Mercury Madness by Christy Diemond
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 cavity—one 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 The ADA has produced volumes of marketing materials representing that chemical vaporization does not occur once the mercury is bound with other metals and placed in the mouth. This, despite the fact that any reputable chemist worldwide would affirm this claim to be chemically absurd.
ADA’s marketing of mercury amalgam has been very effective with the public, and has included the following actions. • The public and the dentist have been told for decades that once the mercury is “amalgamated” with other metals, the substance becomes solid, posing no danger in the human mouth, only inches from the brain. • Mercury fillings have been offered to the consumer market as the cheapest alternative available. • Amalgam fillings have been the only alternative covered by most dental insurance companies, and these are primarily operated and underwritten by the dental trade organization (the ADA). • Mercury was and still is almost the only alternative offered to the poor within most programs to help children and the ADA’s “Give Kids A Smile” Campaign. • Dentists have been direct marketed by the ADA and told that mercury is safe, beginning in dental school. • The new high copper version has been touted as an improved recipe that made the material stronger and longer lasting.
The Empire Strikes Back To charges in recent litigations naming dental mercury as a health hazard, the ADA stonewalls, insinuating that such cases are no more than ambulance chasing by hungry litigation attorneys looking for new income—that these allegations are ridiculous, a joke. This invalidation of legitimate safety concerns is often conveyed to the consumer as well.
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 used—studies 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? According to the ADA, mercury is only dangerous when handled as it comes out of its delivery location—a hazardous materials container. … oh yes, and when it comes out of your mouth too, in which case those old amalgam fillings must be placed back into a hazardous materials container. Apparently, the ADA believes that the only place where the neurotoxin mercury is safe is in your mouth.
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. • The mercury is then mixed into the ADA’s (patented) amalgam mixture, (contains no mercury). • This procedure is done in the dentist’s own office. • The dentist, not the ADA, is the vehicle who places the mercury mixture in millions of mouths, including our children and their baby teeth, at a very young age. • The MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) is provided by the distributor of the mercury. It is required by law to be read and available for all handlers of hazardous materials. • This MSDS is a compilation of “contraindications”, (this means DO NOT USE), and side effects. At the top of the long list of health hazards caused by mercury are renal failure (kidney failure/death), suicidal tendencies, reproductive dysfunction, mental dysfunction and tremors. • The MSDS goes on to describe some of mercury’s other effects, including the need for HAZMAT teams and emergency workers.
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 Consent—The 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.
Christy can be reached at [email protected], www.uninformedconsent.org © 2006 All Rights Reserved - UnInformed Consent