HEALTH AGENCY POSITIONS ON THE USE
OF MERCURY IN DENTISTRY
1. WHO Position on Mercury Amalgam Fillings as stated in October 2016
In 2005 the World Health Organization called for a “phasing out” of mercury amalgam fillings because they determined “there is no safe level of mercury in the body.” At the time they established that 240-300 tons of mercury was being used for dental fillings globally.
In 2009 a WHO expert consultant concluded that a “ban on amalgams would be problematic for public health and the dental health sector, but a phase down should be pursued by promoting effective alternatives; education of dental professionals and the raising of public awareness.”
The WHO Mercury Policy Report confirmed that mercury contained in dental amalgam is the greatest source of human exposure to mercury in non-industrial settings.
2. UN Position of Mercury Amalgam Fillings as stated in 2013 at the Minamata Convention
The 2013 Minamata Convention on Mercury was signed by 140 nations who shared the goal of protecting the population and the planet from the excessive and casual uses of mercury. The Convention covered mercury uses including, gold mining, product development, air emissions, water contamination and dentistry.
The United States, as a signer of the Minamata Convention has agreed to implement the decisions. The following is the excerpt from the Convention that covers dental amalgams and their mercury content:
Measures to be taken by a Party to phase down the use of dental amalgam shall take into account the Party’s domestic circumstances and relevant international guidance and shall include two or more of the measures from the following list:
- (i) Setting national objectives aiming at dental caries prevention and health promotion, thereby minimizing the need for dental restoration;
- (ii) Setting national objectives aiming at minimizing its use;
- (iii) Promoting the use of cost-effective and clinically effective mercury-free alternatives for dental restoration;
- (iv) Promoting research and development of quality mercury-free materials for dental restoration;
- (v) Encouraging representative professional organizations and dental schools to educate and train dental professionals and students on the use of mercury-free dental restoration alternatives and on promoting best management practices;
- (vi) Discouraging insurance policies and programmes that favour dental amalgam use over mercury-free dental restoration;
- (vii) Encouraging insurance policies and programmes that favour the use of quality alternatives to dental amalgam for dental restoration;
- (viii) Restricting the use of dental amalgam to its encapsulated form;
- (ix) Promoting the use of best environmental practices in dental facilities to reduce releases of mercury and mercury compounds to water and land.
3. FDA Position on Mercury Amalgam Fillings as stated in October 2016
The Food and Drug Administration believes in mercury amalgams because of their "durability and low cost." The potential risks stated include the fact that the mercury used “releases low levels of mercury in the form of a vapor that can be inhaled and absorbed by the lungs. High levels of mercury vapor exposure are associated with adverse effects in the brain and the kidneys.”
Still the FDA considers mercury fillings safe for adults and children of age 6 and above. They acknowledge that a fetus, the very young and possibly the breastfed may be more susceptible to the neurotoxin, but maintains there is no clinical evidence.
The FDA findings do not reflect the concerns or findings of the WHO or The United Nations.
4. CDC Position on Mercury Amalgam Fillings as stated on October 2016
The Center for Disease Control states that roughly 200 million restorative procedures were performed in 1990. They claim its use is declining due to a reduction in dental carries. They state that “minute amounts” of mercury vapor is emitted and agree that this can be inhaled, ingested or absorbed to cause “possible toxicity.” They claim there is “scant evidence that the health of the vast majority of people with amalgams is compromised, nor that removing amalgam fillings has a beneficial effect on health.” Next, they state the significant cost increase in US health care costs if changes were made.
The CDC cites also the limited scientific data when making these decisions, but does agree that both dentist and patients would benefit from education on the subject. In regard to amalgam filling materials, the CDC believes “the FDA should regulate elemental mercury” and that they should “require manufacturers to disclose the ingredients of these materials in product labeling.”
The CDC findings do not reflect the concerns or findings of the WHO or The United Nations.
5. ADA Position on Mercury Amalgam Fillings as stated on October 2016
The following is taken from the American Dental Association official site:
Amalgam Key Points
Dental amalgam is a safe, affordable and durable restorative material.
Dental amalgam has been studied and reviewed extensively.
Amalgam restorations have not been found to be associated with adverse health effects.
Patient concerns regarding longevity of the restoration and about cost may be a
consideration in making decisions about restoration material options.
The ADA findings do not reflect the concerns or findings of the WHO or The United Nations.