Amalgam debate taken to ADA front door

Sept. 10, 2001
Calling on the American Dental Association to stop supporting the use of Mercury in dental fillings, the controversy over dental amalgam literally reached the ADA's front door.

Calling on the American Dental Association to stop supporting the use of Mercury in dental fillings, the controversy over dental amalgam literally reached the ADA's front door on Friday.

A coalition of scientists, consumer groups, and a national dental society, opposed to dental Mercury use, held a news conference in the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook followed by a peaceful picketing demonstration at the ADA's downtown Chicago headquarters.

Mercury, an acute neuro-toxin, composes about 50% of the most common dental filling, amalgam. Although mercury has been, or is being, removed from all other health care uses, its use as dental filling material remains. Amalgam is a hazardous waste material when removed from the mouth and constantly emits Mercury vapors while in teeth. Some amalgam manufacturers even issue contraindication ("DO NOT USE") warnings for pregnant women and children.

The ADA, alone among health organizations, continues to support the use of Mercury-based dental fillings, deceptively calling them "silver" in its literature. Such promotional material resulted in a California lawsuit against the ADA by Consumers for Dental Choice, an umbrella coalition opposing ADA policies.

The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, a national dental and scientific organization opposed to dental Mercury fillings, is having its annual meeting in Oak Brook this weekend. The group's president, Chicago-area dentist Marcia Basciano, stated that the Academy has sponsored numerous studies of Mercury "that demonstrate the acute risks of amalgam which are most caustic for children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers."

Charles G. Brown, national counsel to Consumers for Dental Choice and a former West Virginia state Attorney General, issued a three-part challenge to the ADA:

Use the 'M' word. Tell the public that amalgam is mainly composed of Mercury, and stop pretending it is "silver".

Show us the money. The ADA admitted in a court filing two weeks ago that it receives money from Mercury amalgam manufacturers. Brown asked the ADA to disclose the amount of money it receives each year from manufacturers, and why it continues taking money for endorsing products, after the American MEDICAL Association declared the practice unethical.

Stop hiding the truth about the risk of amalgam to children.

Professor Boyd Haley, University of Kentucky Department of Chemistry chair, has done extensive research on the health risks of Mercury amalgam.

"The amount of Mercury in each filling is colossal by medical standards," said Haley. "There is as much Mercury in one filling as there is in a Mercury thermometer."

A 1999 Journal of the American College of Cardiology study raises serious questions whether unexplained heart attack deaths in young people, including young athletes, may be due to Mercury fillings. The study shows that individuals who die from Idiopathic Dilated Cardiomyopathy (IDCM) or a sudden heart attack have 22,000 times more Mercury in their heart tissues than patients with other types of heart diseases.

"The link between Mercury and young people dying from sudden heart attacks is chilling," said Professor Haley. "When the quantity is different at a scale of 22,000, the issue must be squarely addressed. Large quantities of Mercury accumulate in the heart, and unless someone ate nothing but fish, that Mercury is coming from dental fillings."

"Because dentistry's expertise is mostly limited to the mouth, this profession has missed the connection of Mercury to human health hazards," Haley continued. "I urge physicians to step forward and stop dentists from continuing to use Mercury fillings because of the huge risk to the entire body, about which physicians have expertise and dentists do not."

Leo Cashman, president of Dental Amalgam Mercury Syndrome, Inc. (DAMS), a Minneapolis-based organization of Mercury amalgam poisoning victims, explained why the anti-Mercury activists were picketing the ADA. "It is time we consumers go to the ADA's front door and tell them to say the 'M' word to the American people. If people only knew the risks, no child in America would be given Mercury amalgam fillings."

Linda Brocato and Karen Truskowski, Illinois co-coordinators for DAMS, spoke about the acute damage that Mercury amalgam fillings had done to their health, because toxic Mercury vapors had spread to the rest of their bodies. Still confined to a wheelchair, Brocato's health dramatically improved after dentists carefully removed her fillings and she had treatments to remove some of the Mercury from her body.

For further information on this issue and links to recent press coverage of the controversy with the ADA and the dangers of Mercury in dentistry, please read the August 22 Page 1 article in the Chicago Tribune:, and visit: