Despite its long history of use, dental amalgam has stirred controversy due to its mercury content. For nearly a century, concerns have been raised about the potential adverse human health effects that may arise from the inhalation and absorption of mercury vapor from dental amalgam.
Numerous government and independent agencies have examined the safety of dental amalgam and have concluded that the scientific evidence consistently demonstrates the human body absorbs mercury vapor released from dental amalgam restorations. Despite this absorption of mercury, scientific panels assembled by the U.S. Public Health Service, the European Commission and the World Health Organization (WHO) have concluded there is no scientifically relevant and definitive evidence to demonstrate a causal link between dental amalgam and adverse health effects, except in rare instances of allergic reactions. At the same time, some governments have recommended against placement of dental amalgam restorations in certain patient populations.
- There is insufficient evidence to support a correlation between dental amalgam exposure and kidney or cognitive dysfunction; neurodegenerative disease, specifically Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease; or autoimmune disease, including multiple sclerosis;
- Various non-specific complaints attributed to dental amalgam have not been shown to be due to increased mercury release and absorption from dental amalgam;
- Mercury exposure from dental amalgam in the general U.S. population is low, but increases with the number of dental amalgam restorations.
- Long term use of nicotine chewing gum combined with intense chewing habits and greater than 20 dental amalgam surfaces has been shown to have more impact on exposure to mercury vapor than bruxism (teeth clenching or grinding) or dental amalgam placement and removal.
Conclusions The report concludes that there is little evidence to support a causal relationship between mercury fillings and human health problems. The authors noted, however, that many research gaps existed, which, if addressed, may settle the dental amalgam controversy once and for all.