Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Truth about Dentist Mercury Fillings Amalgam and The Alternative Solution - Dr. Mercola

Dr. Mercola Interviews Charlie Brown
Natural health physician and founder Dr. Joseph Mercola interviews Charlie Brown about informing the public about mercury in dentistry.

Dr. Mercola Interviews Dr. David Simone
Internationally renowned natural health physician and founder Dr. Joseph Mercola interviews Dr. David Simone regarding mercury used in dentistry.
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Why this Should Be Banned: Huge Contaminant in Water, Air and Soil... 
Posted By: Dr. Mercola September 08 2011

By Consumers for Dental Choice
Dental amalgams have been in use since the American Civil War. They are an anachronism that have been perpetuated by dental industry patents, and there's a conspiracy of silence that seeks to keep the 75 percent of Americans who are ignorant about the fact that amalgam fillings are actually 50 percent mercury.

Fortunately, in the last 10 years nearly half of dentists have recognized this and have stopped using them in their practice. However, 50 percent of all US dentists still use them, and that currently accounts for between 240-300 tons of mercury entering the market every year. In the United States, dental offices are the second largest user of mercury – and this mercury eventually ends up in our environment by one pathway or another.

Dental Mercury—A Major Source of Environmental Pollution
Mercury from dental amalgam pollutes:
  • Water via not only dental clinic releases and human waste (amalgam is by far the largest source of mercury in our wastewater)
  • Air via cremation, dental clinic emissions, sludge incineration, and respiration; and
  • Soil via landfills, burials, and fertilizer

Once in the environment, dental mercury converts to its even more toxic form, methylmercury, and becomes a major source of mercury in the fish you eat. The cost of cleaning up this environmental hazard is high. According to studies, amalgam is "more expensive than most, possibly all, other fillings when including environmental costs."

But the cost of not cleaning up dental mercury from our environment is even higher. The environmental health effects of amalgam are well known, and have recently been reiterated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency: brain damage and neurological problems, especially for children and the unborn babies of pregnant women.

With dental mercury uncontrollably entering the environment from multiple pathways, phasing out amalgam and transitioning to non-mercury alternatives is the only way to reduce – and eventually eliminate – this significant source of mercury that threatens our environment and ultimately our health.

Consumers for Dental Choice Takes on Dental Mercury Pollution
In 2009, the US nations, under the auspices of the United Nations Environmental Programme, announced negotiations for a treaty to address all man-made sources of mercury pollution including amalgam. And Consumers for Dental Choice – the leading organization devoted to stopping the use of dental mercury – was ready to take action.

With the first of five treaty negotiation sessions fast approaching in February 2010, Consumers for Dental Choice's executive director, Charlie Brown, knew it was time to organize the mercury-free dentistry advocates from around the globe into a strong voice for patients, dental workers, and the environment. With just 100 days until the negotiations were set to start in Stockholm, Charlie Brown started contacting mercury-free dentistry activists from around the world, proposing that they all work together to make sure that the nations addressed amalgam at the mercury treaty negotiations.

The response was enthusiastic, and intense, as the international work began immediately. In no time at all, Consumers for Dental Choice and its new allies decided to form the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, a coalition dedicated to stopping dental mercury pollution. Charlie Brown was elected president.

The opposition was formidable. The pro-mercury World Dental Federation (FDI) – backed by funding from amalgam manufacturers and distributors and even candy-makers – had already gone so far as to move its entire headquarters to Geneva, home of both the World Health Organization and pertinent United Nations Environmental Programme offices, in order to lobby full-time for an exemption for amalgam in the mercury treaty. Clearly, Consumers for Dental Choice (CfDC) and its new-found allies had their work at the treaty negotiations cut out for them.

CfDC Puts Amalgam on the Table at Mercury Treaty Negotiations
At the first of five negotiating sessions for the mercury treaty, held in Stockholm in June 2010, Consumers for Dental Choice and its multinational team were there in force – running an information booth, distributing scientific literature, giving presentations, networking with like-minded organizations, educating delegates, and convincing the world that it must find a solution to the dental mercury problem.

"I can't say enough about our team," says Charlie Brown.

"We joined forces with the outstanding leaders of our movement in other major countries, such as Servando Pérez-Dominguez of Spain, Marie Grosman of France, and Angela Kilmartin of Great Britain; with Elisabet Carlsson, the advocate whose work led to a ban on amalgam in Sweden; with dentists such as Dr. Graeme Munro-Hall of Great Britain, Dr. Raimondo Pische of Italy, and Dr. Christer Malmström of Sweden who came armed with the science supporting our position; and with the multi-lingual talents of Anita Vazquez Tibau of California and Kathy Huddlestone of France."

The World Dental Federation – which is like the pro-mercury American Dental Association on steroids – was caught unaware. The amalgam issue had moved from the back-burner to the front and center: dental mercury had emerged as a major issue for the nations to address in the treaty.

In October 2010 came the first fruits of the collective labor of Consumers for Dental Choice and its allies from around the world. The staff of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) presented its first draft for a treaty – and listed amalgam as one of the top five mercury products to be phased out. As UNEP explained,

"The product types listed in this draft annex collectively account for about 80 per cent of the mercury consumption for all mercury-added products. Thus, they would be the most important products to address under the mercury instrument."

Consumers for Dental Choice was determined to keep amalgam on that list. And so it did. At the second negotiations session held in Chiba, Japan in January, Consumers for Dental Choice's Charlie Brown again assembled an outstanding – and diverse – team consisting of leaders from five continents plus three mercury-free dentists: Dominique Bally of Cote d'Ivoire, Dr. Lillian Lasaten-Ebuen of the Philippines, Dr. Naji Kodeih of Lebanon, Dr. Graeme Munro-Hall of Great Britain, Juliet Pratt of New Zealand, Dr. Dave Simone of the United States, and Anita Vazquez Tibau of the United States.

Together, they asked the nations to support five common-sense steps to phase-down – and ultimately phase-out – amalgam use:
  1. Educate patients and parents about amalgam's mercury content, the neurological risks, and the environmental consequences;
  2. Reform insurance policies and government-funded medical programs in order to give priority to mercury-free alternatives;
  3. Protect children and fetuses, two subpopulations almost universally recognized as more susceptible to the neurotoxic effects of mercury vapor, from amalgam exposure;
  4. Educate dentists about dental mercury pollution and the benefits of alternatives; and
  5. Promote the use of atraumatic restorative treatment (ART) – a low-cost, mercury-free technique that is particularly well-suited for rural areas of developing countries.

Instead of responding to Consumers for Dental Choice's proposed strategies, the World Dental Federation (FDI) stonewalled – they blamed parents for children's cavities and all but lobbied for funding for their Global Caries Initiative to prevent cavities (a program that FDI representatives privately acknowledged would in fact increase access to mercury fillings and result in more mercury entering the environment!).

Charlie Brown pointed out that if FDI wanted to reduce cavities, it could stop accepting money from one of its leading corporate partners: the Mars/Wrigley candy colossus (who surely would not be paying FDI money if it believed FDI was serious about impeding children's access to sugar).

In Chiba no specific decisions were made about any product, so amalgam and all other decisions were tabled until the third negotiating session to be held in Nairobi in late October 2011. In latest draft of the treaty following this second negotiating session, amalgam remains on the list of mercury products to be phased out (although what form this list will take is still being debated). Terms that would require amalgam separators and encapsulated amalgam (as opposed to bulk bottled amalgam) also made it into this second draft.

But everything is still in up in the air until the third negotiating session in Nairobi, where the nations' delegates will hammer out treaty terms, starting from this latest draft of the treaty.

The U.S. Government Supports the "Phase Out" of Amalgam
As an organization based in the United States, Consumers for Dental Choice worked to educate its own government about dental mercury pollution and the many mercury-free alternatives to amalgam. Last March, Consumers for Dental Choice's diligence paid off: the U.S. government, in its official submission to UNEP, called for both the "eventual phase out" of amalgam and prompt "phase down" steps, including many of our recommendations, such as:
  • "Educating patients and parents"
  • "Protecting children and fetuses," and
  • "Training of dental professionals on the environmental impacts of mercury in dental amalgams"

From a government whose device regulator (FDA) had previously refused to educate the public about amalgam's mercury content or take any steps to protect vulnerable populations, it was a welcome – even spectacular – development for the cause of mercury-free dentistry! Now other governments from around the world are joining the push for mercury-free dentistry: The Arab League, the African region, the Council of Europe, and numerous developing nations are now calling for the phase-out of amalgam.

This Procedure Ruins Your Body's Ability to Detoxify Itself
Posted By: Dr. Mercola September 07 2011

By Dr. Mercola
With Consumers for Dental ChoiceDr. Dave Simone works with Consumers for Dental Choice to fight amalgam because he fully appreciates how deviating amalgam fillings can be to your health. Dental amalgam emits mercury vapor even after it is placed in your mouth. This mercury is bioaccumulative and endangers your health in many ways, which we'll review below.

I urge you to watch the interview I did with Dr. Simone in its entirety, or at least read through the transcript, as he covers far more than what this summary contains. For example, he explains how mercury actually inhibits its own elimination mechanism:

"[Y]ou make glutathione in the mitochondria of your cells. It's one of your 20 amino acids. Glutathione is your heavy metal detox amino acid. It grabs on to mercury, finds its way to your large intestine… you excrete mercury that way… [But] mercury inhibits the manufacturing of glutathione, so mercury stops its own elimination mechanism. [Hence] it bioaccumulates in your body. It also affects the Krebs cycle. So you're not producing ATP, your energy source."

Amalgam Endangers Your Neurological Health
The mercury in amalgam is a neurotoxin – and pro-mercury dentists are placing it an inch from your brain!

Vulnerable populations – such as children, especially unborn ones, hypersensitive individuals, and people with kidney impairments – are known to be particularly susceptible to the neurotoxic effects of dental mercury.

That is why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's advisory panel on dental amalgam in December 2010 warned against the use of amalgam in vulnerable populations and insisted that FDA had a duty to disclose amalgam's risks to parents and consumers. As panelist Dr. Suresh Kotagal – a pediatric neurologist at the Mayo Clinic – summed it up, there is "no place for mercury in children." The FDA panelists are not alone. Other countries are already working to protect vulnerable populations, especially children, from exposure to amalgam.

For example:
  • The 47 nations of the Council of Europe just passed a resolution calling on the nations to start "restricting or prohibiting the use of amalgams as dental fillings,"1 explaining that "amalgams are the prime source of exposure to mercury for developed countries, also affecting embryos, fetuses (through the placenta) and children (through breastfeeding).
  • Exposure to mercury can seriously affect the health of both patients and dental professionals, and early exposure to low doses of mercury (during pregnancy and through breastfeeding) increases the risk of a decrease in the intelligence quotient (IQ) among children.… According to the World Health Organization in 2005, certain studies show that mercury may have no threshold below which some adverse effects do not occur."2
  • Australia's National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) says amalgam should be avoided in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and people with kidney disease.3 As the government of the state of Queensland explains.
"Amalgam is now generally avoided for filling children's teeth. Growing children tend to be more sensitive to the effects of exposure to any chemical substance in their environment… High level exposure to mercury (which is present in silver fillings) may affect the kidneys. Therefore, the NHMRC, suggest people with kidney disease may be more concerned than others to minimize exposure to mercury."4
  • Health Canada directed its dentists to stop using amalgam in children, pregnant women, and people with impaired kidney function – way back in 1996.5

Amalgam Endangers Your Reproductive Health
It is known that the mercury from amalgam can cause reproductive harm – dental mercury even crosses the placenta and accumulates in unborn babies. Due to mercury exposure from amalgam in the workplace, dental workers – including dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants – are at particular risk for suffering reproductive harm. Studies have shown that dental workers have elevated systemic mercury levels.6 Many of these dental workers are women of child-bearing age, which makes them particularly susceptible to the occupational hazards associated with handling mercury.

Few dental workers employed by pro-mercury dentists are given protective garb or air masks to minimize their exposure to mercury. Many dental workers are not even aware of the risks of occupational mercury exposure. As a result, dental workers have reported serious health problems – especially reproductive failures and birth defects caused by amalgam in the workplace.7 Interestingly, both the American Dental Association and the amalgam sellers have admitted that amalgam endangers dental workers, and attempted to profit from it.

  • In a brochure on occupational health in dental offices, the American Dental Association (ADA) explains that:
"Exposure to mercury is a potential hazard for anyone in the dental profession who handles mercury or mercury-containing compounds….Office spaces may be contaminated with mercury from leaky amalgam capsules and from the lingering effects of spillage. High speed handpieces and ultrasonic compactors that vaporize mercury can lead to unsuspected inhalation." The brochure goes on to list the symptoms of dental mercury exposure, including "[g]rowing irritability, mood swings, and appetite loss…insomnia…tremors or numbness in the fingers…" But "[w]aiting for these symptoms to appear is far too late."

According to the ADA brochure, the solution is for dentists to buy an annual subscription to the ADA Mercury Testing Service for $75.00 per employee.
  • An advertisement from Henry Schein Inc., the leading amalgam seller, explains that amalgam's "toxic vapor is quickly absorbed and accumulated within your body's system, giving proven, long-term harmful side effects." The flyer urges dentists to "protect yourself now from the harmful effects of mercury vapor" by purchasing new amalgam storage containers for $60.99 or $26.49.

Of course, the most effective – albeit perhaps less profitable – solution is to prevent dental workers from being exposed to this unnecessary source of mercury in the first place.

Amalgam Endangers Environmental Health
Even if you do not have amalgam in your mouth, your health is still at risk from amalgam. Amalgam leaches into the environment via multiple pathways, polluting our water via dental clinic releases and human waste; our air via cremation, dental clinic emissions, sludge incineration, and respiration; and our land via landfills, burials, and fertilizer. Once in the environment, dental mercury converts to its even more toxic form, methylmercury, and becomes a major source of mercury in the fish people and other animals eat.

The environmental health effects of amalgam are well known, and have recently been reiterated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency: brain damage and neurological problems, especially for children and the unborn babies of pregnant women.

Amalgam Endangers Your Oral Health
In addition to all the neurological, reproductive, and environmental harm caused by amalgam, it turns out that amalgam even endangers oral health. It is well known that placing amalgam requires the removal of a significant amount of healthy tooth matter. This removal, in turn, weakens overall tooth structure, which increases the need for future dental work.8 On top of that, amalgam fillings, which expand and contract over time, can crack teeth and create the need for still more dental work.9

Superior modern alternatives preserve healthy tooth structure and actually strengthen teeth, leading to better oral health and less extensive dental work over the long-term.10

"These tooth-friendly features of resin-based composites make them preferable to amalgam, which has provided an invaluable service but which, we believe, now should be considered outdated for use in operative dentistry," concluded a recent study of composite use.11

Additionally, the mercury in amalgams can interact with other metals in your mouth, such as gold fillings and crowns, causing an increased rate of reduction and oxidation that results in overall higher levels of toxicity. The other challenge is the electric current generated by having two dissimilar metals in your mouth, which essentially creates a battery that has more current than the circuits in your brain. This current has actually been given a name and is called biogalvanism.

The Alternatives to Amalgam
Far from being an essential dental product with no viable alternatives, amalgam is interchangeable with many other filling materials – including resin composites and glass ionomers – which have rendered amalgam completely unnecessary for any clinical situation. In fact, the mercury-free alternatives are so advanced that entire nations, such as the Scandinavian countries, have stopped the use of amalgam.12 Already, about half of U.S. dentists are mercury-free and 77 percent of consumers who are told that amalgam contains mercury choose mercury-free alternatives.13

One of the most popular alternatives to amalgam is resin composite. Resin composite is made of a type of plastic reinforced with powdered glass. It is already common throughout the U.S. and the rest of the developed world, offering notable improvements over amalgam, as it:
  • Is environmentally-safe: Composite, which contains no mercury, does not pollute the environment. This saves taxpayers from paying the costs of cleaning up dental mercury pollution in our water, air, and land – and the costs of health problems associated with mercury pollution.
  • Preserves healthy tooth structure, because, unlike amalgam, it does not require the removal of significant amounts of healthy tooth matter. Over the long term, composite preserves healthy tooth structure and actually strengthens teeth, leading to better oral health and less extensive dental work over the long-term.
  • Is long-lasting: While some claim that amalgam fillings last longer than composite fillings, the science reveals this claim to be baseless. The latest studies show that composite not only lasts as long as amalgam, but actually has a higher overall survival rate.14

A lesser known alternative is increasingly making mercury-free dentistry possible even in the rural areas of developing countries. Atraumatic restorative treatment (also called alternative restorative treatment or ART) is a mercury-free restorative technique that has been demonstrated a success in a diverse array of countries around the world, including Tanzania, India, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Turkey, South Africa, Thailand, Canada. Panama, Ecuador, Syria, Hong Kong, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Chile, Nigeria, China, Uruguay, Peru, and the United States.

ART relies on adhesive materials for the filling (instead of amalgam) and uses only hand instruments to place the filling. ART is endorsed by the World Health Organization as "a perfect alternative treatment approach."15 According to WHO,
"The WHO Oral Health Program (ORH) believes ART is one of the most suitable caries controlling approaches for use in primary oral health care programs and therefore the continuation of the global promotion of ART is one of its major objectives."16
ART offers countless benefits to dental patients:
  • ART is environmentally-safe: Unlike amalgam, the glass ionomers used in ART do not contain mercury. Substituting ART restorations for amalgam protects the environment from this major source of mercury pollution.
  • ART is low-cost: While amalgam requires electricity and clinic equipment that makes the costs prohibitively expensive for many patients, ART uses only inexpensive materials and hand instruments that do not require electricity. As a result, ART restorations only cost half as much as amalgam restorations according to the Pan American Health Organization.17
  • ART increases access to dental care: Amalgam is inaccessible to many disadvantaged people because it requires a dental clinic, a dentist, and typically a painful procedure. As a result, the World Health Organization has long recognized that "the majority of the world's population still suffers from untreated dental decay. The main reason for this is the continued dependency on traditional approaches to oral health care," such as the use of amalgam. ART increases access to dentistry by eliminating the barriers posed by amalgam:
First, the hand instruments used to perform ART do not require electricity and are portable. This easily allows ART to be performed in schools to treat schoolchildren, in patients' homes to treat individuals with disabilities and senior citizens who might have difficulty obtaining transportation to a clinic, and in rural areas without electricity to treat children in developing countries.

Second, the ART procedure is so simple to learn that ART can be performed by non-dentists as well as dentists, a valuable advantage in countries and regions that have a shortage of dentists.18

Third, ART is virtually painless and requires no anesthesia, which increases the likelihood that patients – especially children – will seek or cooperate with dental care in the first place.19
  • ART is superior dental care: Not only does ART preserve the healthy tooth structure that must be drilled out and destroyed in order to place an amalgam restoration,20 but countless studies have shown that ART restorations have a longevity comparable – and even superior – to amalgam.21 For example, according to leading atraumatic restorative treatment researcher Dr. Prathip Phantumvanit of Thailand in an interview with Dental Tribune,

"When we compared the results with amalgam, we found that ART restorations were more successful than amalgam up to eight years of follow-up… we believe that ART will be an alternative to amalgam restoration especially in the primary teeth, whose life span is less than ten years."22

What You Need to Know about Amalgam Removal and Replacement
If you have amalgam in your teeth, removal and replacement with a safer material should be on the top of your list—especially if you are planning a future pregnancy. However, please do NOT make the mistake of having your amalgam fillings removed by a dentist who is not properly trained in safe amalgam removal. Doing so could expose you to tremendous health risks, due to the large amounts of mercury vapor being released during the removal process. So please, avoid making the same mistake I did 20 years ago when I had all my amalgams removed. My dentist at the time was a competent dentist. However, he was clueless about mercury toxicity and used no precautions.

As result I suffered kidney damage. It was a very expensive and health damaging mistake. Research has shown that if you do not take proper safety precautions during the removal process, mercury levels in your blood can rise three to four-fold, which may result in acute toxicity. Hence, it's extremely important to find a biological dentist that is trained in properly removing mercury fillings. Some things that need to be done to keep you (and your dentist) safe during the procedure include:
  • Providing you with an alternative air source and instructing you not to breathe through your mouth
  • Using a cold-water spray to minimize mercury vapors
  • Putting a rubber dam in your mouth so you don't swallow or inhale any toxins
  • Using a high-volume evacuator near the tooth at all times to evacuate the mercury vapor
  • Washing your mouth out immediately after the fillings have been removed (the dentist should also change gloves after the removal)
  • Immediately cleaning your protective wear and face once the fillings are removed
  • Using room air purifiers

For a complete description of how to safely remove mercury amalgam, see this PDF created by the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT). Dr. Simone also discusses the proper procedure in the featured interview. Here are several sources to help you locate a dentist trained in biological dentistry:
  • Consumers for Dental Choice's Campaign for Mercury-Free Dentistry
  • IAOMT's database
  • International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine
  • The Holistic Dental Association

I also highly recommend getting healthy BEFORE having your fillings removed, as you want your detoxification mechanisms optimized prior to removal. To remove mercury that has already accumulated in your body, review my Mercury Detoxification Protocol, which details the things you can do right now to help rid your body of this toxin. If your mercury levels are seriously elevated, you should work with a knowledgeable health care practitioner to help you through the detoxification process.

Consumers for Dental Choice is Fighting to Protect Your Health
Consumers for Dental Choice is the leading U.S. consumer organization focused on protecting our health by eliminating dental mercury. Led by executive director Charlie Brown, Consumers for Dental Choice has tackled this health threat at every level:
  • At the state and local level, Consumers for Dental Choice has made significant progress in getting out the word about amalgam's health risks. Their efforts resulted in laws requiring dentists to distribute fact sheets warning patients that amalgam can cause neurological and reproductive harm in California, New Hampshire, Maine, and Philadelphia. Dental offices in California are required to post signs warning that "Dental Amalgam, used in many dental fillings, causes exposure to mercury, a chemical known to the state of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm." Most recently, Consumers for Dental Choice won resolutions recognizing the health threat of dental mercury from the California cities of Costa Mesa and Santa Ana.
  • At the national level, Consumers for Dental Choice has led the battle to convince the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to address the amalgam threat. First petitioning, then suing the Food and Drug Administration for failing to develop a rule to regulate amalgam, Consumers for Dental Choice's lawsuit resulted in a federal judge ordering FDA to develop an amalgam rule and a federal magistrate overseeing a re-writing of FDA's website. When the FDA then refused to even order product labeling in its rule, Consumers for Dental Choice unleashed "unprecedented consumer-level pressure," according to the trade press. "No final rule in FDA's modern history, or perhaps ever, has attracted this kind of organized opposition." FDA is now reconsidering its amalgam rule and says it will address concerns about vulnerable populations – children, unborn babies of pregnant women, people with kidney impairments, and hypersensitive individuals.
  • At the international level, Consumers for Dental Choice is ensuring that the World Mercury Treaty, which is currently being negotiated, addresses amalgam. Thanks to their efforts, the U.S. government now supports both the "eventual phase out" of amalgam and prompt "phase down" steps, including "educating patients and parents," "protecting children and fetuses," and "training of dental professionals on the environmental impacts of mercury in dental amalgams." With amalgam increasingly being dumped in developing countries, Consumers for Dental Choice continues to fight especially hard to protect these disadvantaged children from amalgam and to ensure their access to mercury-free alternatives like ART restorations.

Banned for Pets and Farm Animals, but Okay for You and Your Children?
Posted By: Dr. Mercola September 05 2011

With Consumers for Dental Choice
Dental amalgams have been in use since the American Civil War. They are an anachronism that has been perpetuated by dental industry patents, and there's a conspiracy of silence that seeks to keep the 75 percent of Americans who are ignorant about that fact that amalgam fillings are actually 50 percent mercury.

As stated by Charlie Brown, who founded the Consumers for Dental Choice in 1996:
"The only way amalgam could be marketed was to hide the mercury. The only way you could hide the mercury is to have a coordinated effort to make sure that nobody blew the whistle.

At the start of our movement, we confronted an iron triangle; three major forces: The American Dental Association that profit from a system of consumer ignorance; The Food and Drug Administration that sits in the hip pocket of the American Dental Association… and the state dental boards, who were the enforcers who told dentists, "You have to be silent."

The American Dental Association had a gag rule and said, "Don't say the M word. Don't tell people about the mercury; don't say that it's toxin, or there will be consequences." The consequences were the state dental boards pulling licenses of dentists all through the 1990s and threatening to pull the licenses of many more.

Fortunately in the last 10 years nearly half of all US dentists have recognized the dangers of amalgams and have stopped using them in their practice. But the remaining 50 percent of dentists still use them, and that currently accounts for between 240-300 tons of mercury entering the market every year. In the United States, dental offices are the second largest user of mercury – and this mercury eventually ends up in our environment by one pathway or another.

Did You Know?...
Dental amalgam can cause far-reaching problems, such as:

Exposure to mercury, the most toxic and more vaporous of the heavy metals, can harm your kidneys, and permanently damage your child's developing neurological system, and even kill your unborn child in the womb.

To implant amalgam, a dentist drills out healthy tooth matter in order to carve the crater necessary for amalgam placement – a primitive process that irreversibly weakens tooth structure. With a damaged tooth structure and with a metal-based filling that expands and contracts with temperature changes, teeth with amalgam are much more likely to crack years later, necessitating additional dental work.

Amalgam is a workplace hazard, especially for young female dental workers who experience an elevated rate of reproductive failures.

Dental mercury is the number one source of mercury in our wastewater, so dentists are handing the clean-up bill for their pollution to taxpayers and water ratepayers.

Why would a primitive, pre-Civil War polluting product that is 50 percent mercury and cracks teeth still be going into your mouth?

Amalgam was introduced in the Civil War era by the new American Dental Association, which won a political battle with the physicians of the mouth, who said using mercury in oral health care is malpractice. Florida dentist James Hardy, in his book Mercury Free, refers to the creation of amalgam and the creation of the American Dental Association as the "twin-birth."

Why Do Half of All Dentists Still Use Mercury Amalgam?
We now know the risks, so why do half of dentists continue to use the filling material used by their great-grandfathers?

Is it the price? No.

The alternatives to amalgam are comparably priced – or even less expensive. Amalgams cost more than glass ionomers, which can be applied via a mercury-free technique called Atraumatic Restorative Treatment (ART). ART does not require drilling; only hand instruments, and is virtually painless.

Amalgam also cost the same as composite fillings (also called resin) for smaller cavities, although composite can cost a few bucks more for large cavities. But when you add the horrid environmental and health catastrophe caused by amalgam, of course, amalgam's cost to society is much higher...

The answer is: Profits!
Amalgams are quick and easy. Dentists make more money per chair per day implanting mercury. For factory-style dentistry, where the teeth represent dollar signs instead of part of a human being, dentists drill, fill, and bill. The term "drill, fill, and bill" is a joke aspiring dentists learn in dental school. Only the joke is on us and our children: they count their money, and we have a vaporous neurotoxin implanted an inch from our brains or our children's brains.

And of course, since amalgam damages tooth structure and cracks teeth, pro-mercury dentists will continue to profit from amalgam long after its initial placement. Teeth with amalgam require more dental work in the long term. So for the pro-mercury half of dentists, amalgam is the gift that keeps on giving.

How Can Pro-Mercury Dentists Compete with Toxic-Free Dentists?
The pro-mercury dentists' trade group, the American Dental Association, has pulled every lever with Congress, the Food and Drug Administration, the state dental boards and the corporate media to cover up amalgam's mercury.

First, the ADA popularized the deceptive term "silver fillings," so consumers would think amalgam is made mainly of silver (actually, it has twice as much mercury as silver).
Second, it mounted a no-holds-barred campaign to silence competitors and critics of 19th century dentistry, especially the courageous dentists who realized their leadership was so fundamentally in error.

According to its own self-description, the American Dental Association appears focused more on promoting products – and getting paid handsomely to do so – than in promoting its dentist members. At the bottom of its news releases, the ADA has frequently written:

"The not-for-profit ADA is the nation's largest dental association, representing more than 155,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA's state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer and professional products. For more information about the ADA, visit the Association's Web site at"

Of the five sentences, one is about members, and three about the ADA's product endorsement system. The "ADA Seal of Acceptance" is a pay-to-play system in which companies pay the ADA to secure their endorsement. By contrast, the American Medical Association will not do pay-to-play endorsements of products; it is considered unethical.

The ADA owns two patents on amalgam, patent numbers 4,018,600 and 4,078,921. They have expired, but while they were in effect the ADA went to incredible lengths to wipe out mercury-free dentistry and quash dissent from the emerging critics of mercury-based dentistry.

The Role of the American Dental Association
How does the ADA keep pro-mercury dentists in business – and keep profits rolling in for the amalgam makers? Here's how:

1. The "silver fillings" deception
Gold fillings are called gold because they are made of gold. Seizing on the comparison, the ADA brochures promoting mercury fillings called them "silver fillings." The ADA claims the term means "silver-colored," but who are they fooling? In my dictionary, the first definition of "silver" is the element. The color is the fourth definition, behind the element, medium of exchange, coins, and eating utensils.

Consumers for Dental Choice, with its Campaign for Mercury-Free Dentistry, fought back against the "silver fillings" deception. In California these advocates launched the term "say the M word," which led to fact sheets on amalgam in that state and several other states and cities. These fact sheets, which dentists are required to hand their patients, inform the public that amalgam is mercury.

2. The gag rule
When its amalgam patents were in effect, the ADA used its power to block the emergence of mercury-free dentistry by adopting a rule of conduct prohibiting dentists from discussing mercury with their patients:

"Based on available scientific data, the ADA has determined that the removal of amalgam restorations from the non-allergic patient for the alleged purpose of removing toxic substances from the body, when such treatment is performed solely at the recommendation or suggestion of the dentist, is improper and unethical."

Yes, the ADA said it is unethical for a dentist to tell the truth to his patients!

Thanks to an extraordinary campaign by Consumers for Dental Choice, the gag rule is now just about defunct. Working with state lawmakers, with civil liberties organizations, with state Attorneys General (Charlie Brown, head of the consumer group, used to be one), and with an outraged citizenry, the movement for Mercury-Free Dentistry succeeded in the legislatures, in the courts, and in the courts of public opinions to restore free speech rights to dentists.

3. Rent-a-Congressman
How about the political process? We do have friends in Congress, Republicans like Congressman Dan Burton and Senator Mike Enzi, and Democrats like Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Congressman Gregory Meeks. But they are few and far between.

The ADA has been particularly devious in the halls of Congress. It doesn't instruct its minions in Congress – members from both political parties – to write bills, conduct hearings, nor even make speeches. Instead, the ADA buys silence and inaction from Members of Congress. Sound familiar? It was the same tactic used by Big Tobacco for several decades.

At the state level, it's the same; in some state capitals, the ADA has had the single largest political action committee. The tactic is the same: Do nothing, say nothing, and cash the PAC money.
Strong-arming the children of America

In the Maine legislature, money is not king. The state has fair practices that limit outside money and create a level-playing field for unfunded candidates. Unable to buy their way into power, the ADA resorted to outright strong-arming. A bill was gaining momentum in the Maine Legislature to phase out amalgam. The ADA struck back, threatening to deny treatment for Maine children if their dentists could not use their favorite filling material. If amalgam were banned, the ADA threatened:

"The result will be treatment delayed, treatment denied, and treatment never being sought. That is not a situation the dentists of Maine, the United States, or our policymakers can be willing to accept."

Several years later, the ADA's Pennsylvania chapter pulled the same power play against children with disabilities. A fact sheet law in the City of Philadelphia meant parents are now made aware of amalgam's horrid health risks to their children. In inner-city clinics, parents were insisting on mercury-free dentistry – the same as parents do in the affluent areas. But to the Pennsylvania Dental Association, inner-city parents were supposed to take the crumbs their dentists offered: mercury fillings or no fillings.

A dental association leader was demanding that parents of children with disabilities sign a release allowing him to put mercury fillings in their children; when they refused, he denied all treatment. No tooth cleanings. Nothing... Suburban parents might go to a dentist down the street, but for inner-city minority parents of children with disabilities, finding a dentist is not easy – and this dentist knew it. Incredibly, the Pennsylvania Dental Association – which claims to support choice for children in the suburbs – endorsed the position of this dentist.

Fortunately, the story did not end there. This callous power play endorsed by the Pennsylvania Dental Association – denying dental care for children with disabilities unless they agreed to mercury fillings – caught the attention of the disability rights community. The Pennsylvania Governor's Advisory Commission on Disabilities enacted a resolution condemning this ADA chapter.

What Can You Do to Stop the Use of Amalgam?
During this Mercury-Free Dentistry Awareness Week, I urge you to help spread the word and help educate others by sharing this article with your social networks. Together, we can END the use of toxic mercury in dentistry.

Charlie Brown, who runs Consumers for Dental Choice, is headed to Nairobi in October to lead a worldwide delegation participating in the world mercury treaty negotiations. With him will be a team of dentists, consumers, attorneys, and scientists fighting to get amalgam into that treaty. With the world deciding whether we continue allowing mercury in children's mouths, much is at stake. Here's what you can do in your nation or state:

Americans: Our #1 problem is the Food and Drug Administration, which has partnered with the American Dental Association to cover up the mercury, to make you think you are getting silver instead of mercury in your mouth. The FDA intentionally conceals the warnings about amalgam deep in its regulation -- so parents will never see them. On its website, the FDA gives dentists the green light to continue to deceive consumers with the term "silver fillings"

"Americans are ready for the end of amalgam." This was the theme of the testimony to the U.S. Department of State on August 18 by former West Virginia state Senator Charlotte Pritt. Yes, Americans are ready. But FDA is not. So let's send them a message.

Nine months ago, FDA scientists advised the agency to disclose the mercury to all patients and parents, and to stop amalgam for children and pregnant women. Yet FDA sits – sits actually in the pocket of the American Dental Association – ignoring its own scientists.

Please write the Director of FDA's Center for Devices, Jeff Shuren, Ask Dr Shuren why FDA continues to ignore the scientists and covers up the mercury from American parents and consumers. Ask when FDA is going to get in step with the world on mercury.

Dr. Jeff Shuren, Director
Center for Devices, U.S. Food & Drug Admin.
10903 New Hampshire Ave.
WO66-5431, Room 5442
Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002
Telephone: 301-796-5900
Fax: 301-847-8149
Fax: 301-847-8109

Californians: Dr. Shuren is coming to San Francisco for a "town meeting" on September 22. We urge Northern Californians to attend. It will go from 8 am to 12 noon, at the Embassy Suites Hotel, San Francisco Airport (telephone 650.589.3400)

In Southern California, Consumers for Dental Choice is organizing a city-by-city attack on amalgam --- and needs volunteers. If you wish to help with the grassroots work of organizing for city council hearings, gathering petitions, and telephoning, volunteer by writing

Australians: Your government, Aussies, is now in last place on the mercury treaty, asking the world to throw in the towel instead of working to phase out dental mercury. A great new group has started, Australians for Mercury-Free Dentistry, led by dentist Lisa Matriste and consumer activist Anna Priest. We urge you to go to its website and join:

Folks worldwide: If you aren't on that list, there's plenty to do – for example, Dominique Bally, an outstanding young advocate from the Ivory Coast, runs the Amalgam-Free Africa Campaign. If you want to help somewhere, anywhere, and there's nothing on the list above for you, write Charlie Brown,

Consumers for Dental Choice is working to protect your health – and the health of your children – all around the world. Charged with this important mission at state and local, national, and international levels, Consumers for Dental Choice would appreciate your help!

Please consider a donation to Consumers for Dental Choice, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to advocating mercury-free dentistry.

Donations can be made online at Checks can be mailed to:

Consumers for Dental Choice
316 F St., N.E., Suite 210
Washington DC 20002

Also, for timely updates and information, please  join Consumers for Dental Choice on Facebook.
Thank you for supporting mercury-free dentistry!

Alternative to Amalgam is Atraumatic Restorative Treatment (ART)
Source fom: NCIB
Int Dent J. 1999 Jun;49(3):127-31.
PMID:     10858744     [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
A review of atraumatic restorative treatment (ART). Mjör IA, Gordan VV.
Source  Department of Operative Dentistry, UFCD, Gainesville, FL 32610-0415, USA.
The purpose of this paper was to critically analyse the results obtained with the Atraumatic Restorative Treatment (ART) technique. The ART approach involves the excavation of cavitated carious lesions with hand instruments and restoration of the cavities and associated pits and fissures with a glass ionomer restorative material. The clinical trial outcomes involving ART include retention rates, cost effectiveness, operative sensitivity, and the effect of personnel with different educational backgrounds involved in this alternative operative treatment. Comparative studies involving permanent and deciduous teeth using amalgam and glass ionomer sealants have also been included in the same projects. Specially defined clinical criteria have been used to evaluate the results. ART offers an opportunity for restorative dental treatment under field conditions where no electricity is available. Three-year data have been published, but long term studies using relevant comparison alternatives are lacking. ART has so far been largely employed on populations with a low DMFT. The technique should also be applied to high risk patients with rampant caries before the maximal benefit of the treatment can be ascertained.

Smoking Teeth = Poison Gas
The dramatic video titled Smoking Teeth = Poison Gas has had a tremendous impact on both the public and professional audiences.The full version plays 40 minutes with interviews of experts in the fields of mercury toxicology, environmental medicine, politics and dentistry. It is available from the IAOMT for $14.95 + $4 shipping. Send Kym an email at to order your personal DVD today.


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