From a historical perspective, amalgam fillings were first developed in England and France in 1820 and were introduced in the US about 10 years later. This revolutionary restorative material was comprised of several materials including copper, mercury, silver, tin, and zinc. Despite their success in Europe, amalgam fillings did not receive a rousing reception here in the states because of the mercury they contained. In fact, the use of mercury in amalgam fillings was banned in 1840.
After almost two centuries after their development, the controversy and dissension over the use of amalgam fillings rages on. Ironically, the issue with amalgam fillings is not whether or not mercury is a toxic material. The issue is a question of whether or not the amount of the mercury in amalgam fillings is what’s toxic to humans and the way this material contributes to a patient’s illness. Another school of thought contends that amalgam fillings should be re-classified as Class III devices* by the FDA.
The current belief held by the ADA (American Dental Association) and many of today’s dentists is that, except in rare cases, the amount of mercury that an amalgam filling leaks over an individual’s lifespan does not pose a significant threat to their health. The two schools of thought are broken down into the Safe point of view and the Unsafe point of view as follows:
Safe point of view – in 1998, the report entitled “The ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs stated that based on the available scientific research information, “amalgam continues to be a safe and effective” material for restorative procedures. The report goes on to state that there is no apparent justification for the discontinuation of using amalgam fillings. Along with the ADA, the following organizations agree that amalgam fillings are still the most cost-effective, practical, and quickest restorative procedure:
- Consumers Union (Consumers Report publisher)
- Food and Drug Administration
- National Institute of Dental Research
- National Multiple Sclerosis Society
- United States Public Health Service
Additionally, there are numerous healthcare practitioners believe that specific protocols should be put in place to remove it from patient’s teeth so that those individuals are able to eliminate any mercury that has been stored in their body cells and tissue. Suggested protocols include biocompatibility testing of a person’s blood, hair, and urine as well as body chemistry analysis. Other suggested methods included intravenous chelation therapy, lifestyle and nutritional counseling, and using mineral and vitamin supplements.
*(Taken from US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “Protecting and Promoting Your Health”: “Class III devices are generally the highest risk devices and are therefore subject to the highest level of regulatory control. Class III devices must typically be approved by FDA before they are marketed. For example, replacement heart valves are classified as Class III devices.”