Mercury Amalgam is Driving Up Healthcare Costs

by John P. Thomas
Health Impact News

The silvery-gray dental fillings called amalgam are a toxic trigger for rising healthcare costs. Amalgam dental fillings are approximately 50% mercury by weight. They have been commonly used since the 1850s, and have been declared safe by the American Dental Association without proper testing.

They are being implanted in the mouths of millions of people worldwide every year even though the mercury in these fillings is the most toxic non-radioactive substance on the Earth. The US government refuses to require mercury amalgam be tested for safety despite the mountain of evidence proving that great harm to human health and the environment is produced by the use of this product.

In a previous article, I discussed the health dangers of mercury amalgam, and the safe methods for removing it from the mouth. The lives of thousands of people have been saved by having mercury amalgam properly removed from their teeth. Children have been spared exposure to mercury poisoning when their mothers had mercury amalgam removed prior to pregnancy and nursing. Children are given an advantage in life when parents prevent dentists from giving their children mercury amalgam fillings.


The Origin of Your Health Problems may Actually be in Your Mouth

In this article, I will discuss the true cost of using mercury amalgam fillings. Amalgam is driving up the cost of healthcare, because it is making us sick. People are becoming sicker earlier in life and are living with greater levels of chronic illness, because of mercury poisoning. I will refute the claims that mercury amalgam is more durable and provides cost savings when compared to white composite fillings. Finally, I will also look at another source of chronic illness that has its origin in the mouth – namely, root canals. Dead teeth that have been preserved in the mouth through root canal treatment are a constant source of bacterial infection and toxins, which weaken the immune system and also cause life-threatening disease.

Mercury from Dental Fillings is a Worldwide Environmental Concern

In 1991, the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledged that the predominant source of human exposure to mercury is from dental fillings. [1]

On the basis of environmental contamination alone, mercury amalgam fillings should be banned worldwide, but the proponents of amalgam fillings strenuously object! Their objections are simple. First they say that amalgam fillings are safe. The facts that refute this belief were stated in the previous article. They also assert that amalgam fillings are the most cost-effective method for restoring teeth that have begun to decay. They say the fillings are much less expensive and last longer than the alternative white composite fillings.

Are the claims of cost savings and additional durability true? Let’s take a closer look at the facts. Let’s also take a look at the political protection that is being given to mercury amalgam to insure that trade associations and corporations continue to receive their income stream without the threat of product liability lawsuits.

Citizen Groups Demand that the FDA Take Action against Amalgam Use

In 2011, Associate FDA Commissioner Leslie Kux responded to a citizens’ petition which asked that mercury amalgam be reclassified as a type 3 medical device. The reclassification would have required manufacturers to prove that amalgam does not cause harm. In rejecting the citizens’ complaint, she wrote, “exposures to mercury vapor from dental amalgam are not associated with adverse health effects.” [2] She confirmed the ADA’s long held contention regarding mercury in the mouth, and confirmed the US government’s complicity with the interest of corporations that manufacture mercury amalgam and with the American Dental Association, which holds patents on mercury amalgam formulas.

Going deeper into the story, we learned that in this case, it was actually officials from the US Department of Health and Human Services and not the FDA that turned its back on public health. The Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) explains that the FDA intended to tell dentists to avoid using mercury fillings in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and people with mercury allergies, kidney diseases, and neurological problems. They also intended to ask dentists to consider alternatives to mercury fillings on all patients. The FDA proposal was based on extensive investigation and input from citizens. But, higher level administrators in Health and Human Services had other ideas. [3]

ANH stated:

Unfortunately, the FDA’s proposal was rejected by senior officials at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) after a so-called cost-benefit analysis was performed. It was then hushed up. According to HHS, out-of-pocket costs to patients would triple if alternative fillings replaced mercury, and an Obama Administration official said the increased cost would disproportionately affect low-income Americans. We wonder if what they really meant was that it would cost Medicare and Medicaid—that is, the government itself—too much money? [4]

The conclusion from the preceding information is simple. The US government is still in bed with the ADA and amalgam manufacturers and remains tucked under the blankets of self-interest, secrecy, deception, and lust for money.

Mercury Amalgam is Cheap and Durable, So it is Not Banned!

In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a report on the future of mercury amalgam use. The report recognized that the mercury that is released from amalgam fillings is harmful to humans and to the environment. They did not call for a ban, but encouraged a phase down of amalgam use. They indicated that existing materials used for filling dental cavities would need to remain available to the dental profession in the short- and medium-terms. They indicated that the use of alternative materials for filling decayed teeth is desirable to protect the environment. However, the movement away from dental amalgam is dependent on the availability of quality replacements. Alternatives were seen as not being ideal, because of problems with durability, fracture resistance, and wear resistance. They were also concerned about possible adverse effects of the alternative materials. They chose to consider a phase down rather than a phase out. [5]

Even though WHO did not call for a ban or even put forth a schedule for phasing out amalgam, other countries have acted independently based on the well-known risks of mercury. The Concorde East/West Sprl coordinated the preparation of an international report on the direct and indirect costs of using mercury amalgam. They showed that safe and effective alternatives to amalgam are available and that countries which have banned the use of amalgam have not harmed the dental health of their citizens.

The Concord report stated:

The Swedish ban on amalgam effective 1 June 2009 has proven that there are few if any cases where amalgam fillings are necessary (KEMI 2010). As amalgam is similarly banned in Norway and Denmark, and severely restricted in Germany, Finland, Bulgaria, Mongolia, Vietnam, Thailand (WHO 2010) and Japan, among others, the mercury-free experience in these countries clearly demonstrates that amalgam is no longer necessary in most clinical situations. [6]

The Concord report entitled “THE REAL COST OF DENTAL MERCURY,” also noted that the durability concern is actually a false belief among dentists.

The report stated:

It is also necessary to dismiss the common misconception that composites have a shorter service life than amalgam in rear teeth, which would otherwise add to the “equivalent” cost of composites due to more frequent repair and/or replacement. While the longevity of a filling depends on many factors, not least of which is the skill of the dental professional who placed it, already more than ten years ago a consensus had developed among product manufacturers and dental materials experts that composite and amalgam have comparable service lives in excess of 10 years when restorations are evaluated using standardized laboratory parameters of clinical success (ADA 1998). Among others, a more recent research paper has further confirmed “better survival of composite restorations compared with amalgam, a difference especially apparent after a longer observation period” (Opdam et al. 2010). [7]

Price Differences for Amalgam and Composite Fillings

The Concord report measured the costs charged by dentists for amalgam and composites. They found that an average cost for an amalgam filling in the rear teeth was $144, and the cost for a composite filling in the same location was $185. Thus the additional cost to the patient is $41 per filling. [8]

The Huffington Post describes a much more dramatic difference in costs in a 2011 article. They indicated that amalgam fillings cost $200 and composite fillings costs $400. The dentist who wrote the article mentioned some concerns about amalgam, but then suggested that other kinds of fillings are even a better idea – fillings that have a cost beginning at $1,500. [9]

To avoid confusion and to keep things consistent, I will use the data from the Concord report, because all of their analysis was based on the $41 difference between amalgam and composite.

The additional $41 charge for a composite filling is significant in terms of out of pocket costs for those who pay the full cost of their dental care. However, the real costs of these alternatives must be measured over the life of a patient, and must include a wide range of other factors.

The Total cost of Mercury Amalgam is Actually More than the Alternatives

The Concord report examined all costs related to the use of mercury amalgam, including various environmental concerns. They assessed the cost of mercury being released into the environment from dental offices. This included waste mercury amalgam put into public sewage systems, rivers, solid waste disposal systems, and the air of dental offices. They looked at the costs associated with burial and cremation of bodies containing mercury amalgam fillings. Mercury is released into the soil and ground water from buried bodies, and is released into the air in large amounts during cremation. They looked at the costs associated with trying to remove mercury from sewage sludge and from drinking water. They looked at the costs of removing mercury from public incinerator smoke and ash, and from crematory smoke. They compared the actual costs for purchasing and using mercury amalgam versus composite materials. They looked at the health risks experienced by dental workers who work with mercury amalgam, and looked at the potential healthcare costs for patients with mercury amalgam fillings. They looked at the cost of increased levels of illness, but also looked at the costs savings realized by people who do not have mercury amalgams. They also looked at the educational costs associated with developmental delays and reductions in IQ that come from childhood mercury exposure.

When all costs are taken into account, mercury amalgam becomes a very expensive option for filling teeth.

The Concord report indicated there are between $60 and $128 of hidden costs associated with every amalgam filling placed in a person’s mouth in the United States. These are a combination of environmental costs and social/healthcare costs. [10]

So, the $41 savings that comes with an amalgam filling disappears completely when the full picture is examined. The real cost of a mercury amalgam filling is not $144, but $204 or $272 depending on how all the extra costs are measured. This is higher than the $185 cost for a composite filling.

Amalgam Costs are Measured in Dollars Saved and Lives Lost

As was discussed in the previous article on the topic of mercury amalgam, diseases such as MS (Multiple Sclerosis), ALS, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s are some of the 200 diseases that have been linked to mercury exposure. The greatest source of mercury exposure most people face comes directly from their amalgam fillings.

Let’s consider a very practical example, which will highlight how the total costs of mercury amalgam play out in the lives of individuals. It is common for people to have 8 mercury amalgam fillings. The cost of these 8 fillings (at $144 each) would be $1,152.

Let’s also say that after 10 or 15 years of inhaling mercury vapors from their fillings, swallowing mercury with their saliva and food, and having mercury pass directly into the pulp of the teeth and into the nerves and from there into the brain, the person develops MS. It is not uncommon for people with MS to undergo extensive diagnostic procedures, to have many hospitalizations, to become completely disabled, to require long-term placement in a nursing home, and to experience early death after many years of suffering. MS is a costly disease!

By using 8 amalgam fillings, this patient or his insurance company or the federal government saved $328 (8 x $41).

This is the critical question: Was the $328 savings more significant than the person’s healthcare costs, loss of a productive work life, years spent in a nursing home, and eventual early death from MS?

Of course, not everyone who has mercury amalgam fillings will get MS, but over 90% of people do have immune system reactions to being exposed to mercury. [11, 12] When the immune challenges from mercury are combined with the immune challenges from the other metals in amalgam and with all of the other toxins in our environment and food, we set ourselves up for serious chronic illness.

Not everyone gets MS, but there will be other reactions to chronic immune system challenges. Some people will experience a weakened heart, tremors in the hands, diabetes, neurological symptoms, memory problems, or unexplained depression. Many people must deal with the consequences of mercury exposure experienced by their loved ones. Sometimes the consequences of mercury toxicity appear when parents must deal with children who have developmental problems caused by the mercury that was passed through the placenta to their baby in the womb or when the mother breastfed her newborn. Sometimes spouses must deal with watching their spouse disappear into Alzheimer’s disease and die an agonizingly slow death with a destroyed mind.

Composite Fillings Prevent Disease and Save Lives

Now let’s look at the composite fillings side of the analysis. If the same person described above had received composite fillings instead of mercury amalgam fillings, then the additional charges at the time the fillings were placed would have been $328.  This money must be balanced against the benefits of not becoming ill because of mercury exposure. In the example we have been considering, the MS would not have been triggered by the mercury amalgam, and the person would most likely have lived without the expense of MS. Of course we can’t predict the course of a person’s life, but it is much less likely that a person would develop MS in the absence of mercury exposure from amalgam fillings.

What is the True Cost of Mercury Amalgam Fillings?

It is not the $144 per filling. The cost is hundreds of thousands of dollars per filling when you look at specific lives of real people.

Who is Paying the Additional Cost for using Mercury Amalgam?

You can be sure it is not the dentists who placed the amalgam fillings. You can be sure it is not the American Dental Association that owns the patents for amalgam. You can be sure it is not the manufacturers of mercury amalgam. And of course you can be sure that it is not the FDA who refuses to require the patent holder and the manufacturers to prove that amalgam is safe.

The true costs of amalgam fillings are borne by the individuals who get sick, and by our healthcare insurance programs, including those funded by the US government. Every unnecessary case of MS, ALS, heart disease, diabetes, birth defects, childhood developmental delays, infertility, Alzheimer’s disease, just to name a few, is the true cost of these toxic fillings. We are all paying the cost of using mercury amalgam and the cost is staggering.

Mercury is Combined with Lead, Aluminum and other Metals

The problem of mercury amalgam is compounded by the combination of exposure to other metals. Children with mercury amalgam who are exposed to lead paint or who drink water that has passed through lead pipes will experience synergetic effects. Their toxic poisoning will be 10 or 100 times higher than either mercury or lead by itself. [13]

Exposure to mercury in addition to aluminum, barium, strontium, nickel, arsenic and unusually high levels of copper will also have synergetic effects. The degree to which specific combinations of all these metals will magnify the harmful effects of one another is not yet fully understood, but it is understood that exposure to multiple toxic metals is not simply additive – it is synergetic. We are slowly killing our children, and setting them up for a lifetime of poor performance and illness, all because the FDA, the ADA, and the amalgam manufacturers are cooperating in an intentional program of deception and profiteering at the expense of our children and everyone else who allows dentists to put mercury in their mouths.

The cost is high for this practice and is getting higher. Do we really need to wait until all the old dentists who still use mercury retire and die before we are willing to discontinue the use of this substance? It looks like that is the plan.

Mercury Amalgam and DSS

We are now seeing a new problem with mercury amalgam and the policies of state level DSS programs (Department of Social Services). Some states such as Connecticut are mandating that children receiving dental services through the Medicaid program only be given amalgam fillings. This is putting extra pressure on the amalgam using dentists to treat all the Medicaid patients of the state. In some areas, there are few dentists using amalgam. In some states, Medicaid recipients can receive composite fillings, but they must request composites. So, in many states, children living in poverty are forced to be poisoned by mercury, while other people have a choice — even if it is an uninformed choice. [14]

Root Canal Teeth can also Make People Very Sick

The problem with mercury toxicity from amalgam fillings is matched by another dental problem, which is toxic root canal teeth. A recent DNA study confirms decades-old research showing that root canals contain toxic bacterium that may be the “root” cause of many diseases.

Dr. Weston Price and the Mayo Clinic of 1910 to 1920 described finding bacterial growth in human root canals that could be transferred into animals and would create the same diseases experienced by the human donor. These ground-breaking experiments created diseases in the animals 80% to 100% of the time. Heart disease, in particular, could be transferred 100 percent of the time simply by transferring bacteria from root canal teeth. This research has been suppressed and nearly expunged from the research history books of dentistry by Dental Associations. They don’t want the public to know that root canal teeth cause serious illness and death, because the root canal procedure is highly profitable and highly desired by patients. [15]

Huggins Applied Healing provides an update about the dangers of root canal teeth. Their website states:

The Toxic Element Research Foundation (TERF), using state of the art DNA testing technology, identified multiple pathological bacteria found within root canal teeth, the bone adjacent to the teeth, and even more in extraction sites where healing has not taken place. This non–healing occurs in greater than 99 percent of wisdom tooth extraction sites. Additionally, large defects of non-healing are often found upon surgical exploration into the bone – about the size of the original wisdom tooth. Other sites leave what are called “cavitations” as well.

Today, there are many diseases termed, “of unknown etiology,” which means, “We have not the first clue where they are coming from.” Many health-oriented dentists and physicians are beginning to recognize that these incurable, non–responsive diseases are showing improvements by techniques involving removal of root canal teeth and fortifying the patient’s immune system. Threats, lawsuits and professional humiliation have been used against dentists who stand up for their patients, and against the ADA. [16]

Conclusion: Mercury Amalgams are Profitable – Not Healthy

Sometime around 1999 I attended a committee meeting of my state legislature, which was gathering testimony on a proposed bill to require dentists to inform their patients about the risks of mercury amalgam fillings. There were a number of people who spoke about how their lives had been saved by having their mercury amalgam fillings removed. One young man explained how while in high school, he became completely dysfunctional after receiving a few amalgam fillings. He literally could not think or complete school work. He was like a quivering vegetable who sat in a depressed daze hour after hour. He explained that once the mercury was removed from his mouth using a special protocol designed by Dr. Huggins for safe amalgam removal, his life was returned to him. At the time of the hearing, he was attending college.

I also remember the testimony given by one of the mercury amalgam using dentists. He explained that he and the other dentists in the state must be free to use amalgam without any limitations, because it is the best filling material. He told us how it was less expensive and more durable – the standard party line that continues to be repeated to this very day. He said there was no reason to inform patients about anything concerning mercury amalgam. Then he gave an example to drive home his point about amalgam being the ideal dental filling material.

He said that when he has a squirming 2 or 3 year old child in his chair and he is trying to fill a tooth, he depends on amalgam for the job. He said that if he was to use a composite filling it might take 2 minutes longer to treat that child. His goal was to treat the patient, in this case a child, as fast as he could. It was all about dollars and cents, and about his convenience. He must have ignored all the testimony that the dental patients gave about having been harmed by mercury amalgam. He came to the meeting believing that mercury amalgam was harmless and he left the meeting with the same belief despite what he heard.

I sometimes wonder about the child he described and all the other children that he poisoned with mercury amalgam. Did they grow up to live normal productive lives? Did they develop learning problems? Did they end up in prison, because they couldn’t think straight? Did they end up being infertile adults or live with diabetes or some other mercury-related disease? Was their brain fog so thick that they committed suicide?

As you might expect, the mercury amalgam bill died in committee.

The short term cost differences in providing a mercury amalgam filling versus a composite filling are really quite minimal. However, when the total picture is examined a very different story emerges. Mercury amalgam is not less expensive for the person or for society and it is not more durable. It is a healthcare fraud that is primarily perpetuated by dental associations. Mercury amalgam is a professional convenience that 50% of dentists won’t live without. As long as mercury using dentists keep their attention fixed on the success of their business model, and not on the total health of their patients, they will keep poisoning their patients with mercury and keep driving the total cost of healthcare higher and higher.


[1] “SMOKING TEETH = POISON GAS,” International Association of Oral Medicine and Toxicology.

[2] “WASHINGTON: Health officials kill proposal to curb mercury dental fillings,” Greg Gordon, The Sun Herald, 7/21/2015.

[3] “FDA’s Proposal to Curb Mercury Fillings Was Secretly Overruled by Senior Government Officials,” Alliance for Natural Health, 8/4/2015.

[4] IBID.

[5] “Future Use of Materials for Dental Restoration,” Report of the meeting convened at WHO HQ, Geneva, Switzerland, 16th to 17th November 2009, Prepared by Dr. Poul Erik Petersen… et al, [Issued in final form in 2011].

[6] “THE REAL COST OF DENTAL MERCURY,” Concorde East/West Sprl, Jointly released by the European Environmental Bureau, the Mercury Policy Project, and Consumers for Dental Choice, 2012.

[7] IBID.

[8] IBID.

[9] Dental Fillings 101: How To Choose | Thomas P. Connelly, D.D.S, 4/27/2011.

[10] “THE REAL COST OF DENTAL MERCURY,” Concorde East/West Sprl, Jointly released by the European Environmental Bureau, the Mercury Policy Project, and Consumers for Dental Choice, 2012.

[11] “The Mercury Papers (The Most Expensive Medical Mistake in The History of The World),” Stephen Macallan, MBAcC, MAMH, The Wholistic Research Company, 2001.

[12] Uninformed Consent, Chapter 9, Mercury and the ”Silver Filling”: A Poisonous or Political Issue?, Hal A. Huggins, DDS MS, and Thomas E. Levy, MD JD, 1999, page 178.

[11] “NIH stops funding studies linking mercury to Alzheimer’s Disease,” Boyd Haley, PhD.

[12] “Connecticut DSS Won’t Allow Composite Fillings,” International Association of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), Retrieved 9/29/2015.

[13] “Root Canals Contain Toxic Bacterium,” Huggins Applied Healing, Retrieved 9/29/2015.

[14] IBID.