European Union Poised to Ban Toxic Dental Amalgam

Here's some good news, for a change: The European Commission — the administrative arm of the European Union — recently proposed a ban on dental amalgam as of January 1, 2025. This includes not only the use but also the manufacture and export of dental amalgam.

 

In the video above, I interview Charlie Brown, founder, and executive director of Consumers for Dental Choice, about this breakthrough. As explained by Brown, the battleground now shifts to other two branches of the European Union: The Parliament and the Council. These two branches must ratify the proposal for it to become law.

In 2011, the EU leadership was dead set against acting to stop amalgam. Now, after a relentless 12-year campaign, Consumers for Dental Choice has finally made a big dent, and Brown is convinced the European campaign will succeed in turning the ban proposal into law. That said, either branch can block it, which is why we must continue supporting the European campaign. 

"We've got to convince Parliament to buy in before they have their elections in May 2024, and we've got to convince the Council. If one buys in, I think the other will buy in too," Brown says.

Keep the Momentum Going

Once amalgam is banned in the EU, it'll be difficult for the U.S. and Canada to hold on to the barbaric and archaic practice of loading neurotoxic mercury into people's mouths.

For all these years, donors like you have supported this effort and kept Consumers for Dental Choice alive. No other group in the world has been fighting for mercury-free dentistry for as long and as hard as Consumers for Dental Choice.

As a long-time partner of this standout organization, I thank you. And, as in previous years, during this Mercury Awareness Week I will again match your donations dollar for dollar. If you can, please consider giving a donation at this time, to keep the momentum going. With your help, we WILL put an end to toxic mercury fillings, once and for all, worldwide.

Many Smaller Countries Have Already Eliminated Amalgam

Brown comments on the success of finally getting Europe to reconsider and act against this unnecessary toxin. While many smaller countries are way ahead of us and have already ended the use of mercury dental fillings, an EU ban will protect the health of some 447 million individuals.

"Europe is setting the pace … [but] it's not the first, by any means," Brown says. "The Philippines has ended amalgam. It's over. They had a three-year phase out [that] ended in May 2023. Countries that's hard to find on a map — New Caledonia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Moldova — we've ended amalgam there.

Tanzania ends amalgam this decade. They banned it for children, pregnant women and breastfeeding women. Vietnam has ended amalgam for pregnant women, children and breastfeeding women. Bangladesh has ended amalgam in the Army and armed forces.

Indonesia has ended amalgam in the government programs. Mauritius [ended it] for children. You have these partial victories, and you have these total victories, and now Europe is on the verge. We still have to win the parliament, we have to win in the Council, but it's on the verge of a total victory in a massive part of the world, an entire continent.

So, it's rolling our way, we've created the momentum, we've got a worldwide team. And it started because you made a commitment, Dr. Mercola, in 2011 that you would match funds and you would put your money where your mouth is.

We were so honored to join the Health Liberty Coalition that you created, bringing together a variety of causes to join in strategies, join synergistically and work together for a better world …

We're asking people to continue to join as donors because … we must win in the other two branches in Europe. We must win the campaigns … to push out the amalgam makers, and we're on the way to doing that …

We have to raise [funds] voluntarily. We have no other way to get it. Government gives us zero cents, zero dollars. We don't sell anything. We provide a cause and a movement, and we're grateful [for all contributions]."


Largest Employer in the World Has Ended Amalgam

The world's largest employer, the Indian Railway, has also ended amalgam, as has India's Armed Forces.

"It's a massive operation, and they employ the dentists that take care of the employees. They have ended amalgam. The India Dental Association has basically switched sides. They said, 'To heck with the World Dental Federation. The India Dental Association endorses the phase out of amalgam.'

The major amalgam maker in India, and I visited him a while back to try to persuade him to move, he switched. He doesn't make amalgam. He makes the alternative. He says, 'I'm going to make more money. I'm going to make a killing doing this.' He said, 'We will beat the price of the Westerners,' which of course he will …

We also have a model state in India, the state of Odisha. It has state federal system … Our model state program is trying to end amalgam across the board in Odisha, which has more people than California. So, we're pretty optimistic about India. Its neighbor, Bangladesh, is culturally very much the same.

The Bengali, that is the Bangladeshi Bengalis, have ended amalgam in the army. They have a memorandum of understanding with the government to end amalgam and with the dental association signing on. And amalgam is not taught in dental schools. So, amalgam will end in Bangladesh, sooner or later. Uruguay is the same situation."

US Status Update

As for the U.S., Consumers for Dental Choice has three primary areas of focus. The first one is to identify where amalgam is still being used. There's good news here as well, because we are seeing a significant shift within the private sector. Many private dentists recognize that there are horrible downsides to amalgam and are responding to consumer demand for safer alternatives.

Unfortunately, the bureaucracies have not changed. Millions of Americans that rely on institutional dentistry — the armed forces, inmates, those who live on Indian reservations, veterans — they're still getting mercury fillings. There's no consumer choice there. So, the bureaucracies need to change.

"We have a very active program working with this government," Brown says. "I recently met again with a consortium of federal agencies, the Office of Assistant Secretary of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, the White House Council of Environmental Quality, to make the push to implement what the Food and Drug Administration has already said, which is to end amalgam for children and pregnant women.

Amazingly, people that work in government agencies don't even care what the government agency on science and health has said. The FDA is saying, 'Don't give this to children and pregnant women.' It's unbelievable that they disregard the instructions from their own agency.

But again, they don't care about consumer choice because the consumer doesn't have any power, doesn't have any money, is forced to get a Medicaid, for example, or Indian Health and so on. We are going to change that. There's commitment in various parts of this government, and we're trying to make it work and say to these bureaucracies, 'It's over.'

One way to do it is to limit purchasing. I talked to the chief dental officer in India who ended amalgam in the Indian Armed Forces. They're as big as the U.S. Armed Forces. I said, 'How could you do it? In the Pentagon, it would be so elaborate to make any change.' He said, 'Easy, Charlie. I'm in charge of purchasing.' That's how we can do it …

Changing government dentistry, federally-funded and state-funded programs, is No. 1. No. 2 is the green purchasing. We have green purchasing initiatives in New York State and Washington State to change the purchasing of amalgam at the state level. We're doing pilot programs there."

Two Largest Amalgam Producers Have Quit Making It

Brown has also been working on getting amalgam producers to realize the harm it's doing. As a result, the largest dental products maker in the world, DentSupply, stopped making and selling amalgam in 2020.

Next, Consumers for Dental Choice started encouraging the second biggest amalgam producer, Kerr, a subsidiary of Envista Holdings Corporation, to get out of the amalgam business. Investors listened, and in the summer of 2021, one of their lawyers told Brown they'd decided to get out. The formal announcement was issued in March 2022, which read, in part:1

"Specifically, we ceased manufacturing these products in the third quarter of 2021 and communicated this decision to our customers in November of 2021.

As part of this communication, we cancelled many of our customers outstanding orders for amalgams containing mercury and directed our customers to our other materials that do not contain mercury. We also engaged in a vigorous campaign to assist our customers in swapping their amalgam products containing mercury to materials that do not contain mercury."

There are three primary holdouts left. Henry Schein, based in Long Island, New York, the largest distributor, continues to sell amalgam. Ivoclar Vivadent, based in Europe, does not sell it in Europe but sells it in the United States. Brown is pushing Ivoclar Vivadent to stop selling it altogether. Lastly, there's Southern Dental Industries, in Australia.

"They've been particularly contemptuous of the [mercury] treaty," Brown says. "They're trying to take market share, now that DentSupply and Envista have left, but … we're trying to stop their exports to Asia with our Asian team.

We have nonprofit group partners in Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, India, and Bangladesh that we work with, and who are now focused on getting Southern Dental to either get out of the amalgam business or face a challenge to their entire export regime."

Nigerian and Brazilian Campaigns

Consumers for Dental Choice also has two model states in Nigeria, Edo and Enugu, where amalgam is being phased out. There's also a national campaign, which the Nigerian Dental Association has signed onto, to phase it out. Brown comments on the advancements made in Africa:

"We have the Dentist for Mercury-Free Africa, led by the former dean, now professor, in the oldest dental school in the Sub-Saharan, the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), and we have momentum there.

They just had a workshop in Abuja, and I spoke remotely, bringing in the Department of Health, the Department of Environment, international agencies, Dentists from Mercury-Free Africa … and our NGO team. It's an extensive team.

We invest heavily in Nigeria. Nigeria is the largest country in Africa [in terms of] population, twice the size of the second largest, Ethiopia … It's very exciting, and they are going to help lead Africa to mercury-free dentistry, no doubt."

A Quarter Century-Long Fight

Brown and I partnered in 2011, but he's been fighting for mercury-free dentistry far longer than that:

"This has been a quarter century of my life. It's been the second half of my professional life. As you know, I was a former state attorney general. I'm a graduate of the best law school in the country, in my view, Yale Law School. And I really think this was the challenge that needed to be met, because we had no support when we began.

Dentistry was just locked into mercury. We protected dentists first, by [protecting] their First Amendment right to speak, to advertise and advocate [against amalgam]. We won that. We moved on to passing state laws in the United States, then moved to suing the U.S. FDA, forcing them by federal court order to classify amalgam.

In 2010 came the major opportunity — a worldwide treaty on mercury. We were determined, I was determined, to get amalgam into that treaty, and I created the World Alliance for Mercury Free Dentistry in 2010.

In 2011, you decided to participate, and we could not have built it without you as our partner over these years. We built it. We have regional vice presidents all over the world — in Montevideo for the Latin American campaign, in Berlin for the European campaign, in Yaoundé Cameroon for the Africa campaign.

Dhaka, Bangladesh is the headquarters for our Asian campaign. Mauritius is the headquarters for our island states campaign. Amman, Jordan is the headquarter for our Arab States campaign. [In] each of these, we have a nonprofit group leader with other duties. They run a serious nonprofit group, but they've carved out a certain percent of their time just to coordinate the [mercury-free] campaign in those regions.

We've covered the planet now. We have regional centers that span the earth. I'll say to our Canadian listeners, it's important to know, Friends of the Earth Canada is our partner in Ottawa. They're doing a great job."

The vast reach of Consumers for Dental Choice is proof positive that not a penny is laid to waste. Brown truly deserves some kind of award for the most efficient use of funds to establish an international presence.

So, I would strongly encourage each one of you, if you haven't already, to support this mission, because unlike other organizations who are committed to a cause, this one is getting very close to the end. Once amalgam has been eradicated worldwide, Consumers for Dental Choice can close shop, knowing they've safeguarded the health of billions of people, and future generations, and so can you.

New Opportunities to Phase Out Amalgam

This spring, an unexpected — but highly welcome — development compels Consumers for Dental Choice to search for additional revenue. Several African nations submitted a proposal to amend the Minamata Convention to add a 2030 phase-out date for dental amalgam.

The proposal also adds common-sense measures to facilitate this phase-out, including (1) submitting to the Secretariat a national plan for phasing out the use of dental amalgam and (2) excluding the use of dental amalgam in government insurance policies and programs. Now we must gear up for the intense global debates over this proposal at the upcoming Conference of the Parties (COP5), starting 30 October in Geneva, Switzerland.

Phasing Out the Past

The dental amalgam we know today was developed in the nineteenth century. And it was controversial from the start. Many practicing dentists opposed it.

Even in some 19th century advertisements, dentists proclaimed that amalgam was “poisonous”. And they had the support of some of the leading names in nineteenth century dentistry. For example, Dr. Chapin A. Harris, long considered the father of American dental science said amalgam “is one of the most objectionable articles for fillings teeth that can be employed.”

This view was reflected in one of the earliest dental associations – the American Society of Dental Surgeons. In 1845, the Association went so far as to adopt a resolution: “That any member of this Society who shall hereafter refuse to sign a certificate pledging himself not to use any amalgam and moreover, protesting against its use under any circumstances in dental practice, shall be expelled from this Society.”

Sadly, the dental profession took an ugly turn. Unscrupulous “dentists” found that they could market this cheap mercury product as silver – and thereby compete with the better-trained dentists who preferred gold. (The white composite fillings that are the primary alternative to amalgam today were not around at this time.)

As one physician observed in 1896, “Certain dentists are themselves aware of the popular dread of mercury and hence the false term of ‘silver filling,’ which is a deliberate swindle and a disgrace to the dental occupation.”

Promoting amalgam as “silver fillings” had an additional perk for the dental industry: customarily, dentists priced their work based on the intrinsic value of the material used. Hence, they could charge more for a gold filling than a silver filling, and more for a supposedly silver filling than for an amalgam filling.

As dental publications in the late 1800s urged dentists to “[e]liminate the idea that the amalgam filling is a cheap filling,” use of the term “silver fillings” proliferated even though mercury remained the major ingredient. To this day, polling shows that many people still believe that “silver fillings” are really silver – and not toxic mercury.

Two decades back, Consumers for Dental Choice began by fighting the “silver fillings” deception and by protecting mercury-free dentists. Fighting and winning at the state level, then the federal level, then the international level, we are now closer than ever to completely abolishing this threat to our health and environment as we approach the debates for the amalgam phase-out amendment to the Minamata Convention.

With your help, we will be well-prepared for the moment at hand, having already laid the groundwork in five key ways. Consumers for Dental Choice:

1) Won Protections for Dentists

Consumers for Dental Choice has always worked closely with dentists to abolish amalgam. Early on, only about 3% of dentists were mercury-free. We had to defend the right of these mercury-free dentists to advise, advertise, and advocate for mercury-free dentistry. We had to win back the licenses of dentists who stood up against this toxic product.

We had to fight to get mercury-free dentists – who represent almost half of all dentists now! – appointed to state dental boards over the pro-mercury state dental associations strenuous objections.

Now Consumers for Dental Choice is on the offensive, reaching out to dentists about the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s new safety communication. We wrote articles and met with government health officials, advising dentists that in light of FDA’s amalgam safety communication, their only prudent course of action is to use only mercury-free fillings.

And we made sure that dental schools knew about FDA’s new safety communication – and heard that some are stopping amalgam use in their clinics in response to concerns raised by FDA.

For example, Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM) ended the use of amalgam in patient care on 14 October 2020 in direct response to FDA’s safety communication. As explained on its website:

“By eliminating dental amalgam from our Patient Treatment Centers, we are prioritizing the health and safety of our patients and fully embracing the future of dental restorations – while simultaneously doing our part to protect the environment,” said Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter.

“GSDM has a well-deserved reputation for innovation, and I believe this decision is yet another example of the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine being ahead of the curve when it comes to trends in dentistry and oral healthcare.”

As more and more dental schools reject amalgam and embrace mercury-free materials, the next generation of dentists will be better prepared to not only save teeth but also protect their patients and communities from the unnecessary exposure to amalgam’s mercury.

2) Took on the ADA

The main lobbying force for amalgam since the Civil War, the American Dental Association, has realigned its position. After promoting and profiting from mercury in the mouth and loudly proclaiming its safety, this double amalgam patentholder has started to pull back from its former hard-line position of pushing amalgam onto American consumers.

Here's what we are seeing in the ADA’s new official 2022 policy statement Use of Amalgam as Restorative Material:

  • The ADA’s policy no longer says amalgam does not pose a health hazard — The ADA’s policy no longer says that amalgam “does not pose a health hazard.” Instead it merely “recommends that clinicians review the risks and benefits of all restorative options with their patients.”
  • The ADA’s policy supports reducing environmental mercury — In 2022, with the Minamata Convention in its fifth year, the ADA at last “supports the globally recognized need to reduce environmental mercury as set forth in the Minamata Convention on Mercury ... as a common good.”
  • The ADA’s policy backs away from using state dental boards as weapons — The ADA withdraws its long-time policy of openly aiding dental boards in attacking mercury-free dentists. It deletes its written policy of assisting boards with “expert witnesses” in cases involving dentists opposed to amalgam use.

There can be no doubt that our campaign is succeeding. The ADA beats a retreat to higher ground – we clearly have them on the run. But the new policy makes clear that this multimillion dollar lobbying machine is continuing its unconscionable fight to keep using this mercury product – especially in the poor, the unaware, and those dependent on government programs like our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and their families.

3) Gained Protections for Children and Vulnerable

After more than a decade of battle, Consumers for Dental Choice won amalgam warnings from FDA in 2020! The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety communication on dental amalgam, finally recommending against amalgam use in people who are at higher risk from the adverse effects of mercury exposure, including ...

  • Pregnant women and their developing babies
  • Women who are planning to become pregnant
  • Nursing women and their newborns and infants
  • Children, especially those younger than six years of age
  • People with pre-existing neurological disease
  • People with impaired kidney function
  • People with known heightened sensitivity (allergy) to mercury or other components of dental amalgam

This list, of course, encompasses a significant part of the population. As such, FDA’s action has the potential to protect millions and millions of Americans from mercury in their mouths. FDA’s safety communication also had another significant effect – it created a momentum for mercury-free dentistry that was unimaginable just a few years ago.

In 2013, Consumers for Dental Choice and our global team – the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry – won an amalgam reduction requirement in the new Minamata Convention on Mercury. Every country that is party to this international environmental treaty must phase down its use of amalgam.

Now armed with the FDA’s safety communication advising against amalgam use in high-risk populations, we knew it was time to ask the nations of the world to go further by amending the Minamata Convention on Mercury to protect all children from amalgam.

Consumers for Dental Choice and our international allies undertook a multi-pronged campaign: convincing the Minamata Secretariat that mercury-free alternatives to amalgam are feasible ... persuading the World Health Organization to acknowledge that an amalgam phase-out is possible ... sharing the science and practical policy solutions with governments from every region ... and battling misinformation from the pro-mercury World Dental Federation (FDI).

The mercury-free dentistry movement was present in force during the amendment debates in Bali, Indonesia in March 2022 and we succeeded in winning what became known as the Children’s Amendment! On 25 March 2022, the parties to the Minamata Convention decided unanimously to amend the treaty to ...

“... Exclude or not allow, by taking measures as appropriate, or recommend against the use of dental amalgam for the dental treatment of deciduous teeth [baby teeth], of patients under 15 years and of pregnant and breastfeeding women ...”

This amendment represents a worldwide consensus that dental amalgam is not safe for children and other vulnerable populations – it is not safe in their mouths and it is not safe in their environment.

4) Changed Dental Manufacturing

For more than a decade, Consumers for Dental Choice has held news events in amalgam manufacturers' home cities ... organized petitions ... filed shareholder resolutions demanding that companies reconsider amalgam sales ... and urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to issue manufacturer guidance. But the industry dug in to defend its mercury product until ...

The FDA safety communication was the straw that broke the manufacturers’ back. Consumers for Dental Choice and our allies followed up with letters to manufacturers signed by 118 environmental, consumer, and children’s groups from across America and throughout the world.

Dentsply Sirona – one of the world’s largest manufacturer of dental products – was the first to exit the amalgam market. In its annual report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, this industry behemoth quietly noted:

“[W]e have discontinued sales for all amalgam products as of December 2020.”

The coup de grâce for Dentsply appears to have been FDA’s recommendation against amalgam use in high-risk. As Dentsply explained:

“In September 2020, the FDA issued an updated recommendation that certain people are at higher risk for health problems from mercury-containing amalgam dental fillings, such as pregnant women and their developing fetuses, women who are planning to become pregnant, nursing women and their newborns and infants, children, especially those younger than six years of age, people with pre-existing neurological disease such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer disease, or Parkinson disease, people with impaired kidney function, and people with a known allergy to mercury or other components of dental amalgam.”

When Dentsply Sirona stopped its amalgam sales, we turned our attention to other manufacturers who still needed persuasion, including going directly to the major shareholders. Soon, the other major U.S. amalgam manufacturer, Kerr (currently a subsidiary of Envista Holdings Corporation and previously a subsidiary of Danaher), announced that it has:

“... ceased manufacturing all Alloy products, including all of our amalgam products that may contain mercury.”

Kerr goes on to explain that ...

“Specifically, we ceased manufacturing these products in the third quarter of 2021 and communicated this decision to our customers in November of 2021. As part of this communication, we cancelled many of our customers outstanding orders for amalgams containing mercury and directed our customers to our other materials that do not contain mercury.

We also engaged in a vigorous campaign to assist our customers in swapping their amalgam products containing mercury to materials that do not contain mercury.”

With Dentsply and Kerr is out of the amalgam business, they can now focus on what they do best: developing and selling the many excellent mercury-free fillings available today!

5) Built a Winning Coalition

Consumers for Dental Choice helped found the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry in 2010. Since then, this umbrella coalition has grown to more than 50 organizations from around the globe that are working to end the use of amalgam.

This is the team that got an amalgam reduction requirement into the Minamata Convention, won the Children’s Amendment to that treat to protect the most vulnerable, and winning amalgam phase-outs and restrictions in their own individual countries.

We are honored to lead this team of talented and energetic nonprofit group leaders and dental experts from around the world, including Bangladesh, Cameroun, Germany, Great Britain, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Nigeria, Uruguay, and Vietnam. We are preparing for a showdown at COP5 as we fight for the proposed phase-out amendment to the Minamata Convention. But we never put all eggs in one basket – even if amendment doesn’t go as far as we want, we’ve got other plans to win!

Consumer Resources

If your current dentist is still using mercury in his or her practice — even if they also offer mercury-free options — seek out a dentist that offers only mercury-free fillings for all patients. And be sure to inform your dentist about the reason you're transferring.

If you have mercury fillings, be sure to consult with a biological dentist who is trained in the safe removal of amalgam. Toxic fumes are released during the removal, so it's crucial to have it done safely to prevent acute toxicity. As noted by Brown:

"You really do need a dentist who fears mercury, who knows how toxic it is, and to never get them removed by a dentist who puts them in. You need a very trained dentist."

Holistic dental organizations groups that Brown has worked with over the years, all of which provide lists of biological dentists with the proper skills to remove mercury amalgam, include the following. Consumers for Dental Choice also provides resources for holistic and biological dentistry on its website.

Help Bring Mercury-Free Dentistry to the US and Worldwide

Consumers for Dental Choice takes the holistic approach to advocacy. You wouldn't go to a traditional dentist who uses mercury amalgam fillings. So, why would you go to a traditional activist to fight for mercury-free dentistry?

That's why so many people, including me, support Consumers for Dental Choice's holistic approach to advocacy. I so believe in this cause that I put $150,000 on the table in matching funds. I will donate $1 for every dollar you and other supporters donate, up to $150,000, with a deadline of midnight August 19, 2023.

Nowhere is the progress more evident than the work of Consumers for Dental Choice and its Campaign for Mercury-Free Dentistry. So, be part of the change and help bring mercury-free dentistry to the U.S. and worldwide by donating your funds where you know they will get results.

If you want to stay informed, I encourage you to follow them on Facebook; if you’d like to receive their announcements, you can sign up by CLICKING HERE.

Resources to Help You Find a Biological Dentist

Don’t settle for amalgam — you have a choice! The following organizations can help you find a mercury-free, biological dentist:

 Sources and References

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