Tag Archives: amalgam fillings

The Ongoing Fight Against Dental Mercury Amalgam

Late last month, the Second Session of the World Mercury Treaty negotiations was held in Chiba, Japan. The World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry (WAMFD) – a coalition of consumer organizations from around the globe – was there to advocate for a provision to phase out mercury fillings. Charlie Brown, National Counsel of Consumers for Dental Choice and President of the WAMFD, recently sent this progress report:

  • Our meeting kicked off with the announcement that the World Health Organization has withdrawn the biased paper that the American Dental Association so heavily cited as “reinforc[ing] dental amalgam as a safe and effective restorative material.” The alleged WHO report had been passed off as the conclusions of the team of scientists, environmentalists, and dentists who met in November 2009 to discuss the future of amalgam. We exposed the paper as nothing more than a propaganda piece slapped together by a rogue dentist inside WHO who failed even to consult the other meeting participants before signing their names to his paper (needless to say they were furious; they did not remember ever declaring amalgam safe). Then, we organized the worldwide condemnation of this paper that led to its hurried retraction. You can learn how we accomplished this feat step-by-step by watching this video interview, courtesy of filmmaker Kelly Gallagher.
  • Because of our work, the first draft of the treaty lists amalgam as one of only five mercury products to be phased out. While the war is not won, we did succeed in keeping it on the list for now.
  • Thanks to the efforts of our regional vice presidents Dr. Naji Kodeih and Dominique Bally, both the Arab League and the African region announced that they support the phase-out of amalgam and the promotion of alternatives.
  • We gained a valuable new ally dedicated to ending dental mercury: Health Care Without Harm. We congratulate Health Care Without Harm for convincing the Mexico City Health Secretariat to deauthorize the purchase of amalgam in the city’s hospitals and obtaining a discussion paper from Argentina calling for a phase down of amalgam and use of alternatives.

Unfortunately, adds Charlie, “The delegates made no major decisions in this early round, not on amalgam, not on anything. Thus how amalgam will ultimately be addressed in this treaty will not be determined until the third negotiating session, to be held in an African city in October.”

Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that the “European commission is due to publish the findings of its review on dental amalgam fillings in March. In a preliminary report, published online in July, the company tasked with the study, Bio Intelligence Service, recommended phasing out mercury in dental care in Europe.”

Of course, it was just a few years ago when the EC’s Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) released its report (PDF) touting the safety of mercury fillings. “SCENIHR recognises that dental amalgam is an effective restorative material,” they wrote, “and may be considered the material of choice for some restorations….We conclude that dental health can be adequately ensured by both types of material [mercury amalgam and composite]. All the materials are considered safe to use and they are all associated with very low rates of local adverse effects with no evidence of systemic disease.”

That’s what they said. But their report was greatly flawed. Now, a paper by Dr. Joachim Mutter recently published in the Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology casts a very bright light on those flaws. The main problem? According to Dr. Mutter,

SCENIHR disregarded the toxicology of mercury and did not include most important scientific studies in their review. But the real scientific data show that:

(a) Dental amalgam is by far the main source of human total mercury body burden. This is proven by autopsy studies which found 2-12 times more mercury in body tissues of individuals with dental amalgam. Autopsy studies are the most valuable and most important studies for examining the amalgam-caused mercury body burden.

(b) These autopsy studies have shown consistently that many individuals with amalgam have toxic levels of mercury in their brains or kidneys.

(c) There is no correlation between mercury levels in blood or urine, and the levels in body tissues or the severity of clinical symptoms. SCENIHR only relied on levels in urine or blood.

(d) The half-life of mercury in the brain can last from several years to decades, thus mercury accumulates over time of amalgam exposure in body tissues to toxic levels. However, SCENIHR state that the half-life of mercury in the body is only “20-90 days”.

(e) Mercury vapor is about ten times more toxic than lead on human neurons and with synergistic toxicity to other metals.

(f) Most studies cited by SCENIHR which conclude that amalgam fillings are safe have severe methodical flaws.

Dr. Mutter’s paper provides an excellent overview of the research record on mercury in dental amalgam and its links to a variety of illnesses, including ALS, MS and Alzheimer’s. It’s a must-read for anyone concerned about the dangers of “silver” fillings and is freely accessible here.

Will critiques such as this, coupled with the new recommendation against mercury be enough to get the EC to ban mercury in dentistry? Stay tuned…

Cross-posted

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SoCal City Says No to Mercury Amalgam, Yes to Nontoxic Alternatives

Hooray for the Costa Mesa City Council for taking a stand against mercury fillings. May other cities here in California and beyond follow their lead.

Here’s the news from Charles Brown of Consumers for Dental Choice:

California City Says Stop Dental Amalgam Immediately

Costa Mesa, California has become the first city in the United States to call for an immediate end to dental amalgam, the controversial filling material that is 50% mercury. Voting 5-0 on 19 October 2010, the Costa Mesa City Council adopted the resolution (PDF) sponsored by Councilman Gary Monahan that (1) calls on federal and state agencies to eliminate amalgam, (2) asks dentists in Costa Mesa to cease using mercury and switch to non-toxic alternatives, and (3) requests that the other 33 cities in Orange County join Costa Mesa in opposing dental mercury. While as a resolution, it does not actually ban amalgam, it is an important step toward ending this health and environmental scourage.

“There are so many alternatives and I can’t understand why we’re putting this in our mouth,” explained Councilman Monahan. “[I]t’s incredibly dangerous to people getting them and to the environment.”

The watershed Monahan Resolution is the first success for Californians for Green Dentistry, a new project of Consumers for Dental Choice. Californians for Green Dentistry has a trio of dedicated leaders: Director Anita Vazquez Tibau spearheaded the strategy leading to this resolution along with dental hygienist Marisa Russo and naturopath Kristy Mills.

Since July, our hardworking California volunteers distributed handouts alerting the public to the problem of dental amalgam, gained the support of numerous local health professionals and businesses, and collected hundreds of signatures on petitions to city council. In response, the Costa Mesa City Council granted us the hearing to address dental mercury. At the city council hearing, our talented team – including dentists, health professionals, injured consumers, scientists, advocates, and even former Californian Dental Board member Dr. Chet Yokoyama – offered poignant testimony calling for a ban on dental mercury.

Our story is told by video that can be viewed by clicking here, and dentist Dr. Jim Rota’s compelling testimony can be viewed in full by clicking here. We also made the front page of the local news, which can be read online.

It’s time to take this primitive and polluting mercury product off the market, and we can start in the trend-setting state of California! If you are a Californian and want to join the Californians for Green Dentistry team in the fight against dental mercury, please write Anita and me at announcements@toxicteeth.org. Let us know your name, home county, and home city.

No matter where you are from, please thank Costa Mesa Councilman Gary Monahan for standing up to protect our communities, and especially our children, from dental mercury. He can be reached by email at gmonahan@ci.costa-mesa.ca.us.

Congratulations Costa Mesa, California!

– Charlie

Charles G. Brown, National Counsel
Consumers for Dental Choice
316 F St. NE, Suite 210
Washington, DC 20002
202-544-6333

 

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Are “Silver” Mercury Amalgam Fillings Really More Durable than “White” Composite Fillings?

Over the years, pro-mercury dentists have made some claims so often that they’ve practically become cliches – things like, “Mercury amalgam has been safely used for over 150 years,” and “Amalgam fillings are better because they last longer than composite (tooth-colored) fillings.”

We know from research, as well as clinical experience, that amalgam has in fact caused many a problem in the long term for people who, for whatever reason, are poor excretors of mercury. The metal, continually released as vapor from the fillings, makes its way into bodily tissues, including the brain. As it accumulates, the individual develops symptoms that may manifest as CFS, MCS, fibromyalgia or an autoimmune disorder, to name a few of the most common chronic illnesses that have been linked to mercury. In my office, I see people every day who are either in need of healing because of the effects of dental mercury or who are healing now that we’ve safely removed the fillings and replaced them with biocompatible materials.

But what about the idea that amalgams last longer and are therefore better, more economical? They certainly make economic sense for the dentist, as 1) they’re more fully paid for by insurance and 2) they’re less technique-sensitive, requiring less skill and time to place, meaning the dentist can fit more patients into his or her work day.

Back in the early days of composites, it was, in fact, true that amalgam lasted longer – not that this was necessarily a good thing for the health of the whole body. But are new generation materials any better?

A Dutch study recently published in the Journal of Dental Research sheds some light on the issue, looking at the durability of fillings over a span of 12 years. Nearly 2000 large, class-II restorations were evaluated. (Class II restorations are those on the proximal sides of molars and premolars – that is, toward the sides of the teeth that touch each other.) While amalgam showed better survival on three-surface restorations in patients at a higher than average risk of caries (cavities), overall, composite fared better. Moreover, a smaller percentage of composites than amalgams failed: just 15% of composites versus 25% of amalgams.

If similar or better results are reproduced by other researchers, we wonder how much longer the claim of better durability will last – and what claim could take its place to justify the continued practice of putting poison in people’s mouths.

Read more about some of the restoration materials we most often use in my Glendale, CA dental practice

 

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Tell the FDA What You Think of Mercury

Earlier this week, we got a reminder from Charlie Brown of Consumers for Dental Choice that the online commenting period is open for FDA’s December hearings on mercury amalgam. More info – along with some fascinating history about opposition to mercury in medicine – is below in Charlie’s letter.

Civil War Surgeon General Was Court-Martialed for Ordering End to Mercury

Sometimes we must all pause and ask: Why do the pro-mercury dentists resist change so vociferously? Why do these protectors of a primitive, polluting product put quick-and-easy profits ahead of patient health, the environment, and worker safety? It’s tempting to say such resistance is unprecedented.

Not so.

Last week, I toured the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Maryland. While at the museum, I bought its book about Civil War medicine: Death in the Breeze by Bonnie Brice Dorwart, M.D. Mercury’s use was so prevalent, and even then so controversial, that the author devotes two chapters just to mercury – prescribed by physicians in that era to treat soldiers for dysentery, typhoid, malaria, pneumonia and syphilis.

Some physicians opposed pushing mercury onto unsuspecting patients. In fact, an early hero of the mercury-free movement was none other than the Surgeon General of the United States himself, William A. Hammond. Realizing that mercury should have no role in medicine, Hammond courageously issued General Order #6 on May 4, 1863, banning its use by Army physicians. But by issuing an order to protect soldiers from dying from mercury toxicity, Hammond signed his own political death warrant. Immediately, the medical establishment started calling for his ouster. The American Medical Association assigned delegates from every state to work against Order #6. On August 18, 1864, the AMA’s smear campaign succeeded: Surgeon General Hammond was court-martialed and cashiered out.

The American Medical Association defeated Hammond, but could not defeat the truth. More dissident physicians sprung up to oppose mercury, including the renowned Boston poet-physician Oliver Wendell Holmes (the father of the famous judge). Surgeon General Hammond was ultimately vindicated. Today, the Civil War use of mercury as a tonic is ridiculed. In the prologue to Dr. Dorwart’s 2009 book, Dr. H. Ralph Schumacher Jr., Professor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, states: “Many therapies such as purging and mercury may have hastened death.” Then he adds, prophetically: “What will our successors think of our efforts 150 years from now?”

Future generations not only will condemn the American Dental Association for implanting a neurotoxin into the human body, but no doubt they will resent cleaning up after the irresponsible dentists who polluted our planet with mercury. However, like Surgeon General Hammond, we now have the opportunity to stand up publicly against mercury abusers. Then it was the medical establishment; today it is the dental establishment.

In preparation for the hearings on dental amalgam to be held in December, FDA is accepting public comments online. Speak out for mercury-free dentistry by clicking here to submit a comment. Tell FDA about:

  • Your injuries caused by amalgam,
  • Your children’s exposure to mercury,
  • How your mercury fillings were implanted without your informed consent,
  • How bad dental mercury is for the environment,
  • How deceptive FDA’s dental amalgam website is, or
  • Any other concerns relating to mercury fillings.

You might want to tell FDA, too, that the American Medical Association did all that it could to protect mercury in the 19th century, endangering countless lives. Now the ADA is doing all it can to protect mercury in the 21st century. Will FDA stand up to the American Dental Association like Surgeon General Hammond stood up to the American Medical Association, or will FDA continue to defend mercury implanted in children’s teeth?

Charles G. Brown
National Counsel, Consumers for Dental Choice
President, World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry
17 August 2010

To learn more about the public comment process, see the FDA info page on comments.

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Inflammation: A Link Between Dental and Chronic, Systemic Illnesses

When we think of symptoms, we usually do so very subjectively. For symptoms make us feel bad – not just physically, but mentally and spiritually, too, since our physical limitations may keep us from doing the things we want or need to do. Thus, we tend to see symptoms as things that must be stopped. And thus, conventional medicine provides all kinds of symptom-suppressing drugs and therapies. But since they fail to address root causes, illness gets pushed deeper into the body, creating more problems – and more symptoms – in the long run.

Suffice it to say, this is a very limited – and limiting – view of both sickness and health.

When we think about symptoms from a holistic, biological perspective, though, we see them as signs of a body trying to heal itself. For the body is a self-regulating system, always striving for homeostasis – the condition of being the same: normal temperature, normal levels of constituents in the blood, and so on. So when, for instance, a foreign substance enters it – pathogenic (disease-causing) microbes, say – your body's defenses go to work to try to neutralize or remove the invaders. You may run a fever, as heat kills some pathogens. You may sneeze, cough, vomit or get diarrhea as your body attempts to excrete toxins. Your tissues may become red, swollen and tender as lymphocytes battle the foreign element.

Thus, what the holistic practitioner wants to do is not help a patient “manage” an illness by suppressing symptoms but work towards real cure by providing treatment that supports the body in its ability to heal itself.

 

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Inflammation is one of the most common symptoms of all. It is a factor in a whole host of disease processes, from periodontal (gum) disease to cardiovascular disease (CVD, or “heart disease”), diabetes to stroke, arthritis to cancer. It also plays a role across the range of autoimmune disorders, including multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus, Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS) and Crohn's disease, as well as conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). In all such cases, the inflammation is chronic: ongoing, lasting for years, often before other symptoms are experienced or full-blown illness sets in. The body adapts, and over time, the inflammation becomes destructive. This is in contrast to acute inflammation – the kind that occurs, say, when you cut or burn yourself: an immediate and short term experience that encourages the healing process.

Periodontal Disease

In dentistry, inflammation is most commonly associated with gum disease. Gingivitis and periodontitis have many causes, including genetic predisposition, diet, hygiene, diabetes and stress, and eventually result in “pockets” forming between the teeth and supporting tissues.

When the gums are healthy, this space is less than three millimeters deep. But as inflammation sets in, the gums become red and puffy, and even normal brushing may cause them to bleed. The pockets deepen, becoming ideal homes for the oral bacteria that thrive in such dark, moist places. And as the microbes colonize and multiply, they also generate acidic, metabolic waste that further pollutes the body's biological terrain (internal environment). This, of course, perpetuates the disease which, if left untreated, ultimately leads to tooth and bone loss.

Fortunately, excellent home hygiene combined with regular deep, professional cleanings can stave off, stop or reverse periodontal disease, though in some cases, more extensive treatments such as laser surgery and tissue grafts may be needed to deal with the damage already done.

Over the past decade or so, much research has been done on the relationships between periodontal and other inflammatory diseases, and there are a number of interesting links. Some of the best evidence shows a relation between gum and heart disease, where we see the same pathogenic microbes in both the mouths and hearts of CVD patients. We also know that diabetes raises the risk of periodontal disease, while other links have been found between gum disease and cancer. These connections are recognized by orthodox dental medicine, as well as holistic. Consequently, even conventional dental researchers now acknowledge that good oral health and hygiene may be preventive of at least some systemic, inflammatory diseases.

Toxic Materials and Other Dental Sources of Inflammation

There are other dental conditions that can trigger inflammatory immune responses that can range from mild swelling and soreness to full-blown illnesses, including autoimmune disorders such as MS and lupus, and “enigmatic” illnesses such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and MCS.

In the case of dental materials, the issue is often one of biocompatibility. If a dentist places a filling, crown, bridge or other restoration made of material that is toxic (e.g., dental amalgam) or that the patient is allergic to, the patient may develop symptoms. Their severity and likelihood of progressing to chronic, systemic illness depend, of course, on the material itself and the patient's degree of sensitivity. Much depends, as well, on how effectively the patient can excrete toxins, their ongoing exposure to environmental toxins, their total toxic body burden and healthfulness of lifestyle (e.g., diet, drug use, tobacco use, physical activity).

Yet another issue with metal restorations in particular is oral galvanism: the creation of electrical currents in the mouth when different metals are near each other, close enough to be reactive. The mutual presence of gold and mercury is especially potent. Symptoms of oral galvanism may not be felt by the patient, or manifest merely as a metallic taste in the mouth or general sensitivity. But over time, these electrical fields can create great disturbances in the body, leading eventually to illness or dysfunction.

One other big area of concern is infection, both local and focal. Local dental infections include things like abscesses, which may be noticeable by touch (e.g., you can feel the sore with your tongue), as well as pain, pus or bleeding in the area. Focal infection is when infection in one area of the body, such as the mouth, affects other areas of the body.

Dental foci commonly stem from root canal teeth or cavitations (literally, holes in the jawbone), both of which – like periodontal pockets – are great harbors for pathogenic microbes. Indeed, in these cases, the environment is even more suited to infection, for both root canal teeth and cavitations involve dead tissue. Little oxygen reaches these sites, which is great for anaerobic microbes – organisms that thrive in the absence of oxygen. Their colonization furthers the decay of these tissues. However, because the sites are connected via the various circulatory systems, both microbes and their toxic waste products enter the body's general circulation. From there, they can wreak havoc elsewhere in the body. Indeed, this is a likely mechanism for the relationship between the systemic and oral diseases – gum disease and heart disease, say, or cancer.

The obvious solution, then, is to remove the source of infection. If problematic cavitations or root canal teeth are present, they must be, respectively, cleaned or removed and replaced with nontoxic, biocompatible restorations in order to stop the continuing toxication of the body. Once the source is removed, much more progress may be made in treating the systemic aspects of the disease and returning the body to full health. If mercury or other toxic restorations are the issue, they should be safely removed and replaced for the same reason.

That said, if you have a chronic condition such as CVD, lupus or cancer, you can't just conclude that it's caused by your dental conditions. You don't just rush out and have thousands of dollars of dental work done immediately, and there are no instant cures. Thorough, comprehensive testing must always be done first to pinpoint the precise causes of any illness – or to rule them out. Then treatment must follow in a sensible, logical and scientifically valid way in order to insure that it's done right and helps, not harms. Proper detox protocols must be followed, and often further therapeutic interventions by naturopaths, homeopaths or other holistic healers are needed for full treatment. The dental aspect is just that – an aspect, albeit an important one. And it's rooted in what ties so much illness together: the inflammatory response, your body's attempt to heal.

Read more articles like this at our main office site, drerwin.com.

 

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Silver Fillings, Toxic Teeth

 

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Why Doesn’t Everyone with Mercury Fillings Get Sick?

Mercury is a poison. It doesn’t belong in the human body. Yet dentists continue to put it in people’s mouths via “silver” amalgam fillings – fillings that are actually about 50% mercury. More than two-thirds of Americans have had at least one. The average adult has at least 10. And despite ADA claims, the mercury in them does not become inert once the filling is placed. That would require magic. In reality, vapor is released constantly, and it circulates through the whole body, eventually accumulating in all tissues but especially the kidneys and liver – major excretory organs – as well as the brain. The longer the fillings are there, the more mercury your body stores and the greater your chance of becoming very, very ill. Indeed, mercury poisoning has been implicated in a number of chronic illnesses, including Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease, MS, Parkinson’s, CFS and fibromyalgia.

 

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So why doesn’t everyone with mercury fillings get sick?

That a person can have them and not get sick tells us nothing about the fillings and everything about that individual’s constitution, immune response and ability to excrete toxins. Consider: if you have a healthy, robust immune system, you can be exposed to many pathogens without getting sick. It’s why not everyone gets the flu each year – or gets the same kind. Likewise, a person in good health and with few other risk factors may be able to bear the burden of mercury…for a time. But if they become ill or take up bad habits (e.g., eating junk food, taking drugs, smoking), their body becomes less and less able to rid itself of the mercury. That’s when you begin to see symptoms of Dental Amalgam Syndrome. These include:

  • Metallic taste, sore gums, inflamed gums, ulcerations and other oral problems
  • Headaches, vertigo, tinnitus, tremors and other neurological problems
  • Memory loss, depression, irritability, sleep disturbances and other psychological problems
  • Chest pain, weak pulse, changes in blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems
  • Respiratory problems
  • Digestive problems

In children, the symptoms may manifest as an autism spectrum disorder or ADD/ADHD.

Thus, those who are already dealing with chronic illness would do well to look into possible dental causes. But it’s important to make sure that the mercury is in fact the main problem or if other causes are involved. Seldom is any case completely straightforward. We must look at all contributing factors and then work with the patient to prioritize treatments in an effort to bring the most healing as quickly as possible, while reducing the risk of creating illness elsewhere in the body.

Indeed, if mercury removal is pursued, any illness could get worse if specific safety precautions are not taken to minimize the amount of vapor the patient is exposed to during the procedures. Current symptoms can be aggravated. New ones can be triggered. In a way, this seems to me even more unconscionable than placing the mercury fillings in the first place, worsening the problem the practitioner is purporting to cure.

Thus, those who have amalgams but are not ill or experiencing symptoms should especially consider the risks and benefits of removal versus those of keeping them in place. We’ve already looked at some of the risks of leaving them alone. As for benefits? You don’t have to deal with the trauma of extensive dental procedures, and you do get the short term financial savings – though at the risk of greater costs down the road.

The benefits of removal, on the other hand, include improved health and function, as well as a more attractive smile, since the replacements will contain no metal and look as much like your natural teeth as possible. Also, in placing the new restorations, we can adjust your bite so that your teeth come together better. This, too, can benefit your health, as proper occlusion supports proper breathing and posture, which can prevent pain and increase energy. The risks, of course, include the toxication mentioned above.

So the key is: what do we do to reduce risk?

The ideal treatment begins before removal, in preparing your body to heal – especially if you are already ill from mercury poisoning. Again, you got sick because your body couldn’t get rid of the mercury leaching from your fillings. That mercury then accumulated in your body tissues. Thus, we must help your body become more able to excrete it once the source is removed. Most often, this treatment involves nutritional changes, supplementation and the use of homeopathics, and it normally continues through post-removal detox. At that point, you may choose to pursue other treatments, as well – chelation therapy, body work, energy medicine, sauna and others that aid the body in releasing toxins.

In removing amalgams, I follow the IAOMT protocol (PDF), which is standard among biological dentists. It addresses the safety of both the patient and the dental team, and the goal is to minimize exposure to the mercury particles and vapor generated during removal. It includes measures such as:

  • Protective covering for the patient, dentist and staff, including protection for the eyes, hair and clothing
  • Fresh oxygen via nose mask for the patient and filtration masks for the dentist and assistants
  • Isolation of the teeth to be worked on with a dental dam, to keep mercury from being swallowed
  • Air purifiers for the room
  • Sectioning of the amalgams and removing them in chunks
  • Lots of cold water to keep the teeth cool and reduce vaporization of the mercury under the force of the high-speed drill
  • Use of evacuators to suck up water and vapor

Also important is what you replace the amalgams with. Before removal, testing should be done to determine biocompatible replacement materials. The last thing we want to do is replace one toxic material with another, or one that may cause an allergic response. For the goal in mercury removal, of course, is to enhance your health.

Consider your options. Inform yourself as to the risks and benefits. Make a truly informed choice.

 

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