OT: Safety of Dental Fillings Questioned

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by kjfms, Sep 10, 2006.

  1. kjfms

    kjfms Member

    Experts Say Mercury Exposure Not a Concern for Most People, but Reject the FDA's All-Clear By Todd Zwillich

    WebMD Medical News Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD
    on Thursday, September 07, 2006

    Sept. 7, 2006 -- A federal advisory panel today rejected the FDA's conclusion that mercury in dental fillings poses little or no health risk to patients.

    Experts said the move does not reflect a concern that mercury in fillings poses a risk to the vast majority of the tens of millions of Americans who have them.

    Instead, the advisory panel warned that available scientific studies have not gone far enough to explain apparent health reactions seen in a minority of patients.

    Prolonged or excessive mercury exposure can cause neurodevelopmental deficits in children, such as lower IQs or nerve problems, as well as neurologic problems in adults.

    But dentists have long believed amalgam fillings (which contain mercury in addition to other metals) don't expose most patients to significant mercury levels.

    Reports from the Environmental Protection Agency in 1993, and the U.S. Public Health Service in 1997, concluded mercury in fillings causes no serious health risks to patients.

    A draft FDA report, issued this week, backed up those conclusions, saying no new information has come to light to refute them.

    But experts on the advisory panel Thursday voted 13 to 7 to reject that conclusion because gaps in the scientific data leave open some questions about the fillings' safety.

    For example, researchers have not determined whether mercury fillings are more dangerous for pregnant women and their newborns than for adults.

    Continuing Research

    Studies have only just begun to tease out how much mercury humans get from dental fillings versus other environmental sources such as workplace exposure and eating contaminated fish.

    Dozens of activists complaining of bad health effects testified before the committee over two days of deliberations.

    "The vast majority of the population ... is extremely unlikely to have any complication," says Karl D. Kieburtz, MD, who co-chaired the panel.

    But available scientific studies make it difficult to determine "what population might be at what risk," says Kieburtz, a professor of neurology and preventative medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

    Studies also have not determined why a small minority of patients may accumulate higher mercury levels than others even after similar levels of exposure.

    "I'm taking it more seriously that there could be exposures, acute exposures," says Lynn R. Goldman, PhD, a professor of environmental health sciences at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md.

    Two studies of 534 American children and 507 Portuguese children, published in the April issue of JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association, found no appreciable effect of amalgam fillings on a battery of neuropsychological tests, IQ tests, and nerve tests.

    But European studies that suggest high mercury levels in some filling wearers have gained increased scrutiny from regulators there.

    The FDA recently recommended that children and women of childbearing age limit their consumption of tuna and other kinds of fish because of high mercury levels in certain fish.

    And activist groups have sought to ban mercury fillings, calling them unsafe.

    The advisory panel made no official recommendations after its meeting.

    FDA officials will now have to rethink how to address public concerns about mercury fillings.

    "We will take your recommendations, and we will start evaluating the next steps of what we do," Norris D. Alderson, MD, the FDA's associate commissioner for science, told the panel.

    Readers with concerns about their fillings should talk to their dentist.


    SOURCES: Karl D. Kieburtz, professor of neurology and preventative medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Lynn R. Goldman, PhD, professor of environmental health sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.

    FDA: "Update/Review of Potential Adverse Health Risks Associated with Exposure to Mercury in Dental Amalagam". FDA, August, 2006. WebMD Medical News: "No Harm Found in Amalgam Fillings."

    Thanks for reading,

    Karen :)

    [This Message was Edited on 09/12/2006]
  2. 1sweetie

    1sweetie New Member

    Thanks for the info. I heard that there was going to be a segment about this in the news and I forgot to watch it. Can't imagine I would forget something!

    I had made an inquiry about this to my dentist on my last visit and he says it's not true but I will question him again.

  3. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member

    Did you ever read the story about how strongly surgeons argued against findings that it would be better to wash their hands before operating when the concept was first introduced? This was at around the end of the 1800s, I think. This was a debate that went on for years. It wasn't that washing their hands was a big deal.....they just didn't want to admit to themselves that they had been making such a horrible mistake all those previous years.

    I don't know that that's why the dentistry community is so resistant to the idea that mercury fillings might be dangerous, but it's the only possibility I can think of. (From a monetary standpoint, dentists would be much better off using plastic fillings since they need to be replaced much more often and thus have the potential of generating much higher revenues.)
  4. kjfms

    kjfms Member

    thanks for reading.

    sweetie--I missed the program too forgot...LOL

    Lisa--I do remember reading something about the hand washing a long time ago but it has been so long I can't remember what I read...sigh

    Sorry it took so long for me to get back to you both I forgot to check on this post.

    You all have a good day,

    Karen :)

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