Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Mercury in Your Mouth?
I recently came across some information that blamed all types of health problems on mercury poisoning from fillings. Is there any truth to this?
Answer (Published 7/10/2003)

Mercury amalgam fillings have been around for more than 150 years and have been generating controversy from the start. The amalgam is inexpensive, versatile, durable, and easy for dentists to work with. But over the years, repeated concerns have been raised that toxic mercury vapor escaping from fillings poses all kinds of health problems.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging - Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet! - Everything you need to get started eating a healthful, satisfying diet is here - including eating and shopping guides, over 300 recipes, and an exclusive version of Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid! Start your 14-day free trial now - and start eating anti-inflammatory today!

There is no question that mercury vapor is toxic, but its release from amalgam fillings is slow, and studies here and abroad have found no evidence to show that it amounts to a public health risk. Most release occurs when fillings are put in, making it more hazardous for the dentists who work with amalgam regularly. The only documented problems that have been traced to the fillings are rare, local side effects or allergic reactions.

In 1993, the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) published a report on the safety and use of dental amalgam and other materials commonly used to fill cavities that found no evidence of harm - but also failed to show that the material is entirely safe. Since then, USPHS scientists have analyzed some 175 peer-reviewed studies submitted in support of citizens' petitions received by the FDA. The scientists concluded that none of the studies supported claims that people with dental amalgam restorations will experience problems that include nerve, kidney, or developmental effects (other than rare allergic or hypersensitivity reactions).

Although health authorities continue to study this issue, the FDA reports that the use of dental amalgams in the United States is declining. Pediatric dentists are now using mercury-free, resin (plastic), tooth-colored materials that are bonded to teeth. Sadly, these do not last as long as amalgam. And amalgam remains the best material available for large cavities in rear teeth and cavities below the gum line.

Given the lack of evidence supporting claims that dental amalgams cause health problems, I wouldn't worry about any fillings you may have. When they break down, you can replace them with non-mercury-containing material. But make sure the dentist who removes them takes precautions to protect you from inhaling mercury vapor during the process.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here