Whole-body imaging of the distribution of mercury released from dental fillings into monkey tissues

FASEB J. 1990 Nov;4(14):3256-60. doi: 10.1096/fasebj.4.14.2227216.


The fate of mercury (Hg) released from dental "silver" amalgam tooth fillings into human mouth air is uncertain. A previous report about sheep revealed uptake routes and distribution of amalgam Hg among body tissues. The present investigation demonstrates the bodily distribution of amalgam Hg in a monkey whose dentition, diet, feeding regimen, and chewing pattern closely resemble those of humans. When amalgam fillings, which normally contain 50% Hg, are made with a tracer of radioactive 203Hg and then placed into monkey teeth, the isotope appears in high concentration in various organs and tissues within 4 wk. Whole-body images of the monkey revealed that the highest levels of Hg were located in the kidney, gastrointestinal tract, and jaw. The dental profession's advocacy of silver amalgam as a stable tooth restorative material is not supported by these findings.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dental Amalgam*
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Digestive System / metabolism
  • Jaw / metabolism
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Male
  • Mercury / pharmacokinetics*
  • Mercury Radioisotopes
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon


  • Mercury Radioisotopes
  • Dental Amalgam
  • Mercury