By Dr. Mercola
"The next generation of Europe's children are safe from toxic dental mercury," proclaims Charlie Brown, president of Consumers for Dental Choice and the umbrella World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry.
Starting July 1, 2018, amalgam use is banned for children under the age of 15 and for pregnant or nursing women — anywhere in the vast European Union (EU)1,2 — 28 countries in all, with a population totaling more than half a billion people.
"This landmark achievement still has to be officially ratified," Charlie says, "but all three European Union institutions, the [European] commission, the Council [of the European Union] and the European Parliament have reached consensus."
"The ban on amalgam for children in Europe, we promise you, will reverberate in favor of the children across the world — in America North and South, in Africa, and in Asia and the Pacific," said Brown.
"The game changer that will do in amalgam is the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which requires every participating nation to act to reduce amalgam use. The Convention is expected to become legally binding in the middle of 2017."
The hard-fought victory in Europe came after six grueling years of reports, hearings before the Commission, meetings at the Parliament, events in the national capital cities and in the E.U. capital city of Brussels and submission of testimony to a seemingly unending number of players.
Civil society — the public — mobilized at a level rarely seen on an issue so intertwined between environment and health concerns.
In an internet vote called by the European Commission, 88 percent of the public voted for a phase-out of amalgam as opposed to only 12 percent to keep amalgam — and voter turnout was double that of any other Minamata issue.
European-wide nonprofit groups brought their networks to the forefront, and were joined by nation-based environmental and patient rights' groups from France, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Spain and Italy.
At the outset of the campaign in 2010, every major EU institution supported amalgam. At the end, in 2016, no major EU institution did.
Brown pays particular homage to four Europeans who led the campaign: Elena Lymberidi-Settimo from Greece; dentist Dr. Graeme Munro-Hall from the U.K.; Marie Grosman from France; and Florian Schulze from Germany.
Thank You for Supporting Mercury-Free Dentistry!
Mercury-containing amalgam is a primitive, pre-Civil War pollutant that has no place in modern dentistry. Compelling evidence shows that dental amalgams readily release mercury in the form of vapor every time you eat, drink or brush your teeth.
A single amalgam filling may release as much as 15 micrograms of mercury per day; 10 micrograms per day is average. To put that into perspective, eating mercury-tainted seafood can expose you to about 2.3 micrograms per day, and that alone was enough for scientists to call for a worldwide warning in 2006.
Brown, a twice-elected former attorney general for West Virginia, has committed nearly two decades of his life to protecting children and grownups around the world from the dangers of mercury amalgam.
Consumers for Dental Choice has been a Health Liberty partner with us since 2011, and this victory is a powerful demonstration of the impact you can have when you donate money to our Health Liberty partners.
We worked long and hard to identify these partners, and Consumers for Dental Choice is one of the most effective consumer protection organizations out there. Charlie has spearheaded the creation of an enormously dedicated and effective international team operating in dozens of countries on every continent.
I would personally like to thank all of you who donated to this cause earlier this year and in years' past. Your financial support is what makes these kinds of victories possible. Yes, you CAN make a difference in other people's lives.
Next Steps for Europe and Elsewhere
Next, each of the 28 European countries must submit a plan for how they are going to reduce amalgam use in the remainder of the population. The most vulnerable, the children, are now protected from the dangers of amalgam, but in all reality, amalgam should not be placed in anyone, of any age or gender.
These plans are due by July 1, 2019, and by then, Charlie suspects most countries will opt to phase out amalgam entirely.
As for the United States and Canada, now that the entire EU is taking a strong stand to protect the health of children and pregnant/nursing women, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada will be pushed to reconsider their stance.
So far, they've both chosen to protect amalgam producers and the profits of pro-mercury dentists.
However, while the EU situation will turn up the heat on these agencies, Charlie urges all consumers everywhere to refuse to do business with any dentists who still use mercury amalgam in their practices, because consumer pressure is the fastest way to eliminate the practice.
EPA Finalizes Rule Restricting Dentists' Mercury Discharges
In related good news, on December 15, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule restricting dentists' mercury discharges.
After more than a decade of debating the issue and an additional five years of delays, the agency finally finalized requirements for dentists (placing or removing amalgam) to install amalgam separators to prevent mercury from being flushed down the drain, entering municipal waste water treatment facilities and being haphazardly released into the environment.
Dental offices are "the largest source of mercury in municipal wastewater, the largest consumer use and also the largest reservoir of mercury in use today," said Michael Bender, director of the Vermont-based Mercury Policy Project and a strong supporter of the World Alliance for Mercury-free Dentistry.
He called the separators, which the EPA estimates will cost dentists about $800 per year to operate, "a practical, affordable and available technology for capturing mercury." As reported by E&E News reporter Gabriel Dunsmith:3
"EPA pegs total discharge from dentists' offices at 5.1 tons annually. The new rule will enforce the use of amalgam separators, which capture mercury before it is discharged.
The technology will eliminate dental mercury discharge, the agency said, in addition to 5.3 tons of other waste metals. In a fact sheet, EPA said its new rule is a 'common sense solution to managing mercury that would otherwise be released to air, land, and water.'"
The Fight Continues for an Amalgam-Free World
Seeing the EU decision as a springboard, Consumers for Dental Choice and the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry have launched a campaign to ban mercury amalgam for every child everywhere.
"We target 2020 as victory year for the world's children," said Brown. "This victory for Europe's children will lead us to for the children of Asia, Africa and America North and South. Amalgam belongs only in museums that feature failed medical strategies."
As noted by Lymberidi-Settimo, Zero Mercury Campaign project coordinator with the European Environmental Bureau:4 With this agreement Europe takes an important step toward returning to world leadership in implementing the Minamata Convention. These steps toward a phase-out of dental amalgam will now resonate across the world."
Conspiracy of Silence Has Finally Been Broken
As previously explained by Charlie, there's been a decades' long conspiracy of silence in the dental community, and for good reason. No patient in their right mind wants amalgams in their mouth once they understand that half of it is toxic mercury, and so it was kept a secret.
There was even a gag order on dentists preventing them from informing their patients that amalgam contained mercury, and dentists who dared speak out about amalgams risked losing their license for doing so.
This is why amalgams have misleadingly been called "silver fillings" — a description based on their color rather than the actual composition of the material, 50 percent of which is mercury, NOT silver. Not only do amalgams leach mercury into your system, they also increase the likelihood of your teeth cracking and requiring additional dental work later on.
For consumers, dental patients and dental workers, there is no advantage to amalgam — none whatsoever. It isn't even a modern filling technologically. One group, however, does benefit: the "drill, fill and bill" dentists who cleverly make more money per chair per day doing assembly line dentistry. It's past time for these polluters to switch to mercury-free dentistry, and it's time too for their patients to either insist on mercury-free fillings or head out the door to another dentist.
What the pro-mercury dentists are not telling patients is that dentists are making money again on the back end. Being a metal that expands and contracts, amalgam can crack teeth and are not at all (like composites and ionomers) tooth-friendly. So amalgam costs us a lot more than composite once we factor environmental costs and future tooth restoration costs, or either one of those.
Composite materials are only about 20 percent more expensive than amalgam, and on small cavities there's no difference in price. Some materials, such as ionomers, are actually less expensive than amalgam. The conspiracy of silence kept consumer knowledge at bay for a long time. Fortunately, Zogby polls shows the number of people who know amalgam is mercury has doubled in the last eight years. And, as predicted, once they know it, they don't want it.
Are Your Amalgams Causing Health Problems?
Dental mercury fans the flames of inflammation, which is a key factor in most chronic disease. It also impairs your body's ability to detoxify. You may be particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of mercury if your immune system is in any way compromised, or if you are exposed to other toxins, in which case mercury has a tendency to become even more toxic.
General symptoms of mercury poisoning can easily be overlooked or misdiagnosed. If you have any of the following symptoms or a combination, you might want to have yourself screened for heavy metal toxicity:
✓ Impairment of vision, hearing or speech, including light sensitivity
✓ Lack of motor coordination
✓ Muscle twitching and/or tremors
✓ Itching or burning
✓ Skin discoloration (red nose, cheeks or lips)
✓ Profuse sweating
✓ Elevated heart rate
✓ High blood pressure
✓ Mood swings, nervousness, anxiety, or irritability
Important Information About Amalgam Removal
For those of you who have mercury fillings, I recommend having them very carefully removed by a competent biological dentist who follows professional protocols for amalgam removal. It's VERY important to have it done correctly. When amalgams are removed, a large amount of mercury is released, and if the proper precautions aren't taken, your body can absorb a massive dose of mercury that can lead to acute kidney problems.
I experienced this myself more than 20 years ago when I had my amalgams removed by a non-biological dentist. Biological dentists, on the other hand, are well aware of these dangers. Some of the steps that need to be taken to keep you and your dentist safe during amalgam removal include:
✓ Providing you with an alternative air source and instructing you not to breathe through your mouth
✓ Putting a rubber dam in your mouth so you don't swallow or inhale any toxins, and using a high-volume evacuator near the tooth at all times to evacuate the mercury vapor
✓ Using a cold-water spray to minimize mercury vapors
✓ 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
By Refusing to Cover Composite Materials, Insurance Companies Impose Great Harm
Disturbingly, many insurance policies still refuse to pay for composite fillings. Others that do cover composite fillings will only pay up to the cost of an amalgam, leaving you to pay the difference. As a result, people who have dental insurance are actually more likely to get amalgam than those paying out of pocket.5
When insurance companies refuse to fully pay for mercury-free composite fillings for all teeth, they harm more than your pocketbook. They harm:
- Your health: Dental amalgam releases neurotoxic mercury vapor into your body. Children, the unborn and the hypersensitive are especially vulnerable to the toxic effects of mercury. Amalgam also requires the removal of healthy tooth tissue, thereby weakening tooth structure and increasing the risk of cracked teeth — leading to higher dental bills later.
- The environment: Dental amalgam is the largest source of mercury pollution in the U.S. Once amalgam's elemental mercury reaches the environment, it can convert to methylmercury, which can contaminate the fish we eat. Mercury pollution can cause health problems, especially for children and the unborn, whose brain and nervous systems are still developing.
- Your dental office: Dental amalgam can contaminate dental workplaces with mercury, which exposes dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, front office staff and visiting patients to this toxin. Due to this constant exposure, dental professionals — many of whom are women of childbearing age — have been found to have higher systemic mercury levels than the general population.
Demand Your Choice
Today, about 50 percent of American dentists offer mercury-free dentistry, up from 3 percent 20 years ago. To accelerate change in the U.S., Consumers for Dental Choice is urging all American consumers to demand mercury-free dentistry — both from your dentist and from your insurance company. If they refuse, switch dentists; switch insurance.
At present, many insurance companies, including Delta Dental, Aetna, Equitable and Humana typically will pay only for amalgam in your molars, even though composite, not amalgam, has become the standard and mainstream filling material in North America. And, since mercury-free dentists — again, about half of all dentists in the U.S. — will not give you an amalgam filling anywhere in your mouth, the insurance company profits handsomely since you then have to pay the bill out-of-pocket even though you're insured! As previously noted by Brown:
"They sell an artificially low-price policy to get you in. That's a bait and switch. It's time to hold all of them accountable … Challenge your insurance company; demand your claim be paid, and work with your mercury-free dentist to do that. We have the paperwork if you push the 'Demand Your Choice' button … We can change this from the grassroots up. We're not going to wait on the FDA … We're going to simply change the market."