(Investigator 164, 2015 September)

In the early 1990s, the claim that the mercury in dental
fillings was causing major health problems began to receive some currency. A sensationalised report "Poison in Your Mouth" aired on CBS's 60 Minutes in December 1990, was sufficient to boost the anti-amalgamist point of view and frighten many people.

A survey done for the American Dental Association in April 1991 tested the impact of the 60 Minutes broadcast. It found that nearly half the 1,083 adults surveyed associated health problems with silver fillings in their teeth. People were advised that because of those fillings they should be concerned that they may develop health problems. Four per cent had had their silver fillings removed, another 14% had considered removal.

The anti-amalgamists' claims include:

* that since mercury is a toxic metal, any amount is toxic to the body.

* that the symptoms of mercury toxicity are so vague that mainstream health professionals do not recognise them.

* that the removal of silver fillings has relieved the sufferings of patients with mysterious, undiagnosed conditions and degenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

* that organised dentistry opposes banning amalgam out of financial interest or fear of a class action lawsuit by those who have had mercury amalgams fillings.

* that mercury from dental fillings can cause major diseases such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, chronic fatigue and more.

These allegations are unfounded.

Although mercury is wide-spread in the natural environment, because the levels are so low it is not toxic.

Considerable research has been done over the last century
and mercury toxicity is well-known in the fields of environmental and occupational medicine. Dental amalgams do release ions. However the difference between body loads of people with and without amalgams is insignificant and poses no health problems.

The American Dental Association has refuted the claim that the continued use of amalgams would be in their financial interest, pointing out that it would be financially advantageous to them since its replacement would necessitate the use of more costly materials.

Further, there is absolutely no evidence that mercury amalgam fillings have any connection with MS or any other complaint.

subsequent inquiry by the United States Public Health Service in 1994, confirmed the finding that there is no evidence to support anti-amalgamists' claims. In a review of the toxicology of mercury, the U.S. Public Health Service found the high level of mercury in the urine of people with "more than 30 dental amalgams" was 4.8 micrograms per litre. No adverse health effects occur below 25 micrograms per litre.

Equally misinformed is the anti-fluoridation lobby who claim amongst other things, that compulsory fluoridation of drinking water is "poisoning" our food supply, that it is "forced medication" and even a "communist plot".

The statistics show however, beyond any reasonable doubt, that since the adjustment of the natural fluoride concentration in the public water supply system, it has proved to be a modern health miracle — far fewer decayed teeth, and stronger and longer lasting teeth.


American Dental Association. Statement on Dental Amalgam. Dec. 1990.

Consumer Reports. The Mercury in your mouth, May 1991, p. 316-319.

Shaw, P. 1991. Filling you in on amalgam. Inside MS, Summer 1991, pp. 24-26.

U.S. Public Health Service. Toxicological Profile for Mercury (Update). TP-93/l0. May 1994. p. 233.

From: Edwards, H. 1999 Alternative, Complementary, Holistic & Spiritual Healing, Australian Skeptics Inc.

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