Dental amalgam fillings and the amount of organic mercury in human saliva

Caries Res. 2001 May-Jun;35(3):163-6. doi: 10.1159/000047450.


We studied differences in the amounts of organic and inorganic mercury in saliva samples between amalgam and nonamalgam human study groups. The amount of organic and inorganic mercury in whole saliva was measured in 187 adult study subjects. The mercury contents were determined by cold-vapor atomic absorption spectrometry. The amount of organic and inorganic mercury in paraffin-stimulated saliva was significantly higher (p<0.001) in subjects with dental amalgam fillings (n = 88) compared to the nonamalgam study groups (n = 43 and n = 56): log(e) (organic mercury) was linearly related to log(e) (inorganic mercury, r(2) = 0.52). Spearman correlation coefficients of inorganic and organic mercury concentrations with the number of amalgam-filled tooth surfaces were 0.46 and 0.27, respectively. Our results are compatible with the hypothesis that amalgam fillings may be a continuous source of organic mercury, which is more toxic than inorganic mercury, and almost completely absorbed by the human intestine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dental Amalgam / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Mercury / analysis
  • Middle Aged
  • Organomercury Compounds / analysis*
  • Saliva / chemistry*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Organomercury Compounds
  • Dental Amalgam
  • Mercury