Has the ADA been lying through its teeth about the safety of mercury fillings?

When the government tells pregnant women and small children not to eat fish because of the mercury, yet insists it’s ok to put mercury-based “silver” fillings your teeth, you know there’s a fishy tale to tell.

Indeed, when it comes to mercury, the FDA has completely contradicted itself — and for no apparent reason.

Of course, it didn’t start out that way.

In fact, three years ago, the FDA drafted a safety communication stating they were going to prohibit the use of mercury-based dental fillings in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children 6 and under, and other groups that may be considered high risk and sensitive to mercury’s neurotoxic vapors.

They were also poised to advise dentists to use “alternative materials.”

All of this was much to the dismay of the American Dental Association (ADA), which has been adamant for years that mercury-containing “silver” dental amalgams are safe.

Still, the FDA just needed the go-ahead from the “higher-ups” (yes, this is the government–there’s always someone higher up). In this case, they needed approval from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).

But the HHS never gave the FDA the green light.

Fast forward to this past January. It took 3 years of intense lobbying, but it looks like the ADA managed to strong-arm the FDA into doing what they want.

Today, this is what the FDA says on its website.

“FDA has reviewed the best available scientific evidence to determine whether the low levels of mercury vapor associated with dental amalgam fillings are a cause for concern. Based on this evidence, FDA considers dental amalgam fillings safe for adults and children ages 6 and above.”

Really? How can affixing a toxic metal inches from your brain be safe?

The FDA advises that anyone “concerned about the absence of clinical data as to long-term health outcomes should talk to their dentist.”

But chances are your dentist will never tell you a few critical details:

  1. Mercury is a known neurotoxin that accumulates in the fatty areas of your body, like your brain and kidneys, and over time may cause serious neurological problems.
  1. “Silver” fillings are a misnomer: mercury makes up over 50% of the content of amalgams.
  1. Every time you chew, brush your teeth, and drink a hot liquid, a tiny amount of mercury from your amalgam fillings is vaporized into the air…and you inhale it.

Why would anyone keep silent about something so serious? Well, the ADA has notoriously revoked dentists’ licenses, and publically rebuked holistic doctors who warn about mercury being dangerous.

Talk about bullying.

But not everyone is taking this lying down. The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) and others who advocate mercury-free dentistry are currently suing the FDA over this drastic change in position.

And for good reason.

In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended reducing the use of dental amalgams. And in 2012, the US signed the International Minamata Convention on Mercury, which similarly called on stakeholders to “phase down” the use of mercury.

Canada’s recommendation for dentists is to choose mercury-free alternatives for all children, pregnant women, anyone allergic to mercury, and people with impaired kidney function.

And Sweden, Norway, and Denmark and Germany have gone one step further by banning the use of mercury amalgams altogether.

It’s nice to know that some countries care about public health. But in our country, the “powers that be” assert there are no safety issues whatsoever.

Try telling that to someone whose health was completely turned around after having their mercury fillings removed. I’ve seen it happen many times in my 20-plus years of practicing medicine. Which is why I routinely test my patients for mercury toxicity (and believe me, positive results are not all that uncommon).

The safety of mercury has been debated for over 150 years. But the simple truth is your dental fillings may be slowly poisoning your body. And the more fillings you have — and the longer you’ve had them — the greater your exposure to mercury poisoning is.

Fortunately the current trend is to choose non-metal alternatives. In fact, due to public concern and aesthetic reasons, mercury amalgams are down to just 30% of all new fillings. Composite materials are more expensive, but they are also more cosmetically appealing, and most importantly, won’t expose you to poison. Well worth the additional cost, if you ask me.

Of course, the best way to avoid any kind of dental amalgam is to prevent cavities in the first place. And the best way to do that is to avoid sugary foods (including gummy vitamins!). Then brush your teeth with non-fluoride toothpaste after eating (or as often as you can).

If you want to investigate having your amalgam fillings removed, contact the Holistic Dental Association (www.holisticdental.org; 305-356-7338) for help finding a dentist in your area who practices mercury-free dentistry, and uses safety measures when removing fillings.