The April 9 Packet story on dental amalgam was pretty much fact. The Federal Drug Administration, the American Dental Association, the World Health Organization and the European Commission have found dental amalgam to be a safe dental restorative.
Well-placed amalgam is less expensive, and under equal degrees of patient oral hygiene, lasts longer and can be more resistant to future recurrent decay. The etchant, primer, adhesive and chemical makeup of the composite material are potentially more dangerous to the patient's health and the environment than amalgam.
When amalgams really need replacing, all honest options and facts should be presented. Dentists who use scare tactics to influence patients to replace amalgam fillings, especially those in good condition, are, in my experience and opinion, being dishonest. I've seen much of it in my 35 years as a general dentist.
There might be more danger to the patient from mercury vapor by unnecessarily removing amalgam fillings, but that is minimized today because of the modern chair-side dental evacuation systems. Once an amalgam filling hardens any mercury exposure is virtually nonexistent. I had an amalgam filling placed in my mouth three weeks ago.
As for the environment, a large percentage of dentists using amalgam have filtration systems to minimize dangers. If you want to save people and the environment from the overhyped dangers of mercury, then ban the processing and consumption of tuna by humans and their pets. It makes about as much sense.
Gary E. Stough
Hilton Head Island