By Susan Heavey
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. health regulators are seeking a second opinion on whether mercury-containing dental fillings pose a risk to dental patients, especially children and pregnant women.
Food and Drug Administration officials said that while there are no new scientific findings on such silver-colored cavity fillings, it wants feedback on methods it used to weigh available data and decide last year that the metal alloy is safe.
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In documents released on Friday ahead of a public meeting on the issue, the agency said it would ask its panel of outside experts to assess how much mercury dental patients are exposed to and how much exposure is acceptable.
The FDA in July 2009 declared the fillings, known as dental amalgam, posed no risk. A year earlier, it had cautioned against their use in certain more vulnerable people such as pregnant women and children, noting mercury’s risks.
The agency is revisiting the issue after four groups questioned its assessment and petitioned for a second look. On Tuesday and Wednesday next week,the panel of outside experts will consider available data as well as the agency’s interpretation before offering recommendations.