden infections. But I really appreciate you coming back again, because I feel like we have just so much more to talk about.

Dr. Blodgett: Well, thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here. This is awesome.

Jennifer: So today I wanted to talk about mercury and fluoride and just other chemicals that tend to get used in the mouth that I think we take for granted as being kind of normal. I think some people have concerns over mercury, and I'm assuming mercury is mostly, when we talk about that in terms of dentistry, is from mercury amalgams and fillings. But let's start with that. Let's talk a little bit about mercury and what type of fillings. Because I know, too, like I've only had one filling done ever, and it was, I think, a ceramic or epoxy or something. So I don't know if you have thoughts on those, too, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on mercury and how that can impact what's going on in your mouth and your health.

Dr. Blodgett: Sure. Well, I'll start off by sharing just a brief bit of history on mercury in the mouth, right?

Jennifer: Please.

Dr. Blodgett: So around 200 years ago, when the mercury filling was first developed, what was initially the first version of the American Dental Association called the American College of Dental Surgeons knew, they recognized, that it was incredibly unsafe to put mercury inside somebody's mouth where the vapors come off. They knew that you'd inhale it. They knew there'd be transmucosal, absorption, it would get into your gut lining. And that group said, “Hey, if you're going to be a member of this upstanding dental professional group, you will agree to not use it.” And at the time, of course it was such a… There weren't a lot of great resources. We didn't have glass ionomers and composites and ceramics and all that, so I can appreciate why it was being pushed, because it was relatively technique insensitive. But ultimately, it ended up causing the fall of that original group of dental practitioners, because nobody would adhere to not using it, even though they knew how unsafe it was.

Dr. Blodgett: So we fast forward 200 years, there are a number of countries, particularly in Europe, who've banned the use of mercury dental amalgams. I mean, I can honestly say that in my 21 years of practice, I've only placed one, and it was in the first year I practiced, and then we subsequently tossed all that stuff. Half of amalgam fillings, which people, normally they hear about them from their dentist as a silver filling, right?

Jennifer: Okay.

Dr. Blodgett: We sell it as this like, “Oh, it's silver.” Who doesn't love a semiprecious metal? But in fact, half of it is liquid mercury. The other half is shavings of copper, tin and silver. So it's kind of a hodgepodge of stuff, not to mention formation of a battery in your mouth. But the mercury, especially at mouth temperature, is constantly giving off mercury vapor. And for years, the American Dental Association was staunchly saying, “Well, there's no science that prove that,” blah-blah-blah. And just this year, they actually came out with a press release acknowledging, “Well, okay. In fact, we actually will acknowledge that, in fact, mercury vapor does come off. But we don't think that it's at dangerous levels for adults.” For kids under six, yes. For pregnant women, yes. But apparently for anybody older than six, it's not somehow unsafe. So I mean, go figure how they work that one out. But it's kind of crazy.

Jennifer: So you're saying for 200 years, we-

Dr. Blodgett: Yeah.

Jennifer: So this is, A, this is not a new thing.

Dr. Blodgett: No.

Jennifer: That's ridiculous, that that is so old. And it took until 2020.

Dr. Blodgett: Yeah, you remember that the Mad Hatter Syndrome?

Jennifer: Yeah.

Dr. Blodgett: From Alice in Wonderland. The whole Mad Hatter Syndrome came because they would use liquid mercury with the felting of hats, and you'd get the transdermal absorption through your skin while you're working with liquid mercury. We've known for centuries how dangerous this stuff is. And we're talking like, as an example I use with patients frequently, if one of the light bulbs that we have, if it were to contain mercury and it landed on the floor and it had a light break, like a complex fluorescent bulb, if you look up online, like what is the appropriate protocol for cleaning that up, I mean, it involves a hazmat suit. And we're talking maybe a couple milligrams of mercury. Still, it's kind of not good, but not a ton. On average, like the average mercury filling that goes into a single tooth, has 500 milligrams of mercury in one filling.

Jennifer: Oh, my gosh.

Dr. Blodgett: Imagine somebody who has, let's say eight or 10 mercury fillings or more, that is an insane amount of toxic material that we're putting in teeth and telling them, “That's for your health.”

Jennifer: Wow.

Dr. Blodgett: It's insane.

Jennifer: And so when you're saying it's releasing vapors, does that then imply that every time you swallow, you're potentially ingesting?

Dr. Blodgett: You are ingesting, and you are inhaling. So when you think about it, let's imagine somebody who is a mouth breather at night, right? And these things are constantly giving off vapor, and they're breathing it in through their lungs. We know that lung absorption is great. That's why people get a kick out of smoking things. It's just right across the lung membranes and, “Hey, I feel different.” Well, you don't feel the mercury necessarily, initially. Some people might, but most people, it's like long-term effects of that slow and low exposure that does get absorbed, and does preferentially bind to neurological tissues, fat cells. It it's hard to get rid of, for some people who don't bind and process it effectively, it's hard to detox from it.

Jennifer: So what about someone who has fillings that are gold or the epoxy ceramic type? Do you also have a mercury exposure there, or are those different?

Dr. Blodgett: Those would be different materials.

Jennifer: Okay.

Dr. Blodgett: However, let's say you've got a gold crown, or it's a gold substructure, what we call a PFM or a porcelain fused to metal crown. I cannot count how many times I'm cutting those off for people, and they want to go to all ceramics or something. And you cut the crown in half to pop it off, and underneath they've left the mercury filling from the prior filling. So you've got two dissimilar metals in contact, which forms a battery, which forms electrical current flow along that energetic meridian that the tooth is on. So it's a real issue. There are millions upon millions of people walking around, feeling horrible, whatever their biological system is that's offline and not working well. And nobody's asking about, “Hey, what in your mouth? Is it possible that you have infection or dissimilar metals or toxic exposures?” So it's got to become part of the list of questions that we ask in a full health workup.

Jennifer: So with the mercury then, for somebody listening to this and they've been concerned about this for a while, like you were saying, maybe they have a number of fillings of the silver, the silver metal, that seems like a big undertaking to get that swapped out. What does that look like? What do you have to mentally be prepared for if you're going to do something like this?

Dr. Blodgett: Sure, sure. It's a good question. Well, first and foremost, I would suggest that anybody who's interested in learning more about that, that they either go to the websites of the IAOMT or the IABDM. And so they can just put in I-A-B-D-M.org, or .com. I can't remember which it is. But look those up. Those are really reputable dental groups who have established protocols for safe removal of mercury.

Dr. Blodgett: We have a lot of very specialized equipment in my practice. In each of the rooms, like not just one room, we've equipped all of our rooms with mercury suction systems and things so that anytime we're taking off a crown… Like, let's say we're not even sure if there's mercury in the tooth, we always practice the protocol for safety. So you want to find a dentist who is well-experienced in the process of safe removal.

Dr. Blodgett: The process itself, from a clinical standpoint and what you experience, it's no different than if you went in for a filling in a tooth. Usually, most people just choose to go with local anesthesia. There's a whole isolation process of the teeth, so that you're not exposed and the practitioners aren't exposed. And then you go about safely removing the metal filling material. And then however you replace it is kind of a, that's something you decide with your dentist. There's no one way that's like, “Oh, this is the only way.” Every situation's unique. We have a number of different modalities that we utilize. And it just kind of depends on how big is the hole in the tooth? What are we trying to accomplish? Is this a front tooth? Is it a back tooth, all those things that we consider when looking at what's the least invasive way and most predictable long-term way of restoring the tooth, right?

Jennifer: Yeah. I've had some clients that they're like, “I'm going to start doing it,” but it's a process. It's not fast. And they've got to find somebody that can handle it, because most regular dentists are of the mindset that, what's in your mouth is fine, except when you start having really serious health issues and you become increasingly concerned about what's just literally sitting in your mouth that you can't walk away from.

Dr. Blodgett: Yeah.

Jennifer: That's a totally different matter. So I want to switch gears because I think, too, when we talk about what we're exposed to, there's this big push, and I remember as I think I was in like my later high school years after I had my braces taken off, of like wanting to whiten my teeth. And now the teeth whitening systems, I mean, you can go to the pharmacy and buy one.

Dr. Blodgett: Right.

Jennifer: You can buy anything. For people who maybe have teenagers or they've considered themselves wanting to whiten their teeth, do you have any thoughts as far as those type of exposures are concerned, of what they may be doing to your teeth or in your mouth or anything like that?

Dr. Blodgett: Well, yeah. I do. I have a lot of thoughts about that. I think that in today's culture, I mean, there's this crazy irony, right, the day of the selfie, where everybody wants to look-

Jennifer: Yeah.

Dr. Blodgett: We all want to look a certain way. We want our super bright smile, but we also have kind of the Starbucks phenomenon, where every 13 year old needs to have a Starbucks in their hand, and they're sipping on highly staining substances.

Jennifer: Yeah.

Dr. Blodgett: So I think first and foremost, if you were to ask me something about, “I want to get my laundry as white as I can get it, but I spend most of the day rolling in the mud,” we have to ask ourselves, to what are we exposing our teeth in the first place?

Dr. Blodgett: So if you're a constant staining beverage or food eater and drinker, how are they getting stained in the first place? And is it an internal color issue, meaning is it actually the dentin of the tooth that is darker? Or is it in fact, just a stain issue on the external part of the enamel? Changing the whiteness of the internal aspects of the teeth is an entirely different consideration, which you would probably want to think more about gut health and things like that, or was the person exposed to antibiotics at a young age and-

Jennifer: Because some antibiotics can cause teeth discoloration, correct?

Dr. Blodgett: Absolutely. And in those cases, it's pretty darn hard to change the tone, if you will, or the color of a tooth when the internal aspect of it is darker. We have a lot of restorative techniques that are noninvasive for lightening teeth, whether it's non-prep veneers, composites, things like that, where you can additively put something that's, say, a half a millimeter thick over a tooth to modify the color and not damage any of the native tooth structure.

Dr. Blodgett: What I've found in whitening, and I've tried a lot of things on the market, we've had a lot of different whitening systems in the office over the years, and a lot of people find it uncomfortable, which makes sense. You're putting a caustic material on teeth. And if you have sensitive teeth at all, it's likely to make you more sensitive. And oftentimes the results are temporary, because people keep drinking coffee and wine.

Jennifer: Right.

Dr. Blodgett: Yeah, go ahead.

Jennifer: I know for myself, I had acne as a teenager and was given tetracycline for a long time, which is known to cause discoloration of your teeth.

Dr. Blodgett: Yes, right.

Jennifer: And then I get my braces put on and eventually they come off and I'm unhappy with the color of my teeth. I didn't drink any coffee or anything, and I would have issues with staining. But then I did, my dentist said, “Oh, we have these trays and you squirt this gel in and you wear them to bed.” And I can tell you, now I'm 40 now, years and years later, my teeth are still… They're better than they were, but throughout my 20s, into my early 30s, I could not, if it was really cold, forget about it.

Dr. Blodgett: Oh, yeah.

Jennifer: For years and years, I had issues with sensitivity. And in hindsight, I thought to myself what is in that, that I am potentially swallowing, as well?

Dr. Blodgett: Mm-hmm (affirmative), right. Well, and that's another good point. I mean, generally you're using some sort of peroxide. If you're comfortable with hydrogen peroxide, and probably like most things, a little bit of exposure to something isn't going to kill us. But if it's something that we're doing with great frequency, it just depends on the person. How frequently do you use it? How does it affect your GI health? What's your GI flora to begin with? Yeah. There's so many considerations with that.

Dr. Blodgett: And you make an excellent point, in the day of, and this is horrible, but in the day of retractive orthodontics, which is what people were doing when I was a kid, and I'll be turning 50 soon, the idea was like, “Well, let's pull out pre-molars. Let's squish the arches.” So all the teeth go from being slightly flared, which in a natural position for most people looks aesthetic, it reflects light well, it makes the teeth look more white, and then we squish everything back, make the teeth much more vertically inclined if not retroclined, so they absorb light and look darker.

Dr. Blodgett: So just the position in which we place teeth from an orthodontic standpoint for a lot of people, not all certainly, but for a lot of people, makes it challenging. Even if they do lighten their teeth, they never really have the appearance that like, “Oh, they're actually a lot lighter, because they absorb light.”

Jennifer: Yeah. Can I ask you, I know there's a lot of also this trend toward activated charcoal being added to toothpastes, and they have the powders that they claim are whitening. Do you feel like that's a legitimate thing? Then I'm thinking to myself as you're talking about the mercury, I'm like, “Oh. Well, is that even safe, if you have mercury amalgams?” Do you have any thoughts on that?

Dr. Blodgett: I don't, to be honest. I have a lot of patients who come in and tell me they're trying this or that or the other. Honestly, most people are exposing their mouths to whatever dentifrice they're using for two to four minutes out of a day. So out of the, how many minutes are in a day-

Jennifer: True.

Dr. Blodgett: The exposure is relatively minimal. What I would say is, if somebody finds that it works for them and they're happy with it, hey, that's awesome. If it works, it works. I generally recommend to most of my patients to check out the, I think it's called the Healthy Living app now, by the Environmental Working Group. It's so helpful to use that app to scan barcodes of toothpaste, soaps, and anything that you want to get at a store. You can scan it, and it'll give you a relative toxicity guide on a scale of one to 10. And I think that's awesome, right?

Jennifer: Yeah.

Dr. Blodgett: If you're wanting to try three different toothpastes, well part of your thought process might be just looking up how safe is this from a toxicity standpoint or from a chemical exposure standpoint, right?

Jennifer: Yeah. Absolutely. And I think actually from that, it would be a great kind of sidestep to just talk briefly a little bit about fluoride. I've had one guest who came on the show very early, on and she talked about how she discovered fluoride seem to aggravate her acne. And we have fluoride exposure as a kid. I remember, they would treat my teeth with fluoride, and then we'd have… Some water is fluorinated. Mine currently, I found out, is not. Because I learned how to read my water report.

Dr. Blodgett: Oh, there you go.

Jennifer: But what are your thoughts on fluoride?

Dr. Blodgett: Well, first and foremost, I mean, despite what the American Dental Association is going to tell you, which of course they can spin up any quote/unquote science that they want, I guess, they've got the money to do it, but in my clinical experience, it doesn't matter whether somebody is exposed to fluoride or not. I don't see that it actually reduces decay risk if you're constantly sipping on your mocha frappuccino or your kombucha or whatever. If you're constantly exposing yourself to sugars and acids, it doesn't matter what's in the water.

Dr. Blodgett: But with respect to fluoride, what I have looked up over the past few years, because I just find it interesting, is the extent to which we understand that fluoride does cause neurological damage, particularly in developing neurological tissue. So for children, there are a lot of studies that show significant decrease in neurological functioning from exposure to fluoride.

Dr. Blodgett: And I'm right there with you, Jen. I mean, I remember being kid in grade school, and they'd bring those gosh awful trays in there.

Jennifer: Yep.

Dr. Blodgett: You know what I mean? You're like, “Oh, we got to sip that.” And then everybody goes and spits in the sink after 30 seconds of torture. And it's like, for what? Probably five minutes later, we were having orange slices. Meanwhile, our oral mucosa, which is so absorptive, right, we think about, why does a person with a acute angina throw nitroglycerin under their tongue? Well, because we absorb things like rapid-fire. And so what does that fluoride do, when we're absorbing it in our mouths at high concentrations. That's scary.

Dr. Blodgett: And what's also kind of spooky, if you think about it, so somebody who has, let's say what we would call high caries risk, or meaning for whatever reason, dietary habits, who knows, they're forming a lot of decay. And the dentist says, “Well, we need to get you on a high fluoride dentifrice, like a 5,000 parts per million fluoride dentifrice. So go home and use this two times a day.” And you're going to be absorbing that stuff like crazy in your mouth.

Jennifer: Oh, my gosh.

Dr. Blodgett: And people wonder why we see such a heightened frequency of neurocognitive neurodegenerative diseases. It's like, well, we keep exposing ourselves to more and more toxic garbage, and somehow expecting that it won't have an effect [crosstalk 00:22:18].

Jennifer: Like you're saying, this is an area that is highly absorptive.

Dr. Blodgett: Right, absolutely.

Jennifer: I mean we do a lot of stuff, like in clinical nutrition, we have sublingual B12, we'll do things with liposomal vitamins and nutrients, and you hold it in your mouth, under the tongue.

Dr. Blodgett: Right. That's right. And that's exactly what we're doing with fluoride. And on a daily basis, a lot of people, they're, “Oh, my,” whatever, “My Colgate, my Crest, my blah, blah, blah, it's so awesome. It whitens my teeth.” And it's like, that slow and low exposure will catch up to many people. Not all, but many.

Jennifer: Yeah. I mean, that was one big impetus for me. Because I didn't know, number one, if I had fluoride or not. So I got a really good water filter, so that I was like, “Well, I'm going to try and take out everything that I can, any impurities from the water.” And then, got rid of the fluorinated toothpaste, which actually it's hard. It's getting easier to find non-fluorinated toothpaste.

Dr. Blodgett: Yes.

Jennifer: But it's still sometimes at a regular grocery store a challenge, or a regular pharmacy. I've also made a lot of efforts, too, like I was saying, Lara Adler, who many of you might remember, she was talking about on The Healthy Skin Show, and we'll link to that podcast, about how to learn to read your water company's water report, so you can know what's in your water. Because a lot of times, there's things that we can't quite filter out, or we assume, because it's common knowledge, I'm putting that in air quotes, that everything must have fluoride, for example, or chlorine. But that may not be the case. I don't have either of those in my water, but I have chloramines. So I know that.

Jennifer: So I think it's important that we consider all different avenues of understanding our exposures. And I think you've brought up a really great point about how we should really also, too, take care of that tissue under, especially under the tongue. Because you can absorb so much and that could include good things, like liposomal vitamin C or liposomal glutathione, but it could also include things that may actually be detrimental to you.

Dr. Blodgett: Yeah. Well, and for those people who are thinking like, “Well, is that true?” I mean, I really encourage people to do some light research. Go on PubMed and just pull up a search. You can type in fluoride, neurodegenerative. Put in Alzheimer's or something like that, and just start doing some searches. Or look at IQ deficiencies. And all the sciences there, on humans, right?

Jennifer: Yeah.

Dr. Blodgett: I'm not just making this stuff up. It's all out there, and it was kind of shocking to me. Because, of course, I grew up brushing with Crest and getting my fluoride treatments. And I thought I was a tooth warrior, because I'm getting all my fluoride. And it's like now I'm just kind of slowly dumbing myself down apparently.

Jennifer: Yeah.

Dr. Blodgett: So hopefully-

Jennifer: We're trying, I think at this point, at this stage in life, I recognize that knowledge is power, and it can be scary at times.

Dr. Blodgett: Yes.

Jennifer: And that's why we don't want to go down too many rabbit holes and then think, “Oh my gosh. Anything I do is going to make me sick.” No, just start with what's most critical, make small changes.

Dr. Blodgett: Absolutely.

Jennifer: And then if you have a mouth full or you have a few, we talked about root canals the last time.

Dr. Blodgett: Yeah.

Jennifer: So for those of you who did miss that, go back and listen to that, because that's really important. But if you have cavities and you have those silver fillings, and then you think about what's in your water and what you're exposing your teeth to, especially for your kids, this could help you maybe take some small to large actions, but do it within your comfort zone, and what is doable for you.

Jennifer: I just want to encourage everyone, as well, Dr. Blodgett, to go to your website, because I've oftentimes referred clients to your website.

Dr. Blodgett: Thank you.

Jennifer: You have a great blog there with a lot of articles.

Dr. Blodgett: Thank you so much.

Jennifer: So for those of you, you're welcome, who are interested, it's blodgettdentalcare.com. And the way that I met Dr. Blodgett was on Instagram. And I highly encourage you to go check that out, as well. It's @blodgettdentalcare. And he has just got a lot of great graphics that help you understand things without necessarily feeling like you got to dig through scientific studies. If you're the type of person that just needs to see it in order to start grasping, “Wow, this is a big deal. Maybe I should start looking into this.”

Jennifer: Nothing was scary. I was just like, “Oh wow. I didn't know that, and I want to learn more.” I really encourage everyone to go check out those two ways to connect with you, because I think that those are some really educational resources that are based in not just science, but also your clinical research, which I deeply appreciate.

Dr. Blodgett: Thank you.

Jennifer: You're welcome. So I just want to thank you so much for coming back on the show. Hopefully we'll get you back again some time.

Dr. Blodgett: Absolutely.

Jennifer: And we'll pick your brain and share some more to help people figure out what the heck is going on with their health. But I just want to thank you so much for coming back.

Dr. Blodgett: Oh, it's my pleasure. Maybe we could talk about it a little titanium versus zirconia implant stuff, and how it affects skin sometimes.

Jennifer: Oh yes, absolutely.

Dr. Blodgett: Yeah.

Jennifer: All right. Thanks so much.

Dr. Blodgett: All right.

“It's pretty darn hard to change the tone, if you will, or the color of a tooth when the internal aspect of it is darker.”


Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS is an integrative Clinical Nutritionist and the founder of Skinterrupt. She works with women who are fed up with chronic gut and skin rash issues discover the root causes and create a plan to get them back to a fuller, richer life.


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