By Dr. Mercola
It’s Mercury Awareness Week — a time when I focus on how and why we, together, can end the use of dental amalgam, which has no role in 21st century dentistry. By now you likely know that amalgam dental fillings are 50 percent mercury — a toxic heavy metal that has no place in the human body.
But do you know about all the many other problems caused by this outdated dental product? Next time a pro-mercury dentist tries to illogically claim that the mercury in their amalgam is perfectly safe, as the Boy Scouts motto goes, “Be Prepared.”
Today I give you 10 more reasons to support mercury-free dentistry. The bottom line is no one should receive mercury fillings, despite what the pro-mercury dentists, insurance companies and the government bureaucrats say!
The campaign for mercury-free dentistry is led by an effective nonprofit group which spends its funds carefully and efficiently: Consumers for Dental Choice. I have worked closely for several years with its leader, Charlie Brown, and I continue to see the results we need.
So, I now step up to match all donations received until August 20, 2018. This year, I’ve raised the match ceiling by 25 percent, from $100,000 to $125,000. With my match, here is a way for you to double your charity money!
Checks can be mailed to:
Consumers for Dental Choice
316 F St., N.E., Suite 210
Washington DC 20002
Reason No. 1: Amalgam’s Mercury Puts Children at Risk
Amalgam emits mercury vapor even after it is implanted into the body. This mercury is bioaccumulative and crosses the placenta to accumulate in fetuses, as well. Dental amalgam’s mercury is a known health risk, especially for children, fetuses, nursing infants and people with impaired kidney function.
Even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concedes that the developing neurological systems of children and fetuses are more susceptible to “the neurotoxic effects of mercury vapor,” and that there is no evidence that amalgam is safe for these populations.
Now Consumers for Dental Choice is working to make FDA take action to end amalgam use in children — a step the European Union (EU) has already taken. Via citizen petitions, coalition-building, workshops, international pressure and grassroots organizing, they will succeed! You can join in by signing Consumers for Dental Choice’s online petition.
Reason No. 2: Amalgam Damages Your Teeth
Placing amalgam requires the removal of a significant amount of healthy tooth matter. This removal weakens overall tooth structure, which increases the need for future dental work. On top of that, amalgam fillings — which expand and contract over time — crack teeth, once again creating the need for more dental work.
Consumers for Dental Choice is bringing to light this lesser known health consequence of amalgam, making sure that policymakers and patients know about it too.
Reason No. 3: Amalgam Pollutes the Environment
Amalgam pollutes 1) water via dental clinic releases and human waste; 2) air via cremation, dental clinic emissions, sludge incineration and respiration; and 3) 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 eat.
Dental mercury in the environment can cause brain damage and neurological problems, especially for children and the unborn babies, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Consumers for Dental Choice was instrumental in getting amalgam recognized as a significant environmental problem at the negotiations for the Minamata Convention on Mercury, an environmental treaty that requires countries to reduce their amalgam use.
In the meantime, Consumers teamed with environmental allies to successfully convince the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require separators in dental offices to catch amalgam’s mercury before it enters the wastewater.
Reason No. 4: Amalgam Endangers Dental Professionals
Due to mercury exposure from amalgam in the workplace, studies have shown dental workers have elevated systemic mercury levels. Few of these dental workers — mostly women of child-bearing age — are given protective garb or air masks to minimize their exposure to mercury; many are not aware of the risks of occupational mercury exposure.
As a result, dental workers have reported neurological problems, reproductive failures and birth defects caused by amalgam in the workplace. Consumers for Dental Choice has been raising awareness of the occupational hazards of mercury in the dental office by working with dental schools and professors, as well as supporting projects to measure the level of mercury in the air in dental clinics to demonstrate just how much mercury dental personnel are exposed to.
Reason No. 5: Amalgam Perpetuates Social Injustice
While middle class consumers opt for mercury-free filling materials, people in developing nations, low-income families, minorities, military personnel, prisoners, and people with disabilities are still subjected to amalgam. Dentists place almost 25 percent more mercury fillings in American Indian patients than in white patients.
In his testimony before Congress, former Virginia state NAACP president Emmitt Carlton described this injustice as “Choice for the rich, mercury for the poor.” Consumers for Dental Choice’s Medicaid campaign aims to right some of these social injustices by ensuring that even low-income patients have access to mercury-free fillings.
For example, they are challenging Connecticut’s Medicaid program that decreed “Medicaid will not pay for composite restorations in the [adult] molar teeth regardless of whether the [dental] practice markets itself as ‘amalgam free'” and tells dentists, “If your office cannot provide amalgam services, please have your patients call the Connecticut Dental Health Partnership (CTDHP) … to locate a new dental home.”
Here is your opportunity, with my matching funds, to double the impact of your dollars, and accelerate the end of mercury fillings:
Reason No. 6: Amalgam Is Frequently Used Unethically
Most dentists do not inform consumers that amalgam contains mercury. As a result, over 76 percent of consumers do not know that amalgam is mainly mercury, according to Zogby polls. Once informed of this fact, 77 percent of people said they did not want mercury fillings — and were even willing to pay more to avoid this unnecessary source of mercury exposure.
Consumers for Dental Choice has not only documented this problem with Zogby polls, but they have worked to secure and enforce the distribution of amalgam fact sheets in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, California and the city of Philadelphia.
Reason No. 7: Amalgam Is More Expensive
Taxpayers foot the bill for the environmental cleanup of amalgam and the medical care associated with mercury-related health problems. Meanwhile, the dentists who dump their mercury into our environment and our bodies are not held financially liable.
Consumers for Dental Choice documented the high environmental cost of amalgam in the economic report, “The Real Costs of Dental Mercury.”1 After environmental costs are added up, each amalgam filling can cost up to $87 more than a comparable composite filling, and that does not even include the added health costs associated with mercury exposure and tooth damage.
Reason No. 8: Amalgam Gets Diverted to Illegal Gold Mining and Other Unlawful Uses
Amalgam is commonly shipped to developing countries labeled for dental use, but is then diverted to illegal use in artisanal and small-scale gold mining. Not only are the miners exposed to the risks of mercury poisoning, but the dental mercury they use to extract gold is released into the environment.
Consumers for Dental Choice works to raise awareness of these issues, especially in developing countries where illegal gold mining is more common. By teaming with environmental organizations on the ground in these countries, we are able to efficiently spread the word about this unintended — and still dangerous — use of amalgam.
Reason No. 9: Amalgam Holds Back Progress
The continued use of amalgam keeps the price of mercury-free filling materials high by decreasing demand for these alternatives. As use of mercury-free materials increases, their price is expected to decrease even further.
Additionally, insurance companies that rely on amalgam as the standard filling hold back progress in dentistry by artificially driving demand away from mercury-free fillings. Consumers for Dental Choice is challenging insurance companies with its Demand Your Choice campaign, which urges consumers to speak out against insurance companies that take their money and then only cover mercury fillings.
Reason No. 10: Amalgam Has Been Surpassed by Alternatives
Mercury-free dental fillings have been developed and studied for over 50 years. As a result, a wide variety of alternatives to amalgam fillings are available today; the most popular mercury-free filling is composite.
As Consumers for Dental Choice explains to government officials, dentists and consumers worldwide, mercury-free dental fillings offer many advantages because in addition to not containing mercury, they are:
Environment-friendly: Composites and glass ionomers are mercury-free and there is no evidence of environmental toxicity.
Preserve teeth: The placement of mercury-free fillings allows for less tooth destruction, which preserves more natural tooth structure. Composites fillings can also strengthen and enhance biomechanical properties of the restored tooth. As a result, the tooth itself can survive longer.
Easier to repair: Composite fillings are easier to repair than amalgam, which can save you both tooth structure and money.
Durable: Recent studies show that properly placed composite fillings can last just as long as, or even longer than, amalgam fillings.
Prevent caries: Glass ionomers, used in atraumatic restorative treatment (ART), have proven valuable in certain clinical situations where they can be more accessible and less expensive than amalgam (for example, in communities without electricity).
User-friendly: All properly trained dentists can place mercury-free fillings in any tooth requiring a filling. If a dentist tells you he or she has to use amalgam because it is too hard to use a mercury-free filling in your tooth, find a more competent dentist!
How You Can Make a Difference
With so many reasons to end the use of amalgam, I urge you to contribute to Consumers for Dental Choice, the advocacy wing of the mercury-free dentistry movement. Donations are tax deductible and can be made online at ToxicTeeth.org. Please join me with every dollar you can. I promise you that I will double it! Thank you for supporting mercury-free dentistry.
Checks can be mailed to:
Consumers for Dental Choice
316 F St., N.E., Suite 210
Washington DC 20002
Protect Your Children and Yourself Now
Find a mercury-free dentist who recognizes the many problems with mercury fillings and provides non-mercury fillings today! The following organizations can help you find a mercury-free dentist in the U.S. and (in some cases) internationally: