How Much Mercury Am I Getting From My Fillings?

The amount of mercury absorbed from amalgam fillings depends on the number and size of fillings1-4, the amount of friction from chewing 5, elevated temperatures from hot food or drinks, and electrical currents (oral galvanism) created when different metals (i.e. a gold crown and an amalgam filling)are in contact with each other 6-9. One study showed that after ten minutes of chewing gum, the mercury concentration in mouth air increases 5-7 fold, and remains elevated for 90 minutes.

In 1990, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a document clearly stating that dental amalgams are the largest source of mercury in the general population. The estimated average daily intake of mercury from dental amalgams was estimated to be 3.8-21 micrograms per day with 1-12 micrograms per day being retained in the body of an adult.8

What are Safe Levels of Mercury?

In order to determine a “minimal risk level” for mercury in the general public, the U.S. Public Health Service in 1994 commissioned and published a risk assessment study on the Toxicological Profile for Mercury. In this document, the U.S. Public Health Service established the minimal risk level for mercury vapor exposure for the general population to be between 0.2-0.4 micrograms per day. They concluded that these levels “are below estimated exposure levels from dental amalgam.”9

Mercury Source Daily Retention Form of Mercury
Dental Amalgam 3.0-17.0 µg/day Mercury Vapor
Fish and Seafood 2.3 µg/day Methylmercury
Other Food 0.25 µg/day Inorganic Mercury
Air and Water Negligble Traces  

In 1995, Health Canada commissioned a similar risk assessment study of amalgam fillings. The report concluded that dental mercury released by amalgam dental fillings did in fact present a health risk, and a tolerable daily intake was recommended to be .014 micrograms of mercury per kilogram of body weight per day (about 0.95 micrograms per day for a person weighing 150 lbs).10

Comparing the findings of the World Health Organization with the recommendations of the U.S Public Health Service and Health Canada, the estimated daily intake of mercury from dental amalgams is up to 100 times more than the suggested minimal risk level.

One of the best reviews on mercury exposure from dental fillings is Mercury exposure from ‘silver’ tooth fillings: emerging evidence questions a traditional dental paradigm. FASEB J. 9: 504-508 (1995) by Lorscheider, FL, Vimy, MJ, Summers, AO. (Note: FASEB is the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, and their journal is one of the world’s highest rated scientific sources. We encourage our visitors to review this important study).

More About Mercury Fillings

Footnotes
  1. Drasch, G; et al. Mercury Burden of Human Fetal and Infant Tissues. Europ J Pediatrics, 153(8):607-10, 1994.
  2. Eggleston, DW; Nylander, M. Correlation of Dental Amalgam with Mercury in Brain Tissue. J Prosth Dent, 58(6):704-7, 1987.
  3. Friberg, L; et al. Mercury in the Central Nervous System in Relation to Amalgam Fillings. Swed Med J, 83(7):519-22, 1986.
  4. Nylander, M. Mercury in Pituitary Glands of Dentists. Lancet:442.1, 22 Feb 1986.
  5. Nylander, M; et al. Mercury concentrations in the human brain and kidneys in relation to exposure from dental amalgam fillings. Swed Dent J, 11:179-87, 1987
  6. Vimy, MJ; Lorscheider, FL. Serial measurements of intra-oral air mercury: estimation of daily dose from dental amalgam. J Dent Res, 64:1072-1075, (1985).
  7. Schriever, W and Diamond, LE. Electromotive forces and electric currents caused by metallic denta fillings. J Dent Res. Vol. 31(2):205-228, 1952.
  8. Schneider PE, Sarker NK. Mercury release from dispersalloy amalgam. IADR Abstract #630, 1982.
  9. World Health Organization (1991) Environmental Health Criteria 118, Inorganic Mercury. (Friberg, L., ed) WHO, Geneva.
  10. USPHS, ATSDR. Toxicological Profile for Mercury: Update TP-93/10, page 125.
  11. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, Vol. 2, No. 4, pp. 709-761, 1996.

Disclaimer: Most dentists are not of the view that mercury amalgam is harmful to your health.