Politics and Poison

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When amalgam was first introduced in the in 1833, many dentists were outraged at the suggestion of installing such a highly toxic metal in their patients’ mouths. In , amalgam was called “Quacksilber” and anyone who placed amalgams was called a “Quack.” This controversy, later termed the First Amalgam War, was quelled when proponents of mercury insisted that the mercury was safe because it was stabilized in the hardened amalgam compound of silver, copper, tin, and zinc, and did not come out. Since amalgam was less expensive and easier to work with than the standard gold fillings, it was not long before silver amalgam was routinely used for filling cavities.

Controversy over amalgam use surfaced again in 1926 and into the 1930’s when a German physician, Dr. Alfred Stock, showed that mercury escaped from fillings in the form of a dangerous vapor that could cause significant medical damage. During this Second Amalgam War, the American Dental Association vigorously defended silver amalgam and its widespread use was continued. Remarkably, the Food and Drug Administration has separately approved the mercury and the alloy powder for dental use; but the amalgam mixture has never been approved as a dental device. Consequently, in using amalgam, dentists are using a non-FDA-approved device. (“The dentist has a duty to communicate truthfully.” … the American Dental Association Code of Ethics.)

The Third Amalgam War began heating up in 1986. Pressure from mounting clinical evidence forced the ADA to finally publicly concede that mercury vapor does escape from the amalgam filling into the patients mouth. But the ADA remained adamant that mercury in patients’ mouths is safe, and in 1986 it changed its code of ethics, making it unethical for a dentist to recommend the removal of amalgam because of mercury. The ADA has actually made it unethical for your dentist to keep you, the consumer, informed of a potential serious health risk, or to recommend a procedure that could possibly improve your emotional and physical health. Some dentists have even been accused of unethical behavior and practicing medicine for recommending amalgam removal, in what has become a modern day “witch hunt” against dentists who choose to take into consideration the fact that their patients have poison in their mouths. These fear tactics are being employed by the ADA to make sure that silver amalgam does not come under further scrutiny.

This position from this non-scientific dental trade union is most unfortunate. For years the American Dental Association has insisted that the silver amalgam used for filling cavities is safe. And despite studies showing toxic mercury vapor readings in the mouths of patients with silver amalgam fillings, the American Dental Association still maintains that mercury fillings are safe. But mercury amalgam is not safe. Mercury is unquestionably a toxic substance, and it does indeed escape from amalgam fillings, continuously vaporizing in amounts that are frequently in the hazardous range.

Mercury vapor, which is considered the deadliest form of mercury, is inhaled and passes via the lungs into the blood system which carries mercury to virtually all the bodily tissues. It also passes directly into the brain. It is noteworthy that as of October 1998, all over the counter products containing mercury had to be removed from the shelves because the manufacturers could not prove their safety. The scientific evidence for mercury toxicity from amalgam fillings is very compelling.Read more about the scientific evidence.

The amalgam war continues to rage on today. Three states have already appointed holistic/biological dentists to dental boards, effectively ending the ADA monopoly on state dental boards. There is presently a congressional bill in The United States House of Representatives (H.R. 4163) introduced by Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA) and Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) to ban the continued use dental amalgam fillings. Further, Connecticut has passed a law banning the sale of products after July 1, 2004 containing 250 parts per million of mercury. Amalgam fillings contain 500,000 part per million of mercury. Each filling has about ¾ of a gram of mercury, the same as a mercury thermometer, also banned under the statute. Connecticut citizens are waiting for the State EPA to rule whether they will enforce this law with regard to mercury amalgam fillings, amid mounting pressure from the state dental board and dentists which oppose the ban. Maine presently has a bill deciding the fate of mercury amalgam fillings; subsequently, the ADA has threatened to limit dental care to the state ofcMaine if they follow through with the ban – the ADA is currently being sued for its threats. In addition, In March of 2005, a federal judge ruled in favor of Dr. Mark Breiner to allow him his right to speak freely about mercury amalgam fillings after receiving a gag order from the state dental board.

Hopefully, this current amalgam war will finally bring to an end a nearly two century old practice of lies, deceit, and misinformation all at the expense of public health.  With the advent of cyberspace and the widespread propagation of information, the mounting body of scientific evidence against mercury amalgam fillings is finally creating extensive public concern.  It is only a matter of time before politicians will be forced to deliver mercury amalgam fillings into extinction.


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