U.S. Supports Ending Amalgam Cavity Fillings
In a watershed move toward global mercury-free dentistry, the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) recently reported that the U.S. government has announced that it supports a “phase down, with the goal of eventual phase out… of mercury amalgam.” That’s the silver-and-mercury-mixed material commonly used to fill cavities in teeth.
This represents a radical reversal of the government’s former position that, “Any change toward the use of dental amalgam is likely to result in positive public health outcomes.” The new stance will be submitted at the third round of negotiations for the world mercury treaty. The IAOMT sees this as “an extraordinary development that will change the global debate about amalgam.”
The IAOMT, a global network of 700 dental, medical and research professionals, is a longtime opponent of mercury amalgam because of possible health risks from mercury, a known toxin. It is considered especially risky for children and for pregnant women, whose fetuses can be affected. Possible side effects of the continuous release of toxic vapor from mercury fillings into the body include memory loss, tremors, personality changes and impaired immune systems.
Yet, the World Dental Federation and the American Dental Association continue to maintain that mercury amalgam fillings are safe. To date, mercury fillings have been banned in Norway and restricted in Finland, Sweden, Austria, Canada and Germany. With the U.S. government on board, says Charles G. Brown, president of the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, “The debate has shifted from whether to end amalgam to how to end amalgam.” Mercury-free dentistry supports the use of a tooth-colored, bonded composite material, made primarily of resin.