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Mercury Amalgam Toxicity

Your Next Visit to the Dentist May Not be as Innocent as You Think

May 2001

By Jim O'Brien

In their practice at the Toxic Studies Institute, Drs. Williamson and Davis see every day the ways in which mercury makes people sick. And responsible individuals and organizations are catching on to this fact.

Image with Caption
"When they go to dental
hygienists, mercury amalgams
should not be polished. We
also recommend against dental
appliances such as braces."
- Charles Williamson, M.D.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics has called for a moratorium on the use of mercury (Thimerosal) in vaccines,” says Dr. Williamson. “The Academy’s action is laudable. One local gynecologist is counseling her patients about eating fish during pregnancy. She is rightly concerned about mercury intake from fish, which goes directly to the fetus, and we applaud her for recognizing the hazards mercury poses to the developing fetus. However, mercury-contaminated fish and Thimerosal in vaccinations barely scratch the surface of the overall problem. The great majority of the body-burden of mercury—87%—comes from dental amalgams, which continuously give off mercury vapor.”

According to Dr. Williamson, themercury accumulates in the tissue and leads to increased oxidative damage, mitochondrial dysfunction and cell death. This is toxic to anyone, he says, but especially to mothers-to-be and most of all to the developing fetus via rapid placental transfer. “The fetal pituitary gland—which affects development of the endocrine, immune and reproductive systems—concentrates mercury.”

Dr. Williamson says that, most notably, mercury decreases transport to the fetus of oxygen and essential nutrients, including amino acids, glucose, magnesium, zinc and vitamin B12. It also depresses the enzyme Isocitric Dehydrogenase in the fetus. This suppression in turn causes reduced iodine uptake and hypothyroidism, learning disabilities and impairment and reduction in IQ. Mercury is also strongly associated with behavioral disorders, autism and autistic spectrum disorders, including attention deficit disorder. Further, mercury exposure affects levels of nerve growth factor in the brain, impairs astrocyte function and causes brain developmental imbalances.

All of these problems and events can be compounded 10-fold, he says, if a pregnant woman should have mercury amalgam placed in her teeth or removed from them during the first trimester of pregnancy. And dental work of any kind is worse in the first trimester than in the second or third. “The level of mercury in the tissue of the fetus, newborn and young children is directly proportional to the number of amalgam surfaces in the mother’s mouth. Inorganic mercury methylated in the mouth by microorganisms to organic mercury is the most acutely neurotoxic form.”

Dr. Williamson adds that mercury from dental amalgams is often stored in breast milk in much greater concentrations than in the mother’s tissues—and the amount of mercury in breast milk is likewise directly proportional to the number of amalgams the mother has in her mouth. Heavy metal toxicity in general, and mercury toxicity in particular, can have a very damaging effect on fertility. Mercury amalgams in teeth have been associated with a host of female complaints, but especially difficulty conceiving, outright sterility and spontaneous abortions (miscarriages). Likewise, sperm count and motility in males can be greatly lowered.

Again, Dr. Williamson: “Think of it like this: mercury amalgams are a mere two centimeters away from the pituitary gland. Vapor from these amalgams has an affinity for this gland in high concentrations. The effect of these vapors on this gland can bring about hormonal disruptions and menstrual cycle disorders. When mercury burdens are decreased or eliminated, menstrual cycles normalize and spontaneous pregnancies notably increase.”

Image with Caption
"In case anyone still wants to defend the safety
record of mercury? dentists and dental personnel
who work with amalgam are chronically exposed
to mercury vapor. Mercury levels in urine of dental
personnal average about two times that of controls."
- Jordan Davis, M.D.

Dr. Williamson suggests that people who already have mercury amalgams should avoid hot beverages and chewing gum—both of which stimulate the release of mercury vapor. Anybody who has mercury fillings and suffers from bruxism—grinding their teeth in their sleep—should be evaluated for treatment.

“When they go to dental hygienists, mercury amalgams should not be polished. We also recommend against dental appliances such as braces when patients have mercury amalgams in their teeth.”

In addition to intensive detoxification and mercury amalgam removal, there is another protective step people can take, Dr. Williamson noted. “Since we know that mercury is an extremely potent oxidant and serves to damage and kill cells, we recommend individuals make it a point to have high levels of natural mercury chelators or detoxifiers in their bodies. Two very important substances are vitamin C and glutathione: we give these to our patients in very high doses to assist with mercury detoxification. And we also use mercury-free, organic Chlorella.”

On a preventive basis, they strongly urge parents not to have mercury amalgams placed in their children’s teeth. Many safe, bio-compatible materials are available to use for filling cavities in place of mercury amalgams.

“In case anyone still wants to defend the safety record of mercury, let’s consider the harmful effects in has on dentists, dental office personnel and their families—it’s overwhelming,” said Dr. Davis.

“Dentists and dental personnel who work with amalgam are chronically exposed to mercury vapor. Mercury levels in urine of dental personnal average about two times that of controls. Walking into the average dental office can result in a mercury exposure that’s approximately equivalent to having 19 amalgam fillings.”

Dr. Davis points out that mercury’s burden on the body increases with age, and older dentists have median mercury urine levels about four times those of controls, as well as higher brain burdens. Dentists and dental personnel experience significantly higher levels of neurological, memory, mood and behavioral problems, which increase with years of exposure. Female dental technicians who work with amalgam have significantly reduced fertility and lowered probability of conception—and their children have significantly lower average IQ compared to the general population.

Further, the homes of many dentists have been found to have high levels of mercury contamination, probably caused by the dentists bringing it home on shoes and clothes. Autopsies of former dental staff have found levels of mercury in the pituitary gland that averaged more than 10 times greater than that of controls—and also found higher levels in the occipital cortex, renal cortex and thyroid.

And it gets even more grim. Dentists have the highest rate of suicide of any profession. They also suffer a high incidence of depression and memory disorders. According to Dr. Davis, “A large number of dentists wind up being placed on permanent disability—and frequently carry a nebulous diagnosis of non-specific ‘neurological disorder,’ which we believe is mercury toxicity, plain and simple.”

The scientific truth is beginning to register with governments around the world and in the United States. In Sweden, it is against the law to use mercury amalgams. In Canada, Health Canada—the national health insurance system—has urged the nation’s dentists to stop giving mercury amalgam to children, pregnant woman and people with kidney disorders.

In late 1999, the California Dental Board—the largest in the country— termed the mercury in amalgam “hazardous,” and advised dentists to issue warnings about the reproductive toxicity of mercury and other adverse reactions. And in the summer of 2000, a judge in Maryland ruled that the state agency that regulates dentistry violated the law by prohibiting dentists from discussing the risks of amalgam with their patients.

Finally, if you have mercury fillings and are worried about mercury poisoning, what should you do? The first thing you have to recognize is that you have a medical problem. Says Dr. Davis: “You may carry a traditional diagnosis for your health problem(s) but the diganosis or diagnoses may have a strong non-traditional link to the mercury in your mouth.

“The bottom line is that multiple signs and symptoms may be present in multiple organs, the manifestations of which can be overt or occult. This is why a trained medical doctor with special knowledge in heavy metals toxicity should be consulted to thoroughly evaluate your history and each of your body’s organ systems.


“Eventually, you will need a dentist to remove your fillings, but first, you need a medical evaluation to see how much mercury is stored in your tissues, and how much toxicity you’re suffering. You will need to know how well your kidneys are functioning before any treatments or mercury removal may safely take place.”

Dr. Davis points to some of the tests medical doctors use in cases like this, which include The DMPS challenge, which stimulates the binding and elimination of a portion of stored mercury, which is then measured by a urinary excretion count; the creatinine clearance test, to measure kidney function (which mercury can severely compromise). This test can help determine which substances can be safely used for mercury detoxification, or even to tell if the kidneys can safely tolerate mercury detoxification. Other tests commonly employed are the H-Scan, which measures visual reaction time, vibrotactile sensitivity, muscle movement time, decision-making ability and memory function.

Dr. Davis states, “After those tests, you may require a medical detoxification of heavy metals generally, and mercury specifically, both before and after having your mercury amalgams removed. Medical doctors, not dentists, administer medicinal compounds that bind heavy metals and cause them to be eliminated from the body via the renal or fecal routes, separately or together. We use DMPS intravenously and oral DMSA.”

Finding a dentist to perform the procedure can be trying. Chances are your family dentist will volunteer, but odds are he or she will not be suited for the job. Removing amalgams has become a speciality unto itself. Dentists who perform this work often bear the qualifiers, “Mercury-Free,” or “Biologic Dentist.” They have had special formal training in mercury amalgam removal and have special equipment on hand in their offices to reduce dangerous mercury vapor exposure during the removal process for patients, themselves and other dental personnel. Simply yanking out fillings can release extremely high levels of mercury vapor, which goes directly into tissue, and is stored, or sequestered.

During the removal process, a certain amount of vapor contamination is going to take place. But a properly trained biologic dentist can keep this hazard to a minimum.

Continued on Page 3 (Mercury Detoxification Protocol)


More than 900 scientific articles on the subject of mercury toxicity lend evidence to the position of Drs. Williamson and Davis. For access to an extensive bibliography of this scientific literature, go directly to Dr. Boyd Haley’s website:

There are several organizations that Drs. Williamson and Davis recommend for education and general information. They are:

  • DAMS (Dental Amalgam Mercury Syndrome)
  • Talk
  • International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology

Drs. Williamson and Davis can be reached at The Toxic Studies Institute, 1905 Clint Moore Road, Suite 309, Boca Raton, FL 33487; (561) 988-8577; email:


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Berglund, Release of Mercury Vapor from Dental Amalgam; 1992, Swed. Dent. J. Suppl. 85: 1 -52.

Drasch, et al., Silver Concentrations in Human Tissues. Their Dependence on Dental Amalgam and Other Factors; J. Trace Elem. Med. Biol. 9: 82-87.

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