• Fung, Eric Y (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Recent findings raise concern regarding the safety of mercury in dental
amalgam. It is known that mercury can be released from amalgam by
prolonged chewing. Also, it has been shown in vitro that methyl mercury
can be formed by the action of Streptococcus sanguis, Streptococcus mutans
or Streptococcus mitior on conventional and high copper admixed amalgams.
But, no studies have been reported to determine if oral indigenous
microflora will convert mercury to methyl mercury. This is of great
importance to the dental profession since methyl mercury is more toxic than
inorganic mercury. This study is designed 1) to determine if mercury and methyl mercury can be
detected from blood and urine samples of dental patients with amalgam
restorations at different time periods after the initial dental visit up to
a duration of one year, 2) to correlate the concentrations of mercury and
methyl mercury, if detected, to the number, surface area and duration of
amalgam restorations and 3) to determine if the level of mercury and methyl
mercury that can be detected is within the range of maximum allowable
limits. The occlusal surface area of each amalgam and the total amalgam
surface area will be determined on models using a dissecting microscope
with a digital analyzer. Mercury and methyl mercury will be determined by
atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Our long term objectives include the continuation of this project for a
period of two more years to determine if indeed significant amounts of
mercury can be found in blood and urine of dental patient after amalgam
restorations. Then we may be able to form some conclusions concerning the
safety of mercury in amalgams. Furthermore, the removal of amalgam
restorations for fear of mercury poisoning may be unnecessary. Conversely,
if significant concentrations of mercury and methyl mercury are found,
further studies will be conducted to determine the possible health
implications of such concentrations.
Effective start/end date8/1/861/31/89


  • National Institutes of Health


  • Medicine(all)
  • Dentistry(all)


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