Hal Huggins is an American critic of conventional dentistry, most notably dental amalgam fillings, who has been called "the world's most controversial dentist". During the 1980s, Huggins spearheaded revival of the dental amalgam controversy, and by 1990 had attained prominence. In 1996, Huggins was found guilty of deceptive advertising, practicing beyond dentistry's scope, and gross negligence at his treatment facility, however, and his license was revoked. He has continued to publish and lecture on the claimed health damages, including autoimmune diseases, that Huggins attributes to conventional dentistry.
Education and career
Huggins received the degree doctor of dental surgery (DDS) from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1962. In 1973, he became involved in research on mercury toxicity and its health consequences. Huggins earned the degree master of science (MS), with special emphasis in toxicology and immunology, from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in 1989.
In 1983, Huggins began full-time practice diagnosing and planning treatment for mercury toxicity, and in Colorado Springs, Colorado, opened the Huggins Diagnostic Center. At the Huggins center, which staffed some 50 employees, patients paid $6,000 before dental costs, up to $8,500 each, for a two- to three-week treatment course including removal of all amalgam fillings. Huggins claimed that the center's profits funded research and free care.
In December 1990, the CBS News television news magazine 60 Minutes aired a segment from Huggins's perspective on the health perils of mercury released from dental amalgam. Former Enron chairman Kenneth Lay received treatment, including removal of dental amalgam, by Huggins in 1991, and noted resolution of an "unexplained numbness". Amid Colorado state's litigation against Huggins, the Huggins Center closed in September 1995.
Within unconventional healthcare, Huggins remains internationally influential, and a "Huggins protocol" remains in use by many "biological dentists". Huggins has personally treated over 5,000 patients, lectured in 46 American states and 14 countries, and given over 1,000 radio or television interviews.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Huggins a series of warnings alleging violations of good manufacturing practices and marketing of unapproved medical devices. In the mid-1980s, the FDA claimed that Huggins's "Amalgameter" to detect "positively or negative charged dental fillings" was but a battery-powered ammeter, promoted with scientifically unsubstantiated claims about dental fillings. In 1989, the FDA reported that Huggins had ceased manufacturing the device, but that "many could be around to dupe unsuspecting dental patients for a long, long time."
In 1995, Colorado state's attorney general, representing the state's Board of Dental Examiners, charged Huggins with five violations of the Dental Practice Act. On 29 February 1996, administrative law judge Nancy Connick, who adjudicated the case, recommended that his dental license be revoked. Connick concluded that Huggins had used "deceptive yet seductive advertising" to convince patients that their chronic illnesses were due to mercury toxicity. Connick concluded that Huggins diagnosed mercury toxicity in all patients, even without amalgam fillings, and extracted all teeth that had had root canal therapy, whereby Connick declared that Huggins's interventions were "a sham, illusory and without scientific basis". In May 1996, the Colorado State Board of Dental Examiners reviewed and accepted Connick's ruling, and revoked the license of Huggins, who did not appeal Connick's ruling. Huggins has indicated the revocation was politically retaliatory, as he had not personally practiced dentistry since 1984.
Research and positions
Huggins has claimed that amalgam can cause gastrointestinal problems such as Crohn's disease and ulcers, mood disorders such as depression and fatigue, autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, scleroderma and lupus, high or low blood pressure, arthritis, tachycardia, mononucleosis, and cancers such as leukemia and Hodgkin's disease. Huggins claims that root canal therapy and conventional tooth extractions result in focal infections, including jawbone cavitations, that promote a variety of maladies, and has claimed that dental implants can cause autoimmune disease.
Huggins has claimed that his protocol has permitted some wheelchair-bound patients with multiple sclerosis to walk unassisted within weeks of his intervention. In 1998, Huggins and a colleague reported that cerebrospinal-fluid changes typical for multiple sclerosis remitted after the removal of amalgam fillings and root canals. Assisted by the Toxic Element Research Foundation,  Huggins set up the First International Conference on Biocompatibility of Materials in 2004, where participants unanimously signed a statement urging that amalgam fillings be banned immediately.
Jawbone cavitations, as sites of focal infections anchoring distal maladies, are recognized in unconventional healthcare, such as osteopathy, naturopathy, and biological dentistry, but deemed nonexistent in orthodox dentistry. Although the International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine, founded in 1985 as the American Academy of Biological Dentistry, supports Huggins's conclusions, and the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology regards dental mercury as a health threat, the American Dental Association has maintained since its 1859 formation that implanted dental amalgam is safe. Quackwatch's Stephen Barrett regards Huggin's claimed treatment successes as impossible.
In 1991, the United States National Institutes of Health's National Institute for Dental Research along with the Food and Drug Administration concluded that there is no basis for the claims that dental amalgam is a significant health hazard. A 2001 review published in the Journal of the American Dental Association indicated that Huggins "has attracted many followers, and his writings and media appearances have led some dentists to question the safety of amalgam restorations," but that "the evidence supporting the safety of amalgam restorations is compelling." Later reviews have affirmed that implanted dental amalgam leads to mercury accumulation in proteins of tissues such as brain and glands, often reaching mercury levels neurotoxic and immunotoxic in vitro, yet despite some inference of systemic toxic effects, confirmation of systemic dysfunction or contribution to human diseases is lacking, and the predominant conclusion remains that dental amalgam is safe and useful.
- Huggins, Hal A (2002). Solving the MS Mystery: Help, Hope and Recovery. Matrix, Inc. p. 161. ISBN 0-9724611-1-6.
- Huggins, Hal A, Levy Thomas (1999). Uninformed Consent: The Hidden Dangers in Dental Care. Hampton Roads Publishing Company. p. 278. ISBN 1-57174-117-8.
- Huggins, Hal A (1993). It's All in Your Head: The Link Between Mercury Amalgams and Illness. Avery Publishing. p. 208. ISBN 0-89529-550-4.
- Huggins, Hal A (1993). Who Makes Your Hormones Hum?. Avery Publishing. ISBN 0-89529-550-4.
- Dental Amalgam and Mercury in Dentistry Report of an NHMRC working party, Australian National Health and Medical Research Council March 1999
- Website, Huggins Applied Healing, Accessed online: 14 Sep 2013.
- Dodes JE (March 2001). "The amalgam controversy. An evidence-based analysis". J Am Dent Assoc 132 (3): 348–56. PMID 11258092.
- Jaroff, Leon (2002-05-08). "There's nothing dangerous about 'silver' fillings". Time. Retrieved 2008-11-26.
- Staudenmayer, Herman (1998). Environmental Illness: Myth and Reality. CRC Press. pp. 245–49. ISBN 978-1-56670-305-5.
- Radford, Bill (2003-02-23). "Anti-amalgam pioneer no stranger to controversy". The Gazette (Colorado Springs).
- Huggins Hal A, Levy Thomas (1999). Uninformed Consent: The Hidden Dangers in Dental Care. Hampton Roads Pub Co. p. 278. ISBN 1-57174-117-8.
- Huggins HA (2007). "Medical implications of dental mercury: A review". Explore (NY) 3 (2): 110–7. doi:10.1016/j.explore.2006.12.008. PMID 17362846.
- Huggins HA, It's All in Your Head: The Link Between Mercury Amalgams and Illness (New York: Penguin Group, 1993), back over.
- Christine Gorman & Richard Woodbury (1995-12-11). "Are your teeth toxic?". Time. Retrieved 2008-11-26.
- Huggins, Hal A (1993). Who Makes Your Hormones Hum?. Avery Publishing. ISBN 0-89529-550-4.
- Encyclopedia.com, "Does the mercury used in dental fillings pose a significant threat to human health", Premium Reference Library: Science in Dispute, Jan 2003
- Stephen J Barrett, Chemical Sensitivity: The Truth about Environmental Illness (Amherst NY: Prometheus Books, 1998), pp 103–04.
- "Poison in your mouth", 60 Minutes, CBS News, 23 Dec 1990.
- Hal A Huggins, Protocol for Amalgam Removal and Dental Revision (H A Huggins, 1997).
- "Dentist's Device (Amalgameter)". FDA Consumer 23 (8): 33–34. 1989. Retrieved 2008-11-26.
- Callahan, Patricia (1996-03-05). "Judge urges license revocation of dentist who claims mercury fillings are harmful". Denver Post. p. B-04.
- Huggins HA, Solving the MS mystery (Colorado Springs CO: Dragon Slayer Publications, 2002), p 102.
- Huggins Hal A. (2002). Solving the MS Mystery: Help, Hope and Recovery. Matrix, Inc. p. 405. ISBN 0-9724611-1-6.
- Hal A Huggins & Thomas E Levy, Uninformed Consent: The Hidden Dangers in Dental Care (Charlottesville VA: Hampton Roads Publishing Co Inc, 1999), ch 12 "The cavitation" & ch 13 "Focal infection", ISBN: 1-57174-117-8.
- Huggins et al (2004). Mercury and other toxic metals in humans: Proceedings of the First International Conference on Biocompatibility of Materials. Matrix, Inc. p. 150.
- Huggins HA; Levy TE (1998). "Cerebrospinal fluid protein changes in multiple sclerosis after dental amalgam removal". Alternative Medicine Review 3 (4): 295–300. PMID 9727079.
- Leon Chaitow, Cranial Manipulation: Theory and Practice, 2nd edn (Edinburgh, London, New York, elsewhere: Elsevier, 2005), p 348–49.
- Richard Leviton, The Healthy Living Space: 70 Practical Ways to Detoxify the Body and Home (Charlottesville VA: Hampton Roads Publishing Co Inc, 2001).
- Ellen Hodgson Brown, Healing Joint Pain Naturally: Safe and Effective Ways to Treat Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and Other Joint Diseases (New York: Broadway Books, 2001).
- Shirley MacLaine, Sage-ing While Age-ing (New York: Atria Books, 2007).
- "IAOMT history & mission", International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology, Accessed online: 15 Sep 2013.
- Stay F, "The facts about mercury fillings", Total Health, 2011
- Rathore M, Singh A & Pant VA, "The dental amalgam toxicity fear: A myth or actuality", Toxicol Int, 2012 May;19(2):81–8.
- Mutter J, "Is dental amalgam safe for humans? The opinion of the scientific committee of the European Commission", J Occup Med Toxicol, 2011 Jan 13;6(1):2
- El-Bakary AA, ch 21 "Oral fluids and teeth in toxicology", in Rai B & Kaur J, eds, Evidence-Based Forensic Dentistry (Heidelberg, New York, Dordrecht, London: Springer, 2013), pp 189–90, 195.
- Uçar Y & Brantley WA, "Biocompatibility of dental amalgams", Int J Dent, 2011;2011:981595.