Dental groups sued over use of amalgam fillings

February 22, 2002|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

A class action lawsuit filed yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court alleges that the American Dental Association and the Maryland State Dental Association are "engaging in fraud" by not telling consumers that amalgam fillings contain about 50 percent mercury.

The suit, similar to two filed last year in California, accuses the groups of deceiving Marylanders, and says mercury poses "substantial health risks" to certain users.

The ADA says amalgam fillings are safe and have restored the teeth of more than 100 million Americans in the past 150 years.

The Food and Drug Administration reported this month that "no valid scientific evidence has ever shown that amalgams cause harm to patients with dental restorations."

The agency also reported that some manufacturers advised against using amalgams in young children and pregnant or nursing women.

"The lawsuit is clearly without merit," said Peter M. Sfikas, chief counsel for the ADA.

The lawsuit, brought by a Baltimore County woman, seeks reimbursement for any Marylanders who want their amalgam fillings removed, which could total hundreds of millions of dollars.

It also asks for $1,115 reimbursement for six fillings removed from Lisa Hogan's mouth.

Hogan, who lives in Rosedale, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The suit alleges that the fillings placed in her mouth between 1977 and 1987 in Hershey, Pa., caused tingling and numbness in her fingers, a metallic taste, depression and a hormone imbalance, among other symptoms. The symptoms stopped in 2000 after she had the fillings removed, the suit says.

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