Are Amalgam Fillings Safe or Should You Have Them Removed?

ADA (American Dental Association) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) are adamant that amalgam is a safe restorative material, and any dentist who recommends removing them due to health concerns from mercury vapor is deemed unethical and could have their license taken away.

While in Sweden, a number of studies have been conducted, in which people, with pre-existing neurological and health issues (Chronic Fatigue-type symptoms), had amalgams removed–78% (!) reported improvement in their health status. As a result of the studies, Sweden banned mercury amalgam dental fillings. In 1994 their government announced the timetable for the ban on the use of mercury/silver amalgam as a dental filling material. Amalgam was totally banned for children and adolescents up to the age of 19 by 1 July 1995, at the latest and for adults by 1997. As early as 1987, the Swedish Social Welfare and Health Administration:

Amalgam is, from a toxicological point of view, an unacceptable dental filling material which shall be discontinued when a suitable dental filling material has been developed. As a first step in the process to eliminate the use of amalgam in dental fillings, comprehensive amalgam work on pregnant women shall be stopped in order to prevent mercury damage to the fetus.

 A study published in 2011 showed two groups of people examined over a period of 3 years. Those who had amalgam fillings removed and replaced with other restorative materials had “significant reductions in intra-oral and general health complaints;” while the “reference group,” those who had no intervention with their fillings, reported no significant changes in their health. (J Oral Rehabil. 2011 November; 38(11): 835–848)

In 1991, Germany’s Health Ministry recommended to the German Dental Association that no further amalgam fillings be placed in children, pregnant women, or people with kidney disease, and in 1993 this was extended to include all women of child-bearing age, pregnant or not. Source

It is a widely accepted and a known fact that mercury is a toxic substance; it can cause neurological issues, autoimmune disease, chronic illnesses and mental disorders at certain levels. What would those levels be? And should anyone place a toxic matter in their body for up to 20 years, regardless of the amount of this poisonous liquid metal?

ADA states that amalgam “has been used to restore the teeth of more than 100 million Americans”. (Yet 72% of those surveyed in the US did not know that silver fillings contain mercury!) So, if 100 million Americans get amalgams in their mouths, they must be safe then. Right?!  Could there be possible dangers of having a filling, that is 50% mercury–a powerful neurotoxin, in your mouth?

While it is not my goal to claim the safety, or the lack of, of amalgam fillings in this post (I will leave it up to you to decide based on the facts I just stated), I wanted to tell you how you can safely remove amalgams, should you choose to do so. However, since I am not a specialist, when it comes to dentistry, I found someone who is much more qualified to speak on the topic.

I found out about Dr. Johnson, a biologic dentist, from one of Body by Plants graduates, who happens to work for him.  He kindly agreed to share information on how to safely remove amalgam fillings.

About Dr. Bob Johnson

Robert JohnsonDr. Robert Johnson graduated from dental school (University of Pennsylvania) in 1979, served two years as a dentist in the US Navy and a one year residency in Worcester, Mass (1981-1982).

He has been in General Dental practice to the present and founded an Integrative Wellness Center (Natural Horizons) in 1999 in Fairfax, Virginia.

Dr. Johnson now serves as a Biologic Dentist and health consultant for National Integrated Health Associates (NIHA) in Washington, DC. NIHA is a premier Wellness Center in the US.

His passion is Integrative Medicine and Health Centered Dentistry having taken over 8000 continuing education hours while studying with many of the world’s prominent educators and researchers of holistic and natural health care.

Optimal Health on a Budget” is Dr. Johnson’s vehicle to help disseminate cutting edge knowledge of health (our most important asset) in an understandable and affordable manner throughout his community, the US and abroad.

Guest Post

Overview of Amalgam Mercury Fillings

Many people are very concerned about the “silver” or dark fillings they have in their mouths and rightfully so.  These fillings are called amalgams and are composed of five metals: tin, silver, copper and zinc with mercury being the glue that holds these metals together in the filling.  Mercury is 50% of these fillings by weight.

Amalgams were developed in the 1830’s and, after initial concerns, amalgam fillings were accepted as the fillings of choice for decades.  The thought process was that mercury in these fillings was inert within the fillings, meaning that it did not escape from these amalgam fillings.  In the 1970’s research showed mercury was escaping from these fillings and because mercury is highly toxic, health concerns were raised.

Mercury continually escapes from amalgams and accumulates within different tissues in the head and the rest of the body.  The result of mercury accumulation is damage to the tissues and organs in which the mercury is accumulating. 

Eating, consuming hot or acidic food and drinks, tooth grinding and tooth brushing on top of these amalgams increases the mercury release into the mouth and body.

The only way to stop this mercury release from amalgams is to remove them with a controlled, safe technique.  When you remove these amalgams it must be done by a dentist trained to remove them safely to minimize mercury exposure to the patient, dentist and health care team.  The safe removal process includes:

  • First remove any mercury sensitivity or allergy*
  • Pre-removal supplementation**
  • Use of a rubber dam over the teeth to catch most of the escaping Mercury (Hg)
  • Use of suction and mercury binders in the mouth under the rubber dam
  • Removal while flooding the teeth with water
  • High speed suction over the amalgams being removed
  • Special sectioning of the amalgam to minimize mercury release
  • Oxygen administered nasally to the patient during removal
  • Gas masks for dentist and staff to protect them

Although the ADA and FDA still resist admitting amalgams are damaging your health, because of potential litigation, the research and consensus inside and outside dentistry is overwhelmingly in agreement that amalgam fillings should be removed to stop mercury accumulation in the body.  When and if you have these fillings removed make certain you select a dentist trained in safe amalgams removal.

*Mercury Allergies and Sensitivities:   Everyone is toxic to mercury but not everyone is sensitive or allergic to mercury.  Sensitivity or allergy means that mercury causes a hyper reaction to mercury not allowing mercury to be detoxified by the liver or kidney.  This causes the body to retain and accumulate mercury.  A procedure called allergy elimination technique (AET) will eliminate this sensitivity prior to removing amalgams to make it much safer to remove the amalgams.    Our clinic in Washington DC does AET prior to removing amalgams and is one of the most important steps to safe amalgam removal.

**Pre amalgam removal supplementation: The following supplements should be taken for 3-5 days prior to supplementation to help the body during removal and assist detoxification after removal.   These supplements include: Chorella, Lymph Drainage, kidney drainage homeopathics, Garlic and vitamin C  (3000 mg each day).   If one can get a colonic within 2 days of the amalgam removal and a vitamin and mineral intravenous  infusion within 24 hours of the removal that is best.

Answers to Basic Amalgam Removal Questions

1. Where can you find a dentist trained in amalgams removal?

You can find a dentist at the IAOMT website or google “mercury free dentist”.   Not all dentists who claim to be mercury free are highly trained to remove amalgams with total safety.

2. Once amalgams are removed, what should they be replaced with?

The replacement restorations should be compatible with a patient’s immune system.   Generally porcelain and some resins fit this compatibility model.

3. If I were to get implants, what should I loo for?

Most implants are titanium.   More people are developing sensitivities to titanium.   Implants can also be porcelain.  My use of porcelain implants is showing great acceptability by the oral tissues.

4. What is the risk of removing amalgam fillings?

Teeth can be sensitive or can even die.   For dentist trained in advanced removal this removal process can be much less risky with special tools to minimize to jeopardy to the long term health of your teeth.

5. What is an average cost of removal?

The costs vary widely with the number of teeth needing Amalgams replaced and the size of the restoration to be placed.

Have Amalgam Fillings Questions?

So, should you drop everything and run out to look for a specialist to remove your amalgam fillings? Or should you wait to replace them as needed?

If you have questions, drop a note under this post, and I will ask Dr. Johnson to respond to them.  Meanwhile you can visit his web-site: Optimal Health on a Budget.

credits: featured image is courtesy of Gregory Szarkiewicz by way of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net 

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  • Jessica

    I recently had two of my four amalgam fillings replaced, and my dentist didn’t practice any of these safety measures, and I honestly can say, I dont know any dentists that do. I have never been to one, and either have my friends or family members, so if it is such a health risk, why dont all dentists practice this? It is quite disturbing. I mean, it is hard enough to find a good dentist as it is, but then to find a dentist that operates from a wellness standpoint is a whole other story. I am just happy when I find a dental hygienist who actually knows how to clean my teeth properly. Then there is the the whole opening up a can of worms when they remove the old filling and they have to drill the tooth even further to find a clean surface to adhere the new filling to which now makes the initial cavity even deeper and practically ruins the existing tooth and you end up needing a root canal and caps. It really is like being caught between a rock and a hard place, so what is the right answer?

    • Jessica, a lot of them are not trained to do the removals properly, and even more of them are in a complete denial of just how hazardous it is to our health. Did you check out the site I lined to in the post to find a more natural dentist?

      I will ask Dr. Johnson to respond to your other questions.

    • Dr Robert Johnson

      Jessica,
      Most dentists (more than 95%) don’t practice safe Amalgam removal because they don’t know the risks of Mercury Amalgam removal and potential exposure to Mercury to their patients and themselves. The other reason that so few dentists practice safe mercury removal is because the American Dental Association still strongly supports the use of Amalgams and many state dental boards punish dentists who remove amalgams to eliminate mercury exposure in patients. All this in light of definitive research showing mercury escapes from Amalgam fillings and accumulates in the body causing damage to the tissues in which it has accumulated. The best source of finding a mercury free dentist is to search on http://www.IAOMT.com. Hygienists should not be polishing on top of Amalgams or to polish these fillings which releases large amounts of mercury. There is no need to “ruin” a tooth during amalgam removal. Size of the final restoration is determined by the size of the original filling and the extent of the existing decay.
      Jessica,
      Most dentists (more than 95%) don’t practice safe Amalgam removal because they don’t know the risks of Mercury Amalgam removal and potential exposure to Mercury to their patients and themselves. The other reason that so few dentists practice safe mercury removal is because the American Dental Association still strongly supports the use of Amalgams and many state dental boards punish dentists who remove amalgams to eliminate mercury exposure in patients. All this in light of definitive research showing mercury escapes from Amalgam fillings and accumulates in the body causing damage to the tissues in which it has accumulated. The best source of finding a mercury free dentist is to search on http://www.IAOMT.com. Hygienists should not be polishing on top of Amalgams or to polish these fillings which releases large amounts of mercury. There is no need to “ruin” a tooth during amalgam removal. Size of the final restoration is determined by the size of the original filling and the extent of the existing decay.
      I explain all this to my patients and they understand all alternatives before beginning. I am happy to discuss with anyone with questions.
      I explain all this to my patients and they understand all alternatives before beginning. I am happy to discuss with anyone with questions.

      The site to find an trained dentists for amalgam removal
      http://www.IAOMT.com
      Dr Bob Johnson

    • Dr Robert Johnson

      Jessica,

      Most dentists (more than 95%) don’t practice safe Amalgam removal because they don’t know the risks of Mercury Amalgam removal and potential exposure to Mercury to their patients and themselves. The other reason that so few dentists practice safe mercury removal is because the American Dental Association still strongly supports the use of Amalgams and many state dental boards punish dentists who remove amalgams to eliminate mercury exposure in patients. All this in light of definitive research showing mercury escapes from Amalgam fillings and accumulates in the body causing damage to the tissues in which it has accumulated. The best source of finding a mercury free dentist is to search on http://www.IAOMT.com. Hygienists should not be polishing on top of Amalgams or to polish these fillings which releases large amounts of mercury. There is no need to “ruin” a tooth during amalgam removal. Size of the final restoration is determined by the size of the original filling and the extent of the existing decay.

      I explain all this to my patients and they understand all alternatives before beginning. I am happy to discuss with anyone with questions.

      I explain all this to my patients and they understand all alternatives before beginning. I am happy to discuss with anyone with questions.

      The site to find an trained dentists for amalgam removal
      http://www.IAOMT.com

  • Mandy

    I am so afraid, since I am trying to get pregnant and have a family But just had about six amalgam fillings put in and am due for one more. I read that BPA in resin fillings is its own problem… I just don’t know what to do. I spent every cent I had saved to finally fix my teeth and now I’m terrified that I’m slowly killing myself. Are there any suggestions for what to do to give our bodies support in detoxifying for those of us who can’t afford to run out and fix this immediately?? Homeopathic heavy metal detox?

    • Mandy, do not lose your peace over this. I will ask Dr. Johnson to respond to your questions. Hang in there.

    • Dr Robert Johnson

      Mandy,
      Don’t get yourself upset as stress can be very unhealthy. BPA is not in all resin fillings and is much less problematic than the mercury in Amalgams. For now start a detoxification program with Chlorella, homeopathic liver and kidney drainage, vitamin C and lots of alkaline water.
      If you are pregnant don’t have the last filling out until you stop nursing. If not pregnant wait 6 months after the last one is removed and you have detoxified.
      Dr Bob Johnson

  • Gillian Grattan

    I just had all 10 of my childhood silver fillings removed over the past 6 months and refilled with white fillings. I have no idea what the white fillings are made of though. The dentist did not use any rubber dam and just did a basic freeze then drilled out the old silver ones and suctioned the old ones away and then refilled. I just wanted a nice white mouth with no silver ones making it look bad but I can see I definitely made a health conscious choice as well as a vanity one! Great article! 🙂

    • Gillian Grattan

      Should
      I be concerned about any bad side effects from my dentist not removing
      them with any special procedures? What should I be watching for? Feeling
      worried now! Also, after the fillings were removed each time (he would do 2 or 3 each session) I would find little crunchy bits of silver in my mouth hours later!! 🙁

      • I will ask Dr. Johnson to respond to your questions, Gillian.

      • Dr Robert Johnson

        Gillian,
        The fact that the dentist did not use precautions is a bit problematic but you can now begin the detoxify with Chlorella, liver and kidney drainage (homeopathic), vit C and lots of water. Crunchy bits are better than the vapors and dust released as the bits can be suctioned away. Contact me if there are specific questions about what to do now.

        • Gillian Grattan

          Thanks! I have been adding chlorella to my daily smoothies for awhile now so hopefully it helps! And I use vit C drops on my face as moisturizer. 🙂

  • ConcernedVeganMom

    I am pretty glad you sent this today. My daughter just got fillings yesterday and I asked this dentist about it and he proceeded to compare it to tuna. Saying that it is no more toxic than tuna… I mentioned to him that is the reason I don’t eat tuna either….. He said that resin fillings were created more for vanity purposes and that they don’t last…. I really don’t know what to do now as my daughter has the amalgam in now…. Any suggestions

    • I will ask Dr. Johnson to respond to your questions, ConcernedVeganMom.

    • Dr Robert Johnson

      Vegan Mom,
      Tuna and amalgams both have lots of mercury and that is why so many are stopping eating tuna. Resins done correctly are very durable and in fact amalgams leak, even if done well at about 7 years. If the amalgam is in a baby tooth leave it to be lost when the baby tooth is lost.
      If it is in an adult tooth it will continue to leach mercury for its life. If you decide to get it out make sure a dentist who really knows how to remove it is consulted. Contact me or go towww.IAOMT.com for a dentist who understands the ways to remove amalgams correctly.