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How You Can Help Eliminate Dental Mercury

July 13, 2010 | 43,627 views

Grassroots activism counts -- even with the usually tone-deaf U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

FDA's abysmal 2009 amalgam rule -- allowing a cover-up of the very existence of the mercury, and not even protecting children and unborn children from this unnecessary mercury exposure -- triggered a massive response from grassroots America.

"Unprecedented consumer-level pressure," according to the respected independent publication FDA Webview, meant that "no final rule in FDA's modern history, or perhaps ever, has attracted this kind of organized opposition." With a myriad of consumers repeatedly phoning and e-mailing FDA, the agency had to seriously consider a series of excellent petitions for reconsideration, one filed by Washington lawyer Jim Turner for Citizens for Health, another by IAOMT lawyers Jim Love and Bob Reeves (which I joined), and a third by University of Virginia medical school professor emeritus Richard Edlich.

Then in June, 2010 the heat went from national to international. The United Nations convened the nations to negotiate a treaty on mercury, where the cause of mercury-free dentistry was well-represented. Charlie Brown of Consumers for Dental Choice founded the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry and brought a delegation from seven nations to the conference.

As the chief protector of dental mercury, FDA was exposed for the pariah that it has become on protecting consumer health and safety.

On the fifth day of the United Nations conference, FDA caved. FDA announced it will convene hearings this December before its Dental Products Panel to determine whether to stop amalgam use for children and pregnant women.

To the consumers of America and around the world, the Mercola Newsletter salutes you. You did it! FDA has agreed to re-examine its pro-mercury fillings position, and to consider protecting those whose brains are still developing, children and the unborn.

But FDA has pulled out the rug from consumers before on dental mercury. In 2008, settling a court case filed by Charlie Brown, FDA posted stark warnings that amalgam can injure the developing brains of children and fetuses. In 2009, FDA buried the warnings, placing them where they hoped parents wouldn't see them. If any agency requires continued vigilance, it is FDA.

The issue now is who will sit on the FDA panel that will determine the safety of dental mercury. FDA has a history of stacking the deck of its panels, so that the pro-industry staff position gets ratified. I ask you to write Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, Director, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, and ask that he convene a balanced panel -- that he not pack it with dental school deans and others with ties to the pro-mercury American Dental Association. If the FDA panel is to have any credibility whatsoever, Dr. Shuren needs all sides fairly represented on it.

So I recommend you write Dr. Shuren at Jeff.Shuren@fda.hhs.gov; ask him for a balanced dental products panel to review the FDA dental mercury rule -- a humane panel of people dedicated to protecting children and unborn babies from exposure to toxic products. Let him know that the public will not tolerate a panel biased in favor of the American Dental Association's pro-mercury position -- not when our children's health is at stake.

 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

To the consumers of America and around the world, the Mercola Newsletter salutes you.

You did it!

The FDA has agreed to re-examine its pro-mercury fillings position, and to consider protecting those whose brains are still developing -- children and the unborn.

Continued Vigilance is Still Needed to Ban Dental Mercury …

The FDA has pulled out the rug from consumers before on dental mercury, and if history is any indication of what’s to come, then we could still be in for a bumpy ride.

In 2008, settling a court case filed by Charlie Brown, who is the leading consumer protection attorney in the United States with respect to mercury, FDA posted stark warnings that amalgam can injure the developing brains of children and fetuses. Briefly, the FDA’s Web site even stated that:

"Dental amalgams contain mercury, which may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of developing children and fetuses."

But in 2009, the FDA buried the warnings, placing them where they hoped parents wouldn't see them. The Agency pulled the warning from its Web site, saying there would be no warnings to patients, not even young women and parents of young children, that the mercury from the amalgam fillings is a reproductive toxin and a neurotoxin.

The FDA even gave the amalgam industry the green light to sell and place amalgam without disclosing to consumers that the fillings are mainly mercury, even though the agency is aware of the industry’s long-time deceptive practice of marketing amalgam as “silver fillings,” when in reality they’re composed of about 50 percent mercury.

So if any agency requires continued vigilance, it is the FDA.

How is Toxic Mercury Still Allowed in Modern-Day Dentistry?

Mercury amalgam fillings are primitive 19th-century devices, but they are still widely used in the United States where they’re even endorsed by the American Dental Association.

It’s an ironic fact that the metallic mercury used by dentists to manufacture dental amalgam is shipped as a hazardous material to the dental office. Any amalgam leftover is also treated as hazardous and requires special precautions to dispose of.

Yet you can have those same toxic fillings put directly into your mouth just by asking (and paying the price, of course)! But when you do, you’re introducing mercury, a potent toxin that can damage your brain, central nervous system and kidneys, into your body.

Children and fetuses, whose brains are still developing, are most at risk, and that is why it’s especially dangerous for pregnant women to get an amalgam … but really anyone can be impacted. Again, those most at risk include:

  • Pregnant and nursing women
  • Children
  • Fetuses
  • People with already high levels of mercury bioburden
  • Those who are sensitive to mercury exposure

So why has the FDA been so reluctant to issue a ban, even after acknowledging the steep risks?

There is evidence that FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg’s relationship with the nation’s top amalgam seller, Henry Schein, may have played a role in this dismal result.

Dr. Hamburg served on the board of dental products colossus Henry Schein Inc., drawing an annual income of a quarter million dollars a year, according to the Wall Street Journal. In May 2009, when she took office as Commissioner, she was still holding Henry Schein stock options, which she did not cash until July, the month the amalgam rule issued. In fact, she was still holding Schein stock options until July 27, the day before the FDA rule was announced.

The FDA agreed that Margaret Hamburg had an ethical problem that led to her recusal, but neither she nor anyone else at the FDA would say what work she did on the rule or when she stopped working on it.

As it stands, the resulting rule was and is a bonanza for Henry Schein, who can sell amalgam to anyone and everyone without even disclosing that it is mainly mercury -- but hopefully come December, that will all change.

The New FDA Hearing Could Change the Future of Mercury in Dentistry

Come December, the FDA will convene hearings before its Dental Products Panel to determine whether to stop amalgam use for children and pregnant women.

The issue now is who will sit on this FDA panel that will determine the safety of dental mercury. FDA has a history of stacking the deck of its panels, so that the pro-industry staff position gets ratified.

They also have a history of ignoring their panelists’ advice if it is not pro-industry. In fact, the FDA’s 2009 ruling was in direct contradiction to the conclusions of their own 2006 Joint Panel of FDA scientific experts, as well as the International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology Scientific Advisory Board members who reviewed the same papers.

The ruling was even contradictory to the FDA’s own advisories that pregnant women should limit their intake of certain fish due to mercury content, even though, as IAOMT reported, mercury dental fillings contribute two to three times as much mercury to the human body than do dietary and environmental sources combined.

Come this December, the FDA panel will make a ruling that will make or break whether children and unborn children continue to be harmed by dental mercury … and you can still play a part in making sure it’s a fair fight.

Did You Know?

dental fillings infographic

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Voice Your Opinion: A FAIR, Unbiased Panel is Needed

I ask you to write Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, and ask that he convene a balanced panel -- that he not pack it with dental school deans and others with ties to the pro-mercury American Dental Association.

If the FDA panel is to have any credibility whatsoever, Dr. Shuren needs all sides fairly represented on it.

This is incredibly important, as there is well-publicized corruption at the Center for Devices and Radiological Health. Last year, former Center for Devices Director Dan Schultz (part of the group that has given carte blanche to amalgam sales with no disclosure) resigned “by mutual agreement” with Dr. Hamburg, amidst complaints that he pressured staff to approve devices that they did not think were safe in order to benefit industry.

Now that the Center is under a new director, I recommend you write Dr. Shuren at Jeff.Shuren@fda.hhs.gov; ask him for a balanced dental products panel to review the FDA dental mercury rule -- a humane panel of people dedicated to protecting children and unborn babies from exposure to toxic products.

Let him know that the public will not tolerate a panel biased in favor of the American Dental Association's pro-mercury position -- not when our children's health is at stake.

For the last 10 years, Charlie Brown has been working tirelessly with the Consumers for Dental Choice to eliminate the use of mercury in U.S. dentistry. Now you, too, can join the fight, and many of you already have!

Because so many of you voiced your opposition and outrage at the FDA’s 2009 ruling, the FDA Webview stated that:

“No final rule in FDA’s modern history, or perhaps ever, has attracted this kind of organized opposition.”

Grassroots activism is making a difference, and it will continue to do so because of dedicated readers like you! It nearly brings tears to my eyes to see that we can make a difference and start to save children and adults from brain damage by limiting their exposure to this toxic poison.

So let’s keep the pressure on the FDA and not let them off the hook this time!

Please write Dr. Shuren at Jeff.Shuren@fda.hhs.gov and ask that he convene a balanced panel for this December’s FDA amalgam hearing.


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