Mercury Toxicity

The fillings referred to as “silver” are actually a mixture of silver, tin, copper, and mercury, and are more properly called amalgam fillings. The silver, tin, and copper are provided in a powder form by various manufacturers, with silver being the major constituent (40 to 70 percent), and tin and copper constituting 4 to 33 percent each, depending on the manufacturer. This powder is then mixed rapidly with mercury in a special machine, usually by the dental assistant, yielding a liquid that is from 50 to 60 percent mercury. The filling material is then placed in the tooth and smoothed with various dental tools.


Mercury (Hg), sometimes known as quicksilver, is named for the speedy Roman god who served as messenger for the other gods. The silver-white chemical is the only common metal that is a liquid at room temperature. It is used in thermometers, barometers, and some batteries, as well as in dental amalgams.

Since the 1970s, there has been controversy in the dental profession regarding the safety of mercury as a filling material. Some dentists contend that no matter what the amount used in dental fillings, the mercury is toxic. At the same time, the American Dental Association (ADA) asserts that only a small percentage of individuals exhibit allergies to mercury, and that once mercury is mixed and hardened as a filling material, the percentage of individuals who are sensitive to it becomes even smaller.

While the ADA has maintained that mercury in amalgam is stable, various researchers have demonstrated that it is not. In 1970, dentist Wallace Johnson and others published the results of their research in Journal of the American Dental Association. The report indicated that “mercury, an essential element of dental amalgams, is not a stable material but one that vaporizes at ordinary temperatures.” In 1985, the Journal of Dental Research published a report by dentists Murry Vimy and F.L. Lorscheider, who also claimed that mercury vapor is released from amalgam fillings. These researchers further stated that the vapor is then distributed throughout the body via the respiratory system, but accumulates mostly in the brain, kidneys, and gastrointestinal tract. Some of the symptoms associated with mercury toxicity include a metallic taste in the mouth, severe headaches, dizziness, fatigue, weakness, depression, hair loss, memory loss, coma, and death. Furthermore, a natural balance of microorganisms in the body is upset by excess mercury in the gastrointestinal tract, and this imbalance may lead to candida.

In addition, the previously mentioned researchers have reported that when the metal comes in contact with saliva, there is a “battery effect” in which currents are generated, causing mercury molecules from the surface of the fillings to be released into the tissues.

Another negative report was published in the Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry in 1983. David Eggleston, a dentist in private practice and a researcher and professor at the University of Southern California School of Dentistry, indicated that when amalgam and nickel-based fillings are present, there is a reduction in the T-lymphocytes of the immune system. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that are the core of the body’s immune system. Lymphocytes that circulate through the thymus gland are called T-lymphocytes (thymocytes). They recognize foreign invaders in the body and form antibodies against them. Eggleston concluded that the introduction of mercury into the body might weaken the immune system by reducing the number of T-lymphocytes.

People are exposed to mercury not just through dental fillings, but also through certain foods, the air, pesticides, and sewage. However, fillings may be the largest single source of exposure to mercury. It is interesting to note that in Sweden, mercury amalgam fillings are banned.

If you presently have mercury fillings in your mouth, there is no need to panic and remove them. However, a few factors should be considered. As your amalgam fillings become old and require replacement, if you have no allergies to gold and cost is not a factor, gold is the best filling material. It is compatible with body tissues and can last up to twenty-five or thirty years. If the old fillings are too large and your dentist recommends a crown, one made of gold or porcelain with gold are equally acceptable. If cost is a factor, and you have no medical problems that can be traced to mercury sensitivity, then amalgam fillings may not be a negative health factor for you, and you can continue to have such fillings.

Conventional Treatment

The ADA has set strict codes, which indicate that amalgam fillings may be replaced by composite or porcelain if the patient requests it for aesthetic reasons. However, there is a harsh penalty for the dentist who recommends removing fillings because of mercury toxicity.

Your dentist or medical doctor may order hair analysis if you suspect a problem. Although hair analysis indicates the presence of mercury levels in the body, it is not able to ascertain the actual source of the mercury contamination. Vapor analyzing machines such as the Jerome analyzer used by the National Air and Space Administration (NASA) can measure mercury vapor from fillings; however, such machines are not readily available.

Blood and urine are not reliable indicators of mercury toxicity, since mercury accumulates in tissues. However, dentist Hal Huggins, author of It’s All in Your Head, recommends a blood serum profile. He has found that when the body is affected by high levels of toxic mercury, the blood serum profile will indicate high glucose, low cholesterol, and slightly elevated globulin levels. He has also found that mercury interferes with the production of coenzyme A, which is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin. Huggins also recommends a urinary mercury excretion test. He maintains that porphyrins, chemicals manufactured by the body for the transporting of energy, are excreted in excessive amounts in the presence of high mercury levels. Some dentists use an electrical meter called an ammeter, which charts the positive and negative currents being generated from fillings. It is assumed that high negative currents (more than 4 microamps of current) may contain mercury molecules.

Nutritional Supplements

Supplement Directions for Use Comments

Beta-carotene Take 15,000 IU daily. Works as a scavenger of free radicals.

Garlic Take two 250-mg tablets 3 times a day. Helps strengthen the immune system.

Selenium Take 200 mcg daily. Helps detoxify heavy metals in the body.

Vitamin A Take 25,000 IU daily. As an antioxidant, protects cells from free radicals.

Vitamin b complex Take 100 mg daily. Helps to improve function of the central nervous system.

Vitamin C Take 2000 mg daily beginning one week before removal of amalgam fillings. Works as a scavenger to help remove toxic metals from tissues in the body.

Vitamin E Take 400 IU daily. Detoxifies the system and augments the action of selenium.

From The Complete Book of Dental Remedies by Flora Parsa Stay, DDS, ©1996. Published by Avery Publishing, New York. For personal use only; neither the digital nor printed copy may be copied or sold. Reproduced by permission.

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Written by Flora Parsa Stay DDS

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