Dental association responds to McClatchy story about mercury fillings

Dr. Maxine Feinberg, president of the American Dental Association, sent the following letter in response to McClatchy’s story disclosing that the Food and Drug Administration proposed issuing a warning about the risks of mercury dental fillings:

Greg Gordon’s article “Health officials kill proposal to curb mercury dental fillings” greatly misleads readers about the safety and effectiveness of dental amalgam fillings.

Dental amalgam is an alloy—it is a combination of metals including mercury, silver, copper and tin—that has entirely different chemical properties than mercury alone. These fillings have been used for more than a century to save hundreds of millions of teeth that otherwise may have been lost to dental decay.

Claims that mercury in dental fillings may cause health problems may grab headlines, but they simply aren’t supported by credible, peer-reviewed studies published in scientific journals. The Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Autism Society of America, Mayo Clinic and the World Health Organization are all on record as saying there is no scientific evidence that dental amalgam causes the diseases they are committed to curing.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as the regulatory agency responsible for protecting the public’s health, periodically reviews scientific evidence related to dental amalgam. After issuing a ruling in 2009 supporting the safety and effectiveness of dental amalgam, the agency re-examined the scientific evidence in order to respond to several petitions on the issue and reaffirmed its position in January 2015.

Dentists have used amalgam safely and effectively to restore teeth in more than 100 million Americans, and U.S. and international agencies responsible for protecting public health, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and World Health Organization, all agree that based on extensive scientific evidence, dental amalgam is a safe and effective cavity-filling material.

No properly designed, peer-reviewed scientific study links dental amalgam to any neurological or systemic disease, and that’s the scientifically-sound bottom line.