Chronic Mercury Poisoning & Mercury Amalgam/Silver Fillings by Dr. Tom McGuire

Mercury amalgam (silver) fillings are hazardous to your health. The reason they are so hazardous is because poisonous mercury vapor is continually being released from these fillings, inhaled, and over time can accumulate in the body. For most people with these fillings, and depending on many factors, the amount stored will continue to increase until eventually signs and symptoms of the direct, and indirect, effects of mercury will manifest. Yet the American Dental Association (ADA), and its pro-amalgam supporters, continue to say that these mercury containing fillings is harmless and safe.

The question that begs an answer is, how can anyone possibly believe that anything that releases mercury is safe? The answer is that no scientist, health practitioner, or anyone who has even the basic knowledge of mercury can - once you understand that;

  • It is scientifically proven that mercury is the most poisonous naturally occurring, non-radioactive, substance on our planet. Click Here for access to scientific studies on mercury.
  • Mercury is far more poisonous than any of the other heavy metals, including arsenic, lead and cadmium.
  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is NO HARMLESS level of mercury! Nor is there any such thing as ‘good or safe’ mercury. The elemental mercury used in amalgam fillings is just as toxic as the elemental mercury that was used in the vaccine preservative Thimerosal - until it was recently banned. Nor is it any different from the elemental mercury used in thermometers and other medical instruments and equipment - until they too were banned.

Thus, no matter what you have heard from a pro-amalgam dentist, or from the American Dental Association (ADA), or anyone who says that the mercury continuously released from amalgam fillings is acceptable and not considered a serious health hazard — mercury can never, ever, ever be considered ‘safe’ nor ‘harmless’. To even suggest that mercury, in any amount, is safe, or harmless, is inaccurate, misleading, and hazardous to the health of those who believe what this organization and its supporting dentists are telling them.  

If the source of your mercury exposure is from contaminated fish, environmental pollution, a broken thermometer, or amalgam fillings . . . it is still mercury. Mercury can’t be called harmful when the source is contaminated fish, and then be considered harmless when it comes from amalgam fillings — as the ADA would like you to believe. Mercury can’t be categorized into ‘good or bad’ because it is convenient to do so, or at someone’s whim. The fact remains, that regardless of its source, the body has no biological need for mercury and even one atom of it is harmful to it! Once you fully grasp the fact that there is no such thing as a harmless level of mercury the door to understanding why amalgam fillings are so hazardous to your health will open fully!!!

The ADA not only continues to perpetuate the 250 year old myth that amalgams are safe, but also does everything it can to prevent Mercury Safe and Mercury Free dentists from discussing this topic with their patients. Yet pro-amalgam dentists can tell their patients that Mercury Safe dentists are quacks! Why? Because if the ADA says amalgams are safe fillings, it means they must be safe, and so patients don’t need to question or worry about it! But the same organizations and individuals who promote the safety of amalgam (silver) fillings are very careful not to call them mercury fillings—even though 50% of an amalgam filling is composed of toxic elemental mercury.

For visual and quantitative proof that not only is mercury released from amalgam fillings but the common action of brushing just one amalgam filling can release more mercury vapor than is allowed by regulatory agencies at the workplace. As one of the leading authorities on Occupationally Mercury Safe Dentistry I produced an enlightening video on YouTube and you can Browse it by Clicking on Mercury: The Poison in Your Teeth! Be sure and spread the word by telling your friends and family about it.

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Confused, Frustrated, and at Risk!

As this debate rages on between the pro and anti-amalgam factions, where does it leave you if you are still not sure if mercury amalgam (silver) fillings are safe or harmful? In my opinion it leaves you confused and frustrated and at risk of being chronically poisoned by mercury because you don't know who to believe! After all, when one dentist says they are safe and another, equally trained and qualified, states they are not - who do you trust? I’ve done thousands of consultations and discovered that most people don't even know that amalgam fillings contain mercury, let alone being aware of just how devastating chronic mercury poisoning is to their health.

My observation was proven accurate by a 2006 Zogby International. I'll briefly summarize the results here.

  • Most Americans (76 percent) didn't know mercury is the primary component of amalgam fillings;
  • The majority (77 percent) of Americans would choose higher cost fillings that do not contain mercury if given the choice;
  • Americans overwhelmingly (92 percent) want to be informed of their options with respect to mercury and non-mercury dental filling materials prior to treatment;

So if you weren't sure what all the fuss was about these fillings - you aren't alone. Yet without the information you need to make sense out of it, it’s impossible to fully appreciate the need for, and importance of, having these toxic fillings safely removed and replaced. In addition, the majority of those I consulted with didn’t understand the value of participating in a safe mercury detoxification program, one that safely and naturally supports the body’s efforts to remove the mercury that has accumulated in their body from these fillings, and then help heal the damage done by it.  

But I wasn’t surprised that most people don’t understand this issue because there is so very little information about this subject, written in an objective way; and can actually be understood by the layperson. If you have the time and are dedicated enough you can find bits and pieces of information on the Internet, but unless you have a strong science background it’s not so easy to determine if this information is accurate or not. Finding a credible source of this information is limited further because most dentists and health professionals don’t fully understand why chronic mercury poisoning is so damaging to health.

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Where to Begin

The first place to begin this learning process is to realize just how toxic mercury is to the body, including how it does its damage and why it must be dealt with in a unique way. I believe that in order to effectively treat chronic mercury poisoning and appreciate the need for removing the accumulated mercury from your body, it’s critically important to see the big picture. This means you must:

  • identify the source of the toxin/poison*;
  • learn how to safely eliminate the source**;
  • understand how the poison works;
  • be aware of the damage it does to the body;  
  • understand how mercury detoxification works; and
  • find the right program to participate in.

*Mercury amalgam (silver) fillings are the main source of mercury exposure and over 150 million people in the USA alone have them. These fillings continuously release mercury as a toxic vapor and as much as 80% of the vapor enters the body. Mercury is fat soluble and can enter every cell of the body - including being able to easily cross the blood brain barrier - and it is particularly destructive to the brain. That is why it is classified as a neurotoxin. The chronic mercury poisoning that I’m writing about is the result of being exposed to mercury from amalgam fillings - 24/7. But keep in mind that mercury is mercury and regardless of the source or form, it is a powerful poison.

**The safest way to remove amalgam (silver) fillings is to find a Mercury Safe and Mercury Free (amalgam filling free) dentist. That's why you should have a talk with Dr. Gerry Curatola!

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What You Need to Know about Mercury: There is NO Harmless Level of Mercury

You now know there is NO harmless or safe level of mercury and it can damage, and eventually kill cells in many ways. Unless the source of it is removed, more mercury will soon enter the body than it can remove. It will begin to accumulate throughout the brain and systemic, or general body. At some point enough will build up to manifest a symptom, or symptoms, of chronic mercury poisoning. But make no mistake about it, the damage it is doing to your body is taking place even if you are not aware of it, or if you haven’t yet experienced a mercury related sign or symptom! 

Because there are so many factors involved, for many people it could take years for enough cells of the body to accumulate enough mercury to cause a symptom specifically related to chronic mercury poisoning. For example, let’s say that it took an accumulation of 25 micrograms (mcg) of mercury before a related symptom is experienced. Does that mean the first 24 mcg of stored mercury were harmless and did no damage? Does that mean that it was only the last microgram of mercury that caused the damage that resulted in a symptom? The answer is an emphatic NO to both questions!

There may be other ways to explain this, but I think my modified parable of how the ‘straw broke the camel’s back’ will be the most effective (just think of your body as the camel and each straw as a small amount of mercury). “The farmer loaded bale after bale of straw on his camel’s back. It was a slow process and the camel did its best to hold the ever increasing weight of the straw in the bales. Finally the farmer felt he added as much straw as the camel could carry. But then he saw a single straw laying on the ground. “Why not he said, my camel is strong enough to carry just one extra piece of straw!” But when he added the last straw, it broke his camel’s back.” I think you get the point.

Over time, if the source of mercury isn’t removed, the majority of people exposed to mercury from amalgam fillings will have to deal with the “last straw”. But it doesn’t even end at the last straw for as more mercury accumulates that initial symptom will get worse and worse. The key to understanding everything I will discuss in this article hinges on you being aware that there is no harmless level of mercury and any amount in your body can never be considered safe or harmless. 

Here is another thing to think about. If I asked you if I could give you a little bit of arsenic throughout the day, every day, year after year, would you agree? Of course not, everyone knows that arsenic is a poison and can kill! In fact adding a little arsenic to your food or drink would actually be against the law because you cannot knowingly give someone a known poison without their knowledge. Yet mercury is far more poisonous than arsenic—and each amalgam filling is poisoning you little by little, day by day!

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Acute and Chronic Mercury Poisoning: The Facts

Although any amount of mercury in the general body or brain can alter the function of, or damage everything to which it attaches, exposure to mercury is always classified as either acute or chronic. The extent of the harm done by mercury vapor is directly related to:

  • The amount of exposure;
  • The length of exposure;
  • How much has accumulated;
  • Where it’s located in the body;
  • How long it’s been there; and
  • The overall health of the immune/detoxification system.

Acute mercury poisoning is relatively rare and occurs when you are exposed to a sudden and very high dose of mercury, especially vapor from elemental mercury or organic/methyl mercury. Acute mercury toxicity can result in immediate and severe symptoms, requiring emergency attention. Untreated it can quickly cause death due to kidney (renal) failure, or other system failures, such as the heart and respiratory systems.

In contrast, chronic mercury poisoning (CMP) is very common, affecting everyone with amalgam fillings to some degree—but is still largely unrecognized and under diagnosed. CMP results from the continuous exposure to small amounts of mercury over an extended period of time; such as the exposure to highly toxic mercury vapor released from amalgam fillings. If mercury (or any other heavy metal) enters the body and accumulates faster than the body can remove it, it will gradually build up until a toxic state is reached.

Low dose, chronic exposure to mercury means it could take years before enough has accumulated to manifest a recognizable symptom. Because there are so many factors involved, the time it takes for early symptoms to appear will vary greatly from person to person. Given such conditions mercury can gradually accumulate in the body. While the effect of CMP isn’t as sudden or dramatic as acute mercury poisoning, over time it can be extremely damaging to one’s health.

I compare CMP to radiation poisoning, where, if you’re far enough removed from the main source of radiation you won’t die right away. But depending on how much radiation you received, you could eventually manifest a radiation-related illness that could result in numerous health problems and possibly cause death. Thus, chronic mercury poisoning may not be instantly fatal but, over time, could directly and indirectly contribute to numerous and undesirable symptoms and a serious and even fatal disease.

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The Many Faces of Chronic Mercury Poisoning

Mercury is toxic in any amount, it can accumulate in the body over time, and directly or indirectly contribute to or make worse every known health problem. Mercury can:

  • Attach to proteins and enzymes and interfere with their normal function .
  • Create autoimmune diseases and impair the blood and cardiovascular system.
  • Interfere with, or overload, the natural detoxification pathways of the liver, kidneys, skin, and bowel.
  • Impair the function of the nervous, endocrine, immune, enzymatic, gastrointestinal, reproductive, and urinary systems.
  • Make you more susceptible to allergens and allergic reactions.
  • Cause intestinal bacteria, including Candida, to become immune to antifungal treatment.
  • Dramatically deplete the body of its most important antioxidants, especially Glutathione (GSH).

Mercury can also cause a great deal of cellular and tissue damage by creating tremendous amounts of free radicals. Free radicals are highly toxic to cells and are suspected of being one of the underlying causes of most degenerative diseases.

We also know that mercury can interfere with disease fighting white blood cells and can inactivate neutrophils, the most important type of white blood cell. White blood cells are very important immune system components and are responsible for killing bacteria inside the body (blood and soft tissue).

There are over 100 symptoms, and a large number of diseases and syndromes, that are directly related to chronic mercury poison. You can view them by Clicking Here.

Where the Mercury Goes

If you are to fully understand why mercury is such a powerful poison you must realize that it can readily enter every cell in the body and thus is widely distributed throughout the body. This is a bad news/good news situation. The bad news is that mercury enters the body and finds its way to cells. The good news is that the body is made up of trillions of cells and the mercury is, in effect, diluted by the fact that it is spread throughout these cells. The fact that it’s so widely dispersed throughout the body also accounts for the many and diverse symptoms related to chronic mercury poisoning.

The effects of mercury released from amalgam fillings would be more dramatic and occur more rapidly if it only had an affinity for one organ, or one part of the brain. For example, if all the mercury entering the body only went to the kidneys, an observable symptom related to kidney function would quickly appear. 

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How Much Mercury is Too Much Mercury!

Toxic levels of mercury are measured in micrograms and it is important to know just how small a microgram is.

What is a Microgram?

Unit of Measure


One pound

16 ounces (oz

One ounce

28 grams (gm)

One gram

1000 milligrams (gm)

One milligram

1000 micrograms (mcg)

One Microgram of Mercury 3,000,000,000,000,000 Atoms of Mercury

As you can see, a milligram is a pretty small amount of anything, but a microgram is 1,000 times smaller. But as you can see, the scary part is that just one microgram (1mcg) of mercury contains roughly 3,000,000,000,000,000 (that’s 3 quadrillion!) atoms of mercury. And every single atom of it in your body is harmful to it!!!

Numbers, numbers, and more numbers! True, but you don’t have to be a mathematician to understand that extremely small amounts of mercury contain an extraordinary number of extremely toxic mercury atoms. The fact that it is so poisonous in such small amounts is one of the main reasons why it’s so toxic compared to other poisons.

The bad news is that it really doesn’t take a lot of exposure to mercury to generate, or contribute to, a related symptom. And as I mentioned earlier, just because you haven’t yet expressed a symptom doesn’t mean you aren’t still being poisoned!

Sources of Mercury

There are many sources of mercury, including food, air, water, cosmetics, medications, and occupational exposure. However, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the single greatest source of mercury is mercury amalgam fillings. Here is what WHO lists as the main contributors and the estimated daily amount of mercury taken into the body.

Source of Mercury

Daily Intake (mcg)

Amalgam Filling


Other Foods








Based on the WHO data, and the other available evidence, there are tens upon tens of millions of people who take in far more mercury than the body can eliminate on a daily basis. In fact, because of the many factors involved in how much mercury is released from amalgam fillings, tens of millions more could easily be getting far more than is listed here.

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What Makes Mercury so Toxic!

The membranes that surround the cells of the body are composed of fatty substances and it just so happens that elemental mercury vapor is highly fat-soluble. This characteristic allows it to readily pass through the membrane of cells of the general body, easily cross the blood brain barrier, and readily enter brain cells. Once inside any cell, mercury can attach to critically important enzymes, proteins, and other substances; disrupting the function of everything it bonds to.

Once it has attached to a cell component, the bond it forms is very strong and not easily broken. The body does have the ability to get rid of mercury, but as more and more mercury accumulates the body becomes increasingly deficient in the vital antioxidant/antitoxin chelators needed to do this job. Over time, its ability to take out mercury is diminished. Unless the source of mercury is removed and the body is supported in its efforts to eliminate the accumulated mercury, the damage and related symptoms will only worsen. Initially mercury interferes with proper cellular function but at some point the cell will be exposed to more mercury than it can deal with and ultimately dies. In addition, when mercury attaches to an enzyme or protein it displaces an essential mineral, mostly zinc and/or copper. This action also creates free radicals, which are believed to be a major factor in degenerative diseases.

The Direct and Indirect Health Effects of Chronic Mercury Poisoning

Most people, including many dentists and health professionals, don’t know that chronic mercury poisoning can have a destructive effect on the body in two ways: directly and indirectly. Mercury has a direct and damaging effect on everything it comes in contact with, such as proteins, enzymes, DNA, and thousands of other important components of cells. It disrupts the body’s ability to carry out the normal metabolic functions required for health, can cause genetic mutations, and is devastating for the fetus, nursing baby. In fact, the first exposure anyone can have to mercury from amalgam fillings is at the moment of conception, if the mother has amalgam fillings in her teeth while pregnant.

Mercury also passes through breast milk, again exposing the nursing baby to mercury from the mothers fillings. But the harm mercury inflicts doesn’t stop there, because the indirect effects of mercury on your health can be just as serious. This makes mercury a very dangerous two-edged sword. (You can read more about how mercury from amalgam fillings affect the fetus and nursing baby in my article, Autism and Mercury Amalgam Fillings.)

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The Indirect Effect of Mercury

One of the most damaging indirect effects of mercury is the toll it takes on the immune system. As more and more mercury accumulates I believe that, over time, the indirect effect of mercury can be even more damaging than the direct effects. Certainly, the two effects combined makes mercury far more destructive than its direct effects alone.

Over time, chronic mercury poisoning can so severely weaken the immune system that it dramatically lowers the body’s resistance to other diseases. It does this because it depletes the body’s most prolific and important antioxidant and antitoxin, glutathione (GSH), which is the one that is primarily responsible for removing mercury, and other heavy metals, from the body. In addition, GSH is an extremely important antioxidant for removing toxins and neutralizing free radicals.

Here is how that happens. Every time the body removes an atom of mercury, two molecules of GSH are also removed in the process . . . lost forever! Over time, as glutathione levels continue to decrease, more and more mercury will be able to accumulate. As the loss of GSH continues, the body will progressively lose its ability to deal with not only mercury and other heavy metals, but other harmful substances that glutathione helps protect it from.

I consider the indirect effect of chronic mercury poisoning on the body as being similar to the effects of AIDS. The AIDS virus doesn’t kill directly but it can so weaken the immune system that it no longer has the ability to protect the body against other toxins, bacteria, and other harmful substances. Thus people with AIDS don’t die of AIDS, they die of pneumonia, kidney failure, etc. But the fact that AIDS itself isn’t the direct cause of death does not make it less lethal. In chronic amounts, mercury may not be as initially devastating, but the analogy is accurate in that, over time, mercury can generate auto immune diseases and dramatically inhibit the function of the immune system.

Another devastating affect of mercury is that each time an atom of mercury binds to a substance in the body, it generates free radicals. For someone with amalgam fillings the production of extra free radicals can be tremendous, as millions of atoms of mercury will enter the body daily from their fillings. As you know, free radicals have been implicated in contributing to all degenerative disease and a number of health disorders, including mutations, cancer, and aging.

The wide-ranging direct and indirect effects of mercury should never be overlooked, or underestimated, when dealing with any health issue! It’s fair to say that you’ll never be truly healthy as long as you have mercury amalgam fillings and mercury is still stored in your body.

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Summing it Up

No one can tell you exactly how much mercury you have stored in your body, where it is located, or the specific damage it is doing. But if you have, or had, amalgam fillings you are mercury toxic to some degree and it could very well be a contributing factor to every symptom or health problem you are facing, or will face.  

It’s important to understand that it’s not enough just to eliminate the main source of mercury exposure—amalgam fillings—because you can never achieve optimal health as long as your body is being poisoned by mercury that has already accumulated in it. While removing the main source of mercury exposure - amalgam fillings - is a critically important first step, the fact is that you can’t expect any mercury related symptom, or disease, to improve until the stored mercury is removed and the damage repaired. Thus, while removing the source is a critical first step, it isn’t the only one that must be taken to free yourself from this toxic substance.

It is my hope that this brief overview of the relationship of amalgam fillings to chronic mercury poisoning will motivate you to have your amalgam fillings safely removed and replaced. It is also my hope that you will at least consider participating in a mercury detoxification program. The subject of chronic mercury poisoning is dealt with in much more detail in Mercury Detoxification: The Natural Way to Remove Mercury from Your Body. 

I believe that the key to taking charge of, and responsibility for your health is to have access to the information needed to make informed and intelligent decisions. If you don’t have that information you can’t make those choices and you will continue to be a victim. If your goal is to improve your health and well being you cannot afford to overlook the effects of chronic mercury poisoning on your health. I hope I’ve helped in providing you this information and I wish you the best in your quest for optimal health.

In health,

Dr. Tom McGuire

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