Dental mercury--a public health hazard

Rev Environ Health. 1994 Jan-Mar;10(1):1-27. doi: 10.1515/reveh.1994.10.1.1.


The aim of this review is to point out the health hazards of the uncontrolled global use of implanted mercury-leaking dental amalgam fillings. In spite of the pandemic use of amalgam, most dentists and doctors are still ignorant about the levels of mercury exposure and its health implications. This review discusses the following chronically neglected aspects in clinical practice: The use of materials science in calculating the mercury exposure levels, which may exceed the TLVs by an order of magnitude; Microbial dissolution and methylation of mercury from amalgam by oral and intestinal bacteria; Diagnostic problems and effects of chronic mercury exposure with emphasis on intestinal, cardiovascular, mental and neurologic symptoms and disorders; Diagnostic value of faeces--instead of urine examination--as the main indicator of Hg exposure; Lack of control groups unexposed to Hg (amalgam free) for epidemiologic investigations of health problems; Contribution of dental mercury to environmental pollution. In conclusion, a lack of interdisciplinary research and of a critical approach to established clinical routine appears to be the reason for the failure of the dental profession to protect the patient from Hg exposure when saving the tooth.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dental Amalgam / adverse effects*
  • Dental Amalgam / chemistry
  • Dental Amalgam / history
  • Feces / chemistry
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Mercury / analysis
  • Mercury / pharmacokinetics
  • Mercury Poisoning / complications
  • Mercury Poisoning / diagnosis
  • Mercury Poisoning / etiology*
  • Mercury Poisoning / prevention & control
  • Occupational Exposure


  • Dental Amalgam
  • Mercury