Biological dentists and hygienists ask A LOT of questions – usually far more than your typical dentist. We do it because integrating your concerns and challenges is crucial when it comes to serving your healthcare needs.
Whatever happens in or is done to the mouth can have effects throughout the body – and vice versa – so it’s always important to hear about any changes to your overall physical and mental well-being.
Not only does sharing your story allow for a more empathetic and fruitful patient/provider relationship; it also could be the first step to discovering if your health is being compromised by a dental burden, such as the hidden infection from cavitations or heavy metal toxicity from mercury amalgam fillings.
And when it comes to those fillings, your story could even become a catalyst for change, too.
Last month the Food & Drug Administration’s Immunology Devices Panel of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee met to hear expert testimony and recommend solutions for problems associated with metal-containing implants, including mercury fillings.
University of Maryland professor of medicine Dr. Melissa McDiarmid shared with the committee that “evidence is there” to indicate dental amalgam isn’t fully safe. Dr. Mark Dykewicz, professor of allergy and immunology at St. Louis University in Missouri, spoke about the lack of informed consent and lack of choice, particularly for underprivileged populations.
“I think it’s unconscionable that Medicaid children in some states are forced to get amalgam and may not be offered alternatives in an informed consent with their parents. Do we wait to see that there are neurocognitive problems before we take some action?”
The FDA advisory committee did ultimately propose that packaging should list the “elemental compositions” of each device – a/k/a which metals it contains – and that information be provided to patients about the risks of mercury amalgam, especially for vulnerable populations.
The most encouraging news, however, came in the summary statement from committee chair, Dr. Raj Rao, professor of orthopedic surgery at George Washington University:
The general direction should be to move away from using mercury-containing amalgams and towards nonmercury-containing products to deal with dental restorations.
That’s music to the ears of mercury-free, mercury-safe dental offices like ours – and should be music to the ears of patients everywhere. Yet when it comes to mercury in dental materials, as in our environment, the pace of action by the FDA can seem positively glacial.
What to do in the meantime? If you have an amalgam story, tell it.
As the FDA considers the committee’s recommendations, they’re also asking for consumer input on amalgam. They’ve already collected hundreds of comments on the adverse health impacts of mercury fillings, plus plenty of complaints about the lack of informed consent and lack of choice when it comes to dental materials, but they need more.
With every story the FDA sees, the argument against mercury amalgams grows. Ultimately, there will be no choice but to take action.
Comments don’t need to be long, and submitting them is simple and quick. The FDA is only taking them until December 16, 2019, though, so why not share your story right now?