For years, some people have warned of a possible connection between multiple sclerosis (MS) and the amalgam fillings many of us have in our teeth. The concern has been that these fillings contain mercury, which can be toxic, especially if they are removed.
In large part, these concerns have been poo-pooed. I’ve been one of the naysayers, along with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, whose dental booklet says “there is no scientific evidence that heavy metal poisoning is responsible for either the onset or worsening of MS.” Importantly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had believed that “dental amalgam fillings [are] safe for adults and children ages 6 and above.”
“Had” is the key word.
The FDA now recommends cautions for some
The page containing that statement has been removed from the FDA’s website, and the agency has issued a news release recommending that people in certain groups consider not using amalgam to have their teeth filled. One of those groups is people with a preexisting neurological condition, like MS.
The FDA doesn’t say point-blank, “Don’t use amalgams,” but it comes pretty close:
“… [T]he FDA strongly encourages the use of non-amalgam restorations (fillings), such as composite resins and glass ionomer cements if your dentist thinks these materials are appropriate for your affected tooth’s structure and location, and if you have no history of allergic reaction or hypersensitivity to these materials.”
The FDA adds that if you’re in one of its high-risk groups, such as someone with a neurological disease, you should discuss treatment options with your dentist and analyze the benefits versus the risks of each. To help you, the agency has published an informational brochure.
But don’t rush out and ask your dentist to remove your amalgam fillings. The FDA does not recommend removing or replacing an amalgam filling if it’s in good condition, unless the removal is recommended by a healthcare professional. According to the agency, doing that might briefly expose you to mercury vapor released during the removal process.
The information in the FDA’s news release leaves me with a number of unanswered questions.
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