Int J Oral Biol.  2011 Sep;36(3):123-128.

Association between Amalgam Tooth Fillings and Blood Mercury Levels in Children

  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, College of Medicine, Yeungnam University, Daegu 705-717, Korea.
  • 2Department of Preventive Dentistry, School of Dentistry, Kyungpook National University, Daegu 700-412, Korea.
  • 3Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, College of Medicine, Dankook University, Choognam 330-714, Korea.
  • 4Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, SC 29208, USA.
  • 5Institute of Environmental Medicine, College of Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul 110-799, Korea.
  • 6Department of Preventive and Occupational Medicine, Pusan National University, Yangsan 626-870, Korea.


The notion that dental amalgam is a potential source of mercury exposure remains a controversial issue. However, there are few epidemiological analyses that have addressed whether this occurs in children. We aimed in our current study to identify the relationship between dental amalgam filling surfaces and the blood mercury levels in a cohort of 711 South Korean children aged between 8-9 years. Oral examinations were conducted to detect the number of amalgam filling surfaces on the teeth of these individuals. Blood samples were also taken from these children to assess the levels of mercury accumulation in the body. The amalgam filling surfaces were classified into four groups based on their number: 0 (n = 368), 1-5 (n = 219), 6-10 (n = 89), and 11+ (n = 35). The blood mercury levels in the children with more than 10 amalgam surfaces was 0.47 microg/L higher on average than those with no amalgam surfaces after adjusting for the frequency of fish or seafood consumption, age, and gender (P < 0.05). We found from our data that a higher number of dental amalgam fillings correlated with a higher blood mercury level in Korean children. Further studies are needed to investigate whether these elevated mercury levels exert neurotoxic or nephrotoxic effects.


amalgam; blood; child; mercury; South Korea

MeSH Terms

Cohort Studies
Dental Amalgam
Diagnosis, Oral
Republic of Korea
Dental Amalgam
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