Tag Archives: Consumers for Dental Choice

World Health Organization Urges Move Away from Dental Amalgam

There’s been plenty of good news lately on the effort to end the Age of Toxic Dentistry, such as the Malibu City Council’s resolution supporting the global phase-out of dental mercury, which was unanimously approved just last week.

Malibu now joins Costa Mesa and Santa Ana as California cities opposed to dental amalgam.

And now more good news: The World Health Organization has finally released its 2009 report on the “Future Use of Materials for Dental Restorations,” which likewise urges a global “phase down” of toxic mercury amalgam.

The report has been released in preparation for the third of five Intergovernmental Committee deliberations that are expected to lead to the adoption of a legally binding treaty on mercury by 2013.

Here’s more on the report from Charlie Brown of Consumers for Dental Choice – and how he’d like YOU to get involved on this issue:

In a clear sign that dentistry’s amalgam era is fading, the World Health Organization (WHO) just released its long-awaited report on dental amalgam. In Future Use of Materials for Dental Restoration, WHO urges “a switch in use of dental materials” away from amalgam.

“[F]or many reasons,” WHO explains, “restorative materials alternative to dental amalgam are desirable.” The report describes three of these reasons in detail:

  • WHO determines that amalgam releases a “significant amount of mercury”: WHO concludes that amalgam poses a serious environmental health problem because amalgam releases a “significant amount of mercury” into the environment, including the atmosphere, surface water, groundwater, and soil. WHO says “When released from dental amalgam use into the environment through these pathways, mercury is transported globally and deposited. Mercury releases may then enter the human food chain especially via fish consumption.”
  • WHO determines that amalgam raises “general health concerns”: While the report acknowledges that a few dental trade groups still believe amalgam is safe for all, the WHO report reaches a very different conclusion: “Amalgam has been associated with general health concerns.” The report observes, “According to the Norwegian Dental Biomaterials Adverse Reaction Unit, the majority of cases of side-effects of dental filling materials are linked with dental amalgam.”
  • WHO determines that “materials alternative to dental amalgam are available”: WHO concludes that “Materials alternative to dental amalgam are available” – and cites many studies indicating that they are superior to amalgam. For example, WHO says “recent data suggest that RBCs [resin-based composites] perform equally well” as amalgam. And compomers have a higher survival rate, says WHO, citing a study finding that 95% of compomers and 92% of amalgams survive after 4 years. Perhaps more important than the survival of the filling, WHO asserts that “Adhesive resin materials allow for less tooth destruction and, as a result, a longer survival of the tooth itself.”

We have come a long way. Less than a year ago, dental trade groups were circulating an unedited and unreviewed draft of this report to government officials, implying that it was WHO’s final position. But the draft was riddled with factual errors and scientifically unsupported claims. Consumers for Dental Choice – working with non-governmental organizations, scientists, and environmentalists from around the globe – organized a letter-writing campaign to insist that the draft be immediately withdrawn, accurately rewritten, and properly reviewed.

And it worked! Now WHO has removed all claims of amalgam’s safety. Now WHO has committed itself to “work for reduction of mercury and the development of a healthy environment.” Now “WHO will facilitate the work for a switch in use of dental materials.”

Thank you to everybody who urged WHO to take this important step to protect future generations from dental mercury.

It’s time for the U.S. FDA to catch up with the world – and we need your help. FDA’s support for amalgam is radically inconsistent with WHO’s new position. Please contact Dr. Jeff Shuren, Director of the FDA Center for Devices, at

jeff.shuren@fda.hhs.gov
Fax: 301-847-8149 & 301-847-8109
Telephone: 301-796-5900
Mail: 10903 New Hampshire Ave., WO66-5431, Room 5442, Silver Spring MD 20993-0002

Here is a sample letter:

Dear Dr. Shuren:

In its recent report, the World Health Organization concludes that dental amalgam releases a “significant amount of mercury” and raises “general health concerns.” In light of these serious problems, WHO calls on health authorities like FDA to take action now: “Health authorities can play an active role in advocacy for use of dental materials alternative to amalgam…Directives can be set up for provision of dental care incorporating concerns for oral health and the environment.”

The WHO report says “Materials alternative to dental amalgam are available.” In particular, “Alternative restorative materials of sufficient quality are available for use in the deciduous [baby] dentition of children” – the population whose developing neurological systems are most susceptible to the neurotoxic effects of dental mercury according to FDA. So there is no excuse for subjecting children to the risks associated with dental mercury exposure.

FDA needs to stop amalgam use in children immediately and join WHO in working for a switch to the many mercury-free alternatives to amalgam.

Sincerely,
Your name

Thank you for working with us to protect everyone worldwide from mercury fillings!

Charlie
18 October 2011

Charles G. Brown
National Counsel, Consumers for Dental Choice
President, World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry
316 F St. NE, Suite 210, Washington DC 20002
Telephone: 202-544-6333
Fax: 202-544-6331

The full WHO report is available here (PDF).

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US Calls for a “Phase-out” of Dental Amalgam in World Mercury Treaty Negotiations

This week, we got another email from Charlie Brown, National Counsel of Consumers for Dental Choice and President of the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, delivering some excellent news: the US Mercury Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee has called for the phase-out of dental amalgam.

The Committee is part of an international effort to prepare a global legally binding treaty on mercury.

Charlie explains what happened and what it means:

The United States government has announced that it supports a “phase down, with the goal of eventual phase out by all Parties, of mercury amalgam.” This statement – a radical reversal of its former position that “any change toward the use of dental amalgam is likely to result in positive public health outcomes” – is part of the U.S. government’s submission for the upcoming third round of negotiations for the world mercury treaty.

While couched in diplomatic hedging – remember it is still early in the negotiations – this new U.S. position makes three significant breakthroughs for the mercury-free dentistry movement:

  1. The U.S. calls for the phase-out of amalgam ultimately and recommends actions to “phase down” its use immediately….
  2. The U.S. speaks up for protecting children and the unborn from amalgam, recommending that the nations “educat[e] patients and parents in order to protect children and fetuses.”
  3. The U.S. stands up for the human right of every patient and parent to make educated decisions about amalgam.

What does this mean? Our position – advocating the phase-out of amalgam – is now the mainstream because the U.S. government supports it. Who is the outlier now? It’s the pro-mercury faction, represented by the World Dental Federation and the American Dental Association….

We applaud the U.S. government. But tough work lies ahead. For example, we must demonstrate to the world that the available alternatives – such as composites and the adhesive materials used in atraumatic restorative treatment (“ART”) – can cost less than amalgam and will increase access to dental care particularly in developing countries.

For now though, let’s mark this watershed in the mercury-free dentistry movement: the debate has shifted from “whether to end amalgam” to “how to end amalgam.”

You can read and download the full text of the US statement here (PDF).

The next session of negotiations is tentatively scheduled for October 31 – November 4 of this year.

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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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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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