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Claims over mercury in teeth denied

THE controversy over mercury levels in dental amalgam broke out again last night following new claims over its safety, writes Celia Hall.

The BBC Panorama television programme, 'Poison in the Mouth', claimed new evidence showed that the metal used to fill back teeth, which is 50 per cent mercury, lodges in the brain and kidneys and can cause nerve damage.

But the allegations were refuted by the British Dental Association and the Department of Health.

Richard Ibetson, head of conservative dentistry at Eastman Dental Hospital in London, said: 'There is no doubt that amalgam does release small amounts of mercury. What is in dispute is the levels at which that might become a problem. I have seen no research that supports the idea that it is unsafe to fill teeth with amalgam. Without . . . hesitation I would have amalgam fillings.'

A Department of Health spokesman said the new evidence from Germany did not alter the position of the Committee on Toxicity, which advises the Government.