Macro of a tooth with amalgam filling

by John P. Thomas
Health Impact News

It was in December 1990 when I first learned that the silver-gray amalgam fillings I had in my teeth were highly toxic. I was watching a CBS 60 Minutes episode on the dangers of amalgam fillings. [1] These fillings contain up to 50% mercury by weight. Mercury is the most toxic non-radioactive substance on the Earth. Was this really in my teeth?

The American Dental Association, which owns patents for various formulas of mercury amalgam, says that when mercury is mixed with other metals such as silver, copper, zinc, and tin to create amalgam fillings, they are creating a durable, inexpensive, and harmless substance. [2] The truth is that amalgam dental fillings have serious health risks, which can appear as expensive and life-threatening diseases.

The evidence has continued to grow since the early 1970s that these so-called “safe” fillings should be banned in the United States, as has been done in other countries. [3] Yet, American dentists keep on using them.

How can Mercury be a Poison and be Safe at the Same Time?

As I watched the CBS 60 Minutes show, I struggled to put together the facts. People gave their testimonies of having recovered from disabling illnesses such as systemic arthritis and multiple sclerosis after having their mercury amalgam fillings removed.

Interspersed with their testimonies and the testimonies of toxicology experts, were the unconvincing words of the head of the American Dental Association (ADA) who flat out insisted that there were no harmful effects from having mercury amalgams in human teeth. He admitted that mercury vapors were released from the fillings in the mouth, but insisted that the vapors were harmless.

I remember being uncomfortable as I thought about the 8 or 9 large mercury fillings that were in my own mouth at that time. Was I at risk of future disease from the mercury in my mouth?

Consequences of Mercury Poisoning

Neurological symptoms in many forms are associated with mercury exposure. The consequences of mercury exposure include: MS, lupus, Alzheimer’s, ALS, arthritis, Parkinson’s, leukemia, Gulf War Syndrome, diabetes, seizures, and birth defects. [4] This is actually a short list.

The late Dr. Hal Huggins, DDS, indicated that 200 diseases are associated with mercury exposure. [5] Dr. Boyd Haley’s research shows a definitive relationship between mercury exposure and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. [6] Also on the list are numerous digestive system dysfunctions as well as infertility.

In terms of infant and child development, it should be noted that infants in the womb receive mercury from the mother’s blood that circulates through the placenta if she has mercury amalgam fillings. Mercury is also transmitted to newborn infants through the mother’s milk. Mercury is linked to child development problems. [7]

Mercury Poisoning Became Very Personal in 1998

After a few months, my initial mercury amalgam concern faded from my thoughts. Then in 1998, a loved one was diagnosed with mercury poisoning. She had become quite disabled. She had extreme chronic fatigue, multiple chemical sensitivity, brain fog, inability to make decisions, and experienced high levels of emotional stress in most all contexts of life. There were days when her weakness was so severe that taking a shower was all the physical activity she could do that day. I will have more to say about her recovery later in this article.

Mercury Vapor is not Harmless

The fact that mercury vapor is constantly being released from silver-mercury amalgam fillings is not disclosed by dentists to their patients. The following video shows mercury vapors rising off of mercury amalgam fillings. The video explains that mercury vapors are produced whether the amalgam is in the teeth in your mouth or in a laboratory.

Smoking Teeth = Poison Gas:

The video was prepared by the International Association for Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT).  IAOMT has chronicled and promoted the research that has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that dental amalgam is a source of significant mercury exposure, and a hazard to health. It has taken the lead in educating dentists and allied professionals in the methods of safely dealing with amalgam fillings, and safely disposing of the waste. It has also led the way in developing more biocompatible approaches in other areas of dentistry, including endodontics, periodontics, and disease prevention. All this was done while maintaining the motto, “Show me the science!” [8]

The ADA has not Budged on its Position Regarding Amalgam

In 1984, the American Dental Association stated that when mercury is combined with the metals used in dental amalgam, its toxic properties are made harmless. [9]

The ADA position on mercury amalgam has not changed in the last 30 years. They still demand that all dentists speak the same set of “facts” to their patients. The message is simple – the mercury in amalgam is not toxic or harmful. In fact, any dentist who suggests to a patient that mercury in amalgam is toxic is setting himself (or herself) up for revocation of his dental license. It is considered unethical by the ADA to suggest that amalgam is harmful!

If you want to see the attitudes of the ADA concerning mercury amalgam, then watch the original 1990 CBS 60 Minutes segment where the ADA shows that dentists have a gag order on them concerning speaking negatively about amalgam. It is still considered a violation of ethics for dentists to raise concern about amalgam, which could lead to the loss of their dental license. [10]

CBS 60 MINUTES on Mercury Fillings:

Almost Everyone Reacts to Mercury Exposure

Dr. Huggins, the grandfather of the modern movement to end the use of mercury amalgam, found that 94% of people experience immune system reactions to the mercury in their mouths. [11] They experience cellular damage, DNA damage, hormonal damage, changes in vital signs, immune system diseases, and other serious illness.

Dr. Huggins described in his 1984 book, It’s All in Your Head, what happens in the human body as a result of mercury exposure from amalgam fillings. He stated:

This question—what is mercury toxicity?—is one of the most difficult to answer, because mercury attacks the body in so many ways. Mercury kills cells by interfering with their ability to exchange oxygen, nutrients, and waste products through the cell membrane. Inside the cell, mercury destroys our genetic code, DNA, leaving us without the ability to reproduce that cell ever again. Immunologically, mercury embeds itself in a cell membrane, giving that cell the appearance of being ”nonself,” which is the trigger for the immune system to destroy that specific cell. With mercury in your cell membranes, the immune system will start destroying your own tissues, thus the term autoimmune disease. Examples of these are diabetes, multiple sclerosis (MS), scleroderma, and lupus. Mercury can interfere with nerve impulse transmission, causing organs to get wrong messages. This may be related to frequent memory problems, and it can contribute to numbness and tingling of the extremities, which are notable in neurological diseases. Mercury can become attached to hormones and deactivate them, even though blood tests say that plenty of hormone is present. Many hormonal deficiencies, including thyroid, pancreas, and the sex hormones, are the result of this process. Chronic fatigue syndrome also has a mercury component. When mercury binds to the oxygen-carrying part of hemoglobin in the blood, the hemoglobin level may look normal, but its ability to transport oxygen is hampered by mercury sitting on the transportation area. … This is the frustrating thing about mercury toxicity: The diffuse nature of the toxin makes it very difficult to pin down. [12]

Despite the public warning given in 1984 by Dr. Huggins and many other researchers, dentists continue to use mercury amalgam. During a 12 month period in 2005-2006, over 52 million amalgam fillings were placed in the mouths of people in the United States. Dentists use 32 tons of mercury per year. [13]

Warning – Getting Mercury Amalgams Removed can Make You Sick

In the majority of cases, people who have mercury amalgams removed without the use of proper techniques can become quite ill, because of high levels of mercury exposure experienced during the removal process. Healthy people can be made sick and sick people can become sicker when proper precautions are not taken.

Huggins Applied Healing issues this frank warning about using a safe removal protocol. They state:

Remember, 63% of the people who just have fillings replaced randomly end up with symptoms or diseases that they did not have prior to filling removal. Try not to make the figure 64%. Become educated and select a trained dentist. [14]

Wrong Method for Removing Mercury Amalgam Fillings

The incorrect method for removing mercury fillings is very simple. The dentist injects anesthetic to numb the tooth, then he simply uses his high speed dental drill with a large bit to quickly grind out the old filling. This will vaporize mercury and create large amounts of micron and submicron size particles of amalgam. Small and large particles of mercury filling will be sprayed all through the mouth. Some will be eventually be swallowed, and large amounts of mercury vapor will be inhaled. Inhaled mercury passes into the lungs where it enters the blood stream and is then circulated throughout the body including the brain. It can attach itself to red blood cells and interfere with oxygen uptake. Swallowed mercury will kill healthy flora in the digestive tract and the mercury particles will release mercury vapors, which can also enter the bloodstream.

Correct Method for Removing Mercury Amalgam Fillings

The correct process for removing mercury amalgams is complicated, because it is a high risk medical procedure. As stated earlier, mercury is the most toxic of the non-radioactive substances on our planet. There is one thing that mercury does better than anything else – it kills. It kills cells in our bodies, it weakens and kills our organs, and it weakens and kills us. It must always be handled with extreme care!

There are various techniques that are used to remove mercury fillings. These are some of the key points taken from the reference information provided by the International Association for Oral Medicine and Toxicology [15] and from Huggins Applied Healing [16]. This list is not exhaustive, but is intended to provide a general picture of how the process should be handled. This is how it looks.

1. Planning

Before the treatment planning can take place, a thorough evaluation of the person’s mouth will be conducted. This will include the electrical measurement of each metal object in the mouth. Blood work for biocompatibility testing will be ordered, which will produce a booklet of safe dental materials that will be compatible for the patient. During the planning meeting, the dentist will review all the data with the patient. Decisions will be made regarding schedule for amalgam removal, the restorative materials that will be used, the sequential order for removing the fillings, and the complementary therapies that will be used during and after appointments. Complementary therapies can include IV vitamin C, acupressure, massage, etc.

2. Preventing Mercury Exposure

The dentist and his assistant will both wear respirators. These look like gas masks, which have special filters for absorbing mercury vapors.

The treatment room will have some type of ionizing air filter to capture mercury vapor to prevent it from circulating through the entire building.

The patient will have a rubber dam placed in his or her mouth. The dam exposes the teeth that will be treated during the dental session and totally prevents air, water, or amalgam particles from entering the mouth or throat.

The patient will not breathe air from the room, but will breathe oxygen, which is given through a small flexible cup that covers the nose. This prevents inhaling mercury vapor produced by drilling.

3. Fillings are Removed in a Specific Order 

The fillings are not randomly removed, but are sequentially removed quadrant by quadrant based on which fillings/teeth have the highest negative electrical charge.

4. Replacement with Composite Fillings

Many dentists will use biocompatibility testing to determine the type of composite filling material that should be used. There are hundreds of options for filling materials. Many are harmful.

When biocompatibility testing is done, blood serum is tested for pre-existing antibodies to the more than 140 metals and chemicals that are found in dental materials. All composite filling materials contain some chemicals that leach out. Composites can contain: acrylate, aluminum, formaldehyde, hexane, hydroquinone, phenol, polyurethane, silane, strontium, toluene, xylene, and bisphenol A-glycidylmethacrylate. [17, 18] In general it is true that composite filling materials are not as toxic as mercury and copper, but they still have risks. This is why blood tests are needed to determine which composites have the least possibility of harming the patient.

As an alternative, some dentists simply select materials that they believe are safe for most people. This often works fine for people who are still healthy, but for people who are already seriously ill, there could be unexpected immune system reactions from the replacement fillings, which could prevent healing or even worsen existing health conditions.

Dr. Huggins indicated that 60% of plastic white fillings contain aluminum silicate. These also can release metal into your mouth and can be toxic. When you look at the results of your biocompatibility test, you want to avoid fillings that contain aluminum even if you didn’t test negative for that filling material. [19]

Electrodermal testing and muscle testing are also used by some dentists to select appropriate materials. These tests measure an electrical phenomenon, and not the response of the immune system.

5. Scheduling Appointments 

The schedule for removing fillings should avoid the 7-14-21 day immune system cycle. If the first removal appointment is on Monday, then the next appointment should not be on the following Monday, because this will put extra stress on the immune system. Ideally, the appointments should all be done within 30 days and on different days of the week.

Some dentists prefer to use IV conscious sedation and remove all the mercury amalgam in one long appointment, which could take 4 to 6 hours depending on the amount of work that is needed. In this situation, the patient receives intravenous drugs, which remove all memory of the experience, and which put the immune system at complete rest. This method has become the preferred option, but many dentists are not yet trained to do IV conscious sedation.

If a series of regular appointments is used for removal, then these should not last longer than about 2 hours each, because longer appointments without sedation put stress on the immune system. Even if there is a short appointment, the treatment should never cross the centerline of the mouth during a single session unless conscious sedation is used.

6. Removing the Amalgam

When the mercury amalgam is removed, it should be done with a very fine drill bit. The goal is to remove the filling in large pieces and to avoid grinding it to bits. This reduces potential exposure for everyone. The dentist should also use high velocity suction and large amounts of water as they drill.

7. Supplements and Detoxification

Some dentists recommend various supplements prior to amalgam removal. It is, however, important that detoxification of mercury not be attempted until all the mercury amalgams have been removed. There are many types of detoxification processes. Some involve drugs, which draw mercury out of the tissues. But sometimes the mercury is not excreted from the body because the excretion pathways are not working well. If you are thinking about detoxifying yourself, then do serious research on the options. Some people get great relief for health conditions after mercury removal, but then get very sick after starting a detoxification program. The body will naturally detoxify itself from mercury over time. Pushing this process to move faster might result in simply spreading the mercury from one area of the body to another.

Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Requires Special Training

As you might have guessed, the average dentist in America would not know how to handle mercury amalgam removal using the preceding type of protocol. However, there are a growing number of dentists who have received advanced training in dental revision. The term “dental revision” refers to the process of removing everything that is unhealthy in a person’s mouth and restoring the mouth to the healthiest state possible, given the circumstances. It is not just mercury amalgam that needs to be removed, but most metal crowns, especially those made of nickel or stainless steel, or gold ones that have amalgam underneath. Mercury amalgam is commonly hidden under crowns, and the crowns release both toxins and electric currents.

In addition to removing amalgam, root canal teeth need to be extracted. Root canal teeth are actually dead teeth which are a constant source of bacteria that can affect the organs of the body. These bacteria also produce numerous toxins, which are a constant stress on the immune system. [20] There may also be a need for doing cavitation surgery, in which hidden pockets of infected jaw bone need to be opened and cleaned out. This commonly is needed in locations where teeth had been extracted without removing the periodontal ligament.

Finding a Qualified Dentist to Handle a Dental Revision

There are a number of organizations that can provide referrals to holistic and biological dentists. Some of these organizations provide the special training needed by dentists for the type of dental revision that has been discussed in this article. Here are a few sources where you can obtain dental referrals. These are not the only sources. This list is simply a beginning point for your research.

Huggins Applied Healing: here.

IAOMT – International Association of Oral Medicine and Toxicology: here.

DAMS – Dental Amalgam Mercury Solutions: here.

Consumers for Dental Choice: here.

Mercury Free does not Mean Mercury Safe

I strongly recommend using the dental referral lists that the above organizations provide. Just because a dentist advertises his practice as being “”mercury-free,” does not mean that he uses a safe protocol for removing mercury amalgam.

Getting a safe dental revision is so important that I recommend traveling as far as you need to travel to obtain services of a highly qualified dentist. Don’t assume that the dentist who works down the street from your home will be able to help you, just because he doesn’t place new mercury fillings. I would give this simple advice: The sicker you are, the greater the distance you should be willing to travel to get better. The risks and costs of traveling will likely be less than the risks of receiving help from a dentist who is not thoroughly trained.

If for some reason you can’t travel, then be sure you conduct a thorough interview with the local dentist you are considering to assist you. If you will be interviewing a dentist, then there are some specific questions that you should ask. The IAOMT has put together a set of questions that will help you with your interview. Don’t make any assumptions! Don’t confuse warm and comforting demeanor with skill and expertise. Many very nice dentists don’t have a clue about safe amalgam removal, biocompatibility, root canal dangers, or hidden jawbone infections.

Questions for Your Dentist: here.

A Special Tribute to Dr. Hal Huggins

I mentioned my wife’s mercury poisoning at the beginning of this article and promised to tell about her recovery. After being diagnosed with mercury toxicity, she had a complete dental revision in 1998 from a dentist who used the Huggins protocol. As we looked back on the chain of events that tipped her over the edge into chronic fatigue and disability, she recalls several trips to the dentist.

In 1995, she went to the dentist and was told that she needed two old amalgam fillings replaced. During the first appointment, the dentist just drilled out the old filling and then put in a new composite filling. No precaution was used to prevent her from breathing or swallowing the mercury. She started her downhill slide. The second procedure was done three weeks to the day from the first, one of the worst timings for the immune system. The slide became a crash.

Her dentist also said that because she has a tendency to build tartar on her teeth, she should have her teeth cleaned three times a year. So, she started doing as she was instructed. Each time she had a cleaning, the hygienist polished all of her amalgam fillings making them nice and shiny. Whenever an amalgam filling is polished, it releases large amounts of fresh mercury. (This was shown in the video “Smoking Teeth” mentioned earlier in this article.) If you have mercury amalgams, be sure to tell your hygienist that you absolutely don’t want your amalgam fillings polished.

Every time she had her teeth cleaned she kept getting sicker. She eventually consulted with a doctor of Chinese Medicine who told her that she needed to be evaluated for heavy metal poisoning and Lyme disease. Ultimately, she found that it was mercury from her own teeth and from the local Atlantic fish she liked to eat, which was making her mercury toxic.

She had her mercury fillings removed by the only dentist in our state who was willing and able to use a safe protocol for removing mercury amalgam. She immediately started getting well, but then came the day when she had her permanent crowns installed. Suddenly she was sick again. Many more months of suffering resulted, because she was reacting to the cement that was used to attach the crowns.

She had the crowns replaced with crowns made of different material and had them attached with different cement — nothing changed. She felt great during the two days when she didn’t have the problematic crowns, but got sick again as soon as the new permanent crowns were installed. Ultimately she decided that the best solution to her problem was to just have the teeth extracted. In some situations, this is the only option.

She had one tooth extracted, because it was in poor condition, but no one would touch the other. She went to three dentists and none of them were willing to extract the last crowned tooth, because it was “viable.” It would have been a violation of dental ethics to remove a tooth that appears to be healthy.

Finally in desperation, and with a sense of impending death, she contacted Dr. Hal Huggins. He made a personal phone call to an extremely talented dentist and explained how my wife needed an extraction to save her life. The dentist agreed to see my wife and we traveled to another state for the removal.

The tooth looked completely normal on X-rays, but when it was extracted, it was clearly diseased. In fact, the entire area of jaw bone under the tooth was rotten with disease and decay. The dentist also found decay in an adjoining area where a tooth had been extracted earlier. All this hidden infection had been stressing her immune system and preventing her recovery.

My wife and literally many thousands of other people owe their lives to the work of Dr. Huggins who knew the problems that many people face are not just in their imaginations, but are directly related to the toxins in their mouths, to the failures of modern dentistry, and to the failures of modern nutrition.

The research of Dr. Weston A. Price, DDS, in the first part of the twentieth century showed that cavities are not a normal human occurrence. Cavities are ultimately a degenerative disease caused by the consumption of highly processed food, refined sugar and refined flour. The use of mercury amalgam fillings is the dental system’s response to poor nutrition, which has weakened human teeth and allowed them to become diseased. The ultimate solution to the need for filling cavities is a long-term healthy diet that provides all the needed building blocks for children to develop strong properly formed teeth and jaw bones. [21]

It is truly a crime against humanity and a sin against God for dentists to keep on using mercury amalgam when the dangers are so well documented. It is a crime and a sin for dentists to exclusively focus their efforts on fixing diseased teeth while neglecting to teach young parents to step away from the standard American diet and to feed their children a diet that would give them strong healthy teeth that can last a lifetime with minimal dental care.

Dentists are far behind the times. The EPA adopted rules to remove mercury from paint, because it was unsafe to breathe the mercury that was being released from the paint on the walls of homes. Fish that contains too much mercury cannot be sold to consumers. Yet, it is legal and still the normal practice of nearly half of dentists to keep on putting mercury amalgam in the mouths of children, pregnant women, and people who are already ill when the mercury being released from fillings is a far higher amount than that in paint or fish. It is time for a change!


[1] “CBS 60 MINUTES on Mercury Fillings,” 12/15/1990.

[2] “Statement on Dental Amalgam,” American Dental Association, Retrieved 10/10/2015.

[3] “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.

[4] Home page for Huggins Applied Healing, Retrieved 9/29/2015.

[5] Dr. Hal Huggins, DDS, Interviewed by Brian Davis (The link to the interview is on this page.), Retrieved 9/25/2015.

[6] “Boyd Haley PhD NIH stops funding studies linking mercury to Alzheimer’s Disease,” Retrieved 9/28/2015.

[7] “Amalgam / Mercury – Dental Filling Toxicity,” Huggins Applied Healing, Retrieved 9/26/2015.

[8] “IAOMT History & Mission,” International Association of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, Retrieved 9/30/2015.

[9] It’s All in Your Head: The Link Between Mercury Amalgams and Illness, Hal A. Huggins, DDS, 1984, page 3.

[10] “What Dentists and Doctors Making Money From Sick People: Don’t Want You To Know,” 60 Minutes New Zealand interviews Dr. Hal Huggins, 2007.

[11] 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.

[12] It’s All in Your Head: The Link Between Mercury Amalgams and Illness, Hal A. Huggins, DDS, 1984, page 17-18.

[13] “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.

[14] “Frequently Asked Questions,” Huggins Applied Healing, Retrieved 9/28/2015.

[15] “A practical guide to compatibility testing for dental materials,” Steve Koral, DMD, FIAOMT, Retrieved 9/29/2015.

[16] “Fixing the Problem,” Huggins Applied Healing, Retrieved 9/29/2015.

[17] “Dental Materials,” (PDF brochure), Huggins Applied Healing.

[18] “5. What are the possible health effects of alternative tooth filling materials?” GreenFacts – Facts on Health and the Environment, Retrieved 9/29/2015.

[19] “Mercury Fillings — Get Them Out Before They Get You,” Written summary from the interview with Dr. Hal Huggins, Renegade Health, Retrieved 9/29/2015.

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

[21] Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Weston A. Price DDS, republished in 2009.