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J Dent Res. 1993 Sep;72(9):1320-4.

The level of mercury in human dental plaque and interaction in vitro between biofilms of Streptococcus mutans and dental amalgam.

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Department of Restorative Dentistry, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.


Mercury levels (micrograms/mg dry weight) in dental plaque from amalgam and enamel surfaces in human subjects with amalgam restorations were (range, mean, SD) 0.5-1.31, 0.72, 0.34 and 0.01-0.54, 0.2, 0.19, respectively. The levels of mercury in plaque from amalgam surfaces were significantly higher than those from plaque on enamel (p < 0.001). No mercury was detected in plaque from subjects without amalgam restorations. The mean level of mercury in a 24-hour collection of plaque was 2 micrograms (median, 1.8 micrograms), an amount close to those calculated by other workers (1.2-1.7 micrograms) for the amount of mercury liberated in the mouth from amalgam restorations in 24 h. Freshly prepared amalgam liberated relatively large amounts of mercury into culture broth in the first 24 h of exposure; subsequently, the levels declined except in the presence of Streptococcus mutans. In vitro, biofilms of Streptococcus mutans facilitated the release of mercury from freshly prepared amalgam, in what appeared to be a cyclical fashion. Amalgam aged for two years did not release mercury, even when supporting the growth of an S. mutans biofilm. The resistance of aged amalgam was attributed to the presence of a passive tarnish layer. The mercury released by the biofilm had an effect on the composition of the biofilm. The biofilms on fresh amalgam had significantly lower levels of carbohydrate (p < 0.001-p < 0.01) and protein (p < 0.001-p < 0.02) than did biofilms on aged amalgam and on control stainless steel wires.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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