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Radiation Exposure from Denture Containing Uranium

(last updated 18 Aug 2003)


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Up to the early 1980s, natural and depleted uranium has been widely used for dental porcelains to obtain a natural color and fluorescence of dentures and the superficial parts of crowns.
The original patent [Dietz 1942] describes the denture as having a body portion with a uranium contents of 0.01% to 0.1%, and an enamel portion with a uranium contents of 0.009% to 0.032%.
A further patent [Lee 1959] describes improvements obtained by the addition of cerium and, optionally, samarium. The uranium percentage range given in this patent is 0.004% - 0.15% uranium oxide.

In addition, increasingly, depleted uranium (DU) was used rather than natural uranium. This had two benefits ľ it was cheaper and it was less radioactive.

Later the uranium has been replaced by rare earth elements, such as cerium, terbium, dysprosium or samarium.

Workers Manufacturing Denture

Source Term

Exposure of Workers Manufacturing Denture

Wearers of Denture

Source Term

U.S. NRC standard for uranium in denture [NUREG-1717]:
  • 0.05 weight-percent (500 ppm)

German standard for uranium in denture [Zinke1994]:
  • 0.03 weight-percent (300 ppm)   (0.1 wt-% until 1987)

In the early 1980s, the last of the U.S. major manufacturers had phased out the addition of uranium in dental ceramics [NUREG-1717]. A 1993 (?) survey among German producers showed that none of them added uranium to their products at this time any longer.

Exposure of Denture Wearers


[Dietz 1942] Dietz C.: Fluorescent Artificial Teeth - United States Patent No. 2,301,174 (1942) *)

[Lee 1959] Lee P W, and Müller G.: Fluorescent Artificial Teeth - United States Patent No. 2,895,050 (1959) *)

[NCRP 95] National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements , NCRP Report No. 95, "Radiation Exposure to the U.S. Population From Consumer Products and Miscellaneous Sources." 1987

[Noël1988] A. Noël, A. Goengrich, J.-P. Louis: Céramiques dentaires et radioactivité, in Radioprotection Vol. 23 (1988) No. 3, p.291-300

[NRPB 2001] Radiological Protection Bulletin, No. 229, National Radiological Protection Board , March 2001

[NRPB-R25] O'Riordan M. C., Hunt G. J.: Radioactive Fluorescers in Dental Porcelains, National Radiological Protection Board , Report R25, 1974)

[NUREG-1717] Systematic Radiological Assessment of Exemptions for Source and Byproduct Materials, Final Report, NUREG-1717, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 2001
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[NUREG/CR-1775] U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission , NUREG/CR-1775, SAI01380-469LJ/F, Buckley, D. W., et al. "Environmental Assessment of Consumer Products Containing Radioactive Material." NRC: Washington, D.C. 1980

[Sairenji1982] Eiko Sairenji, Rune Söremark, Kunikazu Noguchi, et al.: Uranium cotent in porcelain denture teeth and in porcelain powders for ceramic crowns, in Acta odontologica Scandinavia Vol. 40 (1982), No. 5, p.333-339

[Zinke1994] A. Zinke: Radioaktivität in zahnärztlichen Keramikmassen?, in ZWR Zahnärztliche Welt Zahnärztliche Rundschau Vol. 103 (1994) No.1, p. 18-28

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