My Tooth!

An apical, or retrograde amalgam is a dental filling that is placed at the root end of a tooth. This placement is usually done by an endodontist -- someone who works on tooth roots.

The gums are cut open to expose the root of the tooth. The end of the root is sawed off. A root canal is performed from this opening, and in many cases, the root is sealed with a mercury amalgam filling.

The gums are sutured, and the patient goes home to heal with a mercury amalgam filling embedded within the tissues of their jaw.

After great trepidation, in January 1997, I had an incisor with just such an apical amalgam extracted from my lower jaw. The tooth and the jaw were giving me pain, a burning sensation, and I was having mental concentration problems like I suffered during my many years of CFS.

At my request the oral surgeons clinic placed the tooth in a jar of Isopropyl Alcohol to keep it moist, sterile, and to prevent the amalgam from facing any further chemical interactions.

Early in March 1997, I examined the tooth under a high powered microscope to inspect the obvious corrosion up close. The depth of field was so narrow that no good images could be collected.

Again in May 1997, I examined the tooth under a lower powered microscope with a much wider depth of field. The images on this web page are from that viewing.

I used a block of yellow printer ink as the mounting surface for the tooth. The reddish-yellowish tint of the images result from this mounting material.

Lighting was varied on the different images with the intent of increasing the capture of details. These variations in lighting during photography are the main reason there are such different colors in each image. Each image is heavily influenced by the mounting block color under the particular lighting.

Some variations exist between the digital images found here, and my Polaroids from the microscope. The digital images are a little darker, with some loss of detail, as compared to the photographs.

The white "strings" are fibers from the cotton gauze the surgeon used to grasp the tooth after he extracted it. If you look closely at the first image, you can see where the surgeons extraction pliers marred the tooth shank.

In addition to the photographs, I've included an x-ray image showing my tooth and it's apical amalgam in 1992.

The image is clipped from a "panorex" full mouth x-ray. Magnification of the x-ray JPEG is 5.5X over actual size, not a perfect match to my extraction photos.

Nonetheless, you get a good idea of how much of the original amalgam is missing due to corrosion "in vivo" between 1992 and 1997. Corrosion that occurred completely within my living tissues!!

I've thumb nailed the images for an easier main page load, and to provide some user control over download times. Click on each image one by one for a view of it's full sized jpeg.

My long time dentists partner saw the photographs, and was quite dismayed by what she saw. "It shouldn't be like that!", "Those margins with the tooth should be sealed!".

What I say is:

"Look at how much material is missing!.

What's missing all went into my bloodstream and jaw tissues !

How can people claim a few of us are simply more sensitive to mercury fillings, and there is no general hazard of mercury leaking out?

I would think almost anyone would have a problem with this particular mercury amalgam corroding away within their bodies tissues!".

  6X Magnification (14K Bytes)           40X Magnification (18K Bytes)

  12X Magnification (11K Bytes)           12X Magnification (14K Bytes)

  12X Magnification (11K Bytes)           1992 X-ray, 5.5X Magnification (4K Bytes)

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Copyright ©1997 Jeff Clark