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Mercury and health in the dental practice

Mercury is a heavy metal widely used by man. It is considered very toxic causing conditions in the central nervous system, behavior disturbances, and renal and sexual disorders. For a century, mercury has been used in the dental practice for its capacity of joining metals (amalgamate), its low cost and its rapid fixing in dental pieces repair. Currently, there is much controversy about the safety of dental amalgams and it has been demonstrated it poses occupational risks to dental practitioners and their assistants. The objective of this study is review aspects related to metallic mercury toxicity for personnel involved in the dental practice and patients with dental amalgams. Routes of mercury exposure in dentistry, occupational risks and measures to prevent mercury poisoning are presented here. A literature review was conducted mostly on data from Biological Abstracts and the Science Citation Index for the period between 1990 and 2000.

Preventive dentristy; Mercurio; Occupational health; Occupational Risk; Dentists; Dental assistants; Occupational exposure; Dental amalgam

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