Stephen Bourne MB BS, MRCGP, Dip Homotox (Hons), MCMA .



A mercury amalgam dental filling next to a healthy tooth

Mercury amalgam was first used in dentistry in 1826. It consists of an amalgam of silver, tin, copper and zinc dissolved in about 50% mercury.  As long ago as in 1926, the German chemist, Dr Alfred Stock, proved that mercury amalgam fillings are a source of toxic mercury vapour and that dental amalgam fillings are mercury implants.

Mercury is a toxic, volatile heavy metal, so that dental technicians must wear protective clothing when preparing amalgam fillings and dentists have to send removed mercury fillings to approved poisons disposal agencies for safe disposal in order to prevent the dental mercury from entering the ecosystem.  If small amounts of removed dental mercury can contaminate the ecosystem, they are liable to be very toxic in people’s mouths.  

In 1998, a report commissioned by the Swedish Government, stated that ‘mercury from amalgam fillings is liable to damage the central nervous system, the kidneys and the immune system’. The Swedish Dental Material Commission also stated that exposure to mercury in dental amalgams is ‘hazardous and that the contained mercury is liable to be deposited in the thyroid, retina of the eye and testicles’. Mercury dental implants were consequently banned in Sweden and Denmark.

In the United Kingdom, dental mercury implants are not permitted for pregnant women and young children. This advice disregards the adverse effects of dental mercury poisoning on older children and adults. It also disregards the effect of dental mercury poisoning on unborn babies, whose mothers already have dental mercury implants. For example, at this clinic, dental mercury poisoning in utero was found to have caused attention deficiency disorder in a child, whose mother had dental mercury implants long before she became pregnant.

The first symptoms of mercury toxicity are fatigue, anxiety and depression. Medical conditions associated with dental mercury poisoning include chronic fatigue syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, muscular dystrophy, heart disease, hypertension, asthma, and migraine. Normal function of any system of the body can be impaired and there are many credible accounts about people, who have “miraculously” recovered from chronic illnesses as a result of mercury detoxification and safe removal of their dental mercury fillings.

Factors predisposing to mercury toxicity                                                                                         These include the number of fillings, the length of time in place, other nearby fillings with variable metallic components (particularly gold), related dental caries (which acidifies the local biological terrain and promotes galvanic currents) and the patient’s ability to excrete mercury, since some people are better able to excrete mercury than others.

Animal studies and human autopsy studies                                                                                           In the intestine, swallowed mercury has been shown to poison healthy microflora, which weakens immune system function and predisposes to chronic antibiotic resistant  infection and a tendency to allergies. Human autopsy studies indicate that mercury is deposited in the brain, kidneys, intestine, liver and heart, and that the amount of mercury deposited in these tissues correlates with the total number of fillings and the number of years that they have been in place. Mercury amalgam fillings in sheep have been shown to significantly impair kidney function within a few weeks of placement.

Clinical considerations                                                                                                                                  The mouths of all chronically ill patients should be examined for mercury amalgam fillings. If found, the voltages between each filling and the buccal mucosa (inside of the cheek) should be measured using a simple voltmeter set to measure 2 volts (2000 mV). The voltages associated will each amalgam filling should be identified and recorded. Amalgam fillings with voltages above 100 mV are particularly liable to be pathogenic. When indicated with bio-regulatory testing, the patient should be treated naturopathically for chronic mercury poisoning and referred to a mercury free dentist to have the toxic fillings replaced.

Since acidic saliva promotes galvanic currents (battery effect), an alkalizing toothpaste (e.g. Arm and Hammer) may be recommended. Also, because heavy chewing and hot drinks cause release of mercury vapour,  it is inadvisable for people with mercury dental fillings to chew gum or to  take their drinks very hot.

At this clinic, selected naturopathic treatment is prescribed to promote excretion of mercury and other toxins.. Treatment may also be prescribed for associated medical conditions, particularly  dysbiosis (unhealthy intestinal microflora) and a compromised immune system.

Dental considerations                                                                                                                                    The Safe removal and replacement of mercury amalgam fillings requires post-graduate dental expertise and a list of appropriately trained British dentists can be found is on the website of the British Society for Mercury Free Dentistry (

Protocols vary between dentists, although most prefer to remove only one or two amalgam fillings during a session and to restrict treatment to one dental quadrant at a time. 

Mercury free dentists generally use rubber dams in their patient’s mouths to prevent mercury particles from being swallowed. They may also use high volume suction together with copious irrigation. A nasal tube providing oxygen or air may be used to reduce inhalation of mercury particles. The amalgam fillings are removed carefully using special tungsten carbide dental drills, which cut through the fillings without vaporising them.

White resin fillings are more expensive and less durable than mercury amalgam fillings and are suitable for teeth that are not used for grinding. Porcelain crowns and gold fillings are as durable as amalgam fillings and suitable for grinding teeth although they are about three times the cost of amalgam fillings.

Since removing amalgam fillings causes some release of mercury, it is advisable for naturopathic detoxification of the mercury poisoning to be started several weeks prior to dental treatment and to be continued for several months afterwards.

This article is a summary of a more comprehensive paper with references. If you would like to read the unabridged version, please email your request to Dr Bourne at

About the author                                                                                                                                         Dr Stephen Bourne is a retired NHS general practitioner currently practicing integrative medicine at the London Centre for Complementary Integrative Medicine in North London.   He has a long interest in the naturopathic treatment of dental mercury poisoning.  Information on integrative medicine is available on the clinic website (

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