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FDA Panel Calls for Safety Review of Mercury in Dental Fillings
Date:12/16/2010

ng labeling changes: a warning against the use of these fillings in patients with mercury allergy; a warning that dental professionals use adequate ventilation when handling the material for the fillings; and a statement discussing the scientific evidence on the benefits and risks of dental amalgam.

"We're not contraindicating dental amalgam in any patient group [other than those who have allergies]," Runner said at the news conference.

The 2009 ruling brought an angry reaction from the consumer organization Consumers for Dental Choice.

"I'm outraged. FDA broke its word," Charles Brown, the group's national counsel, said at the time of the 2009 vote. "They put a warning a year ago on the Web site and promised to keep those warnings on the Web site that warned of neurological damage to children and unborn children. Bowing to the dental products industry, FDA has, for the first time in memory, withdrawn a warning about neurological harm to children and the unborn. It's a contemptuous attitude toward lower income and minority children because they're the ones that get amalgam. The rich get resin."

The agency decision followed a lengthy debate on the supposed dangers of these fillings, which included a lawsuit filed in 2006 against the FDA by several consumer groups, including Moms Against Mercury and Consumers for Dental Choice.

As part of that settlement, the FDA agreed to classify mercury fillings, also known as dental amalgam, by July 28, 2009, and posted a notice on its Web site that said: "Dental amalgams contain mercury, which may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of developing children and fetuses."

Dental amalgam contains elemental mercury combined with other metals such as silver, copper, tin and zinc. The fillings, about 50 percent mercury, have been used for generations to stabilize decaying teeth. Dental experts contend that when mercury is bound to the other metals, it's "encapsulated" and doesn't pose a
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