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FDA: Mercury dental fillings can be harmful

The United States (U.S.) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has advised against the use of dental filling that contains mercury for certain groups of people who may be at high risk for potentially harmful health effects as a result of mercury being released from the fillings. According to a report on ‘Medscape,’ among the groups that should avoid the use of mercury dental fillings are pregnant women and their developing foetuses, women who are planning to become pregnant and nursing women and their newborns and infants, children, especially those younger than six years of age.

Others are people with pre-existing neurologic disease, such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, or Parkinson’s disease, people with impaired kidney function and those who are known to have heightened sensitivity to mercury or other components of dental amalgam.

The report stated that dental amalgam releases small amounts of mercury vapour over time. Dental restoration, dental fillings, or simply fillings, are treatments used to restore the function, integrity, and morphology of missing tooth structure resulting from caries or external trauma as well as to the replacement of such structure supported by dental implants.

The FDA, in a safety communication, said although, most evidence suggested that exposure to mercury from dental amalgam does not have negative health effects in the general population, “little to no information” is known about the effects this exposure may have on these specific groups, who may be at greater risk for negative health effects of mercury exposure.

Therefore, the FDA, for these individuals, recommended the use of fillings that do not contain mercury, such as composite resins and glass ionomer cements, when possible and appropriate. In a statement, the Director, FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Jeffrey Shuren, MD, said: “For over 20 years, the FDA has been reviewing scientific literature, monitoring reports and holding public discussions regarding the public health effects of dental amalgam and amalgamrelated mercury vapour.”

“While low-levels of inhaled mercury vapour are generally not harmful to most people, these highrisk individuals may be at increased risk of adverse health outcomes,” he said. However, Shuren said: “There is a possibility that mercury in dental amalgam may be converted to other mercury compounds in the body and that the accumulation of mercury in some body fluidsandtissuesmayresultin unintended health outcomes.” Despite these uncertainties, the FDA does not advise removing or replacing existing amalgam fillings that are in good condition unless it is medically necessary, because removing intact amalgam fillings can cause a temporary increase in exposure to mercury vapour.


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