The past couple of years, metal amalgam dental fillings have been all over the news for the potential danger they pose, especially to children and pregnant women. Studies showed that the inexpensive filling was actually releasing mercury into the body through the tooth.
Mercury in Amalgam Fillings
Metal amalgam dental fillings are typically comprised of 50% mercury, while the remaining 50% includes a combination of other metals like silver. The metal alloy is used to patch holes in the teeth created by dental decay. After the dentist drills out the affected area, it is filled with the amalgam to seal the area and help prevent against future cavities.
Mercury is a toxin, and when used in fillings, some experts say that harmful vapors could be released into the patient’s body through the tooth. An excessive amount of these vapors could cause kidney or brain damage.
The FDA has gone back and forth on the issue for the last several years, eventually proclaiming it safe in 2009. Officials have recently decided to reexamine the data and evaluate whether their decision on its safety was accurate. The Administration currently backs the use of metal amalgam, but it requires products to carry warnings on appropriate usage.
No new data has been presented, officials say. They simply want more accurate information on how the data was originally weighed. In preparation for an upcoming meeting, outside sources have been asked to provide information on how much mercury is in a typical amalgam filling and what level of mercury poses a risk to the patient.
Many experts say that dangerous side effects are a direct possibility with the mercury in dental fillings. However, many dental professionals and others in the industry say based on evidence, the amount of mercury in these metal amalgam fillings is not enough to cause any sort of damage. The FDA may come to a new decision on its safety based on the results of this meeting.
The American Dental Association sees no need to reexamine the data since the scientific information has remained the same since the last investigation. Several other groups plan to protest outside the meeting.
Do you think amalgam fillings are safe?
Do you think it should be banned, or do you think people should be able to decide for themselves?