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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2012, Article ID 589569, 8 pages
Review Article

Oral Lichenoid Contact Lesions to Mercury and Dental Amalgam—A Review

1Oral Medicine Unit, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London SE1 9RT, UK
2Oral Medicine Unit, Department of Clinical & Diagnostic Sciences, King’s College London Dental Institute and WHO Collaborating Centre for Oral Cancer, Bessemer Road, London SE5 9RS, UK

Received 3 February 2012; Accepted 19 March 2012

Academic Editor: Jose G. Dorea

Copyright © 2012 Helen McParland and Saman Warnakulasuriya. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Human oral mucosa is subjected to many noxious stimuli. One of these substances, in those who have restorations, is dental amalgam which contains mercury. This paper focuses on the local toxic effects of amalgam and mercury from dental restorations. Components of amalgam may, in rare instances, cause local side effects or allergic reactions referred to as oral lichenoid lesions (OLLs). OLLs to amalgams are recognised as hypersensitivity reactions to low-level mercury exposure. The use of patch testing to identify those susceptible from OLL is explored, and recommendations for removing amalgam fillings, when indicated are outlined. We conclude that evidence does not show that exposure to mercury from amalgam restorations poses a serious health risk in humans, except for an exceedingly small number of hypersensitivity reactions that are discussed.