FDA Precautionary Note on Silver (Mercury) Fillings)

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Slayadragon, Jun 12, 2008.

  1. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member

    FDA issues precautionary note on silver fillings

    By LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer

    June 10, 2008

    WASHINGTON - Silver dental fillings contain mercury, and the government for the first time is warning that they may pose a safety concern for pregnant women and young children.

    The Food and Drug Administration posted the precaution on its Web site earlier this month, to settle a lawsuit — making the move a victory for anti-mercury activists.

    The warning is not aimed at the general population, only at two groups already urged to limit mercury from another source — seafood — because too much can harm a developing brain.

    The fillings, formally known as dental amalgams, "contain mercury, which may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of developing children and fetuses," reads the FDA Web posting.

    That doesn't mean it truly harms, and the FDA advises against removing existing fillings.

    The agency still is studying whether the small amount of mercury vapor released by chewing and brushing is enough to cause neurologic disorders or other problems in youngsters. There have been only a handful of rigorous studies comparing children given either amalgam fillings or tooth-colored resin composite fillings that are mercury-free — and those studies haven't detected any brain problems.

    Nor has that research settled the long-simmering scientific controversy. Two years ago, the FDA's own independent scientific advisers said that while amalgam fillings were safe for most people, more research was needed about potential effects on fetuses and children under 6.

    And this spring, the FDA put dentists on notice that it is considering additional controls, including whether to require warnings that would advise consumers of the mercury in amalgams before they have a cavity filled, or perhaps even restrict use in small children and certain other patients. It is accepting public comments until July 28.

    "It's an open question what we will do," FDA Deputy Commissioner Randall Lutter told The Associated Press. But, "what this says is there's a clear intent on our part on labeling for sensitive subpopulations."

    Expect a final ruling by July 28, 2009, a date set by that legal settlement.

    "It's a watershed moment," said Michael Bender of the Mercury Policy Project, who with other advocacy groups had sued the FDA in hopes of forcing restrictions on amalgams.

    "This court settlement signals the death knell for mercury fillings," added Charles Brown, an attorney for Consumers for Dental Choice.

    Not so fast, say dentists who point to medically crucial reasons to use amalgams — and worry that people who can't afford more expensive alternatives might avoid dental care.

    "We don't want these choices taken away based on junk science. We don't want them taken away based on misguided fears," said Dr. Edmond Hewlett, a dental professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and an American Dental Association adviser.

    Amalgam fillings are about 50 percent mercury, joined with silver, copper and tin. The hardened mixture makes the mercury less absorbable by the body than the kind found in fish, said Hewlett, who chose an amalgam filling for his own 7-year-old son.

    Used since the 1800s, amalgams' popularity already is dropping. They account for about 30 percent of U.S. fillings, still millions of people a year.

    They're cheaper than alternatives — roughly $100 for an amalgam filling versus $150 or more for a composite, Hewlett estimates — and they're known as particularly durable. Hewlett said two conditions that demand amalgams: Spots on back teeth that dentists can't keep dry long enough for a composite filling to bond, and in people who forcefully grind their teeth.

    Science operates on "a precautionary principle," said Dr. Karl Kieburtz, a University of Rochester neurologist who co-chaired the 2006 FDA advisory committee and praised the new warning.

    "For 99 percent-plus of people, there probably isn't harm. But if there is a group of people who might be at risk, they should at least have the knowledge that may be so," he said.

    Several other countries limit amalgams, either as a precaution in pregnant women and small children or because of environmental concern. Dental workers make amalgam fillings by mixing liquid mercury with powdered ingredients, requiring special safety steps and filters to limit waste seeping back into the environment.

  2. acer2000

    acer2000 New Member

    Should dicatate that they are banned. Mercury is bad no matter the dose. If there are viable alternatives (and there have been for years), they should stop spending money trying to "prove" they are safe or "prove" they are unsafe and just move on. I mean think about it, "proving" mercury is safe? hah
  3. mbofov

    mbofov Active Member

    It is incomprehensible how the govt has resisted this for so long.

    On a related note, a recent long-term study found that even small amounts of lead can lead to criminal behavior. They followed children from when they were young to adulthood and found a definite correlation. Some paints used to be 50% lead (!) and many older homes still have lead paint.

    I'll do a separate post on this --

  4. tansy

    tansy New Member

    From The Independent website (UK)

    US issues health warning over mercury fillings

    They're in millions of mouths worldwide, but have been linked to heart disease and Alzheimer's. Now a report concedes they may have a toxic effect on the body

    By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
    Sunday, 29 June 2008

    Amalgam dental fillings – which contain the highly toxic metal mercury – pose a health risk, the world's top medical regulatory agency has conceded.

    After years of insisting the fillings are safe, the US government's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a health warning about them. It represents a landmark victory for campaigners, who say the fillings are responsible for a range of ailments, including heart conditions and Alzheimer's disease.

    Earlier this month, in an unprecedented U-turn, the FDA dropped much of its reassuring language on the fillings from its website, substituting: "Dental amalgams contain mercury, which may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of developing children and foetuses." It adds that when amalgam fillings are "placed in teeth or removed they release mercury vapour", and that the same thing happens when chewing.

    The FDA is now reviewing its rules and may end up restricting or banning the use of the metal.

    Mercury is placed in tens of millions of teeth worldwide each year. About 125 tons of it is used annually in dental treatments in the EU alone. And it was used in eight million fillings (including one million in children and young people) in Britain in 2002-03, the last year for which the British Dental Association (BDA) can produce figures.

    The association continues to insist that amalgam is "safe, durable and cost-effective" and "does not pose a risk of systemic disease", though it advises pregnant women to avoid "any dental intervention or medication". However, Norway and Denmark banned mercury from fillings earlier this year. Sweden has cut its use by more than 90 per cent over the past decade, and mercury use is also heavily restricted in Finland and Japan.

    Mercury makes up about half of an amalgam filling, where it is mixed with silver and small amounts of copper and tin. The combination – which has now been used for some 150 years – is extremely durable, and its supporters used to stress that it locked in the mercury. They now accept, however, that mercury vapour escapes, is breathed in, and gets into the bloodstream and organs, but they also stress that levels are very low. Opponents argue that the metal accumulates in the body and no safe level is known.

    Some research suggests that mercury from dental fillings may be linked to high blood pressure, infertility, fatigue, disorders of the central nervous system, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease. Dentists have been found to have high levels of mercury in their bodies as well being more susceptible to brain tumours and problems with concentration and manual dexterity.

    However, a study that followed 507 Portuguese and American children for seven years after they received amalgam or mercury-free fillings found no differences in the rates of neurological symptoms between the two groups.

    Nevertheless, more and more dentists – now some 500 in Britain – are setting up mercury-free practices, and more patients are demanding alternative fillings made of resin and glass.

    The alternatives are more expensive and not as strong as amalgam, which leads the defenders of mercury to say that only mercury will do for molars, which carry most of the burden of chewing. And some have released another toxic material, the gender-bending chemical bisphenol A. But the alternatives are getting stronger, and the chemical is being used less in the newer products.

    Even the BDA now says that the alternatives "have improved over time", adding: "Trends towards greater use of these materials imply that there is to be a sustained reduction in the use of dental amalgam."
    [This Message was Edited on 06/28/2008]