ADA Retreats -- Reverses Policy on Mercury (Amalgam) Separators

13 Oct. 2007
by Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown, attorney, Consumers for Dental Choice

The American Dental Association has reversed its longstanding opposition to dentists installing technology to catch the mercury they don’t put in patients’ mouths. The ADA has ended its whining that dentists have no duty to spend $700 to address the destructive pollution that they -- the nation’s #1 mercury polluter -- cause. On October 2 in San Francisco, the ADA's House of Delegates voted to mandate mercury separators in every dental office. Consumers for Dental Choice has long endorsed separators, because after mercury fillings are banned, dentists must continue to remove this toxin from people’s teeth for a generation to come.

The ADA’s retreat on mercury fillings is hardly surprising. This pro-mercury trade group is now under fire from all sides. A page 1 story this week in the New York Times blames the ADA and the dental boards for using its powers to block competition and hence deny low-income children basic oral health care.

Boom for Dentists, But Not for Teeth. This news should end the ADA’s ridiculous position that mercury fillings are the only way to serve the poor-- the facts are that ADA blocks the very programs that will serve the poor.

Here is my letter to the editor:

Re: Am. Dental Assoc. responsible for abysmal oral health care for the poor

To the Editor, In "Boom Times for Dentistry" [Oct. 11], reporter Alex Berenson explains the economic forces that lead to abysmal oral health care for America’s working poor. By focusing on public relations, political aggrandizement, and amassing wealth for dentists, the American Dental Association bears primary responsibility. By controlling the process of who gets appointed to dental boards, the ADA and its state affiliates use this power effectively to prevent competition from dental hygienists, those willing and able to serve the poor. The nation’s two-tiered system of oral health care is manifested in the continued use of mercury amalgam -- which the ADA deceptively calls ‘silver fillings’ -- on lower-income American, while upper-income Americans receive non-toxic alternatives. This duality was characterized by an NAACP witness testifying before Congress as ‘mercury for the poor and choice for the rich.’

Charles G. Brown, National Counsel
Consumers for Dental Choice
316 F St., N.E., Suite 210, Washington, DC 20002
Ph. 202.544-6333; fax 544-6331;

If the New York Times article is no longer available, you may click here. Boom Times for Dentists, but Not for Teeth

See ADA Updates Environmental Recommendations for Handling Waste

See Dr. Hal Huggins' humorous comments on the ADA's Handling of Scrap Amalgam. The ADA press release on using amalgam separators is here also.

See the story of a Maryland boy dying after the infection from a tooth spreads to his brain. His mother couldn't afford dental work. For Want of a Dentist

See Michael Bender's report, Dentist, the Menace: The Uncontrollable Release of Dental Mercury" which showed that dentist's offices are the number one source of mercury pollution in city waste water. Cities are not equipped to clean up the mercury from the waste water, so the water is cleaned for bacteria but then released back into streams to contaminate the fish with mercury. Some of the mercury stays behind in the sludge where it is spread on our crops.

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