This is Late-Breaking News

By Kristin Bjornsen

It’s taken far too long, but the FDA has finally decided that amalgam fillings may be dangerous to our health—something that an increasing number of dentists have long suspected. In June the FDA cautioned that these fillings may pose a risk for young children, developing fetuses, pregnant women, and people particularly sensitive to mercury. “When you chew on food, drink hot beverages, and brush your teeth, mercury vapor escapes from the filling and you inhale and swallow it,” says John Neustadt, ND, director of Montana Integrative Medicine.

Luckily, safe—and equally effective—alternatives to amalgam already exist, says Todd Kinney, DDS, an integrative dentist in Bozeman, Montana. Find a dentist who uses porcelain, gold, and composite resin (ask specifically for BPA-free composite). Since the off-gassing of mercury decreases over time, you may not need to remove fillings more than 10 years old. But if you do wish to replace them, “choose a good dentist who uses a dental dam and suction to prevent inhalation of mercury vapor during the replacement,” says Neustadt.