The Dangers of Dental Amalgams: Risks of Illness, Anxiety, and More

We don’t often think of a cavity filling as being dangerous. Sure, receiving these fillings can be unpleasant and uncomfortable, but we generally don’t have any worries about their potential negative side effects. However, recent research conducted by Dr. Mark Geier reveals that these fillings (amalgams) pose a number of health risks. Specifically, the elemental mercury in these amalgams has been shown to lead to depression, anxiety, and fatigue, all of which are commonly associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, among other chronic illnesses.

For years, science has identified mercury as a toxin harmful to humans. This element’s potential for severely damaging the nervous system has led to its ban from a number of household products and almost all childhood vaccines. At the international Minimata Convention on Mercury in 2013, over 140 nations signed a treaty that aims to limit human exposure to mercury. Yet, mercury continues to comprise 50% of the composition of the dental amalgams issued to patients in the United States.

If you think dental amalgams aren’t prevalent enough to be of concern, consider that over 181 million Americans have at least one dental amalgam in their mouth, and that these amalgams are given to children as young as 26 months of age. Today, 45 percent of all dental restorations rely on amalgams that contain elemental mercury. These fillings aren’t just concentrated sources of mercury, either, as they continually release mercury vapors.

Proof that an individual’s dental amalgams lead to increased mercury concentrations in the body is evident from a number of studies. For example, research has shown that those with dental amalgams containing a 50% composition of elemental mercury also had high concentrations of mercury in their tissues, kidneys, brain, and urinary porphyrins. The mercury in a dental amalgam is therefore not confined to the amalgam itself; its vapors do reach other areas of the body, and over time, form concentrations in these locations.

However, because the release of mercury vapors in dental amalgams occurs gradually, individuals are more likely to experience chronic toxicity. This type of exposure makes identifying the effects of toxicity slightly more challenging to study, but Geier does point to a number of case studies that illustrate the types of chronic illnesses that can develop over prolonged exposure to mercury. A study of dental assistants that had occupational interactions with mercury demonstrated higher rates of neurological symptoms, sleep deprivation, psychosomatic symptoms, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.

Low-level exposure to mercury has also been shown to significantly alter an individual’s mood, resulting in a wide range of somewhat extreme behaviors, including outbursts of anger and excessive shyness.  A study that evaluated a group of ex-miners who had prolonged exposure to mercury and a group of controls found that the ex-miners were significantly more likely to be depressive, have low self-esteem, and tend towards introversion. Other studies of dental workers have also demonstrated the negative effects of mercury exposure, even when exposure occurred at levels that were deemed to be safe. These studies revealed that dentists with elevated levels of mercury were more inclined to distress, aggression, confusion, tension and irritation.

A study of suicide victims further revealed that over 60 percent of the victims had more than 12 dental amalgams, and were found to maintain triple the amount of mercury in their bodies than those that had died of other causes.

Geier’s research ultimately reveals an unfortunate reality: the levels of mercury exposure we previously believed to pose no health risks can in fact be harmful, leading to both chronic illness and psychosomatic conditions with dangerous consequences.