Dental Amalgam and Mercury in Dentistry - Report of an NHMRC Working Party

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Dental amalgam is one of several dental materials used to restore the form and function of teeth, deciduous and permanent, affected by dental caries.


This report examines the issues affecting the leaching of mercury from dental amalgam fillings resulting in adverse health effects. At high doses, mercury is recognised as a neurotoxin capable of producing a variety of neurobehavioural effects.

Advice from the report however, is that dental amalgam is generally useful as a direct restorative material and that there is no convincing evidence of adverse health effects at these levels, with the exception of some rare cases of contact hypersensitivity. Further advice is that exposure to mercury should be minimised where an alternative restorative is available. This is particularly so in the case of populations at risk including children, pregnant women and persons with existing kidney disease.

Further studies are about to be conducted in the form of a risk assessment in order to establish the safety margins between current intake of mercury from dental amalgam and levels at which adverse effects are likely.

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