Oral Health Topics
Dental amalgam serves as a safe, durable and affordable material in restorative dentistry. However, the fact that its formulation includes mercury has raised safety concerns in the minds of some. Small amounts of mercury vapor can be released from amalgam during placement, chewing and brushing.
The safety of dental amalgam has been studied and reviewed extensively, and no association has been found between amalgam restorations and any adverse health effects. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all support the safety of dental amalgam. In addition, a has concluded that "current scientific evidence does not preclude the use of amalgam or alternative materials in dental treatment."
Life Sciences Research Office (LSRO) Literature Review
In 2004, an expert panel reviewed the peer-reviewed, scientific literature published from 1996 to December 2003 on potential adverse human health effects caused by dental amalgam and published a report. The review was conducted by the Life Sciences Research Office (LSRO) and funded by the National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Devices and Radiological Health, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The resulting report states that, “The current data are insufficient to support an association between mercury release from dental amalgam and the various complaints that have been attributed to this restoration material. These complaints are broad and nonspecific compared to the well-defined set of effects that have been documented for occupational and accidental elemental mercury exposures. Individuals with dental amalgam-attributed complaints had neither elevated urinary mercury nor increased prevalence of hypersensitivity to dental amalgam or mercury when compared with controls.”
Based on the results of a comprehensive literature review on amalgam safety, the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs (CSA) reaffirmed that the scientific evidence supports the ADA’s position that amalgam is a valuable, viable and safe choice for dental patients.
FDA Literature Review (White Paper)
In 1997, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Public Health Service concluded from a review of nearly 60 peer-reviewed studies that the “data does not support claims that individuals with dental amalgam restorations will experience adverse effects, including neurologic, renal or developmental effects, except for rare allergic or hypersensitivity reactions.” Recently the FDA set out again to update its position on dental amalgam based upon the literature that has been published since the 1997 review. In 2009 they concluded “that there is insufficient evidence to support an association between exposure to mercury from dental amalgams and adverse health effects in humans, including sensitive subpopulations.”
The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA subscriber login required)
Prepared by: Center for Science Information, ADA Science Institute
Last updated: October 23, 2015