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Mercury Risk Evaluation by Tom McGuire, DDS

Are You Mercury Toxic?

Over 150 million Americans have mercury amalgam fillings in their teeth. The majority of them have at least 8 mercury amalgam fillings, chew gum, grind or clench their teeth, snack throughout the day and drink lots of hot liquids. And every time these millions of amalgam fillings are stimulated, mercury vapor is released. In addition, tens of millions have both the galvanic current-creating combination of amalgam fillings and gold crowns, which increases the amount of mercury vapor released – even if the amalgam fillings aren’t directly stimulated.

In addition, a large percentage of the population were exposed to mercury during fetal development, and nursing, from their mother’s amalgam fillings. A significant percentage was also exposed to mercury from childhood vaccinations. Add to this the fact that millions of people with mercury amalgam fillings have also been exposed to additional amounts of mercury from contaminated fish, occupational exposure, environmental sources and products containing mercury.

Today, chronic exposure to mercury is the rule rather than the exception.

Evaluating Your Risk of Mercury Exposure

Over the years, many people have asked me how they could evaluate the extent of their mercury exposure. An objective way of determining the risk factors involved in chronic  mercury poisoning hasn’t been established yet, but I’ve created a simple subjective risk evaluation model to help determine your total exposure to mercury. It consists of three risk categories—low, moderate and high—and is based on your own subjective self-evaluation. The model not only considers your exposure to mercury from your amalgam fillings, but also on other sources of mercury exposure, and the general status of your health.  

Keep in mind that this self-evaluation is like a snapshot in time. It only indicates what’s taking place at the moment you take the evaluation. Mercury exposure from amalgam fillings is a continuous, long term, chronic type of poisoning. Therefore, whatever Risk Category you find yourself in, on the day you take this evaluation, will change over time, for the worse, as long as the fillings remain in your teeth. If you now have mercury amalgam fillings, I encourage you to take this evaluation even if you haven’t yet experienced any mercury related symptoms as it will give you a good idea as to where you are now—and the direction in which you’re heading.

Unless you experience an acute exposure to mercury, moving from a low risk category to the moderate risk category won’t happen overnight and, because of the many factors involved, there’s no precise line between the three risk categories. But if you’re not sure whether you’re in the moderate or high risk category, select the high risk one because, unless your fillings are safely removed soon, your risk factor will increase and you’ll be there soon enough. This may sound pessimistic, but unfortunately, it’s quite true.

Bear in that this subjective Mercury Risk Evaluation can’t determine:

  • Your present or future state of health
  • How much mercury is in your body
  • Where mercury is stored in your body
  • The exact damage mercury has done, is doing, and will do
  • How effective your body is at removing mercury

However, it can be very useful in establishing your exposure to mercury from your amalgam fillings and help you identify habits which you should avoid until all your mercury fillings have been removed.

Taking the Mercury Risk Evaluation

The first step is to select and print the Mercury Risk Evaluation Chart below (I suggest this because every website will show the charts below differently.). Read each of the Mercury Risk Factors and check the appropriate box next to the risk factor that applies to you. For example in the first risk factor listed, if you have between five and eight mercury fillings you would check the 5-8 box.            

  1   

 Number of amalgam fillings.

  1-4  

    

  5-8  

 √  

  8 or more  

             

Or, for risk factor #4, if you grind your teeth frequently you would check the box to the right of the Frequently category.

  4  

  Do you grind your teeth?  

  No  

      

  Sometimes  

      

  Frequently  

  √  

Mercury Risk Evaluation Chart

Click here for a printable PDF of the chart
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Mercury Risk Factors

Low

  √  

Medium

  √  

 High 

  √  

  1

Number of amalgam fillings.

   1-4

 

   5-8

 

  8 or more  

 

  2

Number of years you’ve had amalgam fillings.

   0-5

 

   6-10

 

  10 or more  

 

  3

Do you have both gold and amalgam fillings?

   No

 

 

 

   Yes

 

  4

Do you grind your teeth?

   No

 

  Sometimes  

 

   Frequently 

 

  5

Do you clench your teeth?

   No

 

 Sometimes

 

  Frequently

 

  6

Did your mother have amalgams when you were conceived?

   No

 

 

 

   Yes

 

  7

Did you receive childhood vaccinations?

   No

 

   Some

 

   All

 

  8

How many times per week do you eat mercury contaminated fish?

   1 or less  

 

   2

 

   More

 

  9

What is your present state of health?

   Good

 

   Fair

 

   Poor

 

 10

How many mercury related symptoms do you have?

   4 or less

 

   5-8

 

   More

 

 11

How many mercury related disease do you have?

   3 or less

 

   4-6

 

   More

 

 12

Do you have plant allergies?

   No

 

   Yes

 

 

 

 13

Do you have food allergies?

  No

 

 

 

  Yes

 

 14

Number of times you brush your teeth per day

   2 or less

 

   3

 

   More

 

15

Do you use an electric tooth brush?

   No

 

   Sometimes

 

   Frequently

 

 16

Number of meals you eat per day.

   1 to 2

 

   3

 

   More

 17

Number of times you snack between meals, per day?

   1 or less

 

   2

 

   More

 

 18

How many hot liquids do you drink per day?

   2 or less

 

   3-4

 

   More

 

 19

How many times per day do you eat abrasive foods, such as seeds or nuts?

   1 or less

 

   2

 

   More

 

 20

How many soft drinks and/or juices do you drink daily?

   2 or less

 

   3 to 4

 

   More

 

 21

Number of hot baths or saunas do you take per week.

   1 or less

 

   3

 

   More

 

 22

Do you smoke?

   No

 

  Sometimes

 

   A lot

 

 

Total Number of Checked Boxes Per Risk Category

   Low

 

   Medium

 

   High

 

Determining Your Mercury Risk Factor

Generally speaking, the columns (Low, Medium, or High) with the largest number of checks will determine your risk factor. The following examples show the result of three different evaluations with the correlated Mercury Risk Evaluation in bold.

Example One: Low Risk Category

Total Number of Checked Boxes Per Risk Category      

   Low   

   18   

   Medium   

   3   

   High   

   1   

Example Two: Medium Risk Category

Total Number of Checked Boxes Per Risk Category       

   Low   

   4   

   Medium   

   12   

   High   

   6   

 

Example Three: High Risk Category

Total Number of Checked Boxes Per Risk Category         

   Low   

   4   

   Medium   

   3   

   High   

   15   

As you can see in the above Examples, the category you will be in will be determined by the totals you have in each of the three categories. However, if you find yourself on the high end of a category, you should consider yourself to be in the next category.

General Comments on the Risk Categories

Low Risk Category

If you are in the low risk category, be aware that everyone in the medium and high risk categories started in the low risk group. Those in this category haven’t yet have experienced the many symptoms related to chronic mercury poisoning. But as long as amalgam fillings remain in your teeth, your immune system will be under more and more stress and you’ll never really be able to achieve optimal health. Over the years, the amount of mercury your fillings release will continue to accumulate and this could eventually contribute to the related symptoms and illnesses found in the higher risk categories.

If you find yourself in this category, your body’s burden of mercury will increase more slowly than if you were in the other two. This means that the few mercury-related symptoms you may now be experiencing won’t be an accurate predictor of the effect that mercury will have on you in later life. The rate that mercury accumulates is relative and determined by many factors, but it does accumulate.

Moderate Risk Category

If you’re in this group and you haven’t had your fillings removed, you should have a pretty good idea of the direction you’re going. For example, if you’re under 40 and are already at the middle to high end of the moderate risk group, there’s a strong probability you’ll eventually develop more and more serious mercury-related symptoms and diseases. Why? Because you have many years left to accumulate mercury and it’s even more important for you to take the steps to have these fillings safely removed and consider starting a mercury detoxification program as soon as possible.

High Risk Category

The majority of those in this category will have numerous symptoms and health issues related to advanced chronic mercury poisoning. High risk also suggests that their immune system is over stressed and will have a more serious deficiency in glutathione (GSH) and other essential antioxidants and antitoxins. If you fall into this group you’ll have, or may soon develop, one or more of the diseases directly or indirectly associated with chronic mercury poisoning or health issues related to neurological problems. Click Here to review Symptoms & Diseases Related to Chronic Mercury Poisoning.

The accumulative effects of chronic mercury poisoning is potentially life threatening for those in the high end of this category. Based on my professional experience, anyone in this group would be well advised to immediately take the necessary steps to have their mercury fillings safely removed and participate in a mercury detoxification program. Click Here for an Introduction to Mercury Detoxification.

Occupation, Environment, Products and Other Sources of Mercury

Other sources of mercury must all be taken into consideration, but thankfully, fewer people are being exposed to mercury from these sources (e.g., fossil fuel-burning power plants) than from amalgam fillings. Finding and eliminating these ”other” sources is particularly important if you’re in the moderate or high risk category, suspect an allergy to mercury, or have children whose health has already been compromised by exposure to mercury.

Heavy Metal Synergism

Another factor to consider when evaluating your mercury risk is heavy metal synergism. All heavy metals are toxic but mercury is by far the most poisonous of this group. But all the other relatively common heavy metals —arsenic, cadmium and lead — must also be considered. While each one is poisonous in its own way, they all exhibit synergism with mercury, especially when lead and mercury are present together. Synergism means that the total effect of two or more metals on the health of the body is greater than the sum of their individual effects.

For example, if you have been exposed to significant amounts of any of the other heavy metals, the addition of even small amounts of mercury could exponentially increase the toxic effects of the combined poisons on the body. The only way to get a more accurate and objective idea of your levels of heavy metal is to test for them. 

Chronic Mercury Poisoning and Longevity

People are living longer today, but living longer doesn’t mean you’re destined to get a specific disease related to aging. In fact, I don’t know of any diseases that are specifically related to growing old. It’s a fact that some older people are very healthy and others are very ill, with a wide range in between. A multitude of factors combine to determine our overall health as we age and among those, the long-term accumulation of mercury must be considered.

Because more people could afford them, the placement of mercury fillings increased dramatically in the 1950s

Up next: Chronic Mercury Poisoning