Release of mercury from dental amalgam and its influence on salivary antioxidant activity

Sci Total Environ. 2002 Feb 4;284(1-3):19-25. doi: 10.1016/s0048-9697(01)00853-1.


Dental amalgam fillings are known to release significant amounts of mercury (Hg) in saliva which could represent a continuous source of oxidative damage to mouth tissues. The present investigation was aimed at verifying this hypothesis by determining a possible correlation between salivary Hg levels and salivary total antioxidant activity (TAA), which is used as an index of oxidative stress. Samples of saliva from 34 healthy donors were analyzed for Hg content, by vapor atomic absorption spectrometry, and for TAA, by determining the ferric reducing ability ('FRAP' method). A significant correlation between Hg and the number of amalgam restorations or total amalgam surface was evident in both the male and female subjects. A significant negative correlation between TAA and Hg levels or number of amalgam restorations or amalgam surface was evident in females, indicating that small increases in salivary Hg were sufficient to produce a decrease in salivary TAA. On the other hand, no significant correlation was found in the males. The present study provides, for the first time, evidence of a pro-oxidant role of the amalgam Hg chronically released in saliva.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Dental Amalgam / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mercury / adverse effects*
  • Mercury / chemistry*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Sex Factors
  • Spectrophotometry, Atomic


  • Antioxidants
  • Dental Amalgam
  • Mercury