FDA Panel Calls for Safety Review of Mercury in Dental Fillings

by | Sep 17, 2012 | Dental Restorations, Heavy Metals, Mercury / Dental Amalgam

As the saga continues regarding the safety of mercury being used in dentistry, significant information is being presented not only to the FDA in the U.S. but also to the nations of the world.

On Wednesday, Dec. 15th, 2010, Healthy Daily News reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisers urged the agency to take a new look at data that may indicate potential safety problems with dental fillings that include mercury.

The FDA advisory panel met in response to challenges from consumer and dental groups that contended the FDA relied on flawed data when it set the guidelines for mercury safety levels. Critics of fillings that use mercury as a component contend that they can pose neurotoxic health risks, especially to fetuses and children.

The FDA had ruled in 2009 that mercury used in amalgams or “silver fillings” were safe. “Patients are not at risk for long-term, mercury-related adverse health events,” said Dr. Susan Runner, of the FDA’s Division of Anesthesiology, General Hospital, Infection Control and Dental Devices, during a July 28, 2009, news conference.

The current advisory panel noted that the FDA’s 2009 decision was solid, based on scientific findings available at the time. However, new studies continue to pour in that support the banning of mercury from usage in dental offices.

The message must be getting out to the dental community. According to the American Dental Association, the use of amalgam is declining. In 1990, dental amalgams made up 67.6% of all dental restorations, but by 1999 it was 45.3% and, in 2003, an estimated 30%. Cavities that previously would have been treated with dental amalgam are now mostly filled with a resin composite.

This is not just a national concern. The nations of the world have begun to negotiate a treaty addressing all major sources of man-made mercury, including amalgams. Five negotiating sessions are being held, the first in Stockholm in June 2010, the second in Tokyo in January 2011. The process will run until 2013, at which time the treaty will be signed.

I believe the U.S. government now realizes its duty to address mercury, including amalgams. The Environmental Protection Agency has reversed its position 180 degrees, announcing in September 2010 that it will regulate dental mercury. In December, the FDA assembled a panel of distinguished scientists and held hearings. These scientists recommended that the FDA ban amalgam for children and pregnant women, and require disclosure of the mercury to all dental patients and parents.

How much longer will this debate continue? Isn’t it time for common sense to prevail? If there’s any chance of a dental material causing health risks to our patients, why use it? Plain and simple. Alternative materials are available to restore your teeth. These include gold, porcelain and composite resins.

If you have any personal concerns about mercury, ask questions, educate yourself and do your own research on this topic so you can decide for yourself what’s best for you and your loved ones.

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