Can Mercury Fillings Make You Sick?

Those shiny, silver “amalgam” fillings. on your teeth are filled with 50% mercury. Can mercury fillings make you sick?

Each mercury filling placed in your tooth has over a half gram of mercury and emits an average of 13 micrograms of vapor per day.; that’s from one mercury filling, and this study says that 25% of the American population has 11 fillings or more.  It was thought for many years that mixing mercury with the silver,  tin, copper and other metals to make what we call amalgam fillings render the mercury inert.  This is completely false.  As you can see in the video I've shared below, these teeth emit a vapor with every time you chew or brush your teeth.

I just returned from the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology  (IAOMT) Conference. This incredible week of courses and lectures really opened my eyes to how silver mercury fillings can affect. our body, our children, and our overall health. 

 Barbara Tritz, RDH and holistic dental hygienist at Systemic Dentist, attending the IAOMT Conference.   Barbara  authored this post in her Queen of Dental Hygiene blog, sharing what she learned at the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology meeting she attended last month.  We would like to share excerpts from her blog post,  reprinted with her permission.

Barbara Tritz, RDH and holistic dental hygienist at Systemic Dentist, attending the IAOMT Conference. 

Barbara  authored this post in her Queen of Dental Hygiene blog, sharing what she learned at the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology meeting she attended last month.  We would like to share excerpts from her blog post,  reprinted with her permission.

The History of Mercury Silver Fillings

Mercury dental fillings have been in use for over 200 years. The first filling done was in 1816 by combining mercury with shavings from silver coins.  

The idea of mixing mercury with silver was brought to the United States in 1833.  By 1850, it was banned for use by the American Society of Dental Surgeons.  

A pro-mercury group then founded the American Dental Association (ADA)  in 1859.  The ADA won that argument, and is still supporting the use of mercury fillings even to this day.

The ADA says there’s no harm in having mercury fillings.  They say these fillings are safe.  

According to its website, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers dental amalgam fillings safe for adults, but says, "pregnant women and parents with children under six who are concerned about the absence of clinical data as to long-term health outcomes should talk to their dentist."

This video is re-posted with permission from the IOAMT.  Please take the time it watch this video, especially at the 20 minute mark, where it shows what mercury can do to nerve fibers.

Where does the Mercury Go?

Where does the mercury go that’s released as a vapor from dental fillings?  Read this FDA report by Bernard Windham or read this paper by Dr. David Kennedy. 

Mercury, once exposed, stays in the body for a long, long time – upwards of 17 years.

Long ago, (but not long enough) dental staff were taught how to manually mix mercury with the rest of the metals.  Yes, we had a mercury dispenser and then mixed it in a dappen dish. THEN! OMG! we placed it in a squeeze cloth and, barehanded, twisted the metal alloy to squeeze out the excess mercury.  

The Bottom line: Everyone is free to seek the dental care they desire.  The anti-mercury folks have their research and it appears solid to me.  I will never work in a traditional dental office that doesn’t take mercury removal seriously.  Do your own research and do what is best for you and your family.



From the FDA Website: 

"If your fillings are in good condition and there is no decay beneath the filling, FDA does not recommend that you have your amalgam fillings removed or replaced. Removing sound amalgam fillings results in unnecessary loss of healthy tooth structure, and exposes you to additional mercury vapor released during the removal process.

However, if you believe you have an allergy or sensitivity to mercury or any of the other metals in dental amalgam (such as silver, tin, or copper), you should discuss treatment options with your dentist."

Why Mercury Affects Some People and Not Others?

Just as some folks can smoke and drink and live to 90 without any ill health effects, so too is it that some people can live unaffected by mercury fillings.  It’s because of their genes, their genetic makeup.  There are people who can more easily rid their body of mercury.  

Also, there are different formulas that make up mercury fillings.  In the 1970’s there was a high copper amalgam filling marketed which had a much higher release of mercury into the body.

How Do I Know if I Have Mercury Fillings?

Big, Old Mercury Fillings .jpg

A mouth full of mercury fillings from one patient.

Mercury fillings are silver-gray in color!  For a coupla bucks you can purchase a plastic hand mirror and take a look yourself.  Or, you can ask your trusty dental hygienist how many mercury fillings you still have in your mouth.  Now, what do you do with this knowledge?!  They need to come  out  safely.

Safely Remove Mercury Fillings

It’s important to remove these fillings SAFELY.   If not, you’ll inhale all the mercury vapors once the dental drill heats them up.  That drill creates gas and particulate.  Particulates are the chunks of mercury fillings.  Often they are left in the mouth, floating around and can be swallowed.

Here’s the thing – the amount of mercury in one filling is equal to the amount of mercury in a thermometer.  IF anything more than a thermometer (with .61 grams of mercury) broke in say a school they would have to evacuate that school,  call in a professional  Haz-Mat team, and remove it under these professional conditions.  

The “SMART”  PROTOCOL FOR Removal of Mercury Fillings

The correct way to remove mercury fillings requires more than just a dental drill and high evacuation suction.  It requires a full on “SMART” protocol – Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique.

Turbo suction, Looks like an elephant nose! .jpg

Removing these fillings properly requires a rubber dam to keep things from falling down your throat, the correct suction device at source aerosol evacuation system placed right by your mouth, a nasal cannulae into your nose or other nasal breathing apparatus to prevent your breathing the mercury vapors,  while covering and protecting  your face, hair, body and eyes.

Your dental team needs that same protection.  If they don’t cover you and them up, I’d recommend you LEAVE – immediately, and find another dental office.   When I assist my dentist in mercury removal, we both wear full-on respirator masks for the drilling and mercury removal.  Very sexy!  Then we clean up, flush tubing, remove the suction filters, and only then place the new, non-mercury fillings.  Be sure to ask your dental team if they practice SMART mercury removal.  If they don’t know what you are talking about, time to leave.   You can look up certified SMART offices here.

Dental Office Pollution

Dental offices are responsible for most of the mercury pollution into our wastewater systems.  According to a United States Geological survey dental mercury fillings are the leading cause of mercury pollution.  That’s crazy!  There’s an estimated 35.2 tons of mercury into our water systems a year.  That’s 250 milligrams per day per dentist that is disposed into the waste water out of dental offices. It settles into sludge,  is then either incinerated and becomes mercury vapor, or used as biosolids and fertilizer and contaminates the soil.  Your dental office should have a mercury separator and do proper hazardous waste disposal.  Your dentist is “encouraged” to practice proper mercury handling but it’s not required until 2020.

Human bodies that are cremated also give off mercury vapors into the atmosphere.

Where to Go From Here??!

 SMART ! Re-posted with permission from the IAOMT.

SMART ! Re-posted with permission from the IAOMT.

#1. Find a biological dentist – check out the IAOMT website for a dental team near you that practices SMART mercury removal.  SMART stands for:  Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique.

#2. Ask about their removal techniques.  You don’t want them cutting corners.  There may be an extra charge for the equipment and safe removal protocols.  They should have an amalgam separator, high volume air filtration system, and much more- Read here for all the proper protocols.  It’s for your safety, and you’re worth it.

#3. Before and after removal they will have you do a pre and post operative rinse with charcoal or chlorella.

#4. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not have any mercury fillings placed or removed.

#5. Dental insurance may not cover the higher priced white fillings, so many folks just get new mercury fillings.  Please, for your health and that of your family, spend the extra money and get an upgrade.

In Conclusion

The very best dentistry is still NO dentistry - practice prevention and take the very best care of your teeth and mouth.  IF you get tooth decay and cavities, seek out a biological dental hygienist, read and learn.  My blog offers many tips and lots of education on cavity prevention.  If you need more help, email me.  I’ll help steer you in the right direction.

Dental Philosophy Changes

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed.  Second, it is violently opposed.  Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (1788 – 1860)

Hopefully we are almost at the third stage.  Remember, there is no safe level of mercury.

The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

As I learn more, I’ll continue sharing about mercury fillings.  While I knew that mercury was harmful, I had been told in school mercury was inert once it has triturated or mixed.  Now, with all this evidence in front of me, would I ever allow my family to have mercury fillings placed??  No, not ever!  

Keep smiling my friends!

Barbara Tritz RDH, BS

Biological Dental Hygienist

Specialist in Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy


Barbara Tritz is a biological dental hygienist at Systemic Dentist. This blog post is condensed from Barbara post "Are Your Mercury Fillings Making You Sick" from her award-winning Queen of Dental Hygiene blog.