In the realm of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), dental amalgam is a big topic. Therefore, we have discussed it several times before, e.g.:

This study evaluated the changes of health complaints after removal of amalgam restorations in patients with health complaints attributed to dental amalgam fillings.

Patients with medically unexplained physical symptoms (MUPS) attributed to dental amalgam (Amalgam cohort) had all their amalgam fillings removed. The participants indicated an intensity of 11 local and 12 general health complaints on numeric rating scales before the treatment and at follow-up after 1 and 5 years.

The comparison groups comprising

  1. a group of healthy individuals
  2. a group of patients with MUPS without symptom attribution to dental amalgam

did not have their amalgam restorations removed.

In the Amalgam cohort, mean symptom intensity was lower for all 23 health complaints at follow-up at 1 year compared to baseline. Statistically significant changes were observed for specific health complaints with effect sizes between 0.36 and 0.68. At the 5-year follow-up, the intensity of symptoms remained consistently lower compared to before the amalgam removal. In the comparison groups, no significant changes of intensity of symptoms of health complaints were observed.

The authors concluded that, after removal of all amalgam restorations, both local and general health complaints were reduced. Since blinding of the treatment was not possible, specific and non-specific treatment effects cannot be separated.

This is an interesting study with a particularly long follow-up. Unfortunately, due to the study’s design, its results tell us very little about causality. The results are perfectly consistent with two entirely different explanations:

  1. Amalgam was the cause of MUPS and therefore removal of amalgam cured the problem permanently.
  2. Amalgam was not the cause of MUPS but the knowledge that the evil substance had finally been removed sufficed for MUPS to disappear.

It is to the credit of the authors that they consider both options.

A word of caution: amalgam removal can lead to a spike in Hg levels in the body!

10 Responses to Health complaints before and after removal of dental amalgam restorations

  • Even though this study doesn’t establish any definite causality, the great thing is that the authors are honest about this.

    I guess the study was worth carrying out to see whether, just in case, some anomalous but robust finding might emerge.

    As author and scientist Isaac Asimov wrote:
    ““The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not “Eureka!” (I found it!) but ‘That’s funny…””

  • “In the Amalgam cohort, mean symptom intensity was lower for all 23 health complaints at follow-up at 1 year compared to baseline.”

    Impressive! So impressive, in fact, that a single cause — the dental amalgam, in and of itself — was highly unlikely, in my opinion.

    “It is to the credit of the authors that they consider both options.”

  • Edzard Ernst wrote:

    “A word of caution: amalgam removal can lead to a spike in Hg levels in the body!”

    Right you are! Some make a lot of fuss with space-suits, while others do not give a damn at all. But, we know this for a long time now, the personnel of dental offices carry a large burden with the intake of mercury vapour.

    On the other hand, the patients are stuck. I am sure that most of the symptoms are symptoms, but caused by what!? This is the most important point to make here: all these symptoms could not be traced to a cause, so that amalgam was GUESSED to be the cause, OR was CLAIMED to be the cause. There is a number of “artists”, who make a luxurious living by CLAIMING amalgam to be the cause, and then ripping off the patients.

    The range of the intensity of problems caused by amalgam is wide. So amalgam in many cases perhaps causes some symptoms, which, on the long run, are bettered by taking the fillings out, but the real big cause(s) are something rather different.

    THIS, the low intensity (and longtime damage), is ideal for frauds. They simply claim that amalgam is the cause, and rip off the actually UNDIAGNOSED patients. Here I see a big risk. I am sure that the real big elephant in the room is undiagnosed patients.

    BTW: this is a web-site about dental amalgams:

  • Any who even *consider* having it removed, will likely be doing a whole bunch of other stuff too because you don’t get to find out about this *until* you have ploughed through the much more common organic-whole-veggies, bulk-ascorbic-acid, niacin etc. Amalgam is at the end of the list, especially price-wise.

  • Life expectancy in the UK has doubled since mercury amalgam came on the scene, so clearly it’s doing a lot of good (correlation, as we know, always means causation…).. And the proposal to ban it from January 1 next year must be a conspiracy to ease the burden on the state Old Age Pension by reducing lifespan……

  • Mercury-emissions of coal-fired power stations are limited in the EU: 20 ug/m3
    (US: 1 ug/m3).

    Mercury-emissions during the removal of amalgam-fillings: 2000 ug/m3

    Removal ist not the best idea and might be very toxic especially in case of pregnancy.

    Our investigations:

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