Dentists who oppose the use of mercury amalgams in restorative
dentistry, and in particular those who practise the removal and
replacement of amalgam fillings with alternative materials, sometimes
face the threat of censure or penalty from their local health
authorities and/or dental associations.
If such dentists attempt to defend their position by arguing that
amalgam fillings cause harm or illness as a result of the toxic
properties of the mercury in amalgams, they are likely to be asked to
provide some conclusive scientific evidence for this, and experience
indicates that they may be unable to do so.
However, if instead the anti-amalgam dentist simply describes the
known electrical behaviors of mixtures of metals, and then asks the
relevant authority to explain the extent to which these behaviors
occur in amalgam dental restorations, it quickly becomes apparent that
the mainstream dental profession is largely ignorant of the electrical
behavior of dental amalgams - arguably to the extent of being
negligent - and the burden of justification then shifts onto the side
of the "pro-amalgam" lobby.
As a prime example of this ignorance, it appears that students in some
dental schools are instructed to believe that dissimilar metals in
contact with each other are only able to generate an electrical
current if there is an electrolyte present and the metals become
involved in an electrolytic reaction with it, see;
This is a falsehood.
It has been known for more than 160 years that metals, mixtures of
metals, and dissimilar metals in contact with each other are able to
generate electrical currents as a result of their thermoelectric
properties, and that it is not necessary for there to be any
electrolysis taking place in order for this to happen.
The general principal is that if two dissimilar metals are placed in
contact with each other and the points of contact are maintained at
different temperatures, then an electrical current flows, and it will
continue to flow for as long as the temperature difference is
For an elementary description of the thermoelectric effect see:
There is no electrolysis involved.
However, in spite of the fact that dental amalgam is an inhomogeneous
mixture of dissimilar metals in its own right, and that it is also
sometimes placed in direct contact with other metallic objects in the
mouth, such as retaining pins screwed into the root sockets of
patients' teeth, it appears that experimental investigations to
measure the thermoelectric behavior of metal dental restorations have
never been carried out (not even by myself).
So, whenever an anti-amalgam dentist claims that amalgam dental
fillings may cause neurological disturbances as a result of the
electrical behavior of amalgams, regulating bodies such as dental
associations are powerless to discredit them for it - simply because
it can be demonstrated that those organisations don't know enough
about the electrical behaviors of dental amalgams to be able to make
any informed scientific judgement on the matter.
Is there any evidence for this?
Well of course there is. Dentist Philip Wander of Manchester in the UK
has this to say about the electrical behavior of amalgam fillings:
"Nevertheless, as potentially damaging as mercury in the mouth is the
electricity itself. When testing teeth for electrical effects, I have
seen momentary sparks of up to one volt - enough to light a small
torch or flashlight. It's worth remembering that the currents
generated by amalgams are formed very close to the brain, which
ordinarily operated at far lower potentials (only a few millivolts).
The brain lies only a few millietres from the jaw bone, where the
roots of the teeth are inserted, just on the other side of the thin
cranial bone and the meninges (the three membranes enveloping the
brain and spinal cord). This kind of current can cause mental
dysfunction, which I often find in clinical practice."
Not only is Dr Wander able to practise mercury-free dentistry and
amalgam removal on health grounds with complete impunity, he appears
to do so extremely successfully, counting among his patients some of
the world's most famous soccer stars, including none other than the
great David Beckham himself.
Check out Dr Wander's website at:
Then there's Dr John Roberts of Huddersfield, also in the UK. Dr
Roberts is another dentist who removes amalgam fillings and replaces
tham with alternative materials on health grounds. The procedure that
he follows when he does this is to remove the fillings in the quadrant
of the mouth which has the largest measured electrical potential of
any amalgam filling first, followed by those in the quadrant with the
next largest electrical potential, and so on. The intended purpose of
this procedure is to minimise the effect of any surges in electrical
activity caused by sudden changes in the balance between the amalgam
potentials as they are being removed.
Dr Roberts appears to have total approval for this practice from the
UK General Dental Council's Professional Standards department (see
"Amalgam Rmoval Gets .." below).
For a more complete representation of the above arguments, and further
references, search Google Groups for the following topics:
"Amalgam Removal Gets UK Approval"
"The Prosperity of the Mercury-free Dentist"
"Top Dentist Blames Electricity From Amalgams"
And don't be put off by the ridiculing efforts of the pro-amalgam
dentists who attempt to dominate these newsgroups - remember that when
it comes to the thermoelectric (not to mention electromagnetic!)
behavior of dental amalgams, they're just as ignorant as everyone
As a matter of fact, I've always suspected that it was the exchange of
postings between myself and Joel M Eichen regarding the fate of Dr
Anthony G Roeder in "Amalgam Removal Gets UK Approval" that finally
convinced Joel to give up his former role as chief ridiculer on behalf
of the pro-amalgam lobby at sci.med.dentistry. Old Joel wasn't daft. I
think he finally recognised that on the question of the electrical
behavior of amalgam dental fillings even he was only able to argue
from a position of ignorance - and he decided to get out with his
reputation unsavaged while he still could.
My advice for anti-amalgam dentists?
If anyone bothers you just point out that it has been demonstrated
experimentally that amalgam dental fillings generate electrical
potentials with magnitudes of up to 350 millivolts, see;
And that in spite of the fact that the resting potential of the human
neurological synapse is only 70 millivolts, it appears that
experimental investigations to determine whether or not the electrical
potentials generated by amalgam fillings are able to dissipate
electrical energy through the nerves in people's heads have never been
The worst you'll get back is ridicule - but remember, that's not
because the ridiculers know anything about it. It's because they
Keith P Walsh
- posted 14 years ago