A comprehensive examination of research by a panel of independent experts finds insufficient evidence to draw a link between serious adverse health consequences and commonly used ’silver’ fillings
For many of us, having a dental cavity filled can be a frightening experience. Others take such dental repair in stride. Regardless of how you approach a trip to the dentist, you can take comfort in a new report, which concludes that the peer-reviewed scientific and medical literature published since 1996 reveals little evidence of a link between dental mercury and health problems, except in rare instances of allergic reactions.
The new report entitled Review and Analysis of the Literature on the Potential Adverse Health Effects of Dental Amalgam, is the latest to be published by the Life Sciences Research Office (LSRO), WWW.LSRO.ORG/. For nearly half a century, LSRO has been retained to provide independent expert scientific opinions and evaluations for the health, biosciences and food industries, as well as the federal government.
To insure a fresh and unbiased approach, experts were selected from outside the dental research community. LSRO selected a panel of internationally recognized experts in the fields of immunotoxicology, immunology and allergy; neurobehavioral toxicology and neurodevelopment; pediatrics; developmental and reproductive toxicology; toxicokinetics and modeling; epidemiology; pathology; and general toxicology.
Some 950 scientific and medical studies were considered. Approximately 300 of the studies met criteria for scientific merit and study design and were used to construct the final report. In addition to the literature gathered by LSRO and the Expert Panel, recommendations submitted by the public in response to a Federal Register Request for Information on Dental Amalgam were considered, as were oral and written public comments submitted by parties interested in the issue.
Studies of mercury vapor or dental amalgam exposure in humans provided the primary basis of the review. Criteria commonly used to assess biologic plausibility were used to guide the experts’ discussions of whether the evidence supported a causal relationship between dental amalgam exposure and adverse human health effects. Evidence regarding adverse human outcomes was evaluated from several perspectives, to include: epidemiological studies, secular trend data, animal toxicity studies, dose-response relationships, and the plausibility of biological mechanisms.
Highlights from LSRO’s findings include the following:
The report concludes that there is little evidence to support a causal relationship between mercury fillings and human health problems. The authors noted, however, that many research gaps existed, which, if addressed, may settle the dental amalgam controversy once and for all.
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