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Holistic Dentistry & Mercury

It was very exciting to receive news this week that I’d be able to interview Dr. Ara Elmajian – an amazing resource for holistic dentistry practices. I had recorded the questions I’ve received from Mommy Footprint readers since July so I hope I’ve done justice to all of you wanting information on fluoride and mercury fillings. Let me start with my own thoughts on holistic dentistry. I’ve thought for awhile now that traditional dentistry would be the next area of major concern with chemical exposure. When I ask friends that are very green what they do to limit their chemical exposure with dentistry and they pause and answer “I’ve never thought of that before”, I get nervous. And my cause for concern is real because we as a society don’t think to ask what is being put into our mouth with dentistry. Or maybe they do think to ask, but it promoted by a health concern and the prevention stage for healthier dentistry is no longer relevant.  After talking to Dr. Elmajian, I’m 100% convinced that there are many cover-ups with mainstream dentistry and I thank him for being totally frank in this interview.  But since he’s had these beliefs for over 30 years, this new-age revelation of mine and so many other parents is old news. I thank him for his patience while I asked questions I’m sure he’s answered many times. Here are snippets of our conversation.

Dr. Elmajian started off by stating the US is considering banning mercury in dental work at the government’s level. Although he agreed with my thoughts that phasing out would be a slow process. Dr. Elmajian pointed out that dentists being trained today are still taught how to use mercury fillings in universities across North America. So the question of “is mercury/amalgam fillings still being used in dentistry today” is void. Yes. Dentists are using it, being taught how to use it, and it will be up to you to ask questions about what is going into your mouth. Many old fashioned dentists will continue, no matter what is legislated so it’s up to you. For me, I’ll start treating dentist visits like being a consumer, purchasing a product.  Ask questions and keep asking until you find out and understand what they are putting in your mouth.


“So what is the best alternative to fill a cavity or filling?” I asked. Dr. Elmajian answered that ideally it’s best to have compatibility testing done. Immune systems can be sensitive to many different materials. Lots of people have allergies to gold, white filling do contain a resin, etc., so compatibility testing can ensure your body is happy with the material being used with dentistry. Also, new ceramic materials are gaining in popularity. This testing is approx. $300 and you have blood drawn to decide what is the best material for your mouth. When I asked about people having major health problems, chronic infections, these can be caused when mercury and other metals combined leading to mercury vapors leaching into your mouth, that process is called oral galvanism. Dr. Elmajian mentioned the video called Smoking Tooth because it describes how with every time you chew, mercury vapors are escaping that could lead to cardiovascular, immune, arthritis problems and many health issues related to heavy metal toxicity.


One look at Dr. Elmajian’s website, and you’ll be happy with the amount of information you’ll discover about detoxing the body of mercury, he is passionate about this subject. He advises that mercury fillings are always leaching. Always you might ask?  He will say always.  When you chew, drink water, and the 2nd video on his website you will see the vapors that escape from mercury when eating. He said that a filling can be in your mouth for 100 years and mercury vapors will still leach. So you can understand at this point why I stopped asking any questions related to “is mercury a dangerous material for dentistry?”  The answer every time will be yes. And the process to remove the mercury is also dangerous so it’s important to do your research and go to a facility that uses proper suction system and procedures. Dr. Elmajian’s website can give you more information on what is involved with a mercury filling removal – it is a treatment process, not just involving the removal. There is diagnostic work, the removal, and follow up detox processes. At this point in our conversation I asked “do you wait for an illness to occur before thinking about removing mercury?” Dr. Elmajian laughed because this is not a question he can answer. Neither can I. Only you can. Dr.Elmajian believes in individualized care because each person has their unique biochemical individuality including how much, for example heavy metals their bodies could tolerate. Also the rate of detoxification by our eliminating organs, such as the kidney, liver etc… differ in individuals. Therefor, you have to take all of that in consideration. He left me with the question of “why would you want your system burdened with putting a material such as mercury in the body?” The birth of neurological disease, Alzheimer’s surfaced 30-50 years ago – there is no doubt in Dr. Elmajian’s mind that the brain is loaded with heavy materials and dentistry and neurological disease have some relationship.

Prevention is the key. We have the information, now we need to prevent. I asked what parents can do when their children have been told they have cavities (as mine do). He said the composite can be used, but with caution. When I asked about using Gold in an adult’s mouth he said there are many people that react to gold because of allergies and that the new ceramics that are emerging are good alternatives and yes, then are adhered with a thin bonding material. Dr. Elmajian also shared that parents across North America that are looking for answers or resources to contact, can log onto the following sites:  or (great site – you can find dentists in your province and state that don’t use mercury!).

The discussion of fluoride was also a very passionate topic with Dr. Elmajian. For over 25 years, fluoride has been an unnecessary addition into our bodies. Because it’s in the food chain, we are still getting access to it – even if it’s not in our drinking water, toothpaste, or dental routine. He agreed that xylitol is good with combating the ‘bugs’ that cause tooth decay. Simple to understand: acid = decay. Bugs eat the xylitol and therefor don’t produce the acid. In addition to using xylitol, genetic makeup says a lot about the condition of your teeth, proper hygiene is huge (proper plaque removal), and taking a good liquid form of minerals to absorb into the body. Liquid minerals, Dr. Elmajian explained are very important because we don’t get enough minerals in our food. Also proper brushing and flossing is important because plaque is composed of many colonies of millions of microbes of different genetic make up. Some are known to cause cardiovascular disease and auto immune disease. The decay causing microbe is called strep mutans. The microbes that create acid can destroy our tooth enamel. When plaque is removed, these steps won’t occur.  I called Planet Organic and they told me that liquid minerals are available (their brand is called Liquid Mineral Concentrace) and although minerals are available in tablet, the system will absorb the liquid form more quickly.


I’d like to thank Dr. Elmajian for taking the time out of his very busy schedule to talk with me. It must be very rewarding for Dr. Elmajian to be a pioneer in the world of holistic approaches with dentistry. Traditional dentistry seems to have some ‘old boys club’ type characteristics and it is up to you to question your dentist. It’s no longer the greenie hippies talking about the dangers of fluoride and mercury. Talk to your doctor, talk to a holistic doctor, and talk to your naturopath until you are comfortable with the answers given for dental care. We need to think about what is being put in a porous area of our body and what the effects are with heat, cold, grinding, and age. Wow – such an enlightening day and although this journey can be scary, I always like to embrace the knowledge that certain professions and traditional ‘experts’ don’t have the answers. Rather, many beliefs in dentistry seem out of date and downright dangerous if these people aren’t questioned. Thank you Dr. Elmajian – I hope to be back with more questions…thank you for the last 30 years of holistic dentistry & knowledge.




Spoooooky Disposable Tableware!

Greening celebrations & Halloween is a hot topic this year. One aspect of party planning that many hosts struggle to green is when using disposable tableware, specifically at children’s parties and Halloween. But we’ve made advances in biodegradable and compostable disposable tableware options and it’s never been easier to keep the fun and excitement and  the environmental impact low at these celebrations. Don’t believe me?  Check out the awesome pictures of bagasse plates stamped with beet juice at the bottom of this post.

Halloween parties don’t have to be a wasteful affair – make a goal to host a little or no-waste party. We’ve already talked about Halloween decorating so lets talk tableware. I agree that some of the printed/licensed napkins, plates and cups are adorable for Halloween, but it’s important to green this aspect of party planning. With the proper Eco-friendly tabletop accents**, this is the easiest area to green and guests will love the effect of earth friendly disposable tableware!  Using your own dishware is the best way to booster your green with party planning, but this isn’t always a practical option. We host an annual Halloween party and I know with over 20 kids running through my house, there’s no way I’m giving them my everyday dishes.  Here are some Eco-friendly options for disposable tableware & some spooky facts you’ll want to learn about traditional cups and plates..

Hot Cups:

Bring out the hot chocolate or apple cider, but make sure you’re using hot cups lined with PLA.  Traditional paper hot cups are lined with petroleum-based resin. Ever wondered why you get that nasty after taste after you’ve purchased a coffee or hot drink from a cafeteria or store? This is plastic melting and being absorbed into your body.  Compostable hot cups are a great addition to your next party because the interior resin of the cups is lined with PLA (poly lactic acid) which is derived from renewable resources such as sugarcane and starches (corn).

We all know styrofoam cups (styrofoam anything for that matter) are terrible for the environment. But if we truly understood their destruction many of us, including myself, would stand up and make more noise when we see it being used.  I ran across this description of styrofoam used by the Wonkette talking about the U.S. Capitol bringing styrofoam back into their cafeteria after banning it for 4 years. Sometimes it’s great to have a description that doesn’t sugar coat to stick into our minds if a business or event service needs a reminder about how bad styrofoam is. Quote from Wonkette:

“Foamed polystyrene” is a miraculous invention that manages to be completely awful through every step of its near-eternal “life cycle” — it is manufactured with petroleum that must be imported from Middle East dictatorships, toxic “styrene oligomers” migrate into the food it holds, it’s highly flammable and produces black poisonous smoke, and most of the 25 billion polystyrene cups tossed every year will take more than half a millennium to degrade.

Sometimes it takes shocking statistics to really reinforce that these products should never been used because of the environmental consequences. Let’s also not forget that polystyrene is a strong plastic that is ‘foamed’ into Styrofoam. I sometimes forget that Styrofoam is plastic because of the different texture but it’s polystyrene created from erethylene and benzine that is inject or blow molded. Do you want to pour hot liquid into this soup of plastic materials?


Traditional Halloween disposable party plates hmmmmm pick your evil a) licensed paper plates made from virgin trees and inked with toxic dye 2) Styrofoam plates that are devastating to the environment 3) plastic plates that take forever to biodegrade and often end up polluting our forests and water.  Now think about using compostable plates. Not only are they biodegradable, but also compostable as they are made from excess plant materials that otherwise would have gone to waste! The first option for plates is perfect for Halloween, not because they are scary, but fit into the theme of Fall beautifully because palm leaf plates are manufactured from fallen leaves. It is very cool to tell a child that a leaf fell from a tree, was picked up for a villager, cleaned with die, and shaped into a plate. Little children and all party guests will understand this story and love learning how palm plates are made without any disruption to the tree and because they are made without dyes, wax, finishes of any kind ~ they are compostable and a very earth friendly option with party tableware. An other option with biodegradable and compostable plates are those made from bagasse which is a fibrous pulp that is left over after processing sugar cane. A cool story as well because this material would have otherwise been turned into waste and again, no trees are used in the manufacturing of these plates. So although they are stamped ‘tree free’ along the edge, guests may assume they are a paper plate because of the color and texture. Make sure to inform party guests about the bagasse plates so they don’t assume they are made from paper. One way to catch guests attention is to personalize these party plates. I use beet juice to dye the homemade play dough I made my children.  This way I get a brightly colored play dough using vegetable dye rather than brightly colored play dough from using synthetic food coloring. Well why not stamp your bagasse plates with a rubber stamp and beet juice?  You are using a natural dye to make these plates look different that will create some buzz and questions. It’s also super fun for the kids! My niece and I tried this tonight and the results were fantastic. She also loved learning how an organic substance like beet juice should be used to stamp with because you wouldn’t want any other material like traditional ink a guest’s plate that will contain food. The texture of the bagasse plates is great for absorbing the beet juice and also makes for very strong plates.

** Tabletop accents. We’ve decided on a mixture of ways to dress-up our Halloween tabletop for this year’s party. We are painting little pumpkins and gourds from our local patch and making them into ghosts and black cats. We’ve also sprinkled some pine cones and crazy shaped gourds from the patch. Felt appliques that act as reusable confetti are also a great way to punch up a table.

This post is part of the 2011 Greening your Halloween Blog Tour brought to us by Green Planet Parties, Green Halloween, Green Gift Guide, Surf Sweets and A Little Bit of Momsense.

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Holistic Dentistry & Greener Toothbrushes

I ran across an interesting interview regarding fluoride.  Dr. Joseph Mercola is interviewing Dr. Osmunson who for the last 5 years has championed at the legislated level regarding fluoride. So many points in this interview really shocked me. If you have time, here is a link to the video interview. If not – here are the Cole’s notes (worth a look if you don’t know if your community adds fluoride to your drinking water and if you use toothpaste with fluoride):

Important to canvas your local community group to find out if fluoride is added to your drinking water. Did you know?

~we are encouraged to spit out 1/4 milligram of fluoride in toothpaste but in cities that add fluoride to their water – this amount of fluoride will be ingested by drinking one glass of water.

~ China doesn’t allow fluoride in their drinking water and so they export their industrial waste to the US where the fluoride from this is added to drinking water. Crazy so I’m going to say it again!  China is shipping their waste products to the US to add to their drinking water.

~ The US needs to import China’s industrial waste (fluoride) because they don’t manufacture enough in the US. They are using up their own supply, plus need more from other countries like China.

~ This ‘waste’ that is added to drinking water is contaminated with lead, arsenic, aluminum. ** All the things we try so hard to avoid with everyday products is added to drinking water **

Fluoride in Dental Care

~ if there is a benefit to fluoride to dental health, it no longer exists because we ingest too much of it.

~ read the warning labels on toothpaste for children ingesting fluoridated toothpaste- some include warnings that include poison control.

~ most people use more than a month’s suggested toothpaste portion on their brush for a single brush. This is also advertised by toothpaste/brush companies in their advertising campaigns when they show a brush covered with toothpaste.

~ ** I found this point SO interesting ** The National Research Council says that fluoride is not beneficial over the age of 8 because our teeth have finished forming.  So as the Doctor points out,  experts agree that fluoride should not be given under the age of 1 and is no longer needed after the age of 8. So communities that add fluoride to water, etc. so people of all ages ingest it, even it’s only supposed to target children ages 1-8?

This summary takes you to about the 8 min mark of the video. The remainder of the interview focuses on brain development and the effects on the brain that fluoride has.  They also cover naturally occurring fluoride in water compared to artificial fluoride that’s added to water – super interesting stuff!

So as I wrote about last week, I’ve purchased toothpaste without fluoride for myself and children to use. I was actually feeling quite good about the changes I’ve made with more holistic practices with our dental routines and then I noticed a brief note about possible BPA in children’s toothbrushes from Dr. Mercola’s website. BPA and toothbrushes? Something I haven’t thought about.  And once I started thinking about it I became a little angry because the toothbrushes my kids are using were handed out from my dentist. The brand is GUM so I called and emailed GUM customer service and after waiting 5 days for a response, I’m done holding my breath waiting for an answer if their toothbrushes contain BPA or the answer to what kind of plastics they use. I feel pretty confident that any of the hard plastic parts are food grade #5 plastic. But there are lots of ‘cutesy’ parts on a child’s toothbrush that is rubbery and soft so I am not confident that they pieces are phthalate or plasticizer free. That would really upset me since these parts go into my child’s mouth (!!).

Thank goodness for two of my wonderful sponsors My Little Green Shop and Nayla Natural Care for the safe options they offer in their stores. I love the bamboo toothbrush offered at My Little Green Shop – you can compost this brush at the end of it’s life. Nayla Natural Care has carried the Green Beaver toothpaste brand for a long time and went as far to take a picture of the ingredients list for me to confirm this toothpaste does contain xylitol!  I couldn’t confirm this in my last article about greener dental health so thank you Gwen! I would recommend Green Beaver as a trusted brand and will be picking up this brand next to try on kids who are still adjusting to the different tastes of all natural toothpaste.


More to come in the ‘greener dental care’ series!   So much to learn with holistic vs. traditional dental care for myself and children.


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Mommy Footprint & Chemical Free Ice Cubes

Deep breath parents!  Summer has ended and a new chapter starts if you’re a parent…back-to-school is here. I discovered a ‘must have’ item this summer, even though I’ve used this stainless steel wonder for years, it really offered me convenience with taking my kids on many full day excursions over the last few months. For this reason – it translates into a great back-to-school convenience option and it took me not having ice-cubes one morning when I went to the farm to realize how important ice cubes are for packing up lunches for my kids. Yes!!  I’m talking about stainless steel ice cube trays and before you think I’ve gone crazy, read why they are so important to my day.

First a picture:


Does it look familiar?  It might remind you of the ice-cube tray your grandma used. Remember hearing the “CRaaaakkkkk” sound when she pulled the handle? The Onyx design is a ‘new take’ on this design, manufactured using high quality 18/8 stainless steel and well made to last many years in your home!

Why would I love a stainless steel ice cube tray this much when there are plenty of light-weight trays on the market made for BPA-free plastic or silicone? I’ve read enough about BPA-free plastic leaching BPA when tested & I don’t freeze anything in plastic because of leaching concerns.  When it comes to silicone it’s my personal preference; I had a bad experience years ago with a skull & cross-bone shaped ice-cube tray that was marketed as silicone. It literally smelled like I opened a new tire when I opened the packaging and I can still remember the bitter taste of the ice-cubes. I would assume this was straight PVC & plasticizers as the ice cube tray was bendy – not the silicon material it was marketed as….but it’s completely turned me off.  Although you’ll pay a bit more for the quality, stainless steel ice cube trays offer no scent, no chemicals to make it bendy, & is easy to clean & maintain.

Okay now back to my story of realizing how much I need ice-cubes on an outing to the farm. This summer we went on lots of excursions to local farms, mountains, and all-day outings. With the heat of the day my standard routine in the morning is packing up a stainless steel water bottle for each child, loading it half way with ice-cubes, the rest tap water. This would ensure the kids still had cold water to drink many hours later (great tip for back-to-school water bottles too).  Running late to get to the farm I realized I didn’t have any ice-cubes for the morning so decided to not bring water with me – no point because it was a blazing hot day. During the course of the day I spent over $12 on bottled water the farm sold ($2 a bottle), had to worry that they’d actually be recycled, and then arrived home to read a great article by TreeHugger on drinking water bottled in plastic. I can’t find that article but here is another great article to support drinking tap water from Treehugger. And after calling my local municipality and finding out we don’t put fluoride & other nasties in our drinking water – it’s worth a read: A World of Reasons to Ditch Bottled Water.

So it was even to my surprise that something like an ice-cube tray could give me so much convenience of using plain old tap water, save me money by not buying disposable water in plastic bottles, and piece of mind that I wasn’t freezing my water with any nasties leaching from the tray. I guess when people say “it’s the simple things in life”…they really know what they’re talking about.

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Finding Food In Glass Jars

I had a great question arrive from Dan who wrote: “I am having a harder and harder time finding foods in glass jars (mayo, vinegar, ketchup, etc.). Can you help with a source?” Thanks for the awesome topic to write about Dan! It instantly reminded me of ‘The Ketchup Riddle’ Rick Smith, co-author of Slow Death By Rubber Duck, writes about. Here is the quote from Slow Death by Rubber Duck that is promoted by a late-night run to the supermarket by Rick:

I stood blinking – staring – at the ketchup selection, honestly perplexed.

~ The organic ketchup came in a plastic bottle.
~ Alymer ketchup, an old Canadian brand made from locally grown tomatoes, also came in plastic.
~ The only option in a glass bottle was the non-organic, non-local Heinz ketchup.

Rick summarized his ketchup paralysis and although I found it entertaining to read, imagine putting this much thought into every product we purchase at the grocery store or mall. It does create a type of paralysis for consumers…even eco-savvy ones. I completely agree with Rick in his summary of this situation that only government action can solve the problem of having to choose between limiting packaging containing plasticizing chemicals or pesticide use, or production of local food. Decisions like this creates huge challenges for consumers that want to make better choices, but run up against all of these questions when purchasing something supposedly easy like ketchup.

Some of you might be wondering why Dan is trying to find food that is packaged in glass. The plastic packaging that surrounds our food can contain plasticizers and other chemicals. Food packaging and chemicals like BPA and Phthalates have been very newsworthy lately. This article isn’t aimed to scare you, but we need to be aware that although chemicals like phthalates are starting to be regulated in toys, there isn’t regulation for food packaging because government and large companies don’t think the trace amounts found in packaging is enough to warrant concern. But savvy green consumers are looking for better options. We know that those squeezable plastic bottles that we purchase our condiments contain plasticizers. We know that you cannot find a tin can in your traditional grocery store that doesn’t contains an epoxy liner – containing BPA – that separates the food or liquid from the aluminum can. Lead in juice boxes, produce and meat counters that place our food on styrofoam and wrap in PVC wrap to ensure ‘freshness’ …the list goes on and on. It seems that plastic is most often the material that touches our food and for numerous reasons regularity discussed at Mommy Footprint, we are trying to avoid this – for human health improvement and for the environment. So after saying all this, the easiest way to avoid food that is packaged in plastic is to avoid heavily packaged foods. Don’t worry, this isn’t my only suggestion for Dan, but when you start shopping with a heightened awareness of packaging, little lightbulbs start going off in your heads and even better if you drop a few hints at your local grocer. They have the power to order our favorite condiments in glass jars – it might be the first time they are asked. Take a closer look at what you purchase. I love the example of cheese strings and yogurt tubes. They are a favorite snack item brought out at preschools and lunches in schools all across America. Cheese strings are sold in completely plasticized packaging…right up against the cheese! Once it’s pulled away, you can tell the outside of the cheese string has been effected…it’s rubbery. You are telling me that packaging hasn’t effected the quality of this product? Another is yogurt tubes that are again packaged in plasticized plastic, but then as a treat, many parents pop them in the freezer to serve the yogurt frozen! So we are taking another product containing plasticizers and then weakening the packaging by placing them in the freezer before given them to children to eat. Gross. And yes, I did used to buy and love the convenience of yogurt tubes, but haven’t purchased them in years because of the issue of packaging. I would hope the power of my consumerism helps to drive change even with a basic item such as yogurt.

On to better choices with food and packaging. It does seem to be hit and miss in large grocers with items like ketchup, mayo, etc. and glass containers. I’ve purchased them before but it’s not a guaranteed offering. Visiting a store like Whole Foods will open up many options to you, but here are two that I’ve found online that offer not only better options with the packaging of products they sell, but improving the quality of the food.

Tropical Traditions
Leading the way with their vast line of coconut oil (my new favorite product) this company has a big commitment to understanding how the products they carry are produced and manufactured. I found many organic vinegars, oils, etc. on this site and many are packaged in glass. I thought the products listed under Organic Food category might be helpful for the everyday consumer. This site’s knowledge of coconut oil benefits is amazing and I recently started following their Fan page on Facebook. Lots of great information there!

Eden Organic
We’ve talked about Eden Organic before, we love their commitment to packaging their beans in tin cans, without using BPA in the can lining. The food, not surprising, is sourced with supporting organic farmers and providing consumers options that are wheat-free, gluten-free, low in sodium, etc. Funny the parallel in healthy food and better packaging options?! Going through the Eden site, I found juices, sauces, butter, oils, vinegars, tomato products that are packaged in amber glass rather than plastic.

We do seem to have options. They are not endless like the contemporary brands found at traditional grocery stores. Voice your concerns regarding packaging and your food. We are continually talking about making better choices with the food we buy: local, organic, GMO-free, etc. Let’s think about how those products are stored and packaged because trace amounts of chemicals leaching into my food is something I’m concerned about. Stop purchasing food that is packaged in soft plastic and cans and tell your grocery manager why you’ve made this decision. You’ve left the decision in their hands where you’ve decided to spend your money – hopefully these decisions will help inspire change.

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