Dental fillings: a concern for your health? Safety of dental amalgam
and alternative dental restoration materials
4. When is the exposure to mercury from dental amalgam the highest?
A very small amount of mercury
vapor is released from amalgam
restorations during chewing, tooth brushing and other activities that
put a physical strain on the teeth, such as when someone grinds his or
her teeth. How much mercury is released depends on the number of
fillings, the filling size and placement, chewing habits, food texture
and other factors.
The highest exposure to mercury
from amalgam restorations occurs
during the placement or removal of the fillings. That is why
unnecessarily removing clinically satisfactory amalgam restorations is
not justified, except in those patients who are having an allergic
reaction to one of the amalgam components.
Mercury release during placement
and removal also results in exposure of dental personnel. Available
studies do not indicate that dental personnel in general, despite
somewhat higher exposure, suffer from adverse effects that can be
attributed to mercury exposure due to
dental amalgam. However,
exposure of both patients and dental personnel can be minimised by
avoiding unnecessary removals and using appropriate clinical techniques.