By Dr. Mercola
In this interview, Charlie Brown, founder of Consumers for Dental Choice, provides us with an update to the global mercury-free dentistry campaign you’ve so generously helped us support through the past eight years.
We are now incredibly close to the ultimate finish line, thanks to Brown’s persistent and dedicated efforts and your unrelenting financial support. I want to extend a personal thank you to all who have contributed to this mission in the past, and are considering doing so now.
“We’ve been a great team since 2010,” Brown says. “It’s been fantastic. Without Mercola.com, we could not have built this world juggernaut, because that’s where we are now in terms of our progress.”
European Union Bans Dental Amalgam for Most Vulnerable Populations
Topping our list of good news: Consumers for Dental Choice has successfully facilitated a total ban on dental amalgam for children under 15 and pregnant and nursing women within the European Union (EU), effective July 1, 2018 — a victory that will positively affect half a billion people in 28 countries.
Edo, Nigeria, has also followed suit, as have the Bangladesh Dental Society (BDS), the Bangladesh Civil Society and the Vietnam Dental Society. In 2020, the EU will decide whether to take it a step further and phase out amalgam for all individuals across Europe. “Believe me, we’re going to be there. When that question comes, there’s only going to be one answer,” Brown says.
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Chicago Declaration to End Dental Industry Mercury Use
In the U.S., Chicago has become a leading torch-bearer for mercury-free dentistry. “We decided Chicago was the right place. It’s the city where so many ideas assembled,” Brown says.
They began by getting a number of groups involved, including Sierra Club, Greenpeace, the Environmental Working Group, the Organic and Natural Health Association, the Learning Disabilities Association of America, Health Care Without Harm, the International Indian Treaty Council and the Mercury Policy Project.
All of these groups now endorse the Chicago Declaration for Mercury-Free Dentistry. This, finally, made the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sit up and take notice.
“These major organizations joined with Consumers for Dental Choice to say, ‘We want amalgam for children ended now, just like the EU has done in 2018. We want to phase [dental amalgam] out in 2020,'” Brown says.
“Let’s thank the dentists of America who decided they would be mercury-free very early. We are supported by [mercury-free] dentists, and we want everybody … to only go to mercury-free dentists, because those men and women have stood strong for mercury-free dentistry.
I talked to the dental school’s dean in the oldest dental school in sub-Sahara, Africa. He’s in Nigeria. He is resolutely against amalgam and is moving his entire dental school to mercury-free dentistry. In Cameroon, the Baptist Hospital System [and] the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services … all the dentists are mercury-free … [since] 2005.”
Mercury-Free Dentistry Is Finally Reaching Tipping Point in US
Indeed, the mercury-free dentists in the U.S. were pioneers who understood the folly of placing mercury in a person’s head very early on. They were vilified, criticized by their peers and penalized by their medical boards, to the point where their licenses were removed.
Brown was there supporting them during those early years and has seen it all. As former state’s attorney for West Virginia, he fought for their right to practice mercury-free dentistry; over time increasing their numbers from a handful to half of all dentists in the U.S.
“Absolutely. People look back and say, ‘That’s impossible and inconceivable.’ It was not. Dentists were told, ‘Do not talk about the mercury,’ and had their licenses threatened. Some lost their license, despite the First Amendment, despite the freedom of speech in America,” Brown says.
“We went in and fought the establishment and defeated the gag rule. We freed dentists so more and more of them not only could be mercury-free as they were, but could advocate mercury-free dentistry, advise patients to be mercury-free and advertise mercury-free dentistry.
When we started, just 3 percent of the dentists in America were mercury-free. Now, it’s 50 percent — half of them. The pro-mercury dentists are dwindling in number.
If the FDA won’t step up, well, the dentists are stepping up. The consumers are stepping up. This campaign is stepping up. Basically, we are going to change this country even if the government continues to get in the way.”
We’re Not Waiting for FDA Action
The U.S. was one of the first countries to ratify the Minamata Convention on Mercury, an international treaty to end mercury pollution, in 2013. It was a major victory, but even at that time, a central question was, “Who’s going to be responsible for enforcement?” August 2017, that treaty became legally binding, as 50 countries are ratified. Now the U.S. must begin enforcement.
“It’s a treaty on all major sources of mercury. Of course, dental amalgam is a major source. It’s the largest use of mercury in America. It’s time for FDA to do [their job]. I mean, for goodness’ sakes, the railway of India has ended amalgam.
That’s the largest employer in the world, the Indian Railways system. Their health system is massive. They are phasing out amalgam. The Bangladesh Armed Services have ended amalgam totally. The Pentagon says they can’t afford it? Give me a break!
It can happen. It’s not a question of wealth or of income. It’s a question of willpower. We see this willpower moving in places like Tanzania and Nigeria, in India, Vietnam and Uruguay. We [also] see momentum in the United States.
I say we can do this block by block, by consumers saying, ‘I’ll only go to mercury-free dentists,’ and dentists saying, ‘I’m done with mercury,’ and dental schools changing [to mercury-free dentistry only], like New York University — or the FDA can step up. It’s time they stepped up. It’s their turn to act. But believe me, we’re not going to wait on them. We’ll end run them.”
Demand Your Choice
The “end run” Brown refers to really begins with changing consumer preference — having more and more people demand mercury-free dentistry from their dentists and their insurance companies.
Consumers for Dental Choice has launched a consumer campaign for full and fair insurance reimbursement for mercury-free dental fillings called DEMAND Your Choice. If you have not signed onto this campaign, you can do so now. You can also use the Consumers for Dental Choice website, ToxicTeeth.org, to locate a mercury-free dentist in your local area.
The international website is MercuryFreeDentistry.net. On either of these websites you can also find dentists trained in the safe removal of dental amalgam, which requires special education and equipment to keep you, and the dental staff, safe from toxic mercury vapors.
Part of the message from this campaign, aimed directly at the FDA, is that we, the public, demand action; we will not tolerate being forced to receive neurotoxic mercury fillings anymore. This is the 21st century, and there are many far better, safer and less expensive alternatives.
“Please do sign the petition. Our message is, ‘It’s your turn, FDA.’ It’s also everybody’s opportunity to do what Dr. Mercola has done now for eight years — to make sure we’ve had the funding to win these fights. He is matching dollar-for-dollar what we raise here during Mercury Awareness Week.
It’s an amazing commitment. He has put in six figures over and over, to the point that he’s added up to seven figures. He’s given over $1 million to this cause. We feel it’s very effectively used. But that happens because you give, dentists give, other health professionals give, and Mercola is there at the end of Mercury Awareness Week to match it dollar-for-dollar.”
We made the commitment a long time ago to generate and donate 20 percent of our net revenues to projects such as this — projects that are really going to have a major impact on public health. Eliminating this major source of mercury exposure — mercury being an incredibly potent neurotoxin and one of the most pernicious — is right at the top of the list of public health movements that will have far-reaching consequences for generations to come.
“This is a [toxic exposure] that we can end. There’s no doubt about it. If we keep the pedal to the metal, we’re going to win,” Brown says. “Our single mission is to end amalgam. When we finish, Consumers for Dental Choice closes up shop.”
Indeed, one of the things I’ve learned as I’ve ventured more into philanthropy, is that many ostensibly well-intentioned nonprofits have as a primary goal to persist forever. Yes, they seek to help, but they don’t want to go out of business. Consumers for Dental Choice is looking to make itself obsolete. With your help, one day there will be no more talk about mercury-free dentistry, because dental amalgam simply won’t be an option anymore.
Covenant of Nations
May 2017, government activists, nonprofit groups, dentists, dentist leaders, manufacturers and academics from 21 nations convened to work on strategies to end amalgam for women and children worldwide. In essence, how can we duplicate the success we had in Europe?
The resulting report is cosponsored by the United Nations (UN), along with the international arm of Consumers for Dental Choice, the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, of which Brown is president. The opening speaker at last year’s meeting was the executive director of UNEP, Erik Solheim, who is also undersecretary general of the UN.
“He, years ago, was the environment minister of Norway. He was the first minister in the world to ban amalgam. Now he’s the top person in UNEP. Afterward, when I wrote him, he said, ‘What can I do next?’ So, we have the commitment all the way to the top of the international environmental leadership from the UN,” Brown says.
“We will gather next at the conference of the parties in Geneva in November, 2018. This is where everybody gathers to make the decisions about the future of mercury. Obviously, the pro-mercury lobby group comes, the World Dental Federation (WDF). The American Dental Association (ADA) funds them.
But we are there in force. We have an incredible team, women and men from every continent. The momentum is there, in Africa, key Asian nations and across the world. The will power is there. The FDA is an isolated entity now.
They’ve been saying, ‘Well, this is the way the way the world does it.’ No, it’s not the way the world does it. This year we circle back to the FDA and the U.S., because now we can say, ‘If these countries that are considered poor, low-income, low-resource, they’re ending amalgam, what is the excuse of the FDA?
What is the excuse of the Bureau of Prisons, the Medicaid programs and the Indian Health Service?’ Remember, I want every consumer to have access to mercury-free dentistry. You may be living on an Indian reservation, you may be a prisoner.
You may be a soldier, a sailor, airman or marine. You may be on Medicaid. Demand. Insist. Do not let somebody put mercury in your child’s mouth or your mouth. Insist. Say, ‘I don’t want that. I want composite, ionomers.’ Insist on mercury-free dentistry, because there is no way you should let a dentist do that to you.
I know it’s harder if you’re in a low-income or an institutional setting. But we’ve got teams everywhere and we’re fighting. If it’s a question about it, please write me at [email protected], because we’re here to fight for you too.”
Go to a Mercury-Free Dentist
Insist on mercury-free dentistry, yes. But take it another step — don’t go to a dentist who puts mercury fillings in any child or any person. Spend your time, spend your money, only with a mercury-free dentist. How do you find one? Here are several organizations with lists or information: