Dental amalgams were first used in France in 1826. They are made of a mixture of elemental mercury
(50%) and other metals such as tin, copper silver and zinc. Mercury, the main ingredient is extremely toxic to the human body. In fact
it is one of the most toxic non radio active substances known to man. No one would accept fillings made of 1% lead or arsenic,
but for some reason we allow an even more toxic material, mercury to be placed in our mouths. Even in the early days, its dangers were well known.
The American Society of Dental Surgeons, the only US dental association at the time, forced all of its members to sign a
pledge to abstain from using the mercury fillings. It was actually considered medical malpractice to use it. Safer alternatives
such as gold leaf, whilst more expensive were available. However later when the American Dental Association was formed they didn't
apose it's use, in fact they promoted it, as a safe and effective treatment.
If any of the material on this page makes you consider wanting to remove your amalgam fillings, you should seek a dentist that specialises in the safe removal of amalgam. Simply allowing your local dentist to drill out your fillings will expose you to enormous amounts of mercury, that could potentially have devastating consequences to your health. The IAOMT has a protocol for the safe removal of amalgam, which you can read here.
Mercury Escapes From Amalgam
The ADA claimed until 1984 that mercury was not released from amalgam dental fillings. However numerous studies for over a 100 years prior that shown clearly that mercury vapour is released. (References) In fact it is possible to actually see the mercury released from amalgam.
This is what pure mercury looks like under UV light.
In 1991, the World Health Organization confirmed that mercury contained in dental amalgam is the greatest source of mercury vapour in non-industrialized settings, exposing the concerned population to mercury levels significantly exceeding those set for food and for air.
The World Health Organisation says this about mercury:
Mercury is highly toxic, especially when metabolized into methyl mercury. It may be fatal if inhaled and harmful if absorbed through the skin. Around 80% of the inhaled mercury vapour is absorbed in the blood through the lungs. It may cause harmful effects to the nervous, digestive, respiratory, immune systems and to the kidneys, besides causing lung damage. Adverse health effects from mercury exposure can be: tremors, impaired vision and hearing, paralysis, insomnia, emotional instability, developmental deficits during fetal development, and attention deficit and developmental delays during childhood. Recent studies suggest that mercury may have no threshold below which some adverse effects do not occur.
Companies are required by law to have Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for any hazardous material that poses a threat to employees in a workplace. The Bethlehem Apparatus Company in the US recycles dental amalgam. Their safety data sheet reads:
Long-term exposures to Mercury vapors present a severe health hazard. When Inhaled, Mercury will
be rapidly distributed throughout the body During this
time, Mercury will cross the blood-brain barrier, and
become oxidized to the Hg(ll) oxldatlon state. The oxidized
species of Mercury cannot cross the blood-brain barrier
and thus accumulates in the brain. Mercury in other
organs is removed slowly from the body via the kidneys.
The average half-time for clearance of Mercury for different
parts of the human body is as follows: lung, 1.7 days;
head. 21 days; kidney region, 64 days; chest 43 days;
whole body, 58 days.
Long-term Inhalation over-exposures can lead to the development of a wide varlety of symptoms Including the following: excessive salivation, gingMtis anorexia, chills fever, cardiac abnormalities, anemia, digestive problems abdominal pains frequent urination, an Inability to urinate, diarrhea, peripheral neumpathy [numbness, weakness, or burning sensations In the hands or fed, tremors lespeciaiiy in the hands, fingers eyelids lips, cheeks, tongue, or legsl, aileration of tendon reflexes, slurred speech, visual disturbances, and deafness Allergic reactions (i.e. breathing difficulty) may also occur In sensitlve individuals.
The principal target organ associated with chronic Mercury exposures via inhalation Is the central nervous system. Such exposures lead to the development of "Erethism", This syndrome consists of subtle or dramatic changes in behavior and personality depresslon, fearfulness, restlessness, irritability, tlmidlty, and Indecision. These psychic and behavioral characteristics are often accompanied by insomnia, drowsiness, headache, fatigue. in advanced cases, memory loss, hallucinations, and mental deterloration may occur.
Another, less common, syndrome associated with Mercury over-exposure is "Acrodynia". Symptoms of this Syndrome include a pink color to the extremities, apathy, fever, kidney problems, sensltivlty to light generalized edema, and a painful scaling of the skln of the hands and feet. Mher symptoms of chmnic overexposure to Mercury can include loosening of the teeth, lnflammatlon of the mucous membranes a dark blue line appearing along ginglval margins, abnormal blushlng, excessive sweating, rashes. Reproductive effects, sexual disorders, and impotence may also develop in the event of Mercury over-exposure.
Mercury Is Good For You
This is the part of the story that gets weird. Really weird. Around 2004 there was a lot of concern about thimerosal in vaccines, especially the MMR vaccine which had been linked to autism. Thimerosal is a mercury based preservative. Like amalgam it is roughly 50% mercury. Instead of having the mercury based preservative removed, magically along came some studies to suggest that mercury was actually good for your children. In the paper 'Thimerosal exposure in infants and developmental disorders' their conclusions were:
Contrary to expectation, it was common for the unadjusted results to suggest a beneficial effect of thimerosal exposure. For example, exposure at 3 months was inversely associated with hyperactivity and conduct problems at 47 months; motor development at 6 months and at 30 months; difficulties with sounds at 81 months; and speech therapy, special needs, and "statementing" at 91 months.
Then came this incredible news report that told the general public not too worry about mercury in vaccines, because it is good for you.
Dental Amalgams Destroy Teeth
Dental amalgam, like most metals and alloys, has a high thermal diffusion coefficient. This means it transmits heat very quickly. A natural tooth not being made of metal has a much lower thermal diffusion coefficient. This means when something hot is applied to a tooth, say hot coffee, the amalgam starts to expand at a much faster rate than the natural tooth. This can lead to microfractures and cracks in the tooth. Cracks can result in failure of the entire tooth structure. I've known people that have had small amalgam fillings placed. The filling has cracked the tooth, then they needed an expensive root canal and crown. A simple composite could have saved all this.
Material science has come such a long way since dental amalgam was invented. We have safer, more aesthetically pleasing restoration materials that can last just as long. Not to mention the fact that legally the only place amalgam is not regarded as hazardous waste is the mouth. So the big question is, why on earth are we still using it ? Fortunately Norway, Sweden and Denmark have banned amalgam, and more may soon follow.
In a prepared statement, Norwegian Minister of the Environment Erik Solheim said that the reason for the ban is the risk that mercury from products may constitute in the environment. "Mercury is among the most dangerous environmental toxins. Satisfactory alternatives to mercury in products are available, and it is therefore fitting to introduce a ban," said Solheim.
The Swedish amalgam ban is for both environmental and health issues, according to authorities. Danish officials indicate that the reason for banning amalgam is also because composites have become better, and may now be used in many more situations than a few years ago.
We should educate and inform ourselves of the dangers, and not wait for these corrupt dental organisations to change. They have got away with poisoning millions of people for almost 200 years now, they may get away with it for 200 more.
Documentaries And Further Resources
60 Minutes – Poison in Your Mouth (1990)
BBC - PANORAMA - Poison in the Mouth - (1994)
What's in your mouth? Mercury Amalgam Fillings
Quecksilber the strange story of dental amalgam
What's In Your Mouth?