By Dr. Mercola
For an entire week each year, I focus on the campaign to end dental amalgam. Those silver fillings are really mercury fillings, and their use in America and around the world needs to stop — for health reasons, for environmental reasons, for workplace safety reasons and for social justice reasons.
We have a united worldwide team, and we can win the campaign for mercury-free dentistry. I have worked closely with the leader of this campaign — Charlie Brown of Consumers for Dental Choice — and I have full confidence that we are on the path to victory.
If you check out my August 12 interview with Charlie, I think you’ll agree we have a winning strategy and a winning team in place.
I believe so strongly in this campaign and its potential for full victory — the end of amalgam use worldwide — that I have stepped up to the table with a matching funds campaign. This week, through August 19, 2018, I match every dollar donated by you, your friends and everyone else, up to $125,000. Please join me with every dollar you can. I promise you that I will double it!
The European Union Bans Amalgam for Children
A sustained multiyear campaign led by Consumers for Dental Choice and its European NGO allies, joined by scholars and nonprofit groups across Europe, bore great fruit last year.
In a rule spearheaded by two outstanding members of the European Parliament, the honorable Stefan Eck of Germany and the honorable Michele Rivasi of France, the European Union adopted a ban that virtually stops any amalgam use for children under age 15, for pregnant women and for breastfeeding mothers.
This rule took effect July 1, 2018. I am so proud to say: The next generation of European children is safe from the ravages of mercury fillings!
The ban for children and some young women is the springboard to a wider circle; it’s exactly how Norway and Sweden got to the final stage, by starting with the ban for children. So, the two answers to the question: “Why children first?” are (1) they are children, we should protect them first; and (2) it is the best strategy to the end game, which is a complete ban on amalgam for anybody, anywhere, any time!
Now the campaign leader in Europe’s No. 1 economy, Germany, is coaxing the national insurance industry to a shift to paying for mercury-free fillings. When Germany moves, the rest of the European Union (EU) is likely to follow. The rule in Europe is part of a broad package of mercury reduction and elimination measures that are part of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
In an intense three-year campaign (2010 through 2013), the umbrella global alliance founded by Consumers for Dental Choice, the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, succeeded in securing a strong amalgam plan in that treaty. The Minamata Convention on Mercury entered into legal force in 2017, triggering conferences of the parties to implement it worldwide.
Spurred Forward by Consumers for Dental Choice, the Europe Partial Ban Is Having Worldwide Impact
At the first Conference of the Parties of the Minamata Convention, held in Geneva last October, Brown challenged the world to equal or exceed the new amalgam policy of the EU, launching the “Make Dental Amalgam History” campaign.
Charlie concluded his speech with these words: “Your nation should end amalgam use for children, because the children of your nation are equally important to the children of Europe.” The worldwide campaign to end amalgam for children — as a springboard to ending its use entirely — is now in high gear:
- Consumers for Dental Choice’s international arm, the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, worked with the United Nations Environment to cosponsor a global workshop dedicated to discussing the end of amalgam use in “women, children and, through them, future generations.” This highly successful workshop was held in Bangkok in May.
- Consumers for Dental Choice’s global team is pushing to end amalgam use in all children (as an effective intermediate step toward ending its use in everybody).
- In April came the game changer here in America: the Chicago Declaration to End Dental Industry Mercury Use.1 Announced at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, over 50 nonprofit groups joined Consumers for Dental Choice to call for the U.S. to match the EU by ending amalgam use in children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers in 2018, based on the precautionary principle, and to phase out its use, with time-limited specific exceptions, by 2020.
The Chicago Declaration is having a demonstrable impact in Washington too. Consumers for Dental Choice led the way to the Chicago Declaration. Now please do your part: Help Consumers for Dental Choice carry the message of the Chicago Declaration nationwide! And remember, I will match your donation dollar for dollar.
FDA Stays Asleep at the Switch
But one player still sits on the bench, seemingly asleep. Ignoring the radical changes in dentistry, ignoring the new policies restricting amalgam use around the world, ignoring the Minamata Convention, there sits the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Instead, FDA continues to stand by its policy of doing nothing to protect this most vulnerable population — or anyone else for that matter. No bans. No limits on use. No mercury warnings. No patient labeling.
FDA’s dental amalgam rule acknowledges the risks, stating: “The developing neurological systems in fetuses and young children may be more sensitive to the neurotoxic effects of mercury vapor.” Yet the FDA has done nothing to protect these vulnerable populations.
FDA even admits there is no proof that amalgam is safe for these populations, stating: “Very limited to no clinical information is available regarding long-term health outcomes in pregnant women and their developing fetuses, and children under the age of 6, including infants who are breastfed.” Even so, FDA has done nothing.
In 2017, the Minamata Convention on Mercury — the global health and environment treaty — came into force with the U.S. as a party.
Not only does the Minamata Convention require parties to reduce their amalgam use, but it also urges them to consider vulnerable groups because of “the health concerns, especially in developing countries, resulting from exposure to mercury of vulnerable populations, especially women, children and, through them, future generations.” Still, the FDA did nothing.
Consumers for Dental Choice Challenges FDA Again
In July, Consumers for Dental Choice launched a petition campaign to get FDA to act. It has garnered over 35,000 signatures and is still going. If you haven’t done so, I encourage you to sign and share the petition now.
First the Chicago Declaration, then the petition drive. The next step to get FDA to act is coming soon. FDA is important, yes, but not like it once was. Why?
Because Consumers for Dental Choice is end-running FDA by convincing dentists to shift to mercury-free dentistry, empowering consumers to insist on mercury-free dentistry, and working with our environmental allies like Mercury Policy Project to get the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to mandate environmental action by the pro-mercury dentists.
When Consumers for Dental Choice started, an iron triangle kept amalgam sacrosanct in dentistry. The American Dental Association called mercury-free dentistry unethical, and the 50 state dental boards enforced a gag rule to command silence by dentists who disagreed.
The FDA would not even classify amalgam, meaning there was no amalgam regulation, and hence no way to protest it. All that has changed. Consumers for Dental Choice defeated the gag rule, ending the role of dental boards in sustaining amalgam. Consumers for Dental Choice sued FDA, forcing it to classify amalgam, and made sure amalgam was covered in the Minamata Convention.
Go to a Mercury-Free Dentist
Insist on mercury-free dentistry, yes. But take it another step — don’t go to a dentist who puts mercury fillings in any child or any person! Spend your time, spend your money, only with a mercury-free dentist. How do you find one? Here are several organizations with lists or information: