The dental profession has been using fillings containing mercury, commonly called silver fillings by most dentists, since the 1830’s! Yes, these fillings were in general use well before the civil war. Dentists also call these fillings ‘amalgams’ or ‘amalgam fillings’ referring to the fact that any mixture of mercury with other metals is called an ‘amalgam’. The term ‘amalgam’ comes from chemistry, not from dentistry.
Amalgam fillings are made of a mixture of the metals mercury, silver, tin, zinc, and sometimes copper. Mercury is a heavy metal, like lead. Both are very poisonous. There is always more mercury metal in the dental filling mixture, than any of the other metals. In fact, these dental fillings always consist of at least half mercury. The mercury is always present as the free elemental metal. It is never combined with any of the other metals in a chemical union that could theoretically render the mercury non-toxic. Thus, the mercury metal is always able to evaporate off the filling surfaces as toxic mercury vapor.
Toxic mercury vapor escapes from the elemental mercury metal at any temperature above 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The only time that mercury metal is not toxic is when it is ten degrees Fahrenheit or colder. This never happens to mercury in your mouth, because mouth temperature is far higher at about 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Drinking hot coffee or tea, or eating hot soup raises the temperature of your fillings even more. This increases the amount of mercury vapor released into your mouth. So mercury in your ‘amalgam’ fillings is always evaporating and escaping from the fillings in your mouth.
What makes dental amalgam a poison?
The symptoms of acute exposure to mercury vapor have been known for centuries. The well known expression, “mad as a hatter” refers to the personality and physical changes that occurred to English hatters in the early part of the nineteenth century, when they became demented with mercury. They used mercury compounds to process felt used in top hats. They handled and steamed the mercury tainted felt.
As a consequence of this occupational exposure to mercury, they developed physical symptoms of trembling, known at the time as hatter’s shakes, loosening of their teeth, loss of co-ordination, and slurred speech. They also exhibited mental characteristics of irritability, loss of memory, depression, anxiety, and other personality changes. What a nasty comment in manufacturing history!
Mercury vapor is odorless and colorless. This means it cannot be seen or smelled. We cannot detect where it is, or how much is in the air. Mercury vapor is the most poisonous non radioactive substance on earth; only radioactive elements are more toxic. Mercury vapor is toxic or poisonous in any amount, no matter how small this amount is. It is a cumulative poison. All this has been proven scientifically. This makes mercury vapor extremely dangerous. It is the highly toxic mercury vapor escaping from the amalgam fillings that makes amalgam a poison.
A page on the official website of the Columbia University School of Dental Medicine, surprisingly agrees with this. David A. Albert, D.D.S., M.P.H., the author of a faculty reviewed page titled “The Amalgam Controversy”, and an associate professor at the dental school, says in part:
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its website on June 3, 2008, to say that dental amalgam may have toxic effects on the nervous systems of developing fetuses and children.”
“As its name implies, dental amalgam is an amalgamation (mixture) of several metals. They include silver, mercury and copper. The controversy with dental amalgam safety applies to the use of mercury. Mercury is a known toxin to nerve tissue, particularly in the developing brains of children.”
So what happens to the mercury vapor in your mouth?
About 80 percent of the mercury vapor is absorbed through the skin, or mucosa, lining your jaws, cheeks and gums. It gets into the bloodstream and some of it is transported to your brain. Mercury vapor is also absorbed through the mucosa of your nose and is then able to go directly to your brain via the olfactory cranial nerve, the nerve that enables us to smell. The rest is deposited in any other organ tissue which contains fat. This includes the fatty, lipid lining of all your nerves.
Mercury is essentially dispersed throughout your entire body. Most of the mercury comes from dental amalgam fillings. This has been scientifically proven beyond any doubt. A much lesser amount comes from fish. Regardless of the source, or the chemical combination containing mercury, mercury is extraordinarily toxic.
How do you measure the level of mercury in your body?
There are a number of ways to measure the level of mercury in your body. Currently, the safest and most accurate way to determine the severity of mercury toxicity is by means of a urinary porphyrin profile lab test. Porphyrins are proteins, and mercury interferes with enzymes used in protein porphyrin metabolism, causing abnormally high amounts of various porphyrins to build up in the urine. The test determines the degree of mercury toxicity by evaluating the elevated levels and distinctive profile of the excessive porphyrins excreted in the urine. All that is required is a small urine sample and a physician to prescribe the test who also knows about and understands mercury poisoning.
Why is mercury a poison?
We all have lots of sulfur containing proteins in our bodies. These proteins with sulfur are part of virtually all enzymes. Enzymes make our bodies function. Enzymes fit onto special sites on biologically active substances, and help make a metabolic reaction essential to life occur. Then they detach and repeat the process. Enzymes are extremely energy efficient.
Mercury is incredibly toxic because it stops enzymes from working. Mercury attaches very easily to the element sulfur. This is because the electrical charge on the outside of a mercury atom is readily attracted to the outside charge of a sulfur atom. When mercury attaches to the sulfur in an enzyme, it causes the enzyme to fold up and change its shape. Your body thinks the enzyme is still able to do its work. But, the attached mercury prevents this from happening, because the enzyme no longer fits into the biologically active place on the substance where it is needed to facilitate a metabolic reaction. So the enzyme is no longer biologically active.
Your immune system requires lots of enzymes to function efficiently. A strong immune system prevents you from easily becoming sick. You become ill or die when enough enzymes malfunction. The mercury in dental amalgam poisons you by inactivating enzymes, thus weakening your immune system and preventing it from adequately protecting you.
Your body, in its innate healing wisdom, will usually store a cumulative poison in the tissue where it does the least harm. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make the poison harmless. Because mercury likes fat, it gets deposited into the fatty lining of nerves cells, where it instantly destroys the lining. Mercury does this by preventing the enzymes from functioning that keep the individual cells of the fatty lining together, and the lining literally falls apart. Nerve cells can’t function without an intact lining. This is another way dental amalgam poisoning occurs. The mercury in dental amalgam poisons you by functioning as a powerful neurologic toxin.
The reproductive system of a woman is extraordinarily active, with lots of functioning enzymes. The same is true for all the organ systems of a fetus growing in the womb and for children of all ages. So here is a yet another way dental amalgam poisoning occurs because mercury stops enzymes from working. The mercury quickly poisons a woman’s reproductive capability. And it is a deadly poison for children.
Dr. Albert, on the same website page of the Columbia University School of Dental Medicine previously cited, obviously agrees, when he says:
“If mercury is known to be dangerous to humans, why do we use it in dental fillings? Why do so many of us have it in our mouths? If you have dental amalgam fillings, should you have them removed and replaced with alternative materials?”
“As a consumer, what choice should you make? The answer, in my opinion, is to use caution. For example:
- If you are pregnant, do not have amalgam fillings placed or removed, since removal releases mercury.
- If your child needs a filling, consider alternative materials. Discuss the options with your dentist.
- If you have an allergy to mercury or impaired kidney function, ask your dentist to avoid using amalgam fillings.”
If you are a woman who is pregnant, or intends to have children, please talk to a holistic doctor about the best timing for mercury detoxification and removing any mercury dental fillings. You can find holistic doctors by going to the websites of the International College of Integrative Medicine (ICIM) or the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM).
The symptoms of amalgam poisoning
Mercury is a very complex poison and an equally complex metal. Many people throughout the world have been unnecessarily exposed to it, and thus poisoned by it. Mercury doesn’t cause disease. It poisons people who accumulate it in their body. Because mercury indiscriminately poisons enzymes, the symptoms of mercury poisoning can mimic almost any disease known.
The mercury in amalgam fillings is released in relatively small concentrations over a long period of time. This is called chronic micro-mercurialism, in contrast to the more acute exposures that humans were exposed to before dental amalgam was invented more than a century and a half ago. We can thank the dental profession for this relatively new way to be poisoned by mercury. The result is that the scientific understanding of just what happens to people who are exposed to small amounts of mercury for a good part of their lives, is still incomplete. Trying to connect mercury toxicity with symptoms that may occur years later is scientifically elusive.
Some people, because of their genetic makeup, have more sulfur containing enzymes than others. They are the luckier ones because they can spare some of the extra enzymes with sulfur that are inactivated by mercury. These people appear to be almost immune to the effects of mercury. The more sulfur atoms we have in our body, the more poisonous mercury we can tolerate before enough enzymes are affected to cause us to become clinically sick. The fewer sulfur atoms we have, the more susceptible we are to mercury. Given enough time, everyone chronically exposed to mercury will develop symptoms.
Generally speaking, the symptoms of amalgam poisoning mirror the toxic affects of mercury on human organ systems. Since mercury is primarily a reproductive, neurologic, and enzymatic poison, we would expect women to experience difficulties with pregnancies, both men and women to succumb to disorders that are associated with brain and nerve dysfunction, and virtually all so called “chronic” diseases to be on the increase. Historically, that is exactly what has been happening.
There is considerable body of scientific evidence that many neurologic diseases with unexplained causes are actually a form of chronic mercury poisoning. The problem is that neither the medical nor the dental professions, nor government regulatory agencies have been looking at mercury as a significant contributing factor. Heavy metal poisoning with mercury is as invisible now as lead, and asbestos were a few years ago. To complicate matters, mercury is never the only toxin found in humans. Many of the symptoms of mercury poisoning are partly the result of interactions of mercury with other toxins. Often this makes the poisonous affects of mercury much worse.
To sum it all up, mercury plays havoc with all organ systems essential to life and survival. Mercury destroys brain tissue. Mercury inhibits kidney function. Mercury damages your cardiovascular system. Mercury interferes with pregnancy. Mercury impairs your entire immune system. So do you think amalgams are safe, after reading this?
For a comprehensive discussion of the scientific studies and evidence linking amalgam fillings with mercury poisoning, please go to the websites of Dental Amalgam Mercury Solutions (DAMS) and the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT).
Following are some of the diseases, disorders, and mercury or amalgam poisoning symptoms listed on these websites:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Learning disabilities
- Development of antibiotic resistance
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Chronic Fatigue syndrome
- Irregular heartbeat and tachycardia
- Memory loss
- Oral Lichen Planus
- Allergies and auto immune reactions
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Depression and mood disorders
- Periodontal (gum) Disease
- Endocrine/Hormonal dysfunction
- Dry eyes and other eye conditions
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Migraine headaches
- Birth defects
What can you do about the mercury in your fillings?
Amalgam chelation and detoxification are the primary medical treatments for mercury intoxication when amalgam fillings are in your mouth. Removing the mercury body burden from your body is strictly a medical treatment if drugs or medicines or specialized nutraceuticals are used by a physician. A holistic physician is most likely to know how to help you.
The American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) and the International College of Integrative Medicine (ICIM) are professional organizations that support holistic physicians. Both organizations have links on their respective home pages to help you find a holistic physician, especially if you do not already use a physician who is trained in the removal of heavy metals.
The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) is a professional organization that supports dentists, physicians, scientists and other health care professionals who want scientific support for their holistic, biocompatible approach to health care, especially as it concerns oral health. The IAOMT has a “Find a Dentist” search feature on the home page.
Please understand that only a physician can legally treat you for mercury poisoning. A dentist cannot do this. However, only a dentist can remove your fillings, which are the primary source of your mercury exposure, so you need both a physician and a dentist who are well trained on all aspects of mercury used in dentistry. Removing and replacing the mercury fillings in your teeth is best accomplished by a SMART qualified or accredited dentist who is a member of the IAOMT.
Currently, many dental boards do not permit dentists to start a discussion of mercury in dental fillings. If you want your fillings replaced, you must be the one to ask and discuss this with your dentist. Ask the dentist how he or she will protect you from mercury vapors when the fillings are being removed. The IAOMT has an excellent protocol on their website for doing this correctly.
The Holistic Dental Association (HDA) can also be used to search on the home page for a holistic member dentist.
You may need a combination of medical, dental, and nutritional support, especially if you suspect you are mercury poisoned. If you have silver amalgam fillings in your mouth, contact Dr. Gilbert for his free nutritional consultation. Dr. Gilbert will design a customized program of nutritional support to help you cope with the toxic stress from the harmful fillings in your mouth. All you have to do is fill out the simple Nutritional Consultation Form to arrange for a free consultation.
What safer dental materials can be used in place of mercury amalgam fillings?
There are a number of different filling materials that dentists can use to replace your mercury amalgam fillings. If your goal is to avoid metals, please be aware that all dental materials, including porcelain, ceramics, and composite plastics contain metal. There is no such thing as a completely metal free dental material. Fortunately, any negative biological effect of the metal (highly bound aluminum) in porcelain, ceramics, and composite plastics is either non existent, or so minimal as to be undetectable.
Listed below are alternative filling materials in order of safety.
- Porcelain or other ceramics. Porcelain and ceramics are the safest and very durable. They are also very natural looking. However, they can only be used in the form of a more expensive inlay. An inlay is functionally the same as a filling. If you can afford porcelain or other ceramics, they are an excellent choice.
- Composite plastic. Composite plastic can be used in the form of a less expensive filling, or as a more expensive, more durable inlay. Composite is an excellent middle ground choice, because it is part plastic and part ceramic and/or porcelain. It is also very natural looking. Of the three materials listed, it is the only one that must be bonded onto a tooth.
- Gold. Gold is extremely long lasting. However, its safety is questionable, depending on which other metals are mixed in with the gold alloy that your dentist prefers using. Like porcelain, gold is used as an inlay to replace a mercury amalgam filling. Expect the cost to be similar to porcelain.
Some biological dentists offer a biocompatibility test to determine which filling materials are safe for you. One such test is the Clifford Materials Reactivity Test. You can find a description of Clifford Materials Reactivity Testing on the Resources and Referrals page of this website. If you want gold to replace your mercury amalgam fillings, always use a dental materials test to determine which gold alloy(s) are suitable for you. This test can also help you avoid dental materials that are not suitable for you.
Your dentist, especially if he or she is traditional, may describe a porcelain or composite dental material by its brand name or manufacturing process, to give it a distinctive value. If gold is being offered, it will usually be described simply as “gold”, regardless of how much or how little gold is actually in the gold metal being used. If this surprises you, keep in mind that the dental profession has, been calling your mercury fillings “silver fillings”, even though they contain much more mercury than silver – a deception that has been going on for almost two hundred years. Apparently, the dental profession is just as guilty of misleading marketing practices as commercial and manufacturing businesses.
So, don’t be afraid to ask your dentist what is going into the part of your body called your teeth. Please discuss this thoroughly with your dentist before proceeding to remove and replace your fillings. You may be surprised by what you find out.
How will nutritional support help me?
If a poorly functioning immune system is unable to adequately cope with toxins, doesn’t it make sense that a vibrant and healthy immune system will behave the opposite way, enabling you to better deal with the health robbing effects of harmful metals in your mouth?
Here is the solution for strengthening your immune system to make it vibrantly healthy:
Consume the right kinds of foods and drinks when you can.
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid toxins as much as possible.
- Include nutrient rich all natural and organic whole food supplements in your diet.