SUBSCRIBE BY RSS rss feed | EMAIL
Natural Solutions Radio header image

With the ADA’s Power Over Amalgam Collapsing, We Celebrate Mercury-Free Dentistry Week

This week, September 15-21, is Mercury-Free Dentistry Week. The Natural Health Research Foundation, which I founded, will match every contribution received this week to the nonprofit group Consumers for Dental Choice, who runs the Campaign for Mercury-Free Dentistry.

Last year’s Mercury-Free Dentistry Week was quite a success. With your help, the Campaign for Mercury-Free Dentistry met the match goal of $50,000, which we matched dollar-for dollar. So this week, I up the ante by $25,000.

I pledge to match all contributions received – up to $75,000!

Dental amalgam is a primitive, pre-Civil War, polluting product that cracks and damages your teeth. In 21st-century dentistry, it owes its continued use to the machinations of the American Dental Association (ADA).

The ADA is a trade group created in the Civil War era with the goal of advancing mercury fillings as dentistry’s mainstay; to maintain its hold, the ADA resorted to deceptive and manipulative techniques.

These include strategies like acquiring patents on amalgam, adopting a gag rule to order dentists to stand silent about amalgam’s mercury, and handing out brochures deceptively promoting amalgam as “silver fillings” rather than the accurate term “mercury fillings.”

ADA’s Stronghold Over Amalgam Is Finally Crumbling

As its power reached monopoly status, the ADA became the puppeteer for amalgam. Its string-pulling caused regulators to dance, lawmakers to speak, and the mainstream media to stay silent. Following the ADA line, state dental boards enforced the gag rule at the threat of license removal.

Choosing to please the ADA and hence defying its legal duty to classify amalgam, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) drew the wrath of a United States District Judge.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), instead of trying to reduce mercury pollution, cut the infamous “midnight deal” with the ADA so dentists could continue to pollute instead of buy separators.1 ADA’s actions gave license to profiteering ADA members to reap quick and easy profits by, in the generations-old dental school joke, the method of “drill, fill, and bill.”

Enter Consumers for Dental Choice, the nonprofit group led by attorney and advocate Charlie Brown. In their first campaign, they destroyed the gag rule, freeing up dentists to talk to patients and the public about the value of mercury-free dentistry.



Later, they sued the FDA, and a federal judge forced the agency to classify amalgam. At the dawn of the International treaty on mercury talks, they organized the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, so they could go toe-to-toe with the pro-mercury World Dental Federation (the ADA is its major member). Then came 2013, and things started to fall apart for the ADA. In the past nine months, this pro-mercury trade group has suffered a succession of humiliating defeats -- at the mercury treaty, in the mainstream media, and in the public health community.

In Geneva in January, at its fifth session stretching over three years, 140 nations reached an agreement on the language of the mercury treaty on amalgam. Here is why our side won at the mercury treaty, and why the ADA side lost:

For the first time, nations have acknowledged that amalgam waste management is not enough. The final treaty language calls for nations to take measures “to phase down the use of dental amalgam.” Amalgam is the only mercury-added product in the treaty with a road map for how to phase down its use, providing nations with specific guidance on what measures can be taken to transition to mercury-free alternatives. That’s how seriously the nations are taking this issue. Phase-down measures listed in the treaty include adopting national objectives to minimize amalgam use, promoting the use of mercury-free alternatives, training dentists and dental students on alternatives, encouraging insurance policies that disfavor amalgam, and ending the use of unencapsulated bulk amalgam.

The American Dental Association (ADA) fought hard to keep amalgam out of Annex C, the part of the treaty that will be regularly reviewed and can be easily amended. The world alliance led by Charlie Brown pushed hard to get amalgam into Annex C – and won! So now, the treaty’s amalgam provision that currently calls for a phase-down can be upgraded later… to set a phase-out date that will end amalgam use once and for all. Amalgam’s Days Are Numbered...

The American media was quick to understand the value of the treaty. Even in its hometown of Chicago, the ADA is facing stories saying amalgam’s days may be numbered. The Chicago Tribune2 ran a long article on amalgam, explaining that “momentum is building to phase out dental amalgam.”

The widely-watched Dr. Oz Show aired “Are Your Silver Fillings Making You Sick?” – an episode devoted to telling dental consumers the truth about dental amalgam. Dr. Oz, audience members, and even dentists roundly condemned the continued use of mercury-releasing dental amalgam. If you missed the Dr. Oz show, you can watch the episode here.

In the old days, the ADA would go to the producer, a retraction would be made, and the status quo ante would return. This time, it did not work. Dr. Oz stood his ground, and the ADA threw in the towel, severing its affiliation with Dr. Oz’s website. The public health community, an integral part of health care in America, now realizes the value of mercury-free dentistry. An American Public Health Association panel met last month to review policy proposals and soundly rejected one backed by the ADA to “preserve” the use of dental amalgam. The panel suggested that any revised resolution “…be reflective for support of eventual phase out of the use of dental amalgam” and presented comments from several APHA sections:

“Recent studies verifying the benefits of mercury-free alternatives over amalgam (in terms of longevity, accessibility, and the environment) are neglected,”

“Scientific evidence, as well as updated data from the United Nations Environment Program and other reputable sources, indicates that amalgam is a significant source of mercury pollution and largely cannot be prevented except by source reduction,” and

From the Environment section of the APHA: …the [ADA] proposed resolution is plainly inconsistent with the Association’s comprehensive, precautionary approach to anthropogenic mercury use.” Let’s Keep the Momentum Going!

On Sunday, I wrote about a major reason to celebrate Mercury-Free Dentistry Week: the new treaty on mercury includes amalgam; each nation who signed the treaty (and every major nation and virtually every small one is indicating support) pledges at least to reduce its use (or end its use entirely).

Today, I write about another reason to celebrate: the ADA’s power over amalgam is collapsing -- and their leaders know it. Please keep this momentum going -- give to the Mercury-Free Dentistry Campaign. If you give this week, we double the size of your gift.

That the ADA recognizes its power is dissipating was illustrated at a treaty briefing in Washington on September 4. Seven U.S. government agencies hosted a meeting at the August U.S. State Department for treaty “stakeholders” -- non-government organizations representing business, consumer, and environmental interests. Among those attending were Charlie Brown for Consumers for Dental Choice and the outside counsel for the American Dental Association.

Speaking humbly, the ADA attorney said he had two areas to address. First, , he asked the Environmental Protection Agency to move forward and adopt its proposed rule to mandate amalgam separators. The action is a startling reversal of a 2008 ADA - EPA “Memorandum of Understanding” -- exposed by Michael Bender of the Mercury Policy Project in his paper entitled “Midnight Deal on Dental Mercury.”3

Second, he promised the government agencies that the ADA would work on phasing down amalgam. That the ADA would make such promises to seven U.S. government agencies is astonishing. At the least it is a reversal of the ADA’s previous no-holds-barred robust protectionism of amalgam, a recognition that their monopoly power has gone to the dustbins of history.

But will the ADA back up this talk with action? Two things are clear:

With their 150 years of protecting mercury-based dentistry, we must hold their feet to the fire to see if they are serious. Charlie Brown advises me that we have been down this road before. Consumers for Dental Choice is the team who has gotten us to this point -- and who will be the ones to work to hold the ADA accountable,to its promise. I hope you will help Charlie lead us to the finish line -- mercury-free dentistry!
Topics: