Finally the FDA has caught on (well starting to, they always issue the warning to pregnant women and children first) to what I have been saying about Mercury in the dental fillings. I never wanted the metal fillings in my mouth and told the dentist, yet I have two. I have been treated like I am crazy for not wanting them by therapists in the past because the "FDA says it's safe" and at the dentist office over not wanting a "fluoride treatment" which hopefully the FDA will come to terms with eventually.
I do not care what the current FDA recommendations are about "not removing the mercury containing fillings" when the rest of my teeth are done they are coming out. I am just so annoyed that I will have to end up in the dentist chair longer than I needed to be (esp. when I have a large issue with being at the dentist), had the dentist and medical professionals backed me up. Not to mention wasted money on two fillings.
It is very hard to go it alone, medical professionals keep repeating there is no danger and you start to doubt your own sanity after awhile. Besides, I told the dentist I did not want them, yet he pays little attention to what I have to say and did them anyway, since he never writes anything down (I should not have to remind the dentist every visit).
If he takes issue with me not getting them I am going to get another dentist period. If a metal has to be used it can be gold though in most causes that is not necessary and the price is not astronomical because such a little amount is used. Not to mention worth it for not having mercury vapors when I chew being inhaled into my lungs and entering my blood stream.
Mercury can only be dumped in two places. A toxic waste facility and the human mouth. (Even your energy saving light bulbs have to have special treatment when disposed of.) Mercury is considered one of the most toxic elements.
Even when the silver content is sold from the filling as scrap metal there is a warning from scrap metal dealers.
"Dental Amalgam Scrap: Dental Amalgam Scrap shall consist of dental filling materials that are a silver alloy.
CAUTION : common dental amalgam is a Silver/Mercury alloy and should be treated with the proper handling and packaging methods to ensure the containment of Mercury vapors and Mercury exposure.
This materials should be tested (assayed) and sold by the silver content. as agreed upon by the buy and seller."
From the FDA site in June 2008
Questions and Answers on Dental Amalgam
1. What is dental amalgam?
Dental amalgam is the silver-colored material used to fill (restore) teeth that have cavities. Dental amalgam is made of two nearly equal parts: liquid mercury and a powder containing silver, tin, copper, zinc and other metals. Mercury concentration in dental amalgams is generally about 50% by weight, while the silver concentration ranges from 20-35%.
2. What is FDA’s role in dental amalgam?
Dental amalgams are medical devices and are regulated by FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). CDRH is responsible for ensuring that medical devices are reasonably safe and effective and that the labeling has adequate directions for use and any appropriate warnings.
3. What are the safety concerns about 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 (described in question 7) will examine evidence concerning whether release of mercury vapor can cause health problems, including neurological disorders, in children and fetuses.
Since the 1990s, FDA and other government agencies (CDC, NIH) have reviewed the scientific literature looking for links between dental amalgams and health problems. In September 2006, an advisory panel to the FDA reviewed FDA’s research and heard presentations from the public about the benefits and risks of mercury and amalgam.
You can read the summary of the panel meeting at: http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/meetings/090606-summary.html
In addition, a complete transcript is available at: http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/cdrh06.html#dentalproductspanel
4. Are there other dental filling materials that can be used instead of amalgam?
Yes, there are several other types of dental fillings.
Resin composites are tooth-colored materials made from powdered glass and resin compounds. When composites were initially introduced, they were not very strong and were used primarily in the front teeth. Newer composites are stronger, although they still tend to wear more than metal-based materials and generally need earlier replacement.
Glass ionomer cement is also a tooth-colored material. It is not usually used for long-term fillings because it breaks easily.
Porcelain, gold, and other metals are also used as filling materials. Gold and porcelain are used for inlays, veneers, crowns, and bridges. These fillings are made outside the mouth and cemented into place after they are formed.
5. Should I have my amalgam fillings removed and replaced with these other materials? If I have a cavity, should I choose to get amalgam fillings?
FDA does not recommend that you have your amalgam fillings removed. FDA is engaged in a rulemaking that may lead to revised labeling. It is also reviewing evidence about safe use, particularly in sensitive subpopulations.
If you are concerned about the possible health effects of amalgam fillings, you should talk with your qualified health care practitioner.
Dental amalgam fillings are very strong and durable, they last longer than most other types of fillings, and they are relatively inexpensive. You may want to weigh these advantages against the possibility that dental amalgam could pose a health risk, until further information is conveyed through the rulemaking (see question 7) or otherwise.
6. Should pregnant women and young children use or avoid amalgam fillings?
The recent advisory panel believed that there was not enough information to answer this question.
Some other countries follow a “precautionary principle” and avoid the use of dental amalgam in pregnant women. Advice about dental amalgams from regulatory agencies in other countries is available below.
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.
7. What is the next step for FDA?
In 2002, FDA published a proposed rule to classify dental amalgam as a class II device with special controls. On April 28, 2008, FDA reopened the comment period for that proposed rule. The comment period will be open until July 28, 2008. After reviewing all comments, FDA intends to issue a final rule classifying dental amalgam.
By July 28, 2008, FDA is requesting comments supported by empirical data and scientific evidence concerning this classification and special controls for dental amalgam. In addition, if class II (special controls) is the appropriate classification for these devices, FDA requests comment on whether the two types of special controls proposed by FDA in 2002 (materials and labeling) provide reasonable assurance of the safety and effectiveness of these devices and on whether the special controls FDA described in 2002 should be revised in light of the recommendations and with respect to the discussions by the 2006 joint committee.
Controls on the Materials. For example, should the material controls proposed by FDA address conformance to recognized consensus standards that make recommendations for testing, compressive strength, and identifying the mercury vapor released by the device?
Labeling Controls. For example, how should labeling controls, if any, address the disclosure of composition, including mercury content, and precautions regarding use of the device in sensitive subpopulations composed of individuals who respond biologically at lower levels of exposure to mercury than the general population? If so, which subpopulations should be included (e.g., children under age 6, pregnant and lactating women, hypersensitive or immunocompromised individuals)? Should the labeling controls require more specific patient labeling (e.g., informing patients of identified sensitive subpopulations of the mercury content, the alternatives to the device and their relative costs, and health risks associated with the failure to obtain dental care)?
For the agency’s future analysis of benefits and costs of the regulatory options for dental amalgams, FDA also requests comments, including available data, on the following questions:
(1) How many annual procedures use mercury amalgams? What are the trends?
(2) What are the differences in cost between amalgams and alternative materials (e.g., composite, other metals, ceramics, etc.)? Are there differences in replacement lives?
(3) What are reimbursement rates for dental amalgam and the alternative materials?
(4) How would labeling describing the risks of amalgam for certain subpopulations (e.g., children under age 6, pregnant and lactating women, hypersensitive or immunocompromised individuals) affect the demand for, and use of, mercury amalgam? How would the risks included in the labeling be communicated to those subpopulations?
(5) What is the current exposure to mercury for patients? For professionals? What would be the reduction in exposure associated with the use of alternative materials?
Updated June 3, 2008