FDA Frowns on Mercury Dental Fillings | Seventh Generation
Skip to Content
  • Pin It

FDA Frowns on Mercury Dental Fillings

Author: the Inkslinger

Teeth X-RayAfter writing a piece on the hazards of mercury-based dental fillings last month, it was most interesting to encounter a rather unexpected update on the subject this week.

After years of denying there was anything even resembling an issue of concern here, the Food and Drug Administration has had an abrupt change of heart as evidenced by a subtle but telling change to key language on its website.

Suddenly gone are all the worry-free words about dental amalgams and in their place appears a semi-veiled warning saying that “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.” The page goes on to suggest that “pregnant women and persons who may have a health condition that makes them more sensitive to mercury exposure, including individuals with existing high mercury body burdens, should not avoid seeking dental care, but should discuss options with their health practitioner."

Apparently the change is the result of a lawsuit. Whatever it takes. I’m just glad to see the FDA finally siding with the truth on this topic and placing precaution and public health above other less altruistically motivated concerns.

photo: Bashar Al-Ba'noon


vikirita picture
I had my fillings removed several years ago and I can personally tell you it made a BIG difference in my mental and physical health. Yes it is pricey and there is pain involved with the healing but when you have an immediate improvement in your outlook on life it is worth it. I just have to say that when something is shipped to a business as hazardous material and then "safely" used in the human body something is terribly wrong.
nwad picture
Mercury is a known neurotoxin. Mercury is becoming prevalent in our environment. It is in such things as the smoke from wildfires, smoke from coal burning plants, batteries, CFLs, and dental work. We are not regulating it, we are propagating it. Like fluoride, it is being used to make money, without regard to public health. Symptoms of mercury poisoning match symptoms of diseases such as MS and autism. Why are so many of our children damaged and have behavioral and cognitive problems such as ADD/ADHD and autism? Why is there such an increase in parkinsons, MS, and alzheimers? Could it be because we are increasingly making toxic products and filling our beautiful earth with poisons? We COULD use safer fillings ( I know, call me crazy!) we COULD finder safer energy alternatives. But we CHOOSE to have convenience and cheap products/energy by taking shortcuts. In a couple years, CFLs will be making it into our landfills and contaminating them and our ground water. There is no plan to safely dispose of these products and Jane and Joe consumer are not always considerate about what they so casually throw in the trash. What really astonishes me, is how established writers for this Seventh Generation website pooh-pooh the amount of mercury in CFL's. I thought the whole concept of this company was to encourage our stewardship of this planet ??? What gives? There is NO SAFE AMOUNT of mercury. OK, prove me wrong, break a bulb into your bath water and take a bath in it. It's safe, right? Guess what happens with your fillings when you eat acidic things like tomatoes or vinegar? Mercury vapor! How fun is that? Research what dentists have to do when they remove fillings, most don't like to because it is not a safe process. Check out Ted Poe on YouTube: http://youtube.com/watch?v=e-LOtKIIKcg Evolve or perish.
bse2dmd picture
I would like to offer my humblest apologies to mikef and the FDA for any offense (intended or not) caused by my remarks. I truly appreciate and respect the comments that mikef brought to this discussion in response to my statements. As stated, I'm ONLY a dental student, and as such take for granted that the material taught (at one the nations top 10 dental schools) is up to date and current. I really appreciate that mikef has backed up his statements with current facts and details, and not just speculation or "he said, she said". Thanks again mikef for shedding actual scientific light on the subject, instead of just lighting the torches for a witch hunt. You "old timers" have to keep us young whipper-snappers honest :) Thanks.
mikef picture
I would like to respond to the remarks made by bse2dmd. Item 1. As a member of FDA's Dental Products Panel, one needs to be very careful about representing how the FDA is influenced and the manner in which scientific evidence is evaluated and used in regulatory determinations. FDA is under constant pressure from consumer interests and industry to either deregulate or regulate depending upon the issue at hand. FDA does not readily yield to these pressures especially in the case of the amalgam issue. Those of us directly involved with this complex issue of amalgam regulation are acutely aware of the need to stick to the science supporting our views. Item 2. As a dental student, surely he must understand the difference between a correlation and causation. There is voluminous peer reviewed research correlating mercury found in amalgam with a number of disease states to include neurological diseases. What is not clear is causation-careful with your words-they mean things. Item 3. This is flat out a wrong conclusion based upon very recent peer reviewed research demonstrating a far higher rate of mercury release from "undisturbed" amalgams let alone those that are challenged in the mouth. The amounts now seen are at least 100 times higher than once thought. These daily exposures can range from 50-100 micrograms or more of mercury depending upon the number of surfaces of material. These levels are well above the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) levels established by OSHA, EPA and FDA. The "change" is not entirely due to a lawsuit. The original lawsuit,"Mom's v VonEschenbach", was brought on two bases. First, the plaintiffs sought an injunction to have amalgam removed from the market until properly classified. Second, the plaintiffs wanted a date certain for amalgam regulation. The regulatory process was already in progress at FDA at the time of the most recent lawsuit. The court rejected the injunction but was very clear FDA had not done its job in regulating the encapsulated product. The judge also moved the parties into mediation at which time a date certain, July 28 of 2009, was agreed upon. Owing to the length of time to regulate from the date of settlement, the plaintiffs asked that FDA modifiy its website as a good faith effort that would reflect the current thinking on amalgam within FDA based upon the new science. FDA did not have to agree to this but did so. Do not think for one minute FDA would have done this if they did not have science to back up what they have on that website. I have also been involved with world class scientists on a private basis with FDA over the last two years on this complex issue outside of my role on the Panel. If any of you readers have any questions as to the current state of things on this, please feel free to email me at mikef@nc.rr.com for details. Fluoride is a whole different animal-keep it topical, not used as a drug in the water supplies. Please understand I do not represent FDA in my remarks on this blog. These are my personal opinions based upon over 25 years of work in the scientific and public policy sectors.
bse2dmd picture
Doing only a "little" reading can be a dangerous and expensive thing. I'm currently in dental school, and have had many discussions with my classmates concerning this very topic. Some things to keep in mind when trying to decide if amalgam should or should not be in your mouth: 1 - The FDA (like it or not) is influenced by lobbyists. People that do a "little" reading (no offense intended, alantruly) about something they FEEL passionate about. The research they do into the subject is usually skewed and one sided. It seems that people will find "evidence" to support their opinions. 2 - All of the legitimate (peer reviewed, etc.) research that I know of has show absolutely NO correlation between dental amalgam and neurological issues/disease. 3 - The majority of the mercury in amalgam is "tied" up in the structure of the metal. My guess is that in the studied alantruly read, the 80% of the mercury figure was referring to 80% of what would EVER "leak" out as vapor. I do not believe it was saying that 80% of the total mercury in the amalgam would leak out. This type of misquote is what fuels misconceptions. "Apparently the change is the result of a lawsuit. Whatever it takes. I’m just glad to see the FDA finally siding with the truth on this topic and placing precaution and public health above other less altruistically motivated concerns." While I respect the opinions of "the Inkslinger", I am curious about how it was concluded that the FDA "finally" sided with truth? The truth is that SCIENTIFICALLY, there is still NO correlation between amalgam fillings and neuroligic damage/disease. Now obviously, it would be ideal to never have an amalgam filling than to have a mouth full of them. It would also be better to always floss, eat a diet low in refined sugar, only eat organic, etc. But decay happens. As a personal choice, I believe people have the right (and should exercise it if they wish) to not have amalgam fillings. As a dental health professional though, I have to add that in MANY circumstances, an amalgam filling is by far the best treatment option. As for fluoridated water, you've got to be kidding me! What people don't realize is that a lot of geologic locations have naturally fluoridated water. The people in these locations who use well water have much lower incidents of carries (decay). Again, too much of anything is never a good idea. Just about any medicine will become toxic at high enough levels, but you still use it when you need it. You just use it correctly. Same with fluoride.
alantruly picture
If you have amalgams and can't get them removed (e.g., issues with money, time, pain issues), you can compensate for having them. Do some research on heavy metal detox. There are several treatments, some natural and inexpensive. For example, include lots of cilantro in your diet. It removes mercury from your body safely and with no discomfort. Some methods of removal can be dangerous as the mercury causes damage on the way out of your body. I did a little reading just before posting this and ran across an interesting study that found that 80% of the mercury in a filling is absorbed or otherwise removed from the filling in the first 6 months. While this is disturbing in terms of new fillings, it is good news for those that have had fillings for years. That is to say, your fillings are not so much of a danger now. Perhaps it is better to leave them in with their reduced mercury content if you are not experiencing a problem. Also, I ran across information suggesting that the alternative to amalgam fillings may not be very healthy either. It is definitely worth checking into before making a decision.
roccopass picture
Mercury is incredibly poisonous, and I am so relieved to see that the FDA is finally admitting it! I wish they admitted that water Fluoridation is poisonous as well (sign a petition to stop water fluoridation here) I am so happy I safely removed my mercury filling years ago. Make sure the dentists who remove them know what they are doing. Mercury vapors and particles can be dangerous and you want to make sure you dentist takes care of that. Homeopathic dentists can give you a remedy to avoid the poisonous effects of mercury vapors or a "traditional" dentist can use a "screen" to place in your mouth, below the teeth, to prevent particles to go down your throat. Finding a right dentist to remove one of the most poisonous metals from your mouth should be a priority and make sure to ask what your next dental fillings are made of...
burnice picture
I certainly hope this is the beginning of the end for such nonsense. Let us hope the house of cards will fall for atrocities including water fluoridation, gmo seeds and produce, trash vaccines and frightening over use of antibiotics. I am curious to know if the mainstream press will pick up on this. Another question that quickly comes to mind is whether the insurance companies will begin to pick up a little more of the tab on composite fillings, in light of this change in position. My insurance doesn't cover composites. Maybe I'll argue with them, now. Excellent information - thanks for reporting.
meyerch picture
Thank goodness the FDA is opening its mind to the possible effects of dental materials on the rest of the body. Teeth are part of the body--their health can indicate or be a cause of dis-ease in the rest of the body. I no longer have amalgams in my mouth thanks to a mercury-free dentist. My toxicity has decreased and I feel less fatigued overall--my body was expending energy trying to cope with the heavy metal load since I was a child. If anyone has "unexplained" health issues, please read Dr. Hal Huggins book It's All in Your Head. I hope from this small victory with the FDA the insurance companies will eventually stop "requiring" amalgams for customers (they do not pay for composites--which are non-reactive--in molars). Thanks for reporting on this issue.
LJWscleaners picture
I have personal experience with the devastating health effects of supposedly "safe" silver amalgam fillings, which I call "mercury fillings." I have been watching with everything from horror to amusement at the denial that takes place. for the last 20 years I have only gone to dentists who do not use these fillings. Get a clue!