July 1, 2018, Is a Watershed Day for Protecting the Health of the Children of Europe

The world is moving dramatically toward phasing out mercury in dentistry, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) goes in the opposite direction. Sitting in a cocoon in Silver Spring, Maryland, FDA promotes itself as the “Gold Standard” for food, drug and device regulation while giving carte blanche to dentists to implant as many mercury fillings as they wish, without disclosure, to any child, woman, or man in America. Whether it’s something you eat or a drug you use a device you have implanted in your body, the FDA is the world’s example of an agency looking out for the health and well-being of YOU, the consumer — except when it’s not.

And right now, it’s not, at least when it comes to dental amalgam, whose primary component is mercury, something that has no business being in your mouth — especially not in the mouths of children. That’s right. Dental amalgam isn’t the “silver filling” you think it is. That “silver” is actually mercury, a toxin that can have a tremendous impact on your health.

The video above explains the many harmful effects of amalgam. So why is it still in use in the U.S.?

The FDA Is Ignoring a Binding Treaty

Every day at dental offices across the U.S., children, pregnant women and nursing mothers are having mercury fillings put in their mouths instead of safer alternatives — all because the FDA refuses to phase out the use of dental mercury in this population. And that’s hardly a “gold standard.”

Not only that, it flies in the face of the entire European Union (EU) and the Minamata Convention, a legally binding international treaty signed by more than 100 nations, including the U.S., which mandates that each nation phase down dental amalgam use.

The EU is doing its part: Beginning July 1 in Europe, mercury amalgam is banned from use in children under age 15, pregnant women and nursing mothers. But in the U.S. it will still be business as usual. Why is the FDA dragging its feet and ignoring the treaty while its peers are setting the standard?

FDA, It’s YOUR Turn

Today, I join with Consumers for Dental Choice to launch a campaign to turn around FDA. Under the theme of “FDA, it’s your turn” we have begun a petition campaign

PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION

I have an employee who asked her new dentist if he uses amalgam in his fillings. Indignantly, the dentist replied, “That stuff is nowhere in this building.” Obviously, this dentist — like about 50 percent of dentists across the country — is keenly aware that mercury-containing amalgam is a primitive and toxic dental repair device that is technically inferior to modern alternatives.

It is so out of date that the New York University College of Dentistry decided in 2012 that it would no longer recommend mercury amalgam fillings as the default route of treatment. Amalgam simply has no place in modern dentistry. Yet the FDA won’t even disclose or order dentists to tell patients the fillings in their mouths are mercury, not silver. Why?

One of the most popular alternatives to amalgam is resin composite, which is made of a type of plastic reinforced with powdered glass. This resin is common throughout the U.S. It’s nontoxic and environmentally safe, and it allows the dentist to preserve healthy tooth structure. It has excellent durability, typically lasting as long or longer than amalgams. But still, the FDA won’t even tell dentists to give you this information.

Here is Charlie Brown’s message: FDA, It’s your turn!

 

Five Reasons Why the FDA Needs to End Its Support for Amalgam

There are five reasons why I believe the FDA needs to step to the plate and follow the Gold Standard set by the EU:

1. The Minamata Convention on Mercury requires each nation to phase down the use of amalgam (Annex A-II). The U.S. was the first nation to ratify Minamata, and the convention entered into legal force in August 2017. Yet, FDA’s antiquated dental amalgam rule, six times, urges increased use of amalgam, rather than decreased.

The FDA also allows dentists to hide the mercury from patients because – here’s where FDA lets its true colors show: If consumers find out about the mercury, use of amalgam will decline! For FDA, decline in amalgam use is not a good thing — the complete opposite of what signing parties to the treaty declared.

2. The European Union, composed of 28 nations whose collective population far exceeds that of the U.S., effectively bans amalgam for children under 15, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, effective this month (July). FDA views itself as a superior regulator to the EU, and Jeff Shuren, director of FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, once said the EU’s center for devices-equivalent treats people as “guinea pigs” while FDA’s Center for Devices does not.

But since FDA admits it doesn’t know if amalgam is safe for children under 6 or pregnant women, and since it still doesn’t even set a limit on how much mercury can be put in a child’s mouth, what better evidence exists that it’s the FDA — not the EU — who views American children as guinea pigs?

3. The science has changed. In particular, after looking at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a study from the University of Georgia concluded that mercury levels are directly proportional to the number of fillings in your mouth. It’s obvious mercury toxicity puts a person at great risk, but the FDA is ignoring the science. Why?

4. Technology is radically different. The alternatives to amalgam are minimally invasive and superior, and equally effective. Plus, industry does not promote amalgam; government does not research it. Amalgam has no future — and everyone knows it except, apparently, the FDA.

5. Dentistry has changed. When the campaign to end amalgam began, 3 percent of dentists were mercury-free. Now half of U.S. dentists are mercury-free, and many more rarely use it. To say that amalgam is needed for oral health care is to disregard that half the dentists in the U.S. NEVER need to use it for ANY type of cavity. Likewise, the World Health Organization has shifted, saying the focus must be “life of the tooth” and no longer “life of the filling.”

Now Is the Time to Act, FDA

A global workshop on this topic just concluded in mid-May. Its name is long but its point is clear: “Promoting Dental Amalgam Phase-Down Measures Under the Minamata Convention and Other Initiatives for ‘Especially Women, Children and, Through Them, Future Generations.’” The workshop’s conclusions included an affirmation to end amalgam for all vulnerable groups everywhere, and phase out dental amalgam for all.

The point is everyone else is phasing down and phasing out dental mercury. The European Union is banning it in just a few days. Others are well on their way — even Nigeria, Bangladesh and India are working to protect their citizens from mercury, beginning with children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. So why isn’t America doing likewise?

It’s up to the FDA now, so I’m speaking directly to FDA when I say this: Be the Gold Standard you claim to be! It’s your turn! It’s time to live up to the Minamata Convention and the global workshop’s goals.

To that end, I invite you, my readers, to join me and those at the forefront of this movement — Consumers for Dental Choice and its leader, Charlie Brown — in reaching out to the FDA to phase out dental mercury.

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

Tell the FDA it’s their turn. Tell them you want the U.S. to live up to the Minamata Convention. Sign the petition and let them know that you think, as a matter of law and morality, it’s the FDA’s duty to protect American children from toxic products and to at least get amalgam out of the most vulnerable populations — children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.

You can also help with this movement by making mercury-free in your dentist’s office a non-negotiable requirement. Refuse to see any dentist who uses mercury fillings. Also push back against insurance plans that say they won’t pay for safe, alternative fillings. For more information, read my article, “Use a Mercury-Free Dentist,” and learn how you can fight back.

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