Dental amalgam is “durable, safe and effective,” the American Dental Association (ADA) said in a news release, responding to a statement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

On September 24, 2020, the FDA released updated recommendations related to dental amalgam, a restorative cavity-filling material that contains mercury. The FDA concluded that “the majority of evidence suggests exposure to mercury vapor from dental amalgam fillings doesn’t lead to harmful health effects for most people.”

The same day, the ADA responded in agreement. The Association reaffirmed the FDA’s point, saying that “the existing evidence shows that dental amalgam is not harmful to the general population.”

The FDA noted that certain groups, like children, pregnant women, people allergic to mercury and people with pre-existing neurological diseases, could be at a greater risk for potential negative health effects of exposure to the mercury vapor. But, the evidence for that point is scant and uncertainties remain, the Administration noted. As the FDA noted, “little to no information” is known about the effects of dental amalgam on these groups.

All patients should explore their options of restorative filling with a dentist. Different factors, such as patient history, cost and location and size of the cavity, help determine the best material for a filling. There are non-mercury alternatives to dental amalgam that better suit some patients. 

Both the ADA and the FDA emphasized that unless it is medically necessary, existing dental amalgam fillings in good condition should not be removed or replaced.

“Dentists have used dental amalgam for a long time, and we know that it’s durable, reliable and safe,” ADA president Dr. Chad Gehani said to¬†ADA News. “While dental amalgam is one effective restorative material, dental treatment is not one-size-fits-all. As dentists we are always working with our patients to help them make well-informed decisions based on their individual needs.”