Image of mercury fumes leaving a a mercury filling in a tooth

Mercury fumes are constantly leaving mercury fillings.
Image Courtesy of Craig Sommer DDS at

Mercury in fillings. What a concept!  They are the “best” that dentistry has to offer, and we have been using them since 1833 in the US. What’s the problem?

There is no apparent problem on the surface with mercury in fillings, that is, unless you consider mercury poisoning symptoms.

Let’s start by calling amalgam fillings what they really are. They are mercury fillings. If you heard your dentist suggest mercury for a tooth filling you would probably say no. But he might hide the mercury content by avoiding the issue and calling it an amalgam filling or a silver colored filling. Why would you be suspicious of that?  It is deceptive to call it anything but a mercury filling.

What Is An “Amalgam Filling?”

An amalgam is a term used in metallurgy, to describe any metal mixed with mercury.

It started out being a “reasonable” solution to the problems of the day because there were no better alternatives to filling tooth cavities than having gold hammered into your teeth. It was expensive, it was time consuming and the hammering was less than pleasant. The alternative- remove the tooth.

The Crawcours brothers of France brought the new amalgam fillings to the US in 1833. The new amalgam fillings, initially made of silver coin shavings mixed with mercury, were cheap, were placed quickly and without hammering. People were lined up outside their office in upstate New York, to have the new amalgam fillings.

Two Minute Fillings

It only took 2 minutes or so to have one of them placed into a tooth cavity. First, softened decayed tooth was dug out of the cavity hole to prepare the tooth for the filling. Then silver shavings were mixed with liquid mercury forming a putty like consistency.

This mix was pressed into the prepared tooth until the hole was full. Excess mercury would be squeezed out as the amalgam was placed and the extra was scraped off the top of the tooth. The patient either spit out the excess mercury and amalgam mix excess or swallowed it.

Some Dentists Hated Amalgam Fillings Back Then

The only people not happy about the amalgam fillings were the dentists that had a vested interest in the higher quality gold fillings. Many dentists were initially against the new amalgams and believed them to be substandard.

Did I mention that the fillings contained mercury, and the metal has been known for centuries to be toxic? Even the dentists of the 1800’s, were worried about symptoms of mercury poisoning including dementia and loss of motor control.

There were more than a few dentists that thought using such a dangerous material in peoples mouths was just plain wrong. In 1845, a group of dentists called the  American Society of Dental Surgeons were so concerned they asked their member dentists to sign a pledge to never to use the new amalgam material for a dental filling. They lasted until about 1859.

The Economics Won Out

Then the economics won out and the tide turned and almost all dentists were on board with the new fillings because they were quick, easy to place and were cheap.

In 1859, a new organization called the American Dental Association was started. It was the pro-mercury dentist group and it survives today and is still very much pro-mercury usage.

Now convenience weighs heavily when it comes to the general public. And if the public wants something, that is what they must be given, right? Fast,easy, cheap.

But, what if that something is toxic? What if that toxic something is so incredibly profitable to manufacturers that it makes up a very significant portions of their annual profits?

Profitability vs. Toxicity

Now you see the problem. Profitability vs. toxicity. Like asbestos, cigarettes, and dental mercury.

The issue of toxicity is always present. For most people they do not recognize any toxic symptoms immediately after a mercury filling is placed.

But, it is now possible to track how mercury travels throughout the body. It starts with the filling releasing a significant amount of mercury. The amalgam filling’s mercury now spreads to tissues all over the body and is the most significant source of mercury in individuals with mercury fillings.

Your Baby Isn’t Safe Either

The dental mercury, if present, crosses the placenta into the developing fetus. It also is released into breast milk. This results in exposure to the developing fetus before birth and after delivery when breast feeding.

Mercury adversely affects the immune system, the kidneys, the reproductive system and the central nervous system. It also shifts the normal bacterial populations of the mouth and gut.

How is that toxic exposure good for a developing infant or an adult for that matter.  Well, it is not health promoting.

What Is A Reasonable Person To Do?

Our healthcare system currently is great for emergencies, but it not so great for preventing disease.  A goal of slowing the progress of a preventable disease in a way that is fast, easy and cheap might be good economics for the system but a disaster for you.

My suggestion, never have any mercury fillings placed in your mouth or the mouths of family members. If you have mercury amalgam fillings currently, have a discussion with a holistic dentist or biological dentist, do your own research and then decide what’s in your best interest. Be your own best advocate.