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"The Doctor Oz Show" features sensationalistic segment on dental amalgam

"The Dr. Oz Show" aired a segment March 28 which may alarm dental patients about the safety of dental amalgam, the ADA said today in an Issues Alert emailed to its members.

The nationally syndicated daytime health talk show is hosted by cardiothoracic surgeon Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Although the show's producer contacted the ADA for information beforehand, repeated offers by the Association to arrange an interview with an ADA spokesperson dentist were declined, the ADA said.

The producer would only accept written statements from the ADA, which were provided. These statements are posted on the Doctor Oz show website. The ADA has also issued a press statement about the show.

In the Issues Alert, the Association offers a link to the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs statement on the safety of dental amalgam and provides a summary of key points that dentists can share with patients:

• Silver-colored fillings, also called dental amalgam, are safe, durable, and affordable and have been used for generations.

• Amalgam is one of several materials I use. There are also tooth-colored materials and gold.

• The decision about what material to use is based on a variety of factors such as size and location of a cavity, insurance coverage, and any cosmetic concerns you might have. There's really no "one size fits all" approach.

• [IF APPLICABLE] I've used amalgam for years and have amalgam fillings in my own mouth.

• Major health and scientific bodies around the world agree that based on extensive scientific evidence, amalgam is safe and effective for dental patients.

• Always feel free to talk with me about your dental treatment options. As your doctor, I want to answer any questions you may have so you can make informed decisions about your dental care.

• The best dental filling is no dental filling, so be sure to brush, floss and eat a balanced diet to help prevent cavities in the first place.

• The American Dental Association's website at www.MouthHealthy.org has a lot of information on dental materials and how to take care of your oral health.

The Association also offered information about the demonstration on the Dr. Oz show measuring the release of vapor from brushing teeth in a synthetic mouth model with amalgam fillings, saying "That demonstration is misleading and doesn't take real world conditions into account. For example, the mouth model on the show is in a closed, dry environment, yet people have saliva in their mouths which reduces vapor activity. Credible scientific studies show that the amount of vapor released from amalgam fillings is so small it's in the billionths of a single ounce. A noted researcher calculated that it would take nearly 300 amalgam fillings in real life for even the most sensitive person to exhibit symptoms."

Lastly, patients may ask whether dental amalgam raises their risk of certain health conditions, the Association said in its email alert, suggesting dentists may wish to share the following:

Not a single credible scientific study supports such a position. In fact, a number of organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the Alzheimer's Association have made statements about amalgam based on scientific evidence which you can access online.