Syndicated News Service Focuses Negative Attention on Dental Amalgam

Dear State Dental Society Executive Directors and Communications Staff,

As you may already know, McClatchy News, a syndicator that provides content to approximately 29 media outlets nationwide, ran a lengthy story about dental amalgam. The reporter, Greg Gordon, claims that the U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS) “squelched” a 2011 FDA proposal to “curb” dentists’ use of amalgam.  Two companion pieces by the same reporter also were published: Six lives upended by mercury-filled teeth and Things to know about mercury fillings. Unfortunately, media outlets in several states have picked up at least one of the stories.

Please note that the FDA’s most recent action regarding dental amalgam came in January 2015. After issuing a ruling in 2009 supporting the safety and effectiveness of dental amalgam, the agency re-examined the scientific evidence in order to respond to several petitions on the issue and reaffirmed its position in January 2015. The ADA statement on the FDA’s action is posted on ADA.org.

The ADA is taking a number of steps to inform dental society leaders and members to minimize any anxiety the articles might cause the public. If you are unsure if one of the articles ran in a media outlet in your state, please contact the ADA Division of Communications at [email protected]

A letter to the editor from ADA President Dr. Maxine Feinberg is attached. If any of the aforementioned articles or a related, inaccurate story about dental amalgam appears in your local market, you may want to consider the following options:

  • Use the text of the letter to draft your own letter to the editor;
  • Ask your president co-sign the letter to the editor from Dr. Feinberg (Please contact ADA [email protected] before using the ADA letter, to avoid duplicate submissions.);
  • Use your social media channels to reinforce amalgam safety and efficacy, and that patients should make choices about restorative materials in consultation with their dentists. Sample posts/tweets are attached.

If your local media have not run these or similar stories, and if you do not see social media conversations on the topic of dental amalgam, you may wish to take no action at this time.

Additional communications resources are available online in the ADA’s Dental Amalgam Toolkit.

Please contact ADA media relations at [email protected] or 800-621-8099, x2806 should you have any further questions.