My colleague, William Campbell Douglass, MD, is somewhere dancing a jig in celebration.
After a decade-long battle between the FDA and a fistful of consumer advocacy groups, the FDA has announced that mercury amalgam fillings may be harmful to some people.
Dr. Douglass has been telling his readers the same for more than 30 years…minus the caveat about "some people."
Mercury itself has been linked to neurological disorders and kidney disease. While the amalgam fillings, which are about 50 percent mercury, can be linked to diseases like Alzheimer‘s and multiple sclerosis, according to some consumer advocacy groups.
As part of a settlement with advocacy groups, the FDA has agreed to post information about the dangers of mercury fillings on their website, with the potential next year for stricter usage guidelines and/or restrictions.
In a new notice posted on their site, the FDA states:
Dental amalgams contain mercury, which may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous system of developing children and fetuses. When amalgam fillings are placed in teeth or removed from teeth, they release mercury vapor. Mercury vapor is also released during chewing. FDA‘s rulemaking…will examine evidence concerning whether release of mercury vapor can cause health problems, including neurological disorders, in children and fetuses…
Pregnant women and persons who may have a health condition that makes them more sensitive to mercury exposure, including individuals with existing high levels of mercury bioburden, should not avoid seeking dental care, but should discuss options with their health practitioner.
According to the American Dental Association, since 2003, only about 30 percent of fillings contained mercury. Newer procedures employ the use of resins, ceramics and glass. Gold can be used as well, but it‘s comparatively pricey and not as durable.
The FDA stresses that those who currently have amalgam filings should not necessarily have them removed. As, in some cases, this can increase mercury exposure.
That said, be sure to consult with your practitioner about available options before proceeding with any new dental work.