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A Healthy Choice
For Dental Care

amalgam filling in x-ray & clinical photoThe recent news from the FDA isn’t really news.

Motivated by an IAOMT lawsuit, the agency finally responded to three outstanding petitions against the use of mercury amalgam in dentistry. Despite the growing library of evidence showing this product’s threat to human (not to mention environmental) health, the FDA largely denied the petitions, continuing its insistence that mercury is safe.

Yet so many studies suggest that mercury fillings are connected to neurological conditions and delays and other health conditions. According to a literature review published last year in Neuroendocrinology Letters,

the preponderance of evidence suggests that Hg exposure from dental amalgams may cause or contribute to many chronic conditions. Thus, consideration of Hg toxicity may be central to the effective clinical investigation of many chronic illnesses, particularly those involving fatigue and depression.

Indeed, many hundreds of studies have demonstrated or confirmed mercury from amalgam as a hazard to human health. Still, you hear, “Amalgam is safe.” As Joachim Mutter, et al, noted in a 2010 study of the relationship between mercury and Alzheimer’s,

The situation, it seems to us, is comparable to the status of knowledge in the 1970s regarding the relationship between smoking and cancer. There was some experimental evidence. There was a little epidemiological data. However, based on methodological dogma, a lot of the epidemiological evidence was dismissed. It was an uphill battle, mainly against strong economic interests, to make the public aware of the dangers and it took more than 20 years to transform knowledge into legislation and behavior. We have a very similar situation nowadays regarding the relationship between mercury and AD (and potentially other neurological diseases).

Special interest may be a motivating force in the FDA’s petition denials, as well. As agency expert Jim Dickinson notes, with this latest decision,

the agency again stood by its unseen political directors, who in turn harken to the third-biggest-spending health professionals’ lobby, the strongly pro-amalgam American Dental Association. The association, in turn, answers to the estimated 30% of practicing dentists who still use amalgam because it is cheaper and easier than safer substitutes and who reasonably fear liability lawsuits from amalgam’s ill effects.

The news isn’t all gloom and doom, however. The agency did agree to include stronger language on their website about the possibility that amalgams may be linked to health concerns. The new warnings to be posted include:

  1. Inclusion of the warning that “the developing neurological systems in fetuses and young children may be more sensitive to the neurotoxic effects of mercury vapor” in the potential risks section.
  2. Addition of the following sentence after the reference to silver fillings, “Despite the name, ‘silver fillings’ do contain elemental mercury”.
  3. Addition of an explanation of the concept of bioaccumulation to the Web site and the addition of links to the other U.S. government agency Web sites to provide further information on bioaccumulation.
  4. Changing of the description of the clinical information on “pregnant women and their developing fetuses, and on children under the age of 6, including breastfed infants” from “limited clinical information” to the final rule’s description, which was “very limited to no clinical information.”
  5. Explaining that amalgam’s primary component is mercury on the introductory page of the consumer website.

Considering that most people don’t realize that mercury is the main component in dental amalgam – and once they do know, think that the term “silver fillings” is misleading – numbers 2 and 5 on that list are especially welcome.

It’s a start.

Still, there’s more to be done. For as the attorney who filed last year’s IAOMT suit noted, the agency

continues to allow the American people to be poisoned by their mercury fillings despite the scientifically demonstrated risks. Despite the shift of many countries away from mercury fillings, it appears that the FDA believes that the human mouth is a safe place to store mercury.

The burden of proving safety is on FDA, but FDA ignores this principal and places the burden on us to conclusively prove these fillings are causing diseases. FDA presumes that these fillings are safe—even for fetuses—while admitting that it has no data demonstrating safety.