Having all my fillings removed changed my life.

Wife blames 40 years' depression on the mercury in her teeth.

Daily Mail Nov 22, 2004

FOR almost 40 years, Mary Stephenson suffered crippling depression.

She saw dozens of counsellors and tried every anti-depressant on the market, but nothing would stem her suicidal feelings.

Finally, when she was at the end of her tether, a friend suggested the cause might be mercury in her fillings.

So the 59-year-old grandmother took the painful step of having all 19 amalgam fillings replaced with plastic ones.

The result has been an extraordinary recovery. 'Having my fillings out has completely changed my life,' she said yesterday. 'I feel like a new person.'

Mrs Stephenson, who lives with her husband John, 67, in Lymington, Hampshire, found a dentist in Poole, Dorset, who would do the procedure.

The surgery was carried out by John Aherne of Moonfleet Dental Practice. Mrs Stephenson also underwent a mercury detox programme to flush the poison from her system. The procedure, which began in January, took several months and cost almost 2,000.

Silver fillings are made from an amalgam of 52 per cent mercury and 48 per cent silver, copper and zinc.

There has been much debate over whether mercury - a highly toxic metal is safe to use. Research has shown it may leak into the bodily system. Some scientists believe it may be linked to illnesses such as chronic fatigue, depression, multiple sclerosis, kidney disease and Alzheimer's.

The Government insists the quantities used in dental fillings are too small to cause toxicity, even though mercury-based fillings are banned in Sweden and Austria.

Mary Ahearne, who runs Moonfleet Dental Practice, said: 'The problem with mercury is that it is a neurotoxin. There is a difference in opinion on whether it is safe or not but we will not use it.

'We think the potential is there for mercury poisoning which would cause mental health problems.'

Mrs Stephenson, a grandmother, first began to suffer from depression after having a number of teeth filled at the age of 21.

'Before I had them I was OK and didn't suffer from depression at all. When I first became unhappy, I thought it was to do with my circumstances --I had just moved to a new area and didn't know people.'

However, as the months went by she began to feel worse, dreading the day ahead and struggling to have conversations with the people around her.

After diagnosing her with depression, doctors tried everything to treat it, without success.

She was even admitted to hospital, but has now been released after finally recovering.

She said: 'Every morning when I woke I thought, "Oh no, another day, how am I going to get through this?" Now I can't wait to jump out of bed in the morning to get on with life.

'It's an incredible difference and the only change is I've had my fillings out.'

But Jo Tanner, of the British Dental Association, said: 'Hundreds of thousands of amalgam fillings are carried out every year without any side effects and the Department of Health constantly has toxicology experts reviewing their safety.

'Amalgam fillings are some of the hardest-wearing available and in terms of longevity and cost-effectiveness they are the best.'