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J Public Health Dent. 1988 Summer;48(3):172-7.

Risk assessment of mercury exposure from dental amalgams.

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Department of Operative Dentistry, University of Iowa College of Dentistry, Iowa City 52242.


Much attention is being focused upon the issue of mercury exposure from dental amalgam restorations and the potential for adverse health effects. This controversy has grown beyond the confines of the dental profession itself and is becoming an emotional public health issue. In hope of regaining good health, many dental patients with chronic systemic diseases are considering replacement of their amalgams. Dentists are increasingly being challenged to prove the safety of amalgams. Recently, systematic methods have been established for quantitative evaluation of environmental risks. This study brings together the quantitative methodologies of risk assessment and the knowledge of mercury exposure from dental amalgams to estimate the safety of dental amalgam restorative therapy. Analysis concludes that the margin of safety for mercury toxicity in humans from dental amalgams is approximately 8- to 30-fold. There are many uncertainties involved in this estimate, and further studies are warranted to improve its precision.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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