Can Mercury Fillings Make You Sick?

If you have fillings in your teeth that are silvery to black colored you have mercury in your mouth. I was one of those people. I was a starving college student when I first began to hear about the possible dangers associated with amalgams. If I had known then what I know now, I would have had those mercury fillings removed ASAP. I struggled mightily with brain fog and fatigue that I just attributed to the grind of school. Looking back I know those fillings were responsible for a good chunk of my fatigue and brain fog. I’m embarrassed to admit that it wasn’t until I was in my 40’s before I got the amalgams out. I could kick myself thinking about how much easier my life would have been if I had the mental clarity and energy I have now.  I was lucky that that I didn’t suffer more serious complication due to the mercury in my system. Today I see patients who are really sick, in part or entirely, due to the mercury fillings in their mouth. This article will demonstrate that there are no safe mercury fillings, what health problems we know mercury can cause and what you can do if mercury is making you sick.

Are there safe mercury fillings?

Silver, mercury, amalgam (interchangeable terms) fillings are made of a combination of metals–it’s the mercury that holds them all together and gives them the silver color. Mercury fillings are about 50% mercury. Back when I first heard about the health risks associated with these fillings, I remember reading from several sources that these fillings are “sealed” and the mercury doesn’t escape.

The best evidence I’ve seen to refute this was on the good old Dr. OZ show.

Check it out:

Pretty powerful stuff right there! So ALL amalgams leak mercury into the body.

Is there a safe level of mercury in the body? Mercury is a nasty toxin that has been associated with the causing of over 250 symptoms1. Stop right there and let that sink in. I ask EVERY functional medicine patient if they have mercury fillings. If a patient has any amalgams it’s a red flag for me. I assume that mercury is either in part or entirely responsible for making my patient sick.

Even by the EPA’s guidelines for mercury levels, even one silver filling can exceed their “safe” levels for mercury.  According to the EPA, a “safe” daily intake for a 150lbs person is 6.8 µg of mercury. It is estimated that one dental amalgam filling releases about 3 to 17 µg of mercury vapor per day. The EPA does not take into account that some people are genetically susceptible to mercury2. These people cannot get the mercury out of their bodies and will become very sick.

It’s not just mercury fillings

Fillings are not the only place most people are exposed to mercury. Large fish, vaccines and fluorescent light  are also significant contributors. Large fish that eat other fish have the highest concentration of mercury. Swordfish for example has about 1 µg of mercury per ounce. Nine vaccines that contain thimerosal (50% mercury) as a preservative would give an estimated exposure of 62 µg of organic mercury. 3 Remember when you broke that fluorescent light bulb? It has between 100 to 5000 µg of mercury inside. Poof! Everyone present was exposed to a hefty dose of mercury vapor.

The little people are most at risk

Think about little people for a second. They are the ones who are most at risk for damage from mercury, because they are still developing, and it takes much less mercury to hurt them.

What about the littlest little people who are still living inside mom? These treasures can be hurt by the mercury circulating inside mom. Mercury passes right through the placenta. Even worse is that the baby cannot eliminate the mercury (because he or she can’t pee or poop yet) so the levels rise. Mercury is known to cause birth defects. Low exposure has been connected with loss of IQ points, decreased performance on tests, including memory, attention, language, and spatial cognition4. High exposure can cause everything from microcephaly, cerebral palsy, severe mental retardation, seizure disorders, blindness, deafness and other malformations, and sadly, even death.5

So ladies hoping to have babies some day, get rid of any mercury fillings before you’re pregnant, and once you’re pregnant avoid mercury like the toxin it is.

Mercury and the Nervous System

Mercury is not only able to cross the blood brain barrier, but it damages it and makes it possible for other toxins to travel to the brain. The cells in the brain and nerves actually soak up mercury6. As you can imagine this results in a lot of problems–things like depression, paranoia, extreme irritability, hallucinations, an inability to concentrate, memory loss, tremors of the hands, head, lips, tongue, jaw and eyelids, perpetually low body temperature, drowsiness, headaches, insomnia, fatigue, blindness, retinopathy, optic neuropathy, hearing loss, a reduced sense of smell, and abnormal touch sensation7 can result from mercury toxicity.

As you can imagine given the scope of mercury’s adverse effects on the nervous system it has been associated with lots of diseases involving the nervous system.

  • Alzheimer’s8
  • Parkinson’s9
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) 10
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder11
  • Schizophrenia 12

Mercury and the Immune System

Mercury has two negative effects on the immune system. First, it suppresses the immune system, and second, it can modulate it so that the immune system starts attacking the body (autoimmune)13. Because of these effects, I always look for mercury with any chronic infection like Epstein Barr Virus, Candida or Lyme or any autoimmune condition like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Ankylosing Spondylitis or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

Mercury and Hormones

Even low levels of mercury can hurt the adrenals, thyroid, pituitary and pancreas14. For some reason these glands can soak up and store mercury15 resulting in very high levels. As a result of mercury’s effect on hormones, it can contribute to almost any problem connected to the function of hormones.

Mercury and the Intestines

Mercury kills off the healthy probiotics and contributes to extremely hard to kill pathogenic bacteria  in the gut18.

Because mercury can hurt the pancreas, it also hurts digestion. Enzymes the pancreas makes (trypsin, chymotrypsin, and pepsin) are inhibited. This means that there will lots of unabsorbed food for bugs in the gut.

The combination of these two issues makes for a perfect intestinal storm. The presence of harmful, hard to kill, well fed bugs can wreak havoc on the gut, and as a result cause many health problems. If you’re not familiar with conditions like SIBO and Leaky Gut, please read my articles. Once a person’s gut is compromised, they will be sick.

Mercury and Kidneys

Mercury can just flat out wreck the kidneys19. Everything from kidney cancer to chronic renal disease has been linked to mercury.

Mercury and the Cardiovascular System

I’ve written specifically about the effects of heavy metals and the cardiovascular system including mercury.  Here is a list of things mercury can cause20:

  • Hypertension
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Increased carotid intima-media thickness
  • Carotid artery obstruction
  • Stroke
  • Generalized atherosclerosis

Getting Mercury Fillings Removed

Before you run to your dentist to have your silver fillings removed, please understand that if it’s not done right, you can get an extremely high dose of mercury. Think about it. Once the filling is drilled, scraped, poked at its going to release more mercury than when it was just in your teeth. Talk about adding insult to injury! Ask your dentist what they do to minimize mercury exposure to you and to them for that matter. Best practices here include things like

  • Keep the fillings cool during removal.
  • Use a high-volume evacuator.
  • Provide the patient with an alternative source of air.
  • Use a rubber dam.

For more information on this check out the information over at IAOMT

What does all this mean?

At the beginning of this article, I wrote that mercury has been connected to over 250 symptoms. After covering the major effects of mercury on the body, it’s not at all surprising, is it? What this all means for me is that I take mercury very seriously. I never assume it’s not hurting my patients. If patients have mercury fillings, I always tell them they need to have them removed.

Testing my patients for heavy metal toxins has produced some alarming results which has taught me that I can’t assume toxins like mercury are not affecting my patients.

I hope you can see how giving a drug, or even some supplement, based on a symptom like high blood pressure or fatigue or IBS crazy. Finding the underlying cause of these symptoms is where it’s at! That is what functional medicine is all about.

 

Show 20 Footnotes

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3988285/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20601101
  3. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1751-7176.2011.00489.x/full
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3096006/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3096006/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20399200
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3988285/#B52
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20847438
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25914621
  10. http://www.neurology.org/content/88/16_Supplement/S15.008.short
  11. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/1377487
  12. http://www.orthomolecular.org/library/jom/1999/pdf/1999-v14n04-p201.pdf
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9524402
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19545200/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19280433/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9646524/
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2408559/
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8280208/
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3988285/#B40
  20. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1751-7176.2011.00489.x/full

Could One These Articles Help?