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Heavy Metal - In this series of articles, Alternatives takes a look into the American Mouth
It was in the early 1970’s that the dental community changed the recipe for the mercury amalgam (a.k.a. “silver” fillings) implanted in over 90% of Americans’ mouths. The American Dental Association (ADA) told us it was safe (we know now that it is not), and they told us it was stronger (it is).
What the ADA did not tell us about were the increased health hazards associated with the use of its new, patented formula. This “improved” version of an old recipe contained 30% copper in comparison to the old unpatented recipe that contained 3% copper. ADA association received royalties on every filling placed during this time. Because of the new electrical conductivity (a result of the increased copper content), it also vaporized the elemental mercury 50 times more than the former version. The ADA entirely neglected to tell us about that fact, nor did they warn us that this mercury vapor, which is readily absorbed into every tissue of the human body, is a potent neurotoxin and can make people very sick or kill them.
The ADA also forgot to tell us about the unstable nature of the new amalgam, that it expands and contracts once installed into the tooth. This had the result of creating quite a lot of return business for dentists, forcing them to fix cracked teeth by installing bigger and bigger fillings, until either an expensive root canal was required or the tooth was pulled (the latter two events often precipitating jawbone infection and necrotic (dead) bone). Thus was created a new dental-related cavityone not in the tooth itself, but in the bone around the tooth.
The mainstream dental community euphemistically refers to this condition as ‘resorption”, or lack of bone ridge, and routinely treats people for it using procedures that are quite expensive, in preparation for new tooth implants.
There are other dentists, usually ones who are transitioning into the mercury-free arena, who clean out the diseased tissue at a fraction of the price. These practitioners call this bone condition by a different name, “cavitation” and, for their efforts on behalf of patients, many suffer the wrath of mainstream dental trade organizations who will attempt to suppress them with aggressive and unsubstantiated complaints against them with their local dental board. Unsurprisingly, these same trade organizations support the more expensive “resorption” treatment of the same condition.
The government, which should have known better, long ago signed off on the new mercury amalgam as safe and effective; in the decades since we have witnessed a growing health crisis unlike anything that the dental health consumers of America (that is, you and me) could ever have imagined.
Marketing the Mercury Madness
ADA’s marketing of mercury amalgam has been very effective with the public, and has included the following actions.
The Empire Strikes Back
In their trade journals, website, internet and press releases, ADA coverage of recent US Congressional Hearings investigating claims of massive exposure through dental amalgam follows a predictable pattern. Their articles cover only their own handpicked representatives, whose reassuring testimonies endlessly recite the mantra that there is nothing to worry about. Only ADA sanctioned studies are usedstudies that are dramatically out of alignment with independent studies and honest experts. Press releases are generally posted on their website 24 hours in advance of the event/hearing (as if they have a crystal ball), and they exclude other experts present at the hearing, referring to them only as “others.” There is little reference, if any, to the growing level of concern shared by lawmakers, professionals and the public.
With expensive marketing campaigns, the information in these ADA press releases is picked up by the national press and their own members, the dentists of America, and distributed to the public as if it were sound and reliable information. When they are asked for the hard science behind their claims, there is a distinct lack of response. The fact is, it doesn’t exist.
At no time was informed consent given by the public about the use of mercury amalgam as the preferred dental care for America. The fact that these fillings contain a potent neurotoxin, by weight 50% elemental mercury, is rarely mentioned.
Because signs of consumer awareness were becoming visible, (and a very few dentists were becoming mercury free), around 1986, the ADA added a clarification to their Code of Ethics. It was, critics say, tantamount to a gag order specifically pertaining to mercury.
Uttering the words “mercury” and “ill health” in the same breath would bring a dentist face to face with his peril, defending this lack of better judgment in front of administrative hearings that could easily result in loss of license to practice, and financial ruin.
The Buck Stops . . . Where?
Is the ADA vulnerable to personal injury litigation if patients are harmed as a result of mercury amalgam use? The answer is “maybe” (there are court cases trying this), and the ADA has constructed for itself a nicely packaged legal defense, just in case.
• It is the dentist who purchases the mercury from a separate distributor who sells mercury.
Dentists rarely read this sheet because of their trade association’s reassuring claims. It is an anomaly if a patient sees it. But, if the worse case scenario were to arise, where does the legal product liability stop? The ADA would maintain that it is at the dentist’s hand. This is being tried in the court system as we speak.
Final Note: One important thing to remember about mercury exposure is its ability to slowly deteriorate mental capacity over a long period of time. Dentists and their staff are among some of the most exposed individuals on the face of the earth. And though ADA officials have been successful at keeping authorities from monitoring and requiring dental offices to meet OSHA standards, it does not mean we can deny that dentists and staff are working in very toxic environments, that their operatory would not be shut down if OSHA standards were employed (they are not presently, although a warehouse with this amount of exposure would be shut down and fined $10,000/day), or that the exposed dentist and staff are not neurologically impaired.
Your dental health can affect your mental health in modern America. It pays to be educated. This may not be an instance where you want to get the most bang for the buck.
Christy Diemond is a mother and businessperson turned investigative journalist and independent filmmaker/producer. She is the founder of UnInformed ConsentThe Right To Know, a new source of investigational journalism available via the Internet at www.uninformedconsent.org.
Diemond is the Executive Producer of the acclaimed documentary pilot, “Mercury, A Slow Death,” on the safety of dental mercury amalgam and vaccines. 450 copies of the video were delivered to members of the US Congress with a bill to ban the use of mercury amalgam in dentistry co-sponsored by Reps. Diane Watson and Dan Burton.
Mercury, A Slow Death is available on DVD and VHS along with “What Really Happened At the IOM?” a primer in science and mercury at www.uninformedconsent.org.
Site updated Fall 09