After reviewing the available scientific studies and the presentations of researchers, experts, dentists, and injured consumers, the scientists concluded that – contrary to the claims of the FDA's in-house dentist Susan Runner – amalgam is not safe for everybody.
According to the panel, the FDA's amalgam risk assessments were not adequate to protect hypersensitive adults, children, and unborn babies. Repeatedly, panel members expressed their concern about amalgam use in children. Pediatric neurologist Dr. Suresh Kotagal of the Mayo Clinic summed it up for the entire panel:
"There is really no place for mercury in children."
Other panelists went on to explain that dental mercury is like lead. The panel urged the FDA to quickly contraindicate amalgam for these vulnerable populations and insisted that the FDA provide consumers with labeling containing clear warnings.
Dental "silver" amalgam fillings – or as I like to call them "mercury fillings" – are actually made from about 50 percent mercury and the rest of an amalgam is silver, tin, copper, zinc and other metals, and have been used for more than 150 years. An estimated 100 million mercury fillings are put into your mouths each year in the United States alone.
But the use of amalgam (mercury fillings), especially in pregnant women and children, has now been judged unsafe by a panel of scientists advising the FDA – the same FDA that has always defended the use of amalgam, and continues to defend its use!
In the words of Charlie Brown, president of the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, "Amalgam is a primitive, polluting, 19th century product that began when physicians were sawing off legs. Medicine has since moved forward." Unfortunately, this aspect of dentistry has not, at least not yet in the United States.
Mercury Does NOT Belong in your Mouth - - Period
Mercury is a potent toxin that can damage your brain, central nervous system and kidneys.Children and fetuses, whose brains are still developing, are most at risk, but really anyone can be impacted.
I find it quite ironic, not to mention unsettling, that the metallic mercury used by dentists to manufacture dental amalgam is shipped as a hazardous material to the dental office. And any amalgam leftover is also treated as hazardous and requires special precautions to dispose of.
Yet most dentists will readily implant this hazardous material directly into your mouth, with continued and emphatic assurance that it's perfectly safe and harmless. Now, at least the FDA advisory panel has admitted the obvious: mercury fillings are not safe for everyone. The truth is, mercury fillings are a hazard to everyone and should be avoided until the slow moving and stubborn FDA finally bans them.
Just How Much Mercury Do These Fillings Release?
Remember, virtually any kind of stimulation can cause these fillings to release mercury. Eating, drinking, brushing your teeth, grinding your teeth, chewing gum, anything. If you want to see the vapors released for yourself, watch this shocking video.
Mercury vapor from the amalgams passes readily through cell membranes, across the blood-brain barrier, and into your central nervous system, where it causes psychological, neurological, and immunological problems.
For an interesting comparison, consider that scientists recently made a wise warning about eating mercury-contaminated seafood. Well, eating such seafood will expose you to about 2.3 micrograms of mercury a day. A single dental amalgam filling, meanwhile, releases as much as 15 micrograms of mercury EVERY day.
But that's not all. The average person has eight amalgam fillings and could absorb up to 120 micrograms of mercury per day. Clearly this is cause for urgent action to be taken.
Why the FDA is Resistant to Banning Amalgam
FDA remains adamant in protecting mercury fillings, which no doubt has at least something to do with its commissioner. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg has an egregious conflict of interest on amalgam, yet participated in the rulemaking that led to last year's abysmal amalgam rule. Hamburg entered the FDA through the revolving government/private industry door after allegedly making millions as the director of Henry Schein Inc., the largest seller of amalgam (mercury fillings).
The FDA has a history of stacking the deck of its advisory panels so that the pro-industry, pro-mercury position is upheld.
In a word: money. Over 100 million fillings are put into mouths in the United States alone, and each tooth that's filled with toxic mercury represents a profit source for the amalgam industry – an industry that is used to having its way with world governments for the past 100 years.
Folks, bringing about change in the health care field has always been about battling against entrenched profit centers, and this is no exception.
The dental amalgam industry and their paid shills and former executives in government simply do NOT want access to your mouth blocked, regardless of the health implications. The mercury fillings industry is an entrenched, embattled and a very profitable industry, and they have been on a war footing against scientists all over the world for decades.
The FDA has been far behind the rest of the world in stepping up to the plate to reduce mercury in your mouth. The FDA has been standing in the way of banning this dangerous dental material for 34 years -- since 1976. But the very good news is that we are starting to win this battle.
Where Do Other Countries Stand on Mercury Dental Fillings?
Other countries are now beginning to restrict the use of mercury fillings, much to the dismay of the amalgam industry, which unfortunately still includes the ADA (American Dental Association):
- Canada advised dentists to stop placing amalgam in children and pregnant women in 1996 -- 15 years ago!
- Denmark, Norway and Sweden have essentially banned amalgams.
- Worldwide amalgam (mercury filling) use is in decline
- One California city, Costa Mesa, has endorsed a city-wide amalgam ban
- The World Health Organization supports an amalgam "Phase Down"
For a country that is supposed to be so scientifically advanced, the United States is currently lagging behind many nations, and even behind some third-world countries, when it comes to mercury fillings.
Mercury Fillings and the Environment
The ADA and other pro-mercury proponents have always claimed that mercury fillings are a low cost and very cost effective way to treat dental decay. Is this true? Not when you examine the true cost to human health and the environment caused by mercury fillings!
Mercury from dental offices is actually the largest source of mercury found in wastewater. According to an article by Michael Bender (co-founder of the Mercury Policy Project), at least 40 percent of mercury flowing into municipal water treatment plants comes from dentist offices! And urban water treatment plants are not set up to remove it, so eventually this mercury flowing out of dental offices will end up in your fish on your dinner table.
When someone dies, their amalgam (mercury) fillings actually pose a risk to the living as well. Emissions from the combustion of mercury fillings during cremation are a significant contaminator of air, waterways, soil, wildlife and food.
Seven to nine metric tons of mercury per year escapes into the atmosphere during cremations, and it is estimated that, left unchecked, crematoria will be the largest single cause of mercury pollution by 2020. Sweden now mandates that all mercury fillings be removed prior to cremation for this very reason.
So when you factor in environmental costs and clean-up costs, amalgam is actually the MOST EXPENSIVE dental material in the world.
It is also the number one cause of mercury exposure for consumers, according to the Canadian government and other sources. As it stands right now, U.S. dentists remain free to offer you any kind of filling they want, and four out of five dental specialists are still placing amalgams.
Help for Those Who Already have Mercury Fillings
If your mouth is currently free of mercury fillings, good for you. Make sure you keep it that way by seeing a biological dentist who can recommend a truly inert material that will not harm your health in the event you do need a filling.
For those of you who have mercury fillings, I recommend that you have them removed … but avoid making the mistake I did 20 years ago by having it done by a non-biological dentist. When you have these fillings removed you can be exposed to significant amounts of mercury vapors if the dentist doesn't know what he or she is doing.
It's also for this reason that I suggest you get healthy BEFORE having your fillings removed, as you want your detoxification mechanisms optimized prior to removal.
Once you're ready to go ahead with it, do your research and seek out a highly qualified biological dentist. 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 breath 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
Help to Make the FDA Act on this Important Issue NOW!
FDA operates on its own timetables. The wonder is that the FDA even agreed to re-consider a rule they wrote just 18 months ago, since they often appear to consider their infallibility to be at the level of the Pope.
This time, though, the FDA is under heat to act, and we need your support to keep the pressure on them to tell the public the truth about mercury fillings.
The agencies of government who work on mercury issues – the EPA, Council on Environmental Quality, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with the FDA – are meeting with the State Department to hammer out the U.S. position on all the mercury issues.
The FDA is the odd man out, the one favoring a mercury product; the heat is on FDA to join the rest of the Obama Administration, and join the modern world. So both because of the scientists' recommendation, and because the FDA is increasingly alone both in the world and in the US government, we may have reached the tipping point.
The science is quite clear; the FDA has to date ignored it.
For 30 years, in violation of federal law, the FDA refused to classify dental amalgam (that is, develop a rule to regulate it), doing so only when ordered by a federal judge. In that court case, in 2008, the FDA agreed, in negotiations with Charlie Brown of Consumers for Dental Choice, to post strong warnings on its consumer website about amalgam's toxicity and its particular risk to pregnant women and children.
So What Happened?
In 2009 Margaret Hamburg became the FDA's Commissioner. With Hamburg's participation in the rulemaking, the FDA withdrew all warnings from the consumer website, and hid them deep in the rule. The FDA effectively gave the green light for dentists in the United States to continue concealing the mercury content of fillings from consumers, and the green light to continue calling them "silver fillings."
Throughout the rulemaking process, Hamburg was corresponding with Schein's general counsel, who, immediately after the rule was issued, wrote to Hamburg that the corporation is "indebted to you" for her work as FDA Commissioner.
What Happened Next?
A consumer groundswell erupted, including many writing the FDA after reading about this outrage in the Mercola Newsletter. YOU were so active that FDA Webview, an independent publication, said, "No final rule in FDA's modern history, or perhaps ever, has attracted this kind of organized opposition."
The FDA then came under the microscope because of world treaty negotiations working to begin phasing out the mercury product, and the rest of the US government, especially EPA, was supporting efforts to finally address amalgam.
With four petitions in front of them to reconsider the amalgam rule, the FDA agreed, convening a panel of distinguished scientists for two days of hearings on December 14, and 15, 2010. The scientists at the hearings told the FDA (1) to ban amalgam for pregnant women and children (either to age six or 12), and (2) put labels on amalgam so every dental patient and parent is aware of its mercury content and toxicity.
Just three weeks after those hearings came the resignation of FDA Deputy Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein, who approved the 2009 FDA rule on mercury fillings that flew in the face of science.
Sharfstein dropped to a much lower perch within the government's health ranks, caused most likely by his resistance at the FDA to facing the truth about mercury fillings. He is now the health director for Maryland.
What You Can Do Now to Make a Difference!
We need to get the assent of the rest of the resistant members at the FDA as well, or send them packing! And we are asking again for your help to do it! We simply cannot let the FDA get away with ignoring the scientists as it has done so many times before, we are so close now to bringing the truth about mercury fillings to the light. I encourage you to get involved!
Please write the FDA Director of the Division of Dental Devices, Anthony Watson, at: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Tell Mr. Watson of the FDA:
- Since the FDA’s own panel of scientists advises that amalgam should “definitely not” be implanted in children, pregnant women, and hypersensitive people, how soon will you take action to protect these vulnerable populations from this toxin?
- Since the FDA has a duty to tell consumers that amalgam contains mercury that can damage the neurological systems of unborn babies, children, and hypersensitive populations, when does FDA intend to clearly state this warning on its consumer website and in consumer labeling?
- Since Commissioner Hamburg claims FDA is committed to transparency, how does FDA plan to keep the public updated on its progress with regard to the amalgam issue?
Don't sit this one out. With your help we can get the FDA to finally admit to the public what scientists have known for a long time – mercury fillings are a public health and an environmental hazard, and should not ever be allowed in the bodies of pregnant women or in children!
The time to act is now!
Together we can make a lasting change and help protect pregnant women and children, along with the health of our next generation!