Why I Don’t Get Amalgam Fillings

I don’t have many tooth fillings, but when I do need them I ask for porcelain fillings.

You may have seen episodes of Real Time where Maher talks about getting his amalgam fillings removed. The idea is that these amalgams leach mercury into your body, almost directly into your brain, and as it builds up it causes neurological disorders.

It’s not so simple as just yanking the filling out, because doing so could subject you to mercury exposure. Doctors who perform these procedures wear something that looks like a hazmat suit. They have a separate oxygen supply. They have to prep their patients in a similar way, adding sorts of dental guards and things that prevent them from ingesting what’s being removed.

But the dental establishment claims that these kinds of fillings are safe.

Whatever the truth is about amalgam fillings, the public opinion is so varied that it’s hard to figure out what’s the truth and what’s propaganda. Some doctors claim that amalgam fillings are a 19th century practice that should be abandoned. Others say that the amount of exposure is so small it may as well be nonexistent.

Figuring out who has more to gain by misleading me1 is part of why I decide on porcelain fillings. I think both the dental establishment and the holistic approach have something to gain. But the dental establishment has more to lose.

Mercury is known as a toxic element that, in a certain dose, can damage the human body. To move away from that would result in a huge gutting of the tools and processes that dentists currently use. It would be an admission that the practice that they’ve been performing for years is incorrect and deadly. It’s a controversy in vaccinations, and while the debate is claimed to be nonexistent by authorities you can’t blame people for being skeptical.2

Meanwhile, I haven’t read anything about porcelain poisoning. As far as I know there is no debate, other than doctors saying that doctors who perform them are quacks.


  1. I know this is flawed. I know this isn’t a good way to figure out what’s true and what’s false. I expect that this could be a good subject on You Are Not So Smart. But I know no better way. 

  2. This is something that Lawrence Lessig has talked about for years and it even affects dentistry. When you read something about how a practice is considered safe (like amalgam fillings or fluoride in the water supply), then think of how there’s government lobbying behind it, it tends to sway one’s opinion. It begins to look like propaganda, which leads to distrust.