Advisory committee urges FDA to investigate mercury fillings

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An advisory committee from the US Food and Drug Administration has urged the agency to take a closer look at information relating to the safety of mercury fillings.

The panel hosted a two day hearing in Maryland, where dental patients, dentists and researchers were able to present their stories and discuss recent developments in research into mercury amalgam fillings. After hearing the evidence and information presented by speakers at the event, the FDA panel has advised the agency to look at recent research projects and case studies, which have come to light since the FDA ruled that mercury fillings were safe in 2009.

Despite the decision, the committee noted that the 2009 ruling was appropriate according to the information available at that time; members also suggested that further research into the safety of mercury fillings was essential and encourage more studies on the impact of fillings on children.

The Maryland event was hosted after new concerns were raised over the safety of mercury fillings; many people spoke out in the press and contacted the FDA with stories that suggested that they had suffered health problems as a result of mercury amalgam fillings. Some patients were given the opportunity to speak at the event and shared their experiences with the panel.

The panel’s chairwoman, Dr Marjorie Jeffcoat, a dentist and researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, said that more research needed to be conducted in order to make a well-informed final decision on the future of amalgam fillings.

Opinion is divided on the subject of amalgam fillings; many dentists support the use of amalgam fillings because they are durable and cheaper than other types of filling. Concerns have been raised over the safety of using amalgam fillings in young children and as a result, most dentists do not use mercury fillings on children under the age of six.

Some experts believe that mercury amalgam fillings have a detrimental effect on health and many patients speaking at the event claim that their health has suffered as a direct result of having mercury amalgam fillings.

The committee’s recommendations will now be sent to the FDA board for consideration.

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