Experts concerned that children of color and low-income children still receive unsafe mercury fillings

Experts continue to express concern that many children of color and low-income children are still receiving mercury fillings despite the risks.  In their Health Affairs article "Children of Color and Low-Income Kids Still Receive Unsafe Mercury-Based Dental Fillings", Dr. Rueben C. Warren, DDS, MPH, DrPH, MDiv of Tuskegee University and Dr. Mark Mitchell,MD, MPH, FACPM of George Mason University observe that

 

“The data on the extent of amalgam use in the US are sparse and out of date, but in our experience as dental and medical professionals, we’ve seen that Black, Latino, Native American, and low-income kids are much more likely to get mercury-based amalgam fillings than their more affluent non-Hispanic White counterparts.”

 

The authors explain the risks of this exposure to amalgam’s mercury:

 

“The risks are alarming. We know that mercury from amalgam is absorbed into the body, where it can be detected in blood and tissue samples. The more amalgam fillings a person has, the higher their blood levels of mercury. Mercury exposure is associated with irreversible cognitive and neurological impairment, as well as other long-term health impacts. Children, whose brains are still developing, are at greatest risk from exposure to neurotoxicants such as mercury.”

 

Children of color and low-income children are at particular risk:

 

“No matter the reason that dentists still use them, mercury-based fillings add to an already heavy burden of toxics for children of color from all income levels. Black children, who are more likely to live near toxic waste sites, coal-fired power plants, and other polluting facilities, already have higher levels of mercury in their bodies than non-Hispanic White kids. They don’t need more mercury from amalgam.”

 

To protect these children and everybody, Dr. Warren and Dr. Mitchell call for action:

 

“The ethical, practical solution to this problem is to ban amalgam use in the US, particularly in children and other at-risk groups…. It is time for the US Secretary of Health, Xavier Becerra, to halt the use of amalgam in dental care provided or subsidized for by the federal government.”

 

We here at Consumers for Dental Choice agree: It’s time to ban this mercury product.

 

You can check out Dr. Warren and Dr. Mitchell’s full article at https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/forefront.20220615.279516

 



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