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FDA Issues Recommendations for Certain High-Risk Groups Regarding Mercury-Containing Dental Amalgam

On September 24, 2020, the FDA issued updated recommendations concerning dental amalgam and potential risks to certain high-risk individuals that may be associated with these mercury-containing fillings used to restore the missing structure and surfaces of a decayed tooth.

The FDA has found that certain groups may be at greater risk for potential harmful health effects of mercury vapor released from the device. As a result, the agency is recommending certain high-risk groups avoid getting dental amalgam whenever possible and appropriate.

These groups that may be at a greater risk for potential harmful health effects include:

  • Pregnant women and their developing fetuses;
  • Women who are planning to become pregnant;
  • Nursing women and their newborns and infants;
  • Children, especially those younger than six years of age;
  • People with pre-existing neurological disease such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease
  • People with impaired kidney function; and
  • People with known heightened sensitivity (allergy) to mercury or other components of dental amalgam.

Dental amalgam is a mixture of mercury and a powdered alloy made up of silver, tin and copper. The amalgam releases small amounts of mercury vapor over time. While low-levels of inhaled mercury vapor are generally not harmful to most people, these high-risk individuals may be at increased risk of adverse health outcomes.

These uncertainties in the most vulnerable patients are why the FDA is recommending people who may be at high risk for adverse health effects of mercury exposure use non-mercury alternatives to dental amalgam, such as composite resins and glass ionomer cement fillings.