By Dr. Mercola
Mercury is a pernicious poison that should never be placed in your mouth. Yet half of the dentists in the U.S. still use dental or "silver" amalgam, 50 percent of which is mercury, not silver. Mercury is the most volatile and toxic of the heavy metals, and the vapors released when chewing or brushing pose a clear and present danger to health — especially your brain and kidneys, as mercury is a neuro- and nephrotoxin. It's also toxic to your reproductive system.
As such, it's really shocking that mercury amalgam is still being allowed to be placed mere inches from a child's developing brain. Charlie Brown, president of Consumers for Dental Choice and the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, is a fearless activist for mercury-free dentistry.
He's spent the last two decades tirelessly advocating for the complete elimination of mercury from dentistry across the world. Consumers for Dental Choice and the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry have made great headway over the years, but the battle will not be over until mercury is no longer making its way into the mouths of anyone, anywhere.
During our annual Mercury Awareness Week, we encourage you to contribute to this incredibly important cause, which can have profound health benefits for generations to come. As in previous years, I will match your donations, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000.
Great Headway Being Made
Our annual donation drive on behalf of Consumers for Dental Choice and the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry has allowed Brown to accomplish a number of remarkable feats. So, please, know that your contributions are really having an enormous impact.
"What the Mercola.com organization has done has made the difference in us being able to break through as a national and worldwide organization," Brown says. "Remember, amalgam is now in the Minamata Convention on Mercury … [which] takes effect this month. It becomes legally binding.
It's a legal requirement, including the requirement on [phasing out] amalgam … Over 120 countries signed, and now 70 some have ratified. We are going to end the use of manmade mercury in this generation. Some of the steps are slow, but we're moving forward."
There are still thousands of dentists in the U.S. and elsewhere who are foolish enough to use amalgam, mainly because it's a quick and easy way to make a profit. The long-term damage amalgam does to your teeth also ensures repeat clientele. The pro-mercury dentists have the support of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which sadly continues to protect and even promote mercury fillings, despite the multitude of reasons to phase it out. There's clear and overwhelming evidence against its use.
The good news is that the public is disregarding the FDA and is walking away from the pro-mercury dentists and toward the mercury-free dentists. Consumers for Dental Choice has taken steps to radically shift the playing field in favor of consumers who want mercury-free dentistry.
Via public education and consumer fact sheets, public awareness of the mercury in amalgam has doubled — which means millions more consumers are demanding mercury-free dentistry. Government support for amalgam is weakening, as it must — the Minamata Convention on Mercury mandates that every government take specific steps to reduce use of amalgam. But the biggest change is the huge number of mercury-free dentists, now available in most communities across the nation.
Two decades ago, when Consumers for Dental Choice began, only 3 percent of dentists were mercury-free. State dental boards enforced a gag rule, taking away licenses of dentists who dared tell patients about amalgam's mercury. In his hat as attorney, Brown represented dentists coast-to-coast, citing the First Amendment as the weapon to destroy the gag rule and empower dentists to advise, advocate and advertise mercury-free dentistry.
Third-Party Payer System Slows Change
Today, half of U.S. and Canadian dentists have eliminated amalgam from their practice. Now, the other half need to follow suit, and we will not quit until they do. Here is the main barrier today: Private insurance and government programs. Brown explains:
"There's a third party that really screws it up. That third party could be the insurance company. It could be the government. It could be the Medicaid Program; the Indian reservation. Where you have someone else paying the bill, they are much less likely to want to change anything.
That's true in Germany, Poland, Costa Rica, Uruguay and Nigeria — wherever we go, the third-party system, the government … does not want to change anything. Frankly, it's a lot harder to change [the third-party system] than the consumer-dentist relationship, because we are changing that one; we're winning that one."
Important Information Regarding Amalgam Removal
For those of you who have mercury fillings, I recommend removal. However, please don't make the same mistake I did. Acute mercury toxicity is a very real possibility if you have them removed by a dentist who does not have the proper training. When I had my amalgams removed, some 25 years ago, my dentist — who was otherwise competent — took no precautions during removal, and I suffered lasting kidney damage as a result.
As the amalgams are drilled out, mercury vapors are released. These vapors, and the amalgam fragments, must be carefully ventilated and separated to avoid massive mercury exposure. After all, the tissues in your mouth are highly absorbent.
For this reason, I also recommend getting healthy before having your fillings removed. You'll want to optimize your detoxification mechanisms prior to removal to avoid complications. It would also be wise to take heavy metal binders to absorb any mercury released into your system, on the day of removal and for some time thereafter.
My struggles with my own dental care led me to learn about and embrace biological dentistry, also known as holistic or environmental dentistry. In a nutshell, biological dentistry views your teeth and gums as an integrated part of your entire body, and any medical treatments performed take this into account. The primary aim of holistic dentistry is to resolve your dental problems while working in harmony with the rest of your body.
Biological dentists are well aware of the dangers involved with toxic materials such as mercury fillings. Some things that need to be done 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
✓ 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 filling has 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
How to Find a Mercury-Free Dentist and/or Biological Dentist for Amalgam Removal
The mercury-safe dentist directory by the International Association of Mercury Safe Dentists (IAMSD) is a source that can be useful if you're looking for a mercury-free dentist. Through this service, you can search for mercury-free dentists (members of IAMSD) in the U.S., Canada and internationally. ToxicTeeth.org also has a search feature allowing you to locate a mercury-free dentist in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Italy and the U.K,
As for removal of amalgams you already have, the following organizations can help you find a biological dentist qualified in the safe removal of mercury fillings in the U.S. and (in some cases) internationally.
Unfortunately, the cost of removal can be financially challenging. One alternative is to have your amalgams removed by a biological dentist in a country where costs are lower, such as Mexico. The key consideration is whether the dentist is properly trained in the safe removal of amalgam.
So, shop around, but don't avoid it, because it's so important to your health. You can have the best diet, the best exercise and sleep patterns, but if you have a mouthful of mercury, it's going to adversely affect your health. I would also suggest you take a long, hard look at any dental plan you're considering.
Make sure they cover mercury-free fillings for ALL teeth. If you're an employer, consider providing a mercury-free plan, which is what I did. Our company dental plan will not cover amalgams. Many dental plans are the other way around.
Europe Bans Amalgam for Children and Pregnant Women While US Lags Behind
As noted by Brown, Europe has paved the way for the rest of the world by banning the use of amalgam fillings in pregnant or nursing women and children under the age of 15. The rule takes effect on July 1, 2018, and will apply across the entire European Union (EU),1— 28 countries in all, with a population totaling more than half a billion people. It was a tremendous fight to get this through. It took years, but it was well worth it. Millions of European children will never be exposed to dental mercury as a result of this victory.
"We had to learn the Byzantine nature of the European Union — there's the European Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament. We had to work all three of them. We had to get all three to agree. But we did that. We asked for a total phase-out of amalgam. We got the first, huge step, which is [a ban for] children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and a road map from 2018 to 2020 to [reevaluate the use of amalgam in dentistry].
It is the beacon for the world … Now, where's the U.S. on this? Where is the FDA? Nowhere to be found. I'm telling you, the pressure is ramping up on FDA, which is standing increasingly alone as a protector of mercury fillings while the rest of the world is taking steps — as the Minamata Convention requires — to phase down their use [of dental mercury].
We're starting with protecting the most vulnerable. They're not protected at all. But [mercury] can affect any of us at any age. It is a virulent neurotoxin. It is a major workplace hazard. Non-mercury-free dentists are putting their employees at risk, particularly the women of childbearing age. It is horrible. It is documented that women's reproductive functions are harmed by working in a dental office. We had one who took her own life.
So, go to a mercury-free dentist. I want to salute the 50 percent of dentists in [the U.S.] who have thrown amalgam out the window. It is encouraging. [But] the dental schools we thought would make the change … they simply aren't doing that.
The dental schools we thought would be at the forefront are probably the worst … A professor at the University of Connecticut … wrote the major newspaper in Hartford saying there's no mercury in amalgam! Imagine saying that to the public, the newspaper, and I'm sure [he's] saying it to his students."
Demand Your Choice
If the FDA refuses to do the right thing, there's plan B: Demand mercury-free dental insurance coverage. To do this, the Demand Your Choice program was created. You can make a difference by signing the National Demand Your Choice petition, and/or sending a letter directly to your dental insurance company and state insurance department. On DemandYourChoice.com, you'll find a prewritten draft letter that you can personalize and print out.
"Some people are stuck in third-party programs and Medicaid. They may be a soldier, sailor, airman or marine. They may be a prisoner. They may live on an Indian reservation.
All those people are basically having amalgam forced on them. We're saying, fight back! Here's the website to help you push back and say, 'I don't want those fillings for my family or me. I want mercury-free dentistry.' Please go to DemandYourChoice.com."
Just as Consumers for Dental Choice dismantled the gag rule that blocked dentists' choice, the Demand Your Choice campaign seeks to dismantle pro-mercury insurance and pro-mercury government programs.
Support the Fight for Mercury-Free Dentistry
This is now the seventh annual Mercury Awareness Week, and as in previous years, I will match donations given this week, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000. We met our goal of $100,000 last year, and we hope to do it again. I assure you, the money you donate to Consumers for Dental Choice is well spent. Brown is exceptionally frugal, stretching funds to the max.
Anyone who donates to this organization can be confident that not a single penny is going to be wasted. Consumers for Dental Choice has also proven itself to be one of the most effective consumer advocate groups out there, making tremendous headway.
"We see Europe now banning amalgam for children. We see the Minamata Convention taking legal effect. We see half of the dentists in America being mercury-free. In fact, Oregon had to change its Medicaid Program and bring in mercury-free dentistry because there weren't enough dentists doing pro-mercury dentistry," Brown says.
"We have the challenge we're mounting right now in Connecticut, working with the Yale Law School and the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice to force compliance with the law on disclosures. We've seen not only double or triple the number of dentists who are mercury-free, but also a doubling in public awareness."
Raising public awareness has been crucial in this fight, as the American Dental Association has a long history of trying to hide the fact that dental amalgam contains mercury. It even implemented a gag rule preventing dentists from informing their patients about this fact.
Well, they can no longer enforce this gag rule, and Consumers for Dental Choice was instrumental in forcing dental boards to change their policy to allow dentists to advertise mercury-free dentistry. There was a time when dentists were not allowed to call themselves "mercury-free," as this was a tip-off that others did use mercury.
Looking Toward the Future
Among the many goals for this year, Brown is focused on getting the FDA to enforce the Minamata Convention rule on mercury, which means steps must be taken to phase out its use. As it stands, the FDA wants more amalgam use, not less.
By continuing to support amalgam, the agency is ignoring the Minamata Convention on Mercury, public opinion and its duty to the American people. The agency has even admitted they don't know if amalgam is safe for children under 6, yet it won't ban it for children under 6.
"Now, they have the contrast with the European Union. They are rivals. Each one thinks they're better at device regulation. The chief U.S. device regulator said, 'We don't treat patients like guinea pigs. The European Union treats patients like guinea pigs.' That's what Dr. Jeff Shuren [FDA's director for the Center for Devices and Radiological Health] said. He's the guy who signed the amalgam rule and is enforcing it — that's truly treating children like guinea pigs!
It's time for Shuren and FDA to [be asked], 'Why don't you just be half as good as the European Union and quit accusing them of treating patients like guinea pigs when they are banning amalgam for children and you aren't even ordering that the parents be told that amalgam has mercury?' … If they're banning it for children, are our children less important than the European children?"
Practical Action Steps Going Forward
In summary, here are some practical steps you can take to help eliminate mercury from the dental industry:
✓ Refuse amalgam fillings for yourself and your family, and urge your friends to do the same
✓ Don't give a single dollar to pro-mercury dentists — the ones who place amalgam in any person. If a dentist faced the choice of no business or going mercury-free, surely, he or she will see the light!
✓ If you have mercury fillings, be sure to consult with a biological dentist who is trained in the safe removal of amalgam
✓ Contact your dental insurance company and state insurance department, and demand coverage for mercury-free dentistry. You can personalize the prewritten draft available on DemandYourChoice.com
✓ Sign the Demand Your Choice petition
Last but not least, help educate others by sharing information about mercury-free dentistry with your social networks. Because of the "silver" fillings deception, many people — quite understandably — don't yet know that amalgam contains mercury, a heavy metal so toxic it is the subject of an international treaty. Annex A-II of that treaty provides the road map for the transition to mercury-free dentistry. By banning mercury, we will provide a tremendous gift to future generations.
Soon children all over Europe will no longer be exposed to this pernicious poison that must later be mitigated. European children will be protected. But we will not stop until ALL children, everywhere, are protected from this unnecessary mercury exposure. Please help us make this happen by making a donation to Consumers for Dental Choice today.