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Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants
SJR: 0.332 SNIP: 0.491 CiteScore™: 0.89

ISSN Print: 1050-6934
ISSN Online: 1940-4379

Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants

DOI: 10.1615/JLongTermEffMedImplants.v15.i6.120
pages 709-721

Dental Amalgam Restorations: Daily Mercury Dose and Biocompatibility

Richard J. Mitchell
Associate Professor of Restorative Dentistry, Department of Oral Health Practice, Division of Restorative Dentistry, College of Dentistry, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA
Paul B. Osborne
Assistant Professor of Restorative Dentistry, Department of Oral Health Practice, University of Kentucky College of Dentistry, Lexington, Kentucky, USA
James E. Haubenreich
Assistant Professor of Restorative Dentistry, Department of Oral Health Practice, University of Kentucky, College of Dentistry, Lexington, Kentucky, USA

ABSTRACT

Over the past 150 years, silver-tin-copper amalgam has been the most frequently used dental restorative material. Amalgam may be the single most frequently used implant material. In the early 1980s, researchers discovered that amalgam restorations release mercury vapor during chewing. This review describes the research that has led to an estimate of the daily dose of mercury that will be absorbed by a subject with a large number of amalgam restorations. Along the way, the history and chemistry of dental amalgam are outlined. The routes of absorption of liquid mercury, ionic mercury, organic mercury, and mercury vapor are also briefly described. The daily dose is found to be 14% of the threshold above which observable adverse neurological symptoms are expected. The review concludes with a summary of the research on the adverse effects of dental amalgam. As expected from the low daily dose, few adverse neurological symptoms have been reported. There is also little evidence of an association of amalgam restorations with neurodegenerative diseases, altered renal function, adverse pregnancy outcomes, or autoimmune diseases. There is a lack of data on neurobiological and neurodevelopmental effects on children who may be exposed to mercury from maternal amalgam restorations during gestation. Additional data on the role of amalgam, if any, in Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis are needed.