Long-term use of nicotine chewing gum and mercury exposure from dental amalgam fillings

J Dent Res. 1996 Jan;75(1):594-8. doi: 10.1177/00220345960750011301.


In experimental studies, chewing gum has been shown to increase the release rate of mercury vapor from dental amalgam fillings. The aim of the present study was to investigate the influence of long-term frequent chewing on mercury levels in plasma and urine. Mercury levels in plasma (P-Hg) and urine (U-Hg), and urinary cotinine were examined in 18 subjects who regularly used nicotine chewing gum, and in 19 referents. Age and number of amalgam surfaces were similar in the two groups. Total mercury concentrations in plasma and urine were determined by means of cold vapor atomic absorption spectrometry. Urinary cotinine was determined by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The chewers had been using 10 (median) pieces of gum per day for the past 27 (median) months. P-Hg and U-Hg levels were significantly higher in the chewers (27 nmol/L and 6.5 nmol/mmol creatinine) than in the referents (4.9 nmol/L and 1.2 nmol/mmol creatinine). In both groups, significant correlations were found between P-Hg or U-Hg on the one hand and the number of amalgam surfaces on the other. In the chewers, no correlations were found between P-Hg or U-Hg and chewing time per day or cotinine in urine. Cotinine in urine increased with the number of pieces of chewing gum used. The impact of excessive chewing on mercury levels was considerable.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Albuminuria / urine
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / administration & dosage*
  • Chewing Gum*
  • Cotinine / urine
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dental Amalgam / chemistry*
  • Dental Restoration, Permanent*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Mastication
  • Mercury / blood
  • Mercury / chemistry*
  • Mercury / urine
  • Middle Aged
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage*
  • Spectrophotometry, Atomic
  • Volatilization


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Chewing Gum
  • Nicotine
  • Dental Amalgam
  • Mercury
  • Cotinine