FDA puts new restrictions on mercury fillings

August 3, 2009 1:34:52 PM PDT
The issue of mercury in dental fillings has been a controversial topic in recent years, especially in Philadelphia.

This afternoon, the Food & Drug Administration ordered new restrictions on their use.

But the FDA won't all-out ban mercury, as opponents had hoped.

Dental amalgam fillings are made of elemental mercury and a powder alloy.

They have been widely used for decades, but are less popular now, due to the controversy and the emergence of materials which look more like the natural teeth.

The agency did reclassify the mercury in dental amalgam from low risk to moderate risk.

And it did recommend that the risks of inhaling mercury released by the fillings should be clearly spelled out on any packaging.

It also ordered better safety measures, such as adequate ventilation, for dental workers handling them.

However, FDA officials say the levels released by the fillings aren't high enough to harm patients.

Earlier this year, Philadelphia City Council passed a measure requiring all dental patients be given a brochure explaining the risks of mercury. That regulation is due to go into effect later this year.

More HealthCheck related links: