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?

Dentist Loses License for Unnecessary Dental Fillings

Dentist performs unnecessary fillingsA dentist who tricked patients into getting expensive and unnecessary dental work has been banned from practice by UK’s General Dental Council.

Dr. Constantine Saridakis had previously paid a hefty amount for unneeded dental fillings performed before 2007. He was suspended from treating NHS patients in 2008, but did anyway, altering patient records to cover it up.

‘The committee considered suspension of your registration,” said the chair at Dr. Saridakis’s hearing, “but concluded that a period of suspension would not sufficiently protect the public in future.”

In multiple cases, the doctor recommended multiple fillings (as many as 10) on patients whose charts did not indicate any tooth decay. His partner provided a second opinion on some cases, often finding no evidence of decay.

When confronted by his partner, Dr. Saridakis allegedly replied, “Sometimes I’m preventative, and sometimes I’m in a money-making mood.”

Read more: Dentist conned patients into unnecessary fillings

Dental Amalgam Provokes Passionate Response Among Dentists

Silver Fillings Are the Best Thing Ever… Unless Mercury Is Killing Us All

When we asked dentists about amalgam restorations, 66% said they tell patients that they have other cosmetic options. Another 22% tell patients about potentially safer options; many of these dentists no longer use any amalgams at all. However, 12% say they prefer placing amalgams.

Here are some dentist comments on the subject:

  • “They were great 20th century restorations. Luckily, we are in the 21st century.” (Illinois dentist)
  • “Amalgam fillings last much longer than composite. It is a travesty to not offer amalgams at all.” (Canada dentist)
  • “I stopped doing amalgams 24 years ago. I would not place something in a patient’s mouth that the government does not allow in their sewer systems.” (Pediatric dentist)
  • “It’s a safe, cost-effective restoration. If it’s banned, the cost of dentistry would increase and the poor would be the most to suffer.” (New York dentist)
  • “They crack teeth and look ugly.” (Texas dentist)
  • “Mercury poison causes mercury poison symptoms. To my knowledge, amalgam fillings never have. They try to blame amalgams on every disease under the sun. Why do people without fillings get the same diseases?” (Kentucky dentist)
  • “It should be outlawed.” (Nevada dentist)
  • “If you had a tooth-colored filling with the same characteristics as amalgam, few would use composite.” (Illinois dentist)
  • “It is malpractice to tell the average patient who has no allergies to the components in amalgam that these restorations are a threat to their health. Patients have a right to a choice, but that choice needs to be based not on the dentists’ bias but on facts.” (Pennsylvania dentist)
  • “Problem is: why should we have raw mercury in our offices? If there is a spill you need a Haz Mat team to clean it up and a risk to the staff with possible legal consequences.” (California dentist)

Read the complete dental amalgam survey results or post your own comments

Study Finds Dental Amalgam Does Not Damage Children’s Brains

From The Journal of the American Dental Association

We all know that amalgam fillings are a hot-button issue in the dental world. (Remember how dentists were divided over our mercury filling survey?) Well, February’s Journal of the American Dental Association includes a report that finds amalgam fillings do not damage children’s brain development.

The study monitored 500 Portuguese children. After seven years, researchers were unable to find developmental or neurological difference between the children with mercury fillings and those without.

Read more


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