Legendary Dental Pioneer Passes Away
By John O’Melveny Woods
It has been said that a person must be judged by the works he accomplished while he was alive. If this is the bar to measure against, then Dr. Hal Huggins was a giant among men. And, if self-sacrifice for a cause is thrown in for good measure, then he had no equal in his field.
Dr. Huggins dedicated the latter part of his life to a cause he had no inkling existed when he attended Dental school at the University of Nebraska and practiced dentistry in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was the golden boy of the America Dental Association or ADA, the trade association that represents dentists, giving presentations throughout the country and teaching about blood chemistries, which he held a post doctorate degree in from the University of Colorado.
Then, one day, he ran into Olympio Pinto, an M.D. from South America, and his world changed. After Dr. Huggins gave a talk at a convention for the ADA, Olympio pulled him aside and shared with him his findings that the mercury in Amalgam fillings leaked out and caused diseases in patients he had in Brazil.
“Impossible,” Dr Huggins countered. ”If they were dangerous, then the ADA would not allow them to be used at all.” He dismissed the idea, but invited Pinto to show him his findings that evening in his hotel room to review the evidence.
That day changed Dr. Huggins’ life forever.
It turned out that dental amalgam fillings, which contain 50% mercury, did leak. Sadly, the toxicity of mercury is very well known and documented - it is the most deadly non-radioactive metal on earth. And dentists were routinely planting, in our mouths, without warning or informing us, hundreds of millions of them every year. The scope of it horrified Dr. Huggins. He wanted to do something about it.
He approached some top officials he knew in the ADA and presented his findings, which he was sure they would welcome and start alerting dentists and warning patients.
He was wrong.
The ADA had no intention of even considering that amalgams were dangerous. And for a simple selfish reason. Liability. They promptly disinvited him from any further ADA talks, and started a thirty-year campaign to methodically attack, discredit and ultimately destroy him.
They were wrong too.......................