Distribution of toxic elements in teeth treated with amalgam using mu-energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence

M. Guerra, C. Ferreira, M. L. Carvalho, J. P. Santos, S. Pessanha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Over the years, the presence of mercury in amalgam fillings has raised some safety concerns. Amalgam is one of the most commonly used tooth fillings and contains approximately 50% of elemental mercury and 50% of other metals, mostly silver, tin and copper. Amalgam can release small amounts of mercury vapor over time, and patients can absorb these vapors by inhaling or ingesting them. In this study, 10 human teeth treated with dental amalgam were analyzed using energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) to study the diffusion of its constituents, Ag, Cu, Sn and Hg. The used EDXRF setup, makes use of a polycapillary lens to focus radiation up to 25 mu m allowing the mapping of the elemental distribution in the samples. Quantification was performed using the inbuilt software based on the Fundamental Parameters method for bulk samples, considering a hydroxyapatite matrix.

The teeth were longitudinally cut and each slice was scanned from the surface enamel to the inner region (dentin and pulp cavity). Mercury concentration profiles show strong levels of this element close to the amalgam region, decreasing significantly in the dentin, and increasing again up to 40,000 mu g.g(-1) in the cavity were the pulp used to exist when the tooth was vital. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-117
Number of pages4
JournalSpectrochimica Acta Part B-Atomic Spectroscopy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016
Event39th Colloquium on Spectroscopicum Internationale (CSI) - Figueira da Foz, Portugal
Duration: 30 Aug 20153 Sep 2015


  • mu-EDXRF
  • Mapping
  • Amalgam fillings

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