News and Views

Back to search results

FDA safety recommendations about dental amalgam

Tuesday, July 19, 2022 | Posted in GEHA Connection Dental Network News

FDA safety recommendations about dental amalgam

Periodically, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, reviews the science about the safety of dental amalgam. In particular, the FDA checks whether the presence of mercury in dental amalgam can negatively affect health.
After its most recent review, the FDA does not advocate removing or replacing existing amalgam fillings unless medically necessary. In fact, removing amalgam fillings in good condition may result in an increased, temporary exposure of mercury vapor during the removal.
Here are some tips to minimize the risk of accidental mercury exposure:

  • Use encapsulated amalgam, not bulk elementary mercury
  • Don’t place amalgam so it touches other metallic oral devices
  • Don’t refer to amalgam as “silver filling” to patients, as this implies there is no mercury present
  • When disposing of amalgam, use separators to reduce the chance of mercury waste from being released
  • Minimize your and the patient’s exposure to mercury by following the American Dental Association’s best practices

The presence of mercury is especially dangerous to patients who are pregnant, are trying to get pregnant or nursing, children younger than six years old and people with neurological disease or impaired kidneys.
For these patients, use a non-mercury alternative, such as composite resins or glass ionomer cements. It is also helpful to remind all patients that the best way to help fillings last a long time is through good oral hygiene and regular checkups.
If patients have further questions, refer them to the FDA’s dental amalgam website. If you believe your office or a patient has a negative reaction from amalgam, you may report it to MedWatch using their voluntary reporting form.

“Recommendations About the Use of Dental Amalgam in Certain High-Risk Populations: FDA Safety Communication.”, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 24 September, 2020.