What is the role of dental amalgam in the etiology of mercury toxicity?

Updated: Nov 05, 2018
  • Author: David A Olson, MD; Chief Editor: Tarakad S Ramachandran, MBBS, MBA, MPH, FAAN, FACP, FAHA, FRCP, FRCPC, FRS, LRCP, MRCP, MRCS  more...
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Even the mercury vapors from dental amalgam have been of concern as a possible, although controversial, source of exposure among dental workers and the general population. A study of 1663 veterans used a wide battery of noncognitive tests and found no clinically evident deficits associated with amalgam exposure. However, a subclinical decrement in vibration as measured by an automated device correlated with amalgam exposure and accounted for 15% of the variance in a multiple regression model. [29, 30] Furthermore, no consistent correlation could be established between urinary mercury levels and nerve conduction parameters among dental professionals. [31]

Two randomized studies of a total of 1041 children aged 6–10 years whose dental caries were treated with either amalgam or resin composite fillings showed no group differences on extensive batteries of neuropsychological tests after 5–7 years of follow-up. [32, 33] After an exhaustive investigation and review of the evidence, including the form of mercury in question, the route of exposure, and the dose, the Public Health Service concluded that dental amalgams do not pose a serious health risk. [30, 34]

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