FDA to Meet Again About Silver Dental Fillings

The FDA determined quite sometime ago that silver amalgam tooth fillings are safe, despite reports that amalgam fillings pose risks for patients.  Now, the FDA advisory committee is holding a two day hearing to review the contention from eight consumer and dental organizations that the FDA did not use the proper means to identify safe mercury levels in amalgam dental fillings.

Silver dental fillings, also known as amalgam fillings, typically contain 50% mercury, 35% silver, 13% tin, 2% copper, and a smaller percentage of zinc. Traditionally, these types of dental fillings have been popular. They are long lasting, inexpensive and simple to install. Yet, as more people became aware of the side effects associated with mercury toxicity, more people have turned to composite, tooth colored dental fillings. In fact, it is not uncommon today for people to replace their old silver amalgam fillings with composite ones.  Composite dental fillings require enhanced techniques to install, but they are usually no more than $30-$50 over the cost of amalgam fillings and they look far more natural.

Mercury toxicity has been linked to several health risks including: autism, gastrointestinal problems, and cell damage, particularly of the brain, bones and kidneys.  Yet, in 2009, the FDA did not uncover a link between illness and mercury toxicity in people as young as six years old and up. Though, the FDA noted that children under six years of age and fetuses are more likely to be sensitive to “neuro-toxic effects” associated with mercury.

During this most recent FDA hearing, scientists and professionals in the dental community have testified about the risks associated with amalgam dental fillings.  There are also other professionals in the dental community who testified about the safety of amalgam dental fillings. Within dental practices, some dentists have abandoned the use of amalgam dental fillings, while other dental practices still offer silver amalgam fillings. For now, the choice is yours.  But one day, silver amalgams may become technology of the past for everyone.

If you are interested in general dentistry or cosmetic dentistry, contact Dr. Mark Sweeney, an Austin Texas cosmetic dentist, for a consultation at 512-380-1300.