The U.S. FDA called for further research on amalgam metal dental fillings after an important meeting in mid-December.
FDA Advisory Panel
You may remember an article we wrote in early December about dental fillings, entitled “Officials to Check Data on Potentially Poisonous Dental Fillings.” Here is an excerpt about the revisited controversy:
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.
Now, after the anticipated meeting, there is still no official decision on its safety. It is a big step, however, to call for further research, since the meeting initially intended to simply revisit the existing research. The advisory panel encouraged continued research on the material’s safety in order to change any ruling or official pronouncement.
Some may be upset that the FDA made no decision to change their ruling or reaffirm the current ruling, but this is still a positive step toward ending the controversy about amalgam dental fillings and ensuring the utmost safety in dental health.
Affordable… or Unsafe?
Many people supporting amalgam metal fillings do so because it is more affordable than the white resin option. Dental work is expensive, especially if you don’t have dental insurance (or a dental insurance alternative, like the popular discount dental plans). For some, a metal amalgam filling might be the only option to eliminate a severe toothache. In those cases, it seems like the need to alleviate the immediate pain outweighs the possibility of potential harm.
In other cases, however, the price difference would not be the deciding factor on whether the patient actually received the filling or not. Then it might be worth the additional price to avoid the possibility of harm, if that possibility exists.
Ideally, continued research will reveal whether amalgam fillings are indeed dangerous or safe, and dental professionals can act accordingly. Until then, patients, with their dentists, must decide for themselves what the safest and most affordable option is for them.