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The effect of amalgam exposure on mercury- and antibiotic-resistant bacteria *

Antibiotic resistance genes can be found on the same mobile genetic elements as genes coding for resistance to metals such as mercury (Hg). Amalgam restorations contain ca. 50% Hg and, therefore, it could be expected that exposure to such dental restorative materials may promote Hg resistance and thereby antibiotic resistance. An in vitro biofilm model was used to grow microcosm dental plaques on enamel or amalgam substrata. The number and proportion of Hg-resistant organisms over time were determined by viable counts. Microcosm dental plaques grown in the presence of amalgam had a higher number and proportion of Hg-resistant bacteria than those grown on enamel. The levels of these Hg-resistant bacteria remained elevated for a period of 48 h, however after 72 h the proportions returned to baseline levels. Of the 42 Hg-resistant bacteria isolated, 98% were streptococci, with Streptococcus mitis predominating. A high proportion of the Hg-resistant isolates (71%) were also resistant to a range of antibiotics, with resistance to tetracycline being encountered most frequently. The results of this in vitro study indicate that placement of amalgam restorations may play a role in promoting the levels of Hg- and antibiotic-resistant bacteria present in the oral cavity.

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As with any procedure, there could be pain or other substantial risks involved. These concerns should be discussed with your health care provider prior to any treatment so that you have proper informed consent and understand that there are no guarantees to healing.

THE INFORMATION IN THIS WEBSITE IS OFFERED FOR GENERAL EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT IMPLY OR GIVE MEDICAL ADVICE. No Doctor/Patient relationship shall be deemed to have arisen simply by reading the information contained on these pages, and you should consult with your personal physician/care giver regarding your medical treatment before undergoing any sort of treatment or therapy.

Published on 09-29-2008
Authors: Derren Readya, , , Jonathan Prattenb, Nicola Mordanb, Elizabeth Wattsa and Michael Wilsonb
Source: Received 16 January 2007; accepted 13 February 2007. Available online 24 April 2007.