Silver Amalgam Use Now the Focus of a United Nations Treaty

Silver Amalgam Use Now the Focus of a United Nations TreatyFoxNews.com is reporting that a United Nations global mercury treaty on mercury pollution may become reality and America’s dentists could be subjected to an international ban on filling cavities with “silver amalgam” containing mercury.

The next round of “mercury talks” is scheduled for Monday in Kenya and State Department officials reportedly said they hope to garner support for a legally-binding treaty to reduce worldwide mercury emissions.

Dr. David Simone, a dental surgeon from Northbrook, Ill., who attended the State Department meeting, told FoxNews.com that State Department officials reiterated that amalgam fillings will likely remain on the U.N.’s designated list of products to eventually be phased down with passage of the so-called global mercury treaty.

There is a controversial ongoing argument among dental health professionals about the possible health risks associated with mercury exposure from amalgam fillings, and competing sides disagree on whether the amount of mercury in fillings causes risks.

The ADA supports the position that dental amalgam is safe and posts the following statement on its website –

Dental amalgam is considered a safe, affordable and durable material that has been used to restore the teeth of more than 100 million Americans. It contains a mixture of metals such as silver, copper and tin, in addition to mercury, which binds these components into a hard, stable and safe substance. Dental amalgam has been studied and reviewed extensively, and has established a record of safety and effectiveness.

The FDI World Dental Federation and the World Health Organization concluded in a 1997 consensus statement: “No controlled studies have been published demonstrating systemic adverse effects from amalgam restorations.” Another conclusion of the report stated that, aside from rare instances of local side effects of allergic reactions, “the small amount of mercury released from amalgam restorations, especially during placement and removal, has not been shown to cause any … adverse health effects.”

In 1998 the ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs published its first major review of the scientific literature on dental amalgam which concluded that “based on available scientific information, amalgam continues to be a safe and effective restorative material.” The Council’s report also stated, “There currently appears to be no justification for discontinuing the use of dental amalgam.”

In an article published in the February 1999 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association, researchers report finding “no significant association of Alzheimer’s Disease with the number, surface area or history of having dental amalgam restorations” and “no statistically significant differences in brain mercury levels between subjects with Alzheimer’s Disease and control subjects.”

A 2003 paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine states, “Patients who have questions about the potential relation between mercury and degenerative diseases can be assured that the available evidence shows no connection.” [Read more …]

Robert Ferguson, founder and president of the Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI), told Foxnews.com that he sees the controversy surrounding dental amalgam as little more than the latest scare to drive more regulation.

What are your thoughts on the use of silver amalgam in dental treatments?

For more on this story see U.S. Weighs Support for U.N. Treaty That Could Force Dentists to Change Materials Used in Fillings.

Watch for more on this subject in the November issue of Academy of General Dentistry in a feature article by Eric K. Curtis, DDS, MA, MAGD titled, Black and White with Shades of Gray Ruminations on Amalgams in a World of Composites.

Dental Survey: Lead is the Number One Dentist Concern (video)

Dental Survey: Lead is the Number One Dentist Concern Mercury and Fluoride, two chemicals that can be highly toxic, or highly helpful to dental health.

Lead and Bisphenol A, two more scary chemicals that might be in our dental work. It’s enough to make you wonder whether dentists might sometimes be doing more harm than good.

What’s worse, the scientific evidence isn’t clear.

Sighed one dentist, “I’d like to be doing all gold restorations.”

Another dentist commented, “I feel it’s ironic that some patients don’t want ‘artificial chemicals’ in their mouth and decline the natural elements in amalgam in favor of the complex chemistry of composites!”

The Wealthy Dentist conducted a survey of dentists asking how concerned they are about various potential public health threats linked to chemicals in dentistry.

Click on Play to hear what chemicals concern dentists the most —

What dental chemicals concern you?

Dental Care: Dentists Justify Placing Amalgam

Dental Care: Dentists Justify Placing AmalgamDental news articles have reported a reduction in the use of amalgam for dental care by dentists over the past 20 years with new restorative techniques.

In the past, The Wealthy Dentist surveys have consistently shown dentists split on the topic of placing amalgam, with about half of dentists remaining loyal to placing amalgam fillings.

In our most recent survey the amalgam dental care trend holds steady with 58% of dentists responding that they still place amalgam.

“Amalgam is still a great restoration,” said one dentist, “and a good service for the patient.”

How frequently dentists place amalgam varies widely —

27% place multiple amalgams per day, or over 300 per year.
12% place about 10 amalgams per year.
8% place about 1 amalgam per day, or at least 200 per year.
6% place 1 amalgam per week, or 50 per year.
5% place 2 amalgams per week, or about 100 per year.

Dental Care: How Frequently Dentists Place Amalgam

Here are some further dentist comments–

Support placing amalgam:

“It’s easier to work with amalgam versus composite on posterior teeth.” (Arizona dentist)

“A well-placed amalgam can be the difference for a patient who has financial concerns and cannot afford a casting or resin.” (Pennsylvania dentist)

“I offer it for patient’s finances and in difficult areas.” (South Carolina dentist)

“Amalgam is an efficient, cost effective, long lasting restoration if done correctly.” (Massachusetts dentist)

“I certainly place more composites and all-ceramic inlays and onlays when it is necessary. Amalgams are good restorations for non-visible/non-esthetic areas and when the restoration will be small. We allow the patient to decide amalgam or composite in that situation. Sometimes they tell us their financial situation dictates amalgam over composite.” (Ohio prosthodontist)

“I live in rural America and crowns are not financially feasible for many; so I shovel a lot of alloy!” (Wisconsin dentist)

“It’s the best restorative material to use in some instances.” (Tennessee dentist)

“The most inexpensive restorative material- coefficient of thermal expansion close to tooth structure is key to why it lasts so long compared to composite resin; ease of placement and manipulation is best of all direct restorative materials.” (Indiana dentist)

“They last and last and last!” (Texas dentist)

Against placing amalgam:

“Why would I place amalgams in people’s teeth when I can’t throw them down the drain. It seems that fish get more protection than humans.” (General dentist)

“My thoughts about all things that go into the body are: If there is a question about the safety of a product — don’t use it. I hear many questions about the safety of amalgams. There are other dental care products I can use until the questions are answered.” (Texas dentist)

“Amalgams cause the teeth to fracture.” (California dentist)

“I stopped altogether in 1995 when resins became usable as a replacement. Primary reason was I feared a potential class action type suit against any dentist using the material. Pretty pathetic but in this litigious society you have to CYA.” (New Jersey dentist)

“I wouldn’t put it in my dog! I can’t throw it in the garbage legally, but I can place it in your mouth?” (New York dentist)

“We have better materials. We don’t need to use a restorative that was developed in the 1890’s just because it’s easier and cheaper. If it were introduced as a new material today it would never make it or even be allowed. It just doesn’t make sense to use it. Yes, they mostly last “forever,” but at the expense of the tooth.” (General dentist)

“If the scraps are a danger to my assistant, how can I justify placing one in anybody’s mouth?” (California dentist)

“Interesting that the government has rules on the collection and disposal of amalgam as a hazardous waste from the dental suction system BUT feels there is no problem placing the material in someone’s mouth??? Go figure!” (Connecticut dentist)

“I don’t place them, and haven’t since the beginning of my career. However, it’s not because I think they are inferior or toxic. On the contrary, I believe amalgam is a great material. It’s just that composite is a great material when placed properly, AND it looks better.” (Texas dentist)

The ADA states that dental amalgam is a safe, affordable and durable material containing a mixture of metals such as silver, copper and tin, in addition to mercury, which binds these components into a hard, stable and safe substance for dental care.

FDA Finally Takes a Stand on Mercury… Sort Of

Agency Promises to Make a Decision Next Year

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has long avoided taking a public stand on the safety or danger of mercury in silver dental fillings. However, with a recent settlement in a lawsuit brought by the organization Moms Against Mercury, the governmental health agency has finally agreed to take a stand on the issue. Eventually.

The agreement calls for the FDA to complete its reclassification of dental amalgam by July of 2009. (The agency began that process in 2002.)

Some news articles have heralded this as a major change in the FDA’s attitude toward amalgam, with headlines making grand proclamations about a new post-amalgam era.

Can you guess which of the following is not a genuine headline?

These are attention-grabbing headlines, to be sure! The problem is, they’re not necessarily true per se. (And okay, I made the last one up.)

In the ADA’s response to news of the decision, the dental organization disputes these suggestions. “As far as the ADA is aware, the FDA has in no way changed its approach to, or position on, dental amalgam,” reads the statement.

As part of the agreement, the FDA has updated the consumer information provided by its website on the subject of mercury and dental amalgam.

“Dental amalgams contain mercury, which may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems 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.”
Questions and Answers on Dental Amalgam (FDA Consumer Information)

What do you think? Is this a new era, or just more of the same?

Dentists Passionately Love and Hate Dental Amalgam (Video)

Dentists have used dental amalgam to make metal fillings for a long time, but the material is more controversial now than ever before.

Some worry the silver/mercury alloy may cause health problems, while others think it’s still superior to tooth-colored composite fillings.

Read more: Silver Mercury Fillings Are Amazing… Or Else They’re Terrible

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