Mouthing Off About Mercury

Adapted from information provided by
National Integrative Health Associates (NIHA) in Washington, D.C.

In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, the distractible Mad Hatter runs around talking incoherently and can’t concentrate. His behavior was based on the symptoms of victims of Hatter’s Disease in the 18th and 19th centuries. Their illness came from breathing mercury vapor while they processed felt hats.

Today’s primary source of mercury is not from felt, but from a substance most of us carry in our mouths: dental amalgam. Fillings have been composed of 50% mercury since 1845. Although the American Dental Association maintains that once the amalgam is set in a tooth the mercury is "fixed" and poses no threat, research from various universities claims the contrary. Many believe that mercury vapor released from amalgams is a real danger.

How can mercury from amalgams get into my body?

Studies show that mercury vapor is continuously released from amalgams in measurable amounts from the moment the teeth are filled. When a person chews, drinks (particularly hot liquids), brushes his teeth, swallows and breathes, mercury escapes from fillings. Oral vapor testing demonstrates an increase in vaporized mercury in your breath after chewing gum. Mercury is also found in the saliva of people with dental amalgams. Old fillings analyzed after removal can contain over 25% less mercury than when they were installed. Where does that mercury go? From the mouth it enters the lungs, linings of the digestive system, and subsequently the bloodstream.

How dangerous is mercury?

There is no dispute concerning the poisonous nature of mercury. The Environmental Protection Agency considers it to be 5000 times more toxic than lead and more poisonous than any other metal except plutonium. Mercury is readily absorbed through the lungs, the digestive tract, and unbroken skin. Exposure to mercury is especially dangerous for children because of their small body mass, and for pregnant women, because mercury crosses the placental barrier and accumulates in the fetus.

What is the treatment for mercury toxicity?

When we succumb to illness from toxic flooding, the only way to get better is to detoxify and rebuild our bodies. At this point it is crucial to have a qualified health practitioner to guide you through the process of removing both the mercury fillings and the mercury from the rest of your body. Most practitioners follow some version of the following steps:

  1. Build up the immune system, eliminate allergies and support general health through diet and supplements prior to amalgam removal. The liver and kidneys, in particular, should be in optimal condition.
  2. Find a qualified and experienced dentist. He must use appropriate safety measures. If the removal procedure causes you to inhale all the mercury you once had in your filings, your body will reabsorb it and you could become sicker. Make sure that your dentist will be using the precautions listed below. A rubber dam to isolate teeth, or suction device to contain pulverized mercury and its harmful vapors. Saliva ejector under the rubber dam to suction away mercury vapor. Frequent mouth rinse with a slurry of chlorella to bind escaped mercury. Nose masks attached to source of oxygen or fresh, clean air to protect patient, dentist, and assistants. Copious amounts of water. Waterproof disposable drape to minimize mercury contamination on patient’s clothes. Protective eyeware for patient and dental staff.
  3. Run a blood bio-compatibility test or do electro-dermal screening to make sure the replacement dental materials are bio-compatible with individual blood chemistry. Many who choose to replace their amalgams are chemically sensitive.
  4. Detoxify the system. Mercury remaining in the body after amalgam removal must follow a natural elimination pathway; via the bowel, the kidneys, or the skin. Various therapies and products facilitate this process, which may take one or two years to be completely effective. Detoxifixcation should be tailored to your individual needs and speed of healing, as well as to your available resources.
  5. Follow-up and monitor carefully. What benefit can I expect from amalgam removal and mercury detoxification? Just as the symptoms of mercury poisoning vary widely, so do the results of detoxification.

The most common benefits patients experience are a change from "brain fog" to mental clarity and from general fatigue to feeling energetic. Louise Herbeck, who founded Dental Amalgam Mercury Syndrome (DAMS) in 1987, recovered from multiple sclerosis after her amalgam fillings were replaced with bio-compatible dental materials. DAMS is a nonprofit-organization of volunteers who have themselves or whose family members have recovered from serious health problems after amalgam filling replacement. They want to educate the public about health hazards associated with chronic exposure to mercury from dental amalgams.

For more information and to find a holistic dentist visit,, and and read Breiner’s Whole-Body Dentistry: Discover The Missing Piece To Better HealthWhole Body Dentistry.

[Initially published in New Developments: Volume 8, Number 1 - Fall, 2002]

All material in this web site is given for information purposes only and is not to be substituted for advice from your health care provider.

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Page last modified: February 23, 2009
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