Certain people are at higher risk for health problems from mercury-containing amalgam dental fillings and should avoid them if possible, a new U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommendation says.
Groups that may be at greater risk for harm from mercury vapor released by these fillings include: pregnant women and their developing fetuses; women who are planning to become pregnant; nursing women and their newborns and infants; children, especially those younger than 6 years of age; people with preexisting neurological disease such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer disease, or Parkinson disease; people with impaired kidney function; and people with a known allergy to mercury or other components of dental amalgam, which also includes silver, tin, and copper.
The recommendation was issued after a review of research, monitoring reports, and public discussions.
“The FDA is not recommending anyone remove or replace existing amalgam fillings in good condition unless it is considered medically necessary because removing intact amalgam fillings can cause a temporary increase in exposure to mercury vapor and the potential loss of healthy tooth structure, potentially resulting in more risks than benefits,” Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., director of the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in an agency news release. “While the available evidence suggests that dental amalgam use has generally declined over recent years, due to more alternative products being offered and used effectively for dental restorations, high-risk individuals, as noted in our recommendations, should discuss alternative products for restoring teeth with their dentist.”