Tattoos have been used as cultural symbols among many tribal populations during ancient and modern times. The word tattoo comes from the Samoan word "tatau" which means "to mark something."
In dentistry we see a different type of tattoo...It is called an Amalgam tattoo. Amalgam, or mercury alloy is most commonly known as what silver tooth fillings are made of. Alloy means the mercury is combined with another metals such as silver, tin, copper, silver, zinc, indium or palladium.
What does an amalgam tattoo look like?
It appears as a blue-black or grey discoloration marking on the surface caused by implantation of amalgam into the tissues of the mouth.
How do they develop?
They can occur during or after placement of silver fillings.
If abrasions are present in the surrounding areas, amalgam dust can enter.
Over time, the amalgam particles embedded in the soft tissues corrode
These amalgam tattoos can be removed in our office. Our patients also come to us for removal of mercury for cosmetic reasons, or to replace a silver filling that has come out. We do not use mercury for fillings. We use non toxic tooth colored dental materials and have an excellent protocol for safely removing pre existing mercury fillings. In our facility, we also have advanced technology in our specialized ventilation system and water filtration system for the whole building.
If you have mercury fillings or think you may have an amalgam tattoo, give us a call at 480-833-2232 to schedule an appointment.
(2) Neville BW, Damm DD, Allen CA, Bouquot JE (2002). Oral & maxillofacial pathology (2nd ed.). Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders. pp.269-272. ISBN 0721690033
(3) Paul Coulthard [et al.] (2008). Master dentistry. (2nd ed.). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier. ISBN 9780443068966.