Julie Tam, NBCDFW.com
Federal regulators heard concerns from North Texans worried about toxic fillings during a town hall meeting Thursday in Irving.
Some dentists say silver amalgam fillings contain mercury and could be harmful to your health. Mercury has been shown to cause kidney and mental problems.
"It's just beyond my comprehension why the FDA is not outlawing these," said Virginia Pritchett, of Mineral Wells. "They wrecked my immune system. The government's always giving warnings on mercury poisoning in fish. If you can't eat it in fish, then what in the daylights is it doing belonging, why is it in your mouth? It doesn't make any sense."
FDA is taking advice on the fillings from an advisory panel.
"The question is whether or not dental amalgams should be banned altogether," said Dr. Jeff Shuren, director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health. "Now, the panel did not recommend that. They did point out that there may be certain populations who are more sensitive to dental amalgam, like young children and pregnant women."
Millions of Americans who have gotten dental amalgams have not reported any health problems, according to the FDA.
"Other than maybe allergic reactions, there's no evidence at all of any ill health effects," said American Dental Association spokesman Robert Raible. "It's not elemental mercury that just leaks into the body."
Fillings are big business. Seventy-eight percent of Americans have at least one cavity by the time they are 17.
Most people like the newer white, composite fillings that blend in with their teeth. But those fillings are more expensive and not fully covered by all insurance plans, so millions of Americans go with silver dental amalgams.
Other countries have outlawed amalgam fillings, but the United States is still debating it.
Pritchett said she hopes the FDA will seriously consider banning the fillings. She said she attended Thursday's town hall at the Irving Convention Center because she wanted the FDA to hear her experience.
"I wanted them to see me as a person," she said. "I wanted to be a face that got up and talked, instead of just a piece of paper."