Amalgam dental fillings and hearing loss

Rothwell JA, Boyd PJ., Audiology Department, General Hospital, St. Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands.

Int J Audiol. 2008 Dec;47(12):770-6.


In this study we investigated the effects of amalgam dental fillings on auditory thresholds. Participants (n=39) were non-smoking women age 40 to 45. Regression and correlation analyses were performed between auditory thresholds, measured from 0.25 to 16 kHz, and the number/surface area of dental fillings, using the ASHA criteria for ototoxic change as a reference for comparison. No significant correlation (p>0.05) was found between composite (non-amalgam) filling or drilling data and auditory thresholds. However, there was a significant positive linear correlation between amalgam filling data and auditory thresholds at 8, 11.2, 12.5, 14, and 16 kHz. The strongest association (r=0.587, n=39, p<.001, r(2)=0.345) was at 14 kHz, where each additional amalgam filling was associated with a 2.4 dB decline in hearing threshold (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.3-3.5 dB). The results suggest an association between more amalgam fillings and poorer thresholds at higher frequencies, which could contribute to presbyacusis in developed countries. This provides further argument for the use of amalgams to be phased out where suitable alternatives exist.