Setting the Record Straight on Dental Amalgams

We at the American Dental Association (ADA) must dispute many of the health claims made by Mark Hyman regarding mercury and dental amalgams.
04/26/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

The American Dental Association (ADA) disputes many of the health claims made in Mark Hyman's February 20th post, "Mercury: How to Get This Lethal Poison Out of Your Body."

The author's characterization of dental amalgam is factually inaccurate. Dental amalgam, made by combining elemental mercury with other metals such as silver, copper and tin, has been used effectively by dentists to fill cavities for more than a century. Dental amalgam is the most thoroughly researched and tested restorative material among all those in use.

After reviewing hundreds of scientific studies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in July 2009 decided not to place any restriction on the use of dental amalgam and categorized dental amalgam as a class II medical device. This designation places dental amalgam in the same class as gold and tooth-colored composite dental fillings. In addition, the FDA noted that clinical studies have not established a causal link between dental amalgam and adverse health effects in adults and children age six and older.

Many other U.S. and international scientific and health bodies such as the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have stated that based on peer-reviewed scientific evidence, dental amalgam is a safe, durable and effective cavity-filling material. In its 2009 review of the scientific literature on amalgam safety, the ADA's Council on Scientific Affairs reaffirmed that the scientific evidence continues to support amalgam as a valuable, viable and safe choice for dental patients. In addition, because dental amalgam sets quickly, it can be the best filling material for some children and people with special needs to limit their treatment time, thereby avoiding the need for anesthesia.

The author skews the conclusions of published scientific research in order to make his headline appear credible, but the fact is the story is grossly inaccurate. The ADA is a science-based organization. The facts culled from years of scientific research, coupled with the FDA's recent decision, underscore what the ADA has long supported -- dental amalgam is a safe and effective dental filling material.

The ADA encourages patients to talk to their dentists about the treatment options so they can make educated decisions regarding their dental care.