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Chicago Tribune exposé: “Are Your Teeth Toxic?”

The Chicago Tribune -- the largest US newspaper between the coasts - wrote a superb article this Sunday (Dec. 11) headlined "Are Your Teeth Toxic?" The subheading is "The mercury in 'silver' fillings would be hazardous waste in a river----yet it's sitting in your mouth." Article is below.
Chicago Tribune exposé: "Are Your Teeth Toxic?"

The Chicago Tribune -- the largest US newspaper between the coasts - wrote a superb article this Sunday (Dec. 11) headlined "Are Your Teeth Toxic?" The subheading is "The mercury in 'silver' fillings would be hazardous waste in a river----yet it's sitting in your mouth." Article is below.

It's plain as day that the US Food & Drug Administration has failed the American people, allowing a cover-up of the mercury exposure - and even the presence of mercury - in amalgam.

The Chicago Tribune exposé can ignite a firestorm against the Food & Drug Adm'n. The FDA conceals, even from pregnant women and children, that amalgam exposes the patient to toxic mercury. FDA bans mercury in all veterinary medicines, but not in dental fillings -- meaning, I guess, that horses are more important to FDA than children and babies in the womb.

Please take two actions, and promptly:

(1) Send the article to key reporters or editors at your local paper, TV, or radio, with this note: "Here is an article in Sunday's Chicago Tribune. There's a local angle to this national story. I can identify whom to interview locally." Give your name & ph #.

(2) Write your two US Senators and your Congressman/Congresswoman. To identify the latter, go to www.house.gov; at top of page put in your zip code. To write your Senator (remember, you have two if you live in a U S state), go to www.senate.gov (Fax or e-mail it; letters to Congress thru the post office take forever since the anthrax event.)


Reference this article in the Chicago Tribune, and ask

* Why does the Food and Drug Administration ban mercury in all veterinary medicines, but allow it - without warnings -- in children's mouths and in pregnant women? To make horses more important than unborn babies is morally bankrupt.
* Why is FDA covering up the fact that amalgam is a mercury exposure?
* Why does FDA defy federal bidding laws to handpick favored consultants, in order to get the result they want, rather than bring in the best scientists?
* Why does FDA shut out consumer and health groups, and the public, from any role in decisions?


PS --- Karen Truskowski made the initial contact with the reporter; quoted, among others, are Linda Brocato, Dr. John Rothchild, Dr. Dean Bass, and me.

Charles G. Brown, National Counsel

Consumers for Dental Choice and

Coalition for Mercury-Free Dentistry

1725 K St., N.W., Suite 511, Washington, DC 20006

Ph. 202.822-6307; fax 822-6309

 charlie@toxicteeth.org , www.toxicteeth.org

Dec. 11, 2005

Julie Deardorff

Julie Deardorff

Are your teeth toxic?

The mercury in 'silver' fillings would be hazardous waste in a river----yet it's sitting in your mouth

Chicago Tribune, December 11, 2005

A professional musician from Arlington Heights suffers from mysterious rashes and lip blisters. A dental hygienist in Hoffman Estates battles migraines. And a social worker in Prospect Heights is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

All three tried treating their ailments using a controversial method: by having dentists remove and replace their so-called "silver" amalgam tooth fillings, which contain about 50 percent mercury. And all three swear they experienced life-changing health improvements.

Their personal testimonies are part of what makes dental amalgam, the silver lining for hundreds of millions of American mouths, one of the most divisive issues in dentistry. Though it's one of the oldest materials in oral health care--used by people of all ages for the last 150 years--anti-mercury groups are pushing the startling message that mercury residing in the mouth can leach into the body and cause illness.

"I thought my career was over," said Arlington Heights' Matt Comerford, now a trumpet player with the Lyric Opera who was suffering from painful sores along his gums. He began investigating the metals in his mouth and eventually had nine silver fillings replaced with a mercury-free alter-native material.

"Within a week [of having the amalgams replaced], everything healed," Comerford said.

Amalgam, most dentists admit, is crude and ugly, but they say it's a valuable option because it's strong, durable and relatively cheap.

And studies have shown that there is insufficient evidence to link it to health problems (with the exception of allergic reactions), according to the American Dental Association and several federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Regardless, anti-mercury groups are appalled by the notion that the toxic element, which is considered a hazardous waste by the Environmental Protection Agency, is safe when it's packed inside a tooth. They argue that although it was once thought to be inert inside the mouth, studies now show that mercury can be emitted in minute amounts of vapor and absorbed by the patient through inhalation and ingestion.

At Doctor's Data, a Chicago lab that specializes in trace-metals analysis, clinicians have found that the amount of mercury in a person's stool is highly correlated to the number of amalgams in the mouth.

"What stool testing drives home is that parts of the amalgams don't stay in the teeth and we're swallowing mercury," said Dean Bass, a chemist at Doctor's Data and a scientist at Argonne National Laboratories. "But it doesn't necessarily tell you how much mercury the body absorbs."

A long-running controversy

The debate over silver amalgam dates at least to 1845, when the now-defunct American Academy of Dental Surgeons asked its members to sign a pledge never to use it. Though amalgam use has been declining since the 1970s because more eye-pleasing options are available and cavities are smaller, federal lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan bill to ban silver/mercury fillings for children and pregnant and nursing women and to phase them out completely in three years.

In California, dentists are required by state law to post a warning that dental amalgams "cause exposure to mercury, a chemical known to the state of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm."

"The ADA is wrong that the issue is `safety.' The issue is `risk,'" said Charlie Brown, national counsel for Consumers for Dental Choice and Coalition for Mercury-Free Dentistry. He has filed a petition asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the ADA and the Connecticut State Dental Association for what the groups claims is making false, deceptive and unsubstantiated claims in promoting silver/mercury amalgam.

"On this point scientists agree: Mercury is a virulent neurotoxin that can permanently harm the developing brain of a child or fetus. Yet a recent Zogby poll shows three in five people don't know that `silver' fillings have mercury," said Brown, who pointed out that silver fillings are in fact mainly mercury.

The ADA staunchly defends the safety of amalgam, still used in about 30 percent of restorations. Amalgam, made by mixing elemental liquid mercury with an alloy powder composed of silver, tin, copper and sometimes smaller amounts of other metals, hardens quickly and tolerates saliva. This makes it useful for treating squirmy young children or special-needs patients who have a hard time sitting still.

Money and ethics

Some dental insurance companies don't cover the more expensive alternatives to amalgam. And because science doesn't definitively link the silver fillings to health problems, the ADA considers it unethical for dentists to tell patients that removing amalgams can improve health.

"Amalgam has the longest history, the most data and the largest number of studies supporting it. Yet time after time, we have to come back and address it," said Dr. Fred Eichmiller, director of the ADA Foundation's Paffenbarger Resource Center, where alternatives to amalgams have been invented.

Critics argue that the issue also is environmental. Mercury is emitted into the air when bodies with mercury fillings are cremated. It gets into the water when fillings are removed and leftover material is not disposed of properly.

Amalgams don't need to be used in the 21st Century," said Downers Grove dentist Janet Stopka, who uses composite, porcelain and gold.

For consumers, the decision whether to replace amalgams can be a difficult one. Urine, hair and feces can all be tested for mercury levels and chelating agents can pull mercury out of the organs. But the results don't necessarily tell whether there is enough mercury present to pose a health risk and an official diagnosis of "mercury poisoning" can be tentative.

Swapping out old fillings can be expensive; each replacement can cost $75 to $200. And there are no guaranteed benefits.

Nevertheless, Dawn Quast, a dental hygienist for Dr. John Rothchild in Hoffman Estates, decided to have four small fillings replaced after she witnessed both small and profound improvements in Rothchild's patients who had amalgams replaced.

"I had a migraine the night I had the last silver one removed and haven't had one since [in 12 years]," Quast said.

Rothchild, a mercury-free dentist, said he doesn't push people into having silver fillings removed.

No guarantees

"I never promise any medical cures because you can't," he said. Instead, he presents both sides of the issue on his Web site and provides patient referrals. "If people come in asking about amalgams, I'll tell them," he said. "If they're there for basic dentistry, I don't say anything."

Linda Brocato of Prospect Heights went to several dentists before she made the difficult decision to have her 16 silver fillings removed. Her problems began in 1980, when she looked in the mirror one morning and noticed her right eye was drooping. Seven years and dozens of health issues later, the former social worker was crippled, diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

It wasn't until Brocato heard about the Minneapolis-based group Dental Amalgam Mercury Syndrome (DAMS), however, that she began to believe she had mercury poisoning.

Two weeks after she had her last amalgams replaced, Brocato said her slurred speech began to disappear and her strength and balance improved. She knows the symptoms of MS come and go, which could explain her improved health, but she is convinced that removing the silver fillings made a big difference.

"I have five pages of improvements," said Brocato, 56, who is still in a wheelchair but no longer takes medication for MS. She is now one of the Illinois coordinators for DAMS. "I don't know how people can say there isn't evidence."
- - -
Help on the Web -- For more information:
The American Dental Association: ada.org
The International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology: iaomt.org
Consumers for Dental Choice, www.toxicteeth.org


Mercury-free options for teeth

Julie Deardorff, Chicago Tribune, December 11, 2005

A major debate surrounding silver (mercury) amalgam fillings is whether they cause the teeth to crack, creating the need for root canals and other major surgery. Lincoln Park dentist Gerilyn Alfe believes they do, just one reason she has embraced mercury-free alternatives to amalgams for the last decade.

"I don't think ripping metal fillings out of everyone's mouth is a good practice," said Alfe of Chicago Smile Spa. "But if they're starting to deteriorate or fracture, I will replace them with bonded, tooth-colored aesthetic fillings."

The use of silver fillings has dropped nearly 40 percent since 1979, thanks in part to better oral care that decreased the overall frequency and size of cavities. Better diagnostics allow dentists to find cavities earlier, when they are much smaller and easier to restore with alternative materials, including porcelain inlays or onlays, and tooth-colored fillings, or composites.

Porcelain inlays or onlays are ceramic or glasslike fillings and crowns. They are popular because "they are bonded to the tooth structure, extremely strong and many people can expect 15 to 20 years service with it," said Peter Dawson Boulder of Aesthetic Dentistry of Atlanta.

The American Dental Association, which says it doesn't promote the use of one restorative material over another, says porcelain is highly resistant to wear but can rapidly wear opposing teeth if its surface becomes rough. They may fracture under "heavy biting loads." And it's important to find a dentist with good technique because the strength depends greatly on the quality of the bond to the underlying tooth structure.

Tooth-colored fillings, another common option, are made from durable plastics called composite resins. First introduced in the 1960s, they've undergone continual improvements in durability, color stability and esthetics. Tooth-colored fillings are actually bonded to teeth; silver/amalgam fillings are not bonded to teeth.

"The technique behind bonding actually strengthens a tooth because the bonding locks in so tightly to the inside walls of the tooth through tiny micro pores," said Chris Kammer of the Center for Cosmetic Dentistry in Middleton, Wis., a mercury-free practice.

But composites aren't for every tooth. They work best in small restorations and low-stress areas and might not be effective with a large cavity or for the chewing surface of a back tooth. They also cost more because they take longer to place.

Unsightly amalgams are still considered the most durable and the best choice for large restorations. But amalgam is metal and X-rays cannot penetrate through it, said Dr. Parviz Azar-Mehr, a Prosthodonist and Professor of Clinical Dentistry at the University of Southern California. That means X-rays might not pick up decay under the amalgam filling, and "it can lead to even worse problems than the original cavity the amalgam was meant to treat," said Azar-Mehr, who recommends that silver fillings more than 15 years old be replaced with crowns or tooth-colored fillings.

Nothing New 28.Jan.2006 14:14


It is good to see this subject raised again but it is far from new. The same hue and cry has gone up on a regular basis, only to disappear with nothing done to solve it. A few people who can afford it have had their amalgam fillings removed and replaced but dentists caution that removing the fillings may be even more dangerous because breaking them down releases the mercury contained within them.

I would like to see a local working dentist address this thread.

feels like a sign 28.Jan.2006 15:00


yesterday I picked up the local Alternatives, a publicatoin of get real inc. Anyways I found an article called Heavy Metal. I realized that my teeth could be a culprit in my current sluggishness, and lowered immune system. I am furious that my dentist,which had for about 15 years, would poison my body and knowingly kill me. I am only 20, something should have been done, and we need to all step up and refuse these drugs and procedures which are harmful. I found a few sources from the Alternatives publication with more info.....

Dr.Cutler's book "Amalgam Illness: Diagnosis and Treatment"
Consumers for Dental Choice
Safe Minds
research info about mercury
Mercury's relation to Alzheimer's Disease

I suggest picking up Alternatives, it's free, it's locally from Eugene and has ocassional practical info and stories from the Oregon community
Scared shittless but ready to make it a safer world for the children who to this day are still being poisoned. A friend of mine just took her infant daughter in for immunization, I had a scared feeling but no facts to stop her. If only I knew then what I now know. Spread the word stop our human pollution.
Do we have a death wish?

Mercury is also a probable cause of autism 29.Jan.2006 18:05


 link to www.newmediaexplorer.org

Incidentally, it seems gold can remove mercury from the body

 link to www.sciencedaily.com

I suffered for years 30.Jan.2006 16:09


when I had my amalgam fillings I suffered from oral lesions, headaches, and times when I thought my head was full of cotton, (foggy feeling), and frequently cought colds and flu. Since I've had them taken out, and done chelation therapy, oral lesions gone, headaches gone, no more colds, and mental clarity sharp.

The ADA are criminals.