Amalgam and Mercury – What Science Shows
The health effects of elemental mercury from amalgam fillings are numerous and many studies and scientific evidence supports that mercury causes widespread and adverse health effects. Amalgam fillings have been well documented to be the number one source of exposure of mercury to most people, with exposure levels often exceeding Government health guidelines and the levels that cause adverse health effects.
Dental amalgam contains about 50 % mercury, mixed with silver and other metals such as tin, copper, nickel, palladium, etc. The average filling has 1 gram of mercury and leaks mercury vapour continuously due to it’s low vapour pressure along with loss due to the galvanic battery-like action of mercury with dissimilar metals in the mouth resulting in significant exposure for most with amalgam fillings. Mercury vapour is transmitted rapidly throughout the body, easily crosses cell membranes, and like organic methyl mercury has significant toxic effects at much lower levels of exposure than other inorganic mercury forms. According to the U.S. EPA mercury is among the top 3 toxic substances adversely affecting large numbers of people with amalgam being the number one source of exposure in most cases.
Why Mercury is Such a Concern
Mercury vapour is carried by the blood to cells in all organs of the body where it:
Mercury disrupts the endocrine system in animals and people, disrupting function of the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, enzyme production processes, and many hormonal functions at very low levels of exposure. Mercury (especially mercury vapour) rapidly crosses the blood brain barrier and is stored preferentially in the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, and occipital cortex in direct proportion to the number and extent of dental amalgam surfaces/fillings. The pituitary gland controls many endocrine system functions and secretes hormones that control most bodily processes, including the immune system, reproductive systems and metabolism.
Mercury blocks thyroid hormone production by occupying iodine binding sites and inhibiting hormone action even when the measured thyroid levels appears to be in proper range. The thyroid and hypothalamus regulate body temperature and many metabolic processes including enzymatic processes that when inhibited result in higher dental decay. Mercury damage thus commonly results in poor control of bodily temperature, in addition to many problems caused by hormonal imbalances such as depression. Mercury also damages the blood brain barrier and facilitates penetration of the brain by other toxic metals and substances.
Mercury causes biochemical damage at the cellular level. This results in DNA damage, inhibition of DNA and RNA synthesis; alteration of protein structure; alteration of the transport of calcium; inhibition of transport of glucose and other essential nutrients. Inhibition of enzyme function; initiation of free radical formation, depletion of cellular gluthathione (necessary for detoxification processes), inhibition of glutathione peroxidase enzyme, endothelial cell damage, abnormal migration of neurons in the cerebral cortex and immune system damage.
Oxidative stress and reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been implicated as major factors in neurological disorders including stroke, Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s, etc. Only a few micrograms of mercury severely disturb cellular function and inhibit nerve growth. Exposure to mercury results in metallo-protein compounds that have effects on gene expression. Some of the processes affected by such metallo-protein control of genes include cellular respiration, metabolism, enzymatic processes, metal-specific homeostasis, and adrenal stress response systems. Metallo-protein formation also appears to have a relation to autoimmune reactions in significant numbers of people.
Mercury binding with proteins causes blockage of sulphur oxidation processes and enzymatic processes involving vitamins B6 and B12, has effects on the cytochrome-C energy processes and adverse effects on cellular mineral levels of calcium, magnesium, zinc, and lithium.
Mercury accumulates in the pituitary gland, ovaries, testes, and prostate gland. It has oestrogenic effects, effects the reproductive system resulting in lowered sperm counts, defective sperm cells, damaged DNA, aberrant chromosome numbers rather than the normal 46, chromosome breaks, and lowered testosterone levels in males. It also causes menstrual disturbances and infertility in women; and increased neurological problems related to lowered levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
Some of the effects of depression are related to mercury reducing the level of posterior pituitary hormone (oxytocin). The pituitary glands of a group of dentists had 800 times more mercury than controls. This may explain why dentists have much higher levels of emotional problems, depression, suicide, etc. Low levels of pituitary function are associated with depression and suicidal thoughts. Amalgam fillings, nickel and gold crowns are major factors in reducing pituitary function.Supplemental oxytocin extract has been found to alleviate many of these mood problems, along with replacement of metals in the mouth. The normalisation of pituitary function also often normalises menstrual cycle problems, endometriosis, and increases fertility.
An average amalgam filling contains over ½ gram of mercury, and the average adult had at least 5 grams of mercury in fillings. Mercury in solid form is not stable, having low vapour pressure and being subject to galvanic action with other metals in an oral environment, so that within 10 years up to half the mercury has been found to have been transferred to the body of the host.
Elemental mercury vapour is more rapidly transmitted throughout the body than most other forms of mercury and has more much toxic effects on the CNS and other parts of the body than inorganic mercury due to its much greater capacity to cross cell membranes. Mercury vapour rapidly crosses the blood-brain barrier and the placenta of pregnant women.
Some genetic types are susceptible to mercury-induced autoimmunity and some are resistant and thus much less affected. Studies found that mercury causes or accelerates various systemic conditions in a strain dependent manner, and that lower levels of exposure adversely affect some strains but not others, including inducing of autoimmunity. One genetic difference found in animals and humans is cellular retention differences for metals related to the ability to excrete mercury. For example individuals with genetic blood factor type APOE-4 do not excrete mercury readily and bioaccumulate mercury, resulting in susceptibility to chronic autoimmune conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons, etc. as early as age 40, whereas those with type APOE-2 readily excrete mercury and are less susceptible. .
Long term occupational exposure to low levels of mercury can induce slight cognitive deficits, fatigue, decreased stress tolerance, etc. Higher levels have been found to cause more serious neurological problems. Occupational exposure studies have found mercury impairs the body’s ability to kill Candida albicans in workers whose mercury exposure levels are within current safety limits. Another group of workers had long lasting increases in humoral immunological stimulation of IgG, IgA, and IgM levels. Other studies found that workers exposed at high levels at least 20 years previously demonstrated significantly decreased strength, decreased coordination, increased tremor, decreased sensation, polyneuropathy, etc. Elemental mercury can affect both motor and sensory peripheral nerve conduction. Thirty percent of dentists with more than average exposure were found to have neuropathies and visuographic dysfunction.
Another study found that many of the symptoms and signs of chronic candidiasis, multiple chemical sensitivity and chronic fatigue syndromes are identical to those of chronic mercurialism. The symptoms remit after removal of amalgam combined with appropriate supplementation and gave evidence to implicate amalgam as the only underlying aetiological factor.
Other studies found that mercury at levels below the current occupational safety limit causes adverse effects on mood, personality, and memory with effects on memory at very low exposure levels.
Systemic Mercury Intake from Amalgam Fillings
The tolerable daily exposure level for mercury according to a report for Health Canada is 0.014 micrograms/kilogram body weight(ug/kg) or approximately 1ug/day for average adult.
The U.S. EPA Health Standard for elemental mercury exposure is 0.3 micrograms per cubic meter of air. For the average adult breathing 20m3 of air per day, this amounts to an exposure of 4 or 6 ug/day. The EPA health guideline for methyl mercury is 0.1ug/kg body weight per day or 7ug for the average adult.
Mercury in the presence of other metals in the oral environment undergoes galvanic action, causing movement out of amalgam and into the oral mucosa and saliva. Mercury in solid form is not stable due to low vapour pressure and evaporates continuously from amalgam fillings in the mouth, being transferred over a period of time to the host. The daily total exposure of mercury from fillings is from 3 to 1000 micrograms per day, with the average exposure being above 10 micrograms per day and the average uptake into the body over 5ug/day.
A large study was carried out at the Univ. Of Tubingen Health Clinic in which the level of mercury in saliva of 20,000 persons with amalgam fillings was measured. The level of mercury in unstimulated saliva was found to average 11.6ugHg/L, with the average after chewing being 3 times this level. Several were found to have mercury levels over 1100ug/L and 1 % had unstimulated levels over 200ug/L, and 10 % had unstimulated mercury saliva levels of over 100ug/L.
The level of mercury in saliva has been found to be proportional to the number of amalgam fillings, and generally was higher for those with more fillings. 16% of all of those tested with 4 amalgam fillings had daily exposure from their amalgam fillings of over 17ug per day and even higher for those with more than 4 fillings.
There is a significant correlation between exposure levels and the number of amalgam surfaces. Exposure generally increases as number of fillings increases. Variations in mercury exposure will occur due to the composition of the amalgam, whether a person chews gum or drinks hot liquids, bruxism (grinding teeth) and oral environmental factors such as acidity, etc. Chewing gum or drinking hot liquids can result in 10 to 100 times normal levels of mercury exposure from amalgams during that period.
The Tubingen study did not assess the significant exposure route of intraoral air via the lungs. One study that looked at this estimated a daily average burden of 20ug from ionised mercury from amalgam fillings absorbed through the lungs, while a Norwegian study found the average level in oral air to be 0.8 ug/M3. Another study at a Swedish University measured intraoral air mercury levels from fillings of from 20 to 125ug per day, for persons with 18 to 82 filling surfaces. Another study found similar results and some individuals have been found to have intraoral air mercury levels above 400ug/m3. Most of those whose intraoral air mercury levels were measured exceeded Government health guidelines for workplace exposure.
The studies also determined that the number of fillings is the most important factor related to mercury level, with age of filling being much less significant. As it can be seen most people with several fillings have daily exposure exceeding the Health Canada and the U.S. EPA and health guidelines for mercury.
The main exposure paths for mercury from amalgam fillings are absorption by the lungs from intraoral air; vapour absorbed by saliva or swallowed; amalgam particles swallowed; and membrane, olfactory, venous, and neural path transfer of mercury absorbed by oral mucosa, gums, etc.
At least 80% of mercury vapour reaching the lungs is absorbed and enters the blood from where it is taken to all other parts of the body. Elemental mercury swallowed in saliva can be absorbed in the digestive tract by the blood or bound in sulph-hydryl compounds and excreted through the faeces. The primary detoxification/excretion pathway for mercury absorbed by the body is as mercury-glutathione compounds through the liver/bile loop to faeces but some mercury is also excreted though the kidneys in urine and in sweat. The range of mercury excreted in urine per day by those with amalgams is usually less than 15ug, but some patients are much higher.
Autopsy studies for those with chronic exposure to mercury show mercury also bioaccumulates in the brain/CNS, liver, kidneys, heart, and oral mucosa with the half life in the brain being over 20 years. Elemental mercury vapour is transmitted throughout the body via the blood and readily enters cells and crosses the blood-brain barrier, and the placenta of pregnant women. It crosses cellular membranes into major organs such as the heart. While mercury vapour and methyl mercury readily cross cell membranes and the blood-brain barrier, once in cells they form inorganic mercury that does not readily cross cell membranes or the blood brain barrier and is responsible for the majority of toxic effects. Thus inorganic mercury in the brain has a very long half life as it can not easily pass back out.
The average amalgam filling has approximately 0.5grams (500,000ug) of mercury. As much as 50% of mercury in fillings has been found to have vaporised after 5 years and 80% by 20 years. Mercury vapour from amalgam is the single largest source of systemic mercury intake for persons with amalgam fillings, ranging from 50 to 90 % of total exposure, averaging about 80% of total systemic intake. After amalgam filling replacement levels of mercury in the blood, urine, and faeces temporarily increase for a few days, but levels usually decline in blood and urine within 6 months by 60 to 85% of the original levels. Mercury levels in saliva and faeces usually decline between 80 to 95%.
Having dissimilar metals in the teeth (e.g. gold and mercury) causes galvanic action, electrical currents, and much higher mercury vapour levels and levels in tissues. Average mercury levels in gum tissue near amalgam fillings are about 200ppm, and are the result of mercury flow into the mucous membrane because of galvanic currents. Average mercury levels are often 1000ppm near a gold crown over an amalgam filling due to higher currents when gold is in contact with amalgam. These levels are among the highest levels ever measured in tissues of living organisms, exceeding the highest levels found in chronically exposed chloralkali workers who died in Minamata, or animals that died from mercury poisoning.
German oral surgeons have found levels in the jaw bone under large amalgam fillings or gold crowns over amalgam as high as 5760ppm with an average of 800ppm. These levels are much higher than the FDA/EPA action level for prohibiting use of food with over 1ppm mercury. Likewise the level is tremendously over the U.S. Dept. Of Health/EPA drinking water limit for mercury which is 2 parts per billion (ppb). Amalgam manufacturers, Government health agencies such as Health Canada, dental school texts, and dental materials researchers advise against having amalgam in the mouth with other metals such as gold, but many dentists ignore the warnings.
Studies have shown mercury travels from amalgam into the tooth dentine, root tips and the gums, with levels in roots tips as high as 41ppm. Mercury and silver from fillings can be seen in the tissues as amalgam “tattoos”, which have been found to accumulate in the oral mucosa as granules along collagen bundles, blood vessels, nerve sheaths, elastic fibres, membranes, muscle fibres, and ducts of minor salivary glands. Dark granules are also present intracellularly within cells of the immune system such as macrophages, giant cells, endothelial cells and fibroblasts. There is in most cases chronic inflammatory response the metals, usually in the form of a foreign body granuloma.
The component mix in amalgams has also been found to be an important factor in mercury vapour emissions. The level of mercury and copper released from high copper amalgam is as much as 50 times that of low copper amalgams. Studies have consistently found modern high copper amalgams have a high negative current and much greater release of mercury vapour than conventional silver amalgams and are more cytotoxic. Clinics have found the increased toxicity and higher exposures to be factors in increased incidence of chronic degenerative diseases etc.
While the high copper amalgams were developed to be less corrosive and less prone to marginal fractures than conventional silver amalgams they have been found to be unstable when subjected to wear, polishing, chewing or brushing as droplets of mercury form on the surface of the amalgam. This has also been found to be a factor in the much higher release of mercury vapour by the modern amalgams. Amalgam also releases significant amounts of silver, tin, and copper which also have toxic effects, with organic tin compounds formed in the body being even more neurotoxic than mercury.
The number of amalgam surfaces has a statistically significant correlation to mercury levels of:
blood plasma, urine, oral air, saliva and oral mucosa, faeces, the pituitary gland, brain cortex, renal cortex, the liver and motor function areas of the brain & CNS.
Teeth are living tissue and have massive communication with the rest of the body via blood, lymph, and nerves. Mercury vapour (and bacteria in teeth) have paths to the rest of the body. Some mercury entering nasal passages is absorbed directly into the olfactory lobe and brain without coming from blood. Mercury also is transported along the axons of nerve fibres.
Mercury has a long half-life in the body and over 20 years in the brain, and chronic low level intake results in a slow accumulation in body tissues.
Methyl mercury is more toxic to some body processes than inorganic mercury. Mercury from amalgam is methylated by bacteria, galvanic electric currents and candida albicans in the mouth and intestines.
Methyl mercury is 10 times more potent in causing genetic damage than any other known chemical.
The level of mercury in the tissue of the foetus, newborn and young children is directly proportional to the number of amalgam surfaces in the mother’s mouth. The level of mercury in umbilical cord blood and placenta was higher than that in mother’s blood. The saliva and faeces of children with amalgams have approximately 10 times the level of mercury as children without. A group of German children with amalgam fillings had urine mercury level 4 times that of a control group without amalgams and in a Norwegian group there was a significant correlation between urine mercury level and number of amalgam fillings.
The level of mercury in maternal hair was significantly correlated to the level of mercury in nursing infants. The foetal mercury content after maternal inhalation of mercury vapour was found to be higher than in the mother. Mercury from amalgam in the blood of pregnant women crosses the placenta and appears in amniotic fluid and foetal blood, liver, and pituitary gland soon after placement of an amalgam.
Dental amalgams are the main source of mercury in breast milk. Milk increases the bioavailability of mercury and mercury is often stored in breast milk and the foetus at much higher levels than that in the mother’s tissues. The level of mercury in breast milk was found to be significantly correlated with the number of amalgam fillings, with milk from mothers with 7 or more fillings having levels in milk approx. 10 times that of amalgam-free mothers.
The pituitary gland uptakes the highest level of mercury in the foetus which can affect development of the endocrine system.
Immune System Effects and Autoimmune Disease
Many thousands of people with symptoms of mercury toxicity have been found in tests to have high levels of mercury, and of the many thousands who have had amalgam fillings removed most have had health problems and symptoms alleviated or greatly improved.
From clinical experience some of the symptoms of mercury sensitivity/mercury poisoning include chronic fatigue, dizziness, frequent urination, insomnia, headaches, chronic skin problems, metallic taste, gastrointestinal problems, asthma, post nasal drip, ringing ears, chest pain, hyperventilation, diabetes, spacey feeling, brain fog, memory loss, problems with temperature regulation, mood and behavioural problems, thyroid problems, adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalances, reduced liver function, depression, chronic skin problems, immune and autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular problems and many types of neurological problems.
Amalgam results in chronic mercury exposure rather than acute exposure and accumulation in body organs over time, so most health effects are of a chronic nature rather than acute.
Mercury vapour exposure at very low levels adversely affects the immune system. From animal studies it has been determined that mercury damages T-cells by damaging the mitochondria, causes destruction and loss of cell membrane integrity, inhibiting ability to secrete interleukins, causing production of superoxides and nitric oxide, and inactivating or inhibiting enzyme systems involving the sulphydrol protein groups.
Mercury caused adverse effects on both neutrophil and macrophage function and T-cells were susceptible to mercury induced cellular death. Interferon synthesis was reduced in a concentration dependent manner with either mercury or methyl mercury as well as other immune functions. Low doses also induce aggregation of cell surface proteins and dramatic tyrosine phosphorylation of cellular proteins related to asthma, allergic diseases such as eczema and lupus and autoimmunity.
Both mercuric and methyl mercury chlorides caused dose dependent reduction in immune B-cell production. Mercury also inhibited B-cell and T-cell RNA and DNA synthesis.
Workers occupationally exposed to mercury at levels within guidelines have been found to have impairment of lytic activity of neutrophils and reduced ability of neutraphils to kill invaders such as candida. Low doses also induced autoimmuntiy in some species.
Another effect found is a significant increase in the average blood white cell count. The increased white count usually normalises after amalgam removal. Mercury also blocks the immune function of magnesium and zinc.
Large numbers of people undergoing amalgam removal have clinically demonstrated significant improvements in immune system function and recovery and significant improvement in immune system problems in most cases surveyed.
Mercury from amalgam interferes with production of cytokines that activate macrophage and neutraphils, disabling early control of viruses and leading to enhanced infection. Body mercury burden was found to play a role in resistant infections such as Chlamydia trachomatis and herpes family viral infections and it was found antibiotics could only effectively treat many cases after removal of body mercury burden. Similar results have been found for treatment of cancer.
Mercury by its effect of weakening the immune system contributes to increased chronic diseases and cancer. Exposure to mercury vapour causes decreased zinc and methionine availability, depresses rates of methylation, and increased free radicals all factors in increased susceptibility to cancer. Amalgam fillings have also been found to be positively associated with mouth cancer.
More Effects of Mercury
Mercury interrupts the cytochrome C oxidase system, blocking the ATP energy function. These effects along with reductions in red blood cells oxygen carrying capability often result in fatigue and reduced energy levels as well as neurological effects.
Toxic/allergic reactions to metals such as mercury often result in lichen planus lesions in oral mucosa or gums and play a roll in pathogenesis of periodontal disease. Removal of amalgam fillings usually results in cure of such lesions. A high percentage of patients with oral mucosal problems along with other autoimmune problems such as CFS have significant immune reactions to mercury, palladium, gold, and nickel.
Mercury has been found to impair conversion of thyroid T4 hormone to the active T3 form as well as causing autoimmune thyroiditis common to such patients.
In general immune activation from toxins such as heavy metals can cause changes in the brain, fatigue, and severe psychological symptoms such as profound fatigue, muscosketal pain, sleep disturbances, gastrointestinal and neurological problems as are seen in CFS, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune thyroiditis. Patients with other systemic neurological or immune symptoms such as arthritis, myalgia, eczema, CFS, MS, lupus, ALS, diabetes, epilepsy, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, schleroderma, etc. often recover or improve significantly after amalgam replacement.
Mercury inhibits production of insulin and is a factor in diabetes and hypoglycemia, with significant reductions in insulin need and normalisation of blood sugar after replacement of amalgam fillings.
Mercury exposure through fillings appears to be a major factor in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) through its effects on ATP and the immune system and its promotion of growth of candida albicans in the body and the methylation of inorganic mercury by candida to the extremely toxic methyl mercury form which like mercury vapour crosses the blood-brain barrier and also damages and weakens the immune system. Both inorganic and methyl mercury have been shown in animal studies to induce autoimmune reactions and disease in susceptible types through effects on immune system T cells.
Medical Study Findings of Health Problems Related to Amalgam Fillings
Neurological problems are among the most common and serious and include memory loss, moodiness, depression, anger and sudden bursts of anger/rage, self-effacement, suicidal thoughts, lack of strength/force to resolve doubts or resist obsessions or compulsions, etc. Many studies of patients with major neurological diseases have found evidence amalgam fillings may play a major role in development of conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, memory problems and other more serious neurological diseases such as MS, ALS, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.
Mercury causes decreased lithium levels, which is a factor in neurological diseases such as depression and Alzheimer’s. Lithium protects brain cells against excess glutamate and calcium, and low levels cause abnormal brain cell balance and neurological disturbances. Medical texts on neurology point out that chronic mercurialism is often not recognized by diagnosticians and misdiagnosed as dementia or neurosis or functional psychosis or just “nerves”. Early manifestations are likely to be subtle and diagnosis difficult: Insomnia, nervousness, mild tremor, impaired judgment and coordination, decreased mental efficiency, emotional lability, headache, fatigue, loss of sexual drive, depression, etc. are often mistakenly ascribed to psychogenic causes. Very high levels of mercury are found in brain memory areas such as the cerebral cortex and hippocampus of patients with diseases with memory related symptoms.
Some conditions found to be related to such toxic exposure of the foetus include autism, schizophrenia, ADD, dyslexia, eczema, etc. Prenatal/early postnatal exposure to mercury affects the level of nerve growth factor in the brain and causes brain damage and imbalances in development of the brain. Several studies found that mercury causes learning disabilities and impairment, and reduction in IQ. Mercury has an effect on the foetal nervous system at levels far below that considered toxic in adults, and background levels of mercury in mothers correlate significantly with incidence of birth defects and still births.
Mercury alters lymphocyte reactivity and effects glutamate in the CNS and induces CFS type symptoms including profound tiredness, musculoskeletal pain, sleep distubances, gastrointestinal and neurological problems and fibromyalgia.
Numerous studies have found long term chronic low doses of mercury cause neurological, memory, behaviour, sleep, and mood problems. Neurological effects have been documented at very low levels of exposure (urine Hg< 4ug/L), levels commonly received by those with amalgam fillings.
Mercury binds to haemoglobin oxygen binding sites in the red blood cells thus reducing oxygen carrying capacity and adversely affects the vascular response to norepinephrine and potassium. Mercury’s effect on pituitary gland vasopression is a factor in high blood pressure.
Amalgam fillings have been found to be related to higher blood pressure, haemoglobin irregularities, tachycardia, chest pains, fatigue and reduced energy levels. Mercury also accumulates in the heart and damages myocardial tissues and heart valves.
Interruption of the ATP energy chemistry results in high levels of porphyrins in the urine. Mercury, lead, and other toxins all cause high levels of porphyrins and have a pattern that indicates the likely source and the extent of damage. The average level of porphyrins for those with amalgams is over 3 time that of those without, and is over 20 times normal for some severely poisoned people. The FDA has approved a test measuring porphyrins as a test for mercury poisoning.
A study funded by the Adolf Coors Foundation found that toxicity such as mercury is a significant cause of abnormal cholesterol levels, increasing as a protective measure against metal toxicity, and that cholesterol levels usually normalize after amalgam replacement. The study also found that mercury has major adverse effects on red and white blood cells, oxygen carrying capacity, and porphyrin levels, with most cases seeing significant increase in oxyhemogolbin level and reduction in porphyrin levels along with 100% experiencing improved energy.
Patch tests for hypersensitivity to mercury have found from 2% to 44% to test positive, much higher for groups with more amalgam fillings and length of exposure than those with less. In studies of medical and dental students, those testing positive had significantly higher average number of amalgam fillings than those not testing positive and higher levels of mercury in urine. Of the dental students with 10 or more fillings at least 5 years old, 44% tested allergic.
People with amalgam fillings have an increased number of intestinal microorganisms resistant to mercury and many standard antibiotics. Mercury is extremely toxic and kills many beneficial bacteria, but some forms of bacteria can alter their form to avoid being killed making the bacteria mercury resistant. But this transformation also increases antibiotic resistance and results in adversely altered populations of bacteria in the intestines. Recent studies have found that drug resistant strains of bacteria causing ear infections, sinusitis, tuberculosis, and pneumonia more than doubled since 1996. After reducing mercury burden antibiotic resistance declines. The alteration of intestinal bacterial populations necessary for proper digestion along with other damage and membrane permeability effects of mercury are major factors in creating “leaky gut” conditions with poor digestion and absorption of nutrients and toxic incompletely digested compounds passing into the bloodstream.
Mercury from amalgam binds to the -SH (sulphydryl) groups of amino acids and proteins, resulting in inactivation of sulphur and blocking of enzyme function, producing sulphur metabolites with extreme toxicity that the body is unable to properly detoxify, along with a deficiency in sulphates required for many body functions. Sulphur is essential in enzymes, hormones, nerve tissue, and red blood cells. These exist in almost every enzymatic process in the body. Blocked or inhibited sulphur oxidation at the cellular level has been found in most with many of the chronic degenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, ALS, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, MCS, autism, etc.
Mercury also blocks the metabolic action of manganese and the entry of calcium ions into cytoplasm. Mercury from amalgam thus has the potential to disturb all metabolic processes.
A large study of 20,000 subjects at a German university found a significant relation between the number of amalgam fillings with periodontal problems, neurological problems, and gastrointestinal problems. Allergies and hair-loss were found to be 2-3 times as high in a group with large number of amalgam fillings compared to controls. Higher levels of hormone disturbances, immune disturbances, infertility, and recurrent fungal infections were also found in the amalgam group. Clinics have also found alleviation of hair loss/alopechia after amalgam removal and detox. Another study in Japan found significantly higher levels of mercury in grey hair than in dark hair.
Mercury accumulates in the kidneys with increasing levels over time. One study found levels ranging from 21 to 810ppb. Mercury exposure has been shown to adversely affect kidney function in occupational and animal studies and also in those with more than average number of amalgam fillings. Inorganic mercury exposure causes cytotoxicity by generating extremely high levels of hydrogen peroxide, which is normally quenched by pyruvate and catalase. The Government’s toxic level for mercury in urine is 30mcg/L, but adverse effects have been seen at lower levels and low levels in urine often mean high mercury retention and chronic toxicity problems.
Amalgam fillings produce electrical currents which increase mercury vapour release and may have other harmful effects. These currents are measured in micro amps, with some measured at over 4 micro amps. The central nervous system operates on signals in the range of nano-amps, which is 1000 times less than a micro amp. Negatively charged fillings or crowns push electrons into the oral cavity since saliva is a good electrolyte and cause higher mercury vapour losses. Patients with autoimmune conditions like MS, or epilepsy, depression, etc. are often found to have a lot of high negative current fillings. The Huggins total dental revision (TDR) protocol calls for teeth with the highest negative charge to be replaced first. Other protocols for amalgam removal are available from international dental associations like IAOMT. Some studies have also found persons with chronic exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) to have higher levels of mercury exposure and excretion.
Since mercury is documented from studies of humans and animals to be a reproductive and developmental toxin mercury can reduce reproductive function and cause birth defects and developmental problems. Clinical evidence indicates that amalgam fillings lead to hormone imbalances that can reduce fertility, cause decreased sperm volume and motility, increase sperm abnormalities and spontaneous abortions, increase uterine fibroids/endometritis, and decreased fertility in animals and in humans. In studies of women having miscarriages or birth defects, male partners were found to typically have low sperm counts and significantly more visually abnormal sperm. Studies have found that mercury accumulates in the ovaries and testes, inhibits enzymes necessary for sperm production, affects DNA in sperm, causes aberrant numbers of chromosomes in cells, causes chromosome breaks, etc. all of which can cause infertility, spontaneous abortions, or birth defects. Researcher’s advise pregnant women should not be exposed to mercury vapour levels above government health standards with many governments having bans or restrictions on use of amalgam by women of child-bearing age.
Mercury is an endocrine system disrupting chemical in animals and people, disrupting function of the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, thyroid gland, enzyme production processes and many hormonal functions at very low levels of exposure. The pituitary gland controls many of the body’s endocrine system functions and secretes hormones that control most bodily processes, including the immune system and reproductive systems. The hypothalamus regulates body temperature and many metabolic processes. Mercury damage thus commonly results in poor bodily temperature control, in addition to many problems caused by hormonal imbalances. Mercury also damages the blood brain barrier and facilitates penetration of the brain by other toxic metals and substances. Low levels of mercuric chloride also inhibit ATPase activity in the thyroid, with methyl mercury inhibiting ATP function at even lower levels. These effects result commonly in a reduction in thyroid production and an accumulation in the thyroid of radiation. Toxic metal exposure can play a major role in thyroid cancer aetiology.
There has been no evidence found that there is any safe level of mercury in the body that does not kill cells and harm body processes (WHO).
Many studies of patients with major neurological or degenerative diseases have found evidence amalgam fillings may play a major role in development of conditions such as such as Alzheimers, ALS , Parkinson’s, ADD, etc. Mercury exposure causes high levels of oxidative stress/reactive oxygen species, which has been found to be a major factor in neurological disease. Mercury and quinones form conjugates with thiol compounds such as glutathione and cysteine and cause depletion of glutathione, which is necessary to mitigate reactive damage. One study found higher than average levels of mercury in the blood, urine, and hair of Parkinson’s disease patients.
Mercury has been found to accumulate preferentially in the primary motor function related areas such as the brain stem, cerebellum and anterior horn motor neurons, which enervate the skeletal muscles. There is considerable indication this may be a factor in ALS development. MS patients have been found to have much higher levels of mercury in cerebrospinal fluid compared to controls. Large German studies including studies at German universities have found that MS patients usually have high levels of mercury body burden, with one study finding 300% higher than controls. Most recovered after mercury detox, with some requiring additional treatment for viruses and intestinal dysbiosis. Studies have found mercury related mental effects to be indistinguishable from those of MS.
Mercury and methyl mercury impair or inhibit all cell functions and deplete calcium stores. This can be a major factor in bone loss of calcium (osteoporosis). Mercury (like copper) also accumulates in areas of the eyes such as the endothelial layer of the cornea and macula and is a major factor in chronic and degenerative eye conditions such as iritis, astigmatism, myopia, black streaks on retina, cataracts, macula degeneration, etc. Most of these conditions have been found to improve after amalgam replacement.
Results of Removal of Amalgam Fillings
For the week following amalgam removal, body mercury levels increase significantly, depending on protective measures taken, but within 2 weeks levels fall significantly. Chronic conditions can worsen temporarily, but usually improve if adequate precautions are taken to reduce exposure during removal. Removal of amalgam fillings resulted in a significant reduction in body burden and body waste product load of mercury. Total reduction in mercury levels in blood and urine is often over 80% within a few months.
There are extensive documented cases (many thousands) where removal of amalgam fillings led to cure or significant improvement of serious health problems such as periodontal diseases, oral keratosis(pre cancer), immune system/ autoimmune problems, allergies, asthma, chronic headaches/ migraines, multiple chemical sensitivities, epilepsy, blood conditions, eczema, chron’s disease, stomach problems, lupus, dizziness/vertigo, arthritis, MS, ALS, Parkinson’s/ muscle tremor, Alzheimer’s, muscular/joint pain/fibromyalgia, infertility, depression, schizophrenia, insomnia, anger, anxiety & mental confusion, susceptibility to infections, antibiotic resistant infection, endometriosis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, tachycardia and heart problems, memory disorders, cancer, neuropathy/paraesthesia, alopecia/hair loss, sinus problems, tinnitus, chronic eye conditions: inflammation/iritis/astigmatism/myopia /cataracts/macula degeneration, vision disturbances, psoriasis, skin conditions, urinary/prostrate problems, hearing loss, candida, PMS, diabetes, etc.
With the use of chemical or natural chelation to reduce accumulated mercury body burden in addition to amalgam replacement reports show over 80% with chronic health problems were cured or significantly improved. The recovery rate of those using dentists with special equipment and training in protecting the patient reported much higher success rates than those with standard training and equipment.
Interviews of a large population of Swedish patients that had amalgams removed due to health problems found that virtually all reported significant health improvements and that the health improvements were permanent (study period 17 years).
Tests for Mercury Level or Toxicity
Faeces is the major path of excretion of mercury from the body and many researchers consider faeces to be the most reliable indicator of daily exposure level to mercury. The saliva test is another good test for daily mercury exposure, done commonly in Europe and representing one of the largest sources of mercury exposure.
There is only a weak correlation between blood or urine mercury levels and body burden or level in a target organ. Mercury vapour passes through the blood rapidly (half-life in blood is 10 seconds) and accumulates in other parts of the body such as the brain, kidneys, liver, thyroid gland, pituitary gland, etc. Thus blood test measures mostly recent exposure. As damage occurs to kidneys over time, mercury is less efficiently eliminated so urine tests are not reliable for body burden after long term exposure. Some researchers suggest hair offers a better indicator of mercury body burden than blood or urine though still not totally reliable and may be a better indicator for organic mercury than inorganic.
A new test approved by the FDA for diagnosing damage that has been caused by toxic metals like mercury is the fractionated porphyrin test, that measures amount of damage as well as likely source.
Provocation challenge tests after use of chemical chelators such as DMPS or DMSA also are effective at measuring body burden, but DMPS can be dangerous to some people- especially those still having amalgam fillings or those allergic to sulphur drugs or sulphites.
Another chelator used for clogged arteries, EDTA, forms toxic compounds with mercury and can damage brain function.
Experienced doctors have also found additional zinc to be useful when chelating mercury as well as counteracting mercury’s oxidative damage. Zinc induces metallothionein which protects against oxidative damage and increases protective enzyme activities and glutathione which tend to suppress mercury toxicity.
Note: during initial exposure to mercury the body marshals the immune system and other measures to try to deal with the challenge, so many test indicators will be high. After prolonged exposure the body and immune system inevitably lose the battle and measures to combat the challenge decrease so some test indicator scores decline. Chronic conditions are common during this phase. Also high mercury exposures with low hair mercury or urine mercury level usually indicate the body is retaining mercury.
Health Effects from Dental Personnel Exposure to Mercury Vapour
It is well documented that dentists and dental personnel who work with amalgam are chronically exposed to mercury vapour, which accumulates in their bodies to much higher levels than for most non-occupationally exposed. Adverse health effects of this exposure including subtle neurological effects have also been well documented that affect most dentists and dental assistants, with measurable effects among those in the lowest levels of exposure. Mercury levels of dental personnel average at least 2 times that of controls.
Sweden, which has banned use of mercury in fillings, is the country with the most exposure and health effects studies regarding amalgam, and urine levels in dental professionals from Swedish and European studies ranged from 0.8 to 30.1ug/L with study averages from 3.7 to 6.2ug/L.
Mercury excretion levels were found to have a positive correlation with the number of amalgams placed or replaced per week, the number of amalgams polished each week, and with the number of fillings in the dentist.
Autopsy studies have found high body accumulation of mercury in dental workers, with levels in pituitary gland and thyroid over 10 times controls and levels in renal cortex 7 times controls. Autopsies of former dental staff found levels of mercury in the pituitary gland averaged as high as 4,040 ppb. They also found much higher levels in the brain occipital cortex, renal cortex and thyroid. In general dental assistants and women dental workers showed higher levels of mercury than male dentists.
The use of high speed drills in removal or replacement of amalgam has been found to create high volume of mercury vapour and respirable particles, and dental masks only filter out about 40 % of such particles. This produces high levels of exposure to patient and dental staff. Use of water spray, high velocity evacuation and rubber dam reduces exposure to patient and dental staff significantly. In addition to these measures researchers also advise all dental staff should wear face masks and a separate air supply and patients also be supplied with outside air. Use of such measures alone has been found to reduce exposure to patient and staff approximately by 90%.
Dentists were found to score significantly worse than a comparable control group on neurobehavioral tests of motor speed, visual scanning and visuomotor coordination, concentration, verbal memory, visual memory and emotional/mood tests.
Several dentists have been documented to suffer from mercury poisoning due to chronic mercury exposure showing chronic fatigue due to immune system overload and activation. Many studies have found this occurs frequently in dentists and dental staff along with other related symptoms like lack of ability to concentrate, chronic muscular pain, burnout, etc.
A survey of over 60,000 U.S. dentists and dental assistants with chronic exposure to mercury vapour and anaesthetics found increased health problems compared to controls, including significantly higher liver, kidney, and neurological diseases. Other studies reviewed found increased rates of brain cancer and allergies.
Either the dentist or dental hygienists and patients get high doses of mercury vapour when teeth are polished or cleaned by the use ultrasonic scalers on amalgam surfaces.
Many homes of dentists have been found to have high levels of mercury contamination due to dentists bringing mercury home on shoes and clothes.
Scientists and Government Panels or Bodies That Have Found Amalgam Fillings to be Unsafe.
A World Health Organization Scientific Panel concluded that there is no safe level of mercury exposure and found no threshhold level below which effects were not measurable.
In 1987 the Federal Dept. of Health in Germany issued an advisory warning against use of dental amalgam in pregnant women. Most major countries other than the U.S. have similar or more extensive bans or health warnings regarding the use of amalgam, including Canada, Great Britain, France, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
A Swedish National Mercury Amalgam Review Panel and a similar Norwegian panel found that “from a toxicological point of view, mercury is too toxic to use as a filling material”. Both countries have indicated plans to ban or phase out use of amalgam.
A major amalgam manufacturer, Caulk Inc., advises that amalgam should not be used as a base for crowns or for retrograde root fillings as is commonly done in some countries.
A Swedish medical panel unanimously recommended to the government “discontinuing the use of amalgam as a dental material”.
The U.S. EPA found that removed amalgam fillings are hazardous and must be sealed airtight and disposed of as hazardous waste.
Most European countries require controls on dental waste amalgam emissions to sewers or air.
The Legislature of the State of California passed a law that requires all dentists in the state to discuss the safety of dental materials with all patients and to post the following warning about use of amalgam on the wall of their office.
“This office uses amalgam filling materials which contain and expose you to a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects and other reproductive harm”.
The use of mercury amalgams has been banned for children and women of child-bearing age or put on a schedule for phase out by several European countries. The use of amalgam is declining in Europe and Germany’s largest producer of amalgam has ceased production.
The director of the U.S. Federal program overseeing dental safety advises against using mercury amalgam for new fillings.