Dental mercury poisoning - treatment guidelines
Written by Stephen Bourne MB BS, MRCGP, Dip Homotox (Hons)
"Never has so much harm been done to so many by so few."
Murray J Vimy, Professor of oral medicine at Calgary University, Canada, speaking about dental mercury in the year 2000.
Mercury amalgam was first used in dentistry in 1826. It consists of an amalgam of silver, tin, copper, and zinc dissolved in approximately 50% mercury, which is a toxic and volatile heavy metal. Because mercury amalgam is toxic, technicians must wear protective clothing when preparing it and dentists are legally required to dispose of removed amalgam fillings in airtight sealed containers sent to approved poisons agencies. A mercury amalgam filling is therefore technically a toxic mercury implant and as long ago as in 1926, a German chemist, Dr Alfred Stock, demonstrated that amalgam fillings are a source of mercury vapour (1).
In 1998, a report commissioned by the Swedish Government, stated that `mercury from amalgam fillings is liable to damage the central nervous system, the kidneys and the immune system’. The Swedish Dental Material Commission advised that exposure to mercury in dental amalgams is hazardous and that mercury is liable to be deposited in the thyroid gland, retina of the eye and in the testicles (2).
During 2008, the EU Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) prepared a report on the safety of dental amalgams and alternative restoration dental materials. It considered the following issues.
Is mercury from dental amalgam posing a risk to the environment and the contribution made to environmental mercury poisoning by mercury released from dental clinics?
Is it scientifically justified to conclude that mercury in dental amalgam causes serious adverse effects on human health due to mercury release into the environment?
The committee concluded that dental mercury is a toxicological hazard, particularly with neurological and psychological adverse effects, and that there should be a sustained reduction in the use of mercury amalgam across the European Community (3).
Similarly, in 2013 the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that mercury is toxic to the central and peripheral nervous systems and that it can cause adverse effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, lungs and kidneys (4).
In a letter dated July 2014, the British Department of Health wrote to me as follows.
“Dental amalgam has been in use for over 150 years with fillings placed in billions of people. Only a very few adverse effects have been noted in the very small number of people who are allergic to mercury. There have been successive expert reports corroborating the empirical evidence on safety. Mercury exposure from fillings is thought to be about the same as that from the diet, and therefore does not pose a significant health risk.”
The British government is evidently disregarding the SCENIHR (3) directive for a sustained reduction in the use of mercury amalgam’.
Sweden and Denmark prohibit the use of amalgam dental fillings. Austria. Canada and Australia permit amalgam fillings for the general population, but not for children, pregnant women and for those with renal impairment. The American FDA has stated that mercury has potential neurotoxic effects and advises that it should not be used for young children or for pregnant mothers. In California, dentists are required to display a notice to the effect that if patients choose to have amalgam fillings, they do so at their own risk and would not be entitled to sue for compensation for consequent mercury related health problems. In the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany, the use of mercury in dentistry is unrestricted with the exception that it is not permitted for young children or pregnant women.
In the United Kingdom, the only clinical indication for removing an intact amalgam filling is an allergy to mercury confirmed with a skin prick test. Because of the risk of a severe allergic reaction, it is recommended that mercury allergy testing is only undertaken in hospitals that are equipped to deal with severe allergic reactions.
There are many credible accounts about people, who have “miraculously” recovered from chronic illnesses following detoxification and the safe removal of dental amalgam fillings (5,6,7). Conditions that responded to mercury detoxification included chronic fatigue syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease Parkinson’s syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, muscular dystrophy, heart disease, hypertension, asthma, and migraine.
A meta-analysis of patients treated for dental mercury toxicity showed that 89% of 1569 patients treated experienced ‘that their symptoms had improved or were eliminated after safe replacement of their amalgam dental fillings’ (5).
Systemic reactions to mercury toxicity (5)
The first symptom of dental mercury toxicity is unexplained fatigue. Other reactions include a metallic taste, burning pains in the mouth throat and stomach, increased salivation, swollen salivary glands, abdominal pains, diarrhoea and vomiting, hypothyroidism, allergies, headaches, dermatitis, a subnormal body temperature, cold clammy hands, perspiration and night sweats.
Neurological and psychiatric reactions include anxiety, depression, loss of memory and inability to concentrate, insomnia, muscle weakness and paraesthesia, ataxia, tremors of the eyelids, lips, tongue, hands and feet, numbness and burning sensations, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Gastrointestinal reactions include food sensitivities, dysbiosis (bacterial, fungal and micro parasitical) and inflammatory bowel disease.
Endocrine and autoimmune reactions include thyrotoxicosis and systemic lupus erythematosus.
Even in countries where the use of dental mercury is unrestricted, dental mercury waste is classified as highly toxic and must be disposed of initially in mercury vapour resistant containers. The British Dental Association (BDA) has failed to explain why it regards mercury to be safe inside the mouth yet highly toxic outside the mouth.
In favour of mercury dental implants, the BDA points out that they are cheaper, easier and quicker to install and more durable than white resin alternatives.
In those countries that still permit dental mercury implants, dental mercury poisoning is not covered in conventional dental and medical textbooks so that doctors and dentists are unaware of dental mercury poisoning. There are several reasons for this.
Overt dental mercury related illness can take more than five years to develop so that the association between dental mercury and the onset of mercury related illness is not self-evident, particularly as doctors are not trained to regard dental mercury as potentially toxic and because patients do not consult their dentists about general health deterioration.
Blood, urine and hair tests for mercury are of no clinical significance, because in susceptible individuals, mercury is retained in the body cells rather than circulated in the bloodstream or excreted in the urine or hair.
Although release of mercury vapour in the mouth can readily be quantified, e.g. with a Jerome 431-XE mercury vapour analyser (6,7), such technology is not routinely used in routine medical or dental practice. With mercury vapour analysers, it has been shown that chewing gum and drinking hot drinks cause a significant increase in release of mercury vapour into the mouths of subjects with mercury amalgam dental fillings.
Doctors and dentists are not taught to investigate the high galvanic currents and voltages that are associated with toxic mercury amalgam implants.
Suitable medications for chronic mercury poisoning such as naturopathic chelation therapy, modern homeopathic drainage and probiotics are not included in standard medical and dental pharmacopoeias.
In the United Kingdom, the British Dental Association (BDA) continues to disregard the research that led the Swedish Government to ban the use of mercury in dentistry. It may be relevant that many British dentists earn a substantial part of their incomes from dental mercury implants and that the British Government is advised by the BDA dentist’s trade union.
Factors predisposing to dental mercury toxicity
These include the number of mercury fillings, the length of time in place, other nearby fillings with variable metallic components (particularly gold), related caries (which acidifies the local biological terrain and promotes galvanic currents) and the patient’s own ability to excrete mercury since some people excrete mercury more efficiently than others. (5,6,7).
Swallowed mercury vapour poisons healthy intestinal microflora, causes dysbiosis, weakens the immune system, causes autoimmune disease, reduces fertility, crosses the placenta into the developing foetus, causes antibiotic resistance and impairs renal function. (8).
Animal and human autopsy studies
In sheep, mercury amalgam implants have been shown to impair renal function (9, 10).
Human autopsy studies indicate that mercury is deposited in the brain, kidneys, intestine, liver and heart and that the amount of mercury deposited in these tissues correlates with the number of fillings and the number of years in place (10).
Mercury released from dental fillings causes antibiotic resistant bacteria in primates (11).
Possible link between dental mercury and autoimmunity
In susceptible subjects, mercury molecules may be retained in the body cells and cause an antigenic inflammatory immune system response so that the mercury containing cells become foci of chronic autoimmune inflammation. Such an inflammatory autoimmune response may be related the autoimmune characteristics of inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s syndrome.
The mouths of all chronically ill patients should be examined for mercury amalgam fillings. If present, the voltages between the amalgam fillings and the buccal mucosa should be measured using a simple voltmeter set to measure up to 2 volts (2000 mV).
The British Society of Mercury Free Dentists recommends that all amalgam fillings should eventually be removed. In clinical practice, however, the teeth with the highest voltages and those in most urgent need of dental treatment should be treated first.
Medical practitioners should record the voltages associated with all the amalgam fillings and the patient should be referred to a ‘mercury-free’ dentist for dental assessment. Mercury-free dentists in the United Kingdom can be located on the Internet (British Society of Mercury Free Dentistry).
Since acidic saliva promotes galvanic currents, an alkalizing toothpaste (e.g. Arm and Hammer) may be recommended, together with an alkalising diet. When indicated from urine and saliva pH measurements, alkalising supplements should also be prescribed.
Chewing gum and drinking very hot drinks cause additional release of mercury vapour (6,7). In view of this, patients with amalgam fillings should be advised not to chew gum and to take their beverages warm rather than hot
Medical management of dental mercury poisoning
High Voltage Amalgam Fillings and Earthing
Patients with high-voltage amalgam fillings and ‘brain fog’ generally report a clearing of the brain fog immediately after removal of a high voltage amalgam filling. This immediate effect is not directly due to removal of the toxic mercury filling: it is rather due to removal of the pathogenic high electric currents that were associated with the filling.
Earthing mats or earthing patches to remove the pathogenic electricity are available on the Internet (groundology.co.uk). When treating vegatesting patients with brain fog and toxic mercury dental fillings, the author gets the patient to place a foot on an ‘earthing’ mat (connected to a main earthing point). If, as a result, the brain fog clears, the patient is advised to consider buying an earthing mat.
Chelation therapy ‘Chelation’ means claw-like or binding, from the ancient Greek, chela (crab’s claw). Chelation therapy is the administration of chelating agents to bind to mercury molecules in order to enable their excretion. Chelation converts insoluble intracellular heavy metal (mercury and cadmium) molecules into soluble compounds that pass out of the body cells into the extracellular fluid (matrix) in preparation for excretion via the kidneys.
Zeolite Plus (from Water for Health) is a suitable chelating preparation. It is a combination of zeolite, humic acid, fulvic acid, trace minerals and pure water. Zeolite is very fine particle clay, that has a cage-like chemical structure which enables it to adsorb heavy metal (mercury and cadmium) molecules. The zeolite molecules attach (claw like) to the intracellular mercury and cadmium molecules and enable them to pass out of the body cells into the extracellular fluid in readiness for excretion via the kidneys. Humic and fulvic acid contain electrically charged trace minerals that also promote heavy metal detoxification.
The recommended dose of Zeolite Plus for adults is 10 drops three times a day taken orally in spring water. With vegatesting (electro acupuncture) and muscle testing (clinical kinesiology), the dose range has been found to be 5-10 drops two or three times a day. Side effects, which are uncommon, include stomach cramps and can be managed by dose reduction. If bio-regulatory testing is not available, 7 drops twice a day is a suitable average dose for adults.
Fulvic Restore (from Water for Health) is a natural fulvic acid preparation that contains over 70 electrically charged trace minerals. It is a natural antioxidant and a source of fulvic acid and electrolytes. It promotes general and heavy metal detoxification and is prescribed for residual mercury toxicity for patients, who have previously had all their amalgam fillings removed but without concomitant detoxification. The dose of Fulvic restore is the same as for Zeolite Plus.
Modern homeopathic drainage. Treatment with Zeolite Plus and Fulvic Restore should be accompanied with modern homeopathic drainage. A suitable preparation is Kidney Liquescence from New Vistas, Ireland. The recommended dose for adults is one teaspoonful (5ml) taken twice a day at least fifteen minutes away from eating and from the prescribed chelation therapy.
Hyperactivity in children This can be caused by mercury poisoning acquired during the mother’s pregnancy and can be treated with Fulvic Restore. The recommended dose for children (generally aged about three) is 3 drops taken twice a day at least 15 minutes away from eating. A modern homeopathic drainage preparation such as Kidney Liquescence should also be prescribed. The dose of Kidney Liquescence for children (generally aged about three) is half a teaspoonful (2.5ml) taken twice a day at least fifteen minutes away from eating and from the Fulvic Restore.
Dental considerations (12)
The safe removal and replacement of mercury amalgam fillings requires specialist post-graduate dental expertise. A list of suitably trained British dentists is available is on the website of the British Society for Mercury Free Dentistry,
It should be mentioned that not all mercury free dentists are fully aware of the importance of detoxification before and after dental treatment to replace toxic mercury amalgam dental fillings.
Protocols vary between dentists. Most dentists prefer to replace only one or two amalgam fillings during a session and to treat only one quadrant at a time, beginning with those fillings with the highest associated voltages and/or with those in most urgent need of replacement. The interval between dental sessions should be at least one week because replacing amalgam fillings is stressful to the patient and is liable to cause additional release of mercury. In any event, enough time should be allowed between dental sessions for the patient to have fully recovered from the previous session.
Mercury free dentists generally use rubber dams in their patient’s mouths in order to prevent mercury particles from being swallowed. They also use high-volume suction and copious irrigation. A nasal tube providing oxygen or air may also be used to reduce inhalation of mercury particles.
Amalgam fillings are removed carefully with a tungsten carbide drill, that cuts rather than vaporises. White resin fillings are suitable replacements for amalgam fillings in non-grinding teeth, although they are more expensive and less durable than mercury amalgam fillings. Porcelain crowns and gold fillings are as durable as amalgam fillings and are about three times the cost of white resin fillings.
Dental removal of amalgam fillings is liable to cause additional toxic release of mercury vapour. In view of this, it is recommended that naturopathic detoxification is started several weeks before and continued for several months after the dental treatment.
Stock A: Die Gefährlichkeit des Quecksilberdampfes und der Amalgame. Med Klin 1926, 22: 1209-12, 1250-52.
Also, Wiberg E: Alfred Stock 1876-1946. [Biography with 274 references to Stock’s work.] Chem Berichte, 1950, 83:19-76.
ABSTRACT: The German chemist, Dr Alfred Stock, researched mercury
poisoning, and showed that ‘silver’ fillings in the mouth are a significant
source of mercury vapour. (Dr Stock, himself recovered from long standing illness as a result of having his amalgam fillings replaced.)
Mercury in Dental Fillings – an updated risk analysis in Environmental Medicine, Maths Berlin. The Swedish Dental Material Commission.
Safety of Dental Amalgams and Alternative Dental Restoration Materials -SCENIHR- Health and Consumer Protection DG, November 2007.
WHO. Media Centre, Mercury and Health, Fact Sheet No.361, September 2013.
DENTISTRY WITHOUT MERCURY by Sam Ziff and Michael F. Ziff DDS (ISBN 0-941011-04-6). Dr G Munro-Hall. Amalgam, Scientific Facts. 1993. (Internet). David Kennedy DDS. Mercury in Dental Amalgam. International Academy of Oral medicine and Toxicology 1993.
Dr Hesham El-Essawy, a mercury free dentist in Harley Street, London, uses a Jerome Mercury Vapour Analyser.
Vimy M J; Lorscheider F L. Dental amalgam mercury daily dose estimated from intro-oral vapour measurements: A predictor of mercury accumulation in human tissues. J Trace Elem Exp Med, 3:111-23, (1990).
Lorscheider F L, Vimy MJ, Summers AO. Mercury exposure from "silver" tooth fillings: emerging evidence questions a traditional dental paradigm. FASEB (Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology) J. 9:504-508, 1995. ABSTRACT Every amalgam filling releases in the order of 10 micrograms of mercury per day into the body. This is equivalent to 3,000,000,000,000,00 mercury atoms per day.
Mercury can cause autoimmune disease.
Mercury can impair renal function.
Mercury predisposes to antibiotic resistant bacteria. Mercury reduces fertility.
Mercury crosses the placenta into the developing foetus.
9. Boyd N.D; Benediktsson H; Vimy MJ; D.E. Hooper, and Lorscheider FL; Mercury from
dental "silver" tooth fillings impairs sheep kidney function. Am. J. Physiol. 261, (Regulatory
Integrative Comp. Physiol. 30): R1010- R1014, 1991.
Within thirty days after placement of twelve occlusal amalgam fillings in six adult sheep,
there was a 50% impairment of kidney function. After sixty days, there was 60%.
impairment in renal function.
10. Nylander M, Friberg L, Lind B. Mercury concentrations in the human brain and kidneys
in relation to exposure from dental amalgam fillings. Swed Dent J 1987:179-87.
11.Summers A O et al. Antimicrob Agents Chemother; 37(4): 825-34.8 Mercury released
from dental "silver" fillings provokes an increase in mercury and antibiotic resistant
bacteria in oral and intestinal floras of primates.
Within thirty days after placement of twelve occlusal amalgam fillings in six adult sheep,
there was a 50% impairment of kidney function. After sixty days, there was a 60%
impairment in renal function.
12.This section was written in collaboration with Adam Sapera, a dentist based in Haverstock
Hill, North London.
About the author
Dr Stephen Bourne is a retired NHS general practitioner, currently practicing integrative medicine in Finchley, North London, (see ). His medical interest in dental mercury poisoning started in 1982, when an NHS patient with malignant hypertension, that had not responded to conventional medical treatment, was successfully treated by a medical doctor, who used naturopathic medicine under vegatest control and who worked in collaboration with a mercury free dentist. Since then Dr Bourne has used this approach to treat dental mercury poisoning in his patients.