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Need for informed consent for dentists who use mercury amalgam restorative material as well as technical considerations in removal of dental amalgam restorations.

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Biomechanical Engineering and Emergency Medicine, DeCamp Burn and Wound Healing Center, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA, USA.


Amalgam restorative material generally contains 50% mercury (Hg) in a complex mixture of copper, tin, silver, and zinc. It has been well documented that this mixture continually emits mercury vapor, which is dramatically increased by chewing, eating, brushing, and drinking hot liquids. Mercury has been demonstrated to have damaging effects on the kidney, central nervous system, and cardiovascular system, and has been implicated in gingival tattoos. While mercury amalgams may result in detrimental exposure to the patient, they can also be a danger in dental practices. In Europe, the federal governments of Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Sweden have enacted legislation requiring that dental patients receive informed consent information about the dental restorative material that will be used. In the United States, a few state governments have enacted informed consent legislation for dental patients receiving dental restorations. These state legislations were enacted by Maine, California, Connecticut, and Vermont. It is a sad tragedy that mercury is causing such health damage to many people. The American Dental Association has said for the past 150 years that the mercury in amalgam is safe and does not leak; however, no clinical studies were ever done and the Food and Drug Administration approved amalgam under a grandfather clause. Subsequent studies have shown this claim of safety not to be true. Over ten years ago, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal published a comprehensive article calling mercury restorative material a major source of mercury exposure to the U.S. population. The authors of this paper recommend that federal and state legislation be passed throughout our country to ensure that consent forms are given to patients receiving silver-mercury amalgam restorative material.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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