The goal of our Campaign for Mercury-Free Dentistry is to phase out the use of amalgam, a 50% mercury product -- worldwide. The recently concluded draft mercury treaty requires each signing nation to phase down its use of amalgam, and it provides a road map how. We aim to:
- Educate consumers about the use of mercury in dentistry so they can make informed decisions
- Stop dental mercury pollution
- Protect consumers – especially vulnerable populations such as children and the unborn – from exposure to dental mercury
- Empower dental workers – dental assistants and hygienists – to protect themselves from mercury in the workplace
- Promote access to mercury-free alternatives to amalgam
Consumers for Dental Choice was founded in 1996. Our Campaign for Mercury-Free Dentistry started in key states before going national and international. Along the way, we have educated consumers, increased access to mercury-free alternatives, dismantled arguments rationalizing mercury use, protected dentists’ right to speak out, and emboldened governments to stand up for mercury-free dentistry.
Our Major Accomplishments
- We are a founding member of the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, the international coalition of organizations from six continents dedicated to ending dental mercury use. This world coalition’s headquarters is at Consumers for Dental Choice.
- We assembled a team of dentists, environmentalists, scientists, physicians, attorneys, journalists, and consumer advocates to go to each of the five mercury treaty sessions, and to the many regional consultations in between.
- Against the odds,, we won. Dental amalgam is in the treaty. A road map exists on how to phasedown amalgam, and the tools are there to petition for a full phaseout.
National (U.S.) Accomplishments
- We compelled the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to address the amalgam, a legal duty that the agency had ducked for over three decades. Our court settlement required the FDA to write an amalgam regulation on a deadline and post warnings about amalgam’s neurological risks on the FDA website.
- When the U.S. FDA refused to protect consumers from amalgam, we obtained an advisory panel hearing to review the decision. The panel concluded that (1) FDA must disclose amalgam’s mercury content to consumers and (2) amalgam is not safe for vulnerable populations, such as children.
- Working with a coalition of environmental organizations, we helped persuade the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to decide that it will require all dentists to install separators.
- Due to increased consumer awareness, amalgam sales in the U.S. have decreased by almost 50% since 2001.
Accomplishments at State & Local Level
- We protected dentists’ First Amendment right to advertise, practice, and speak out for mercury-free dentistry by abolishing the American Dental Association’s gag rule. The gag rule, enforced by state dental boards, had prevented dentists from telling their patients that amalgam is mercury.
- We secured consumer’s right to be informed about amalgam’s mercury in several jurisdictions. In California, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Philadelphia, dentists are now required to distribute “fact sheets” warning consumers that amalgam is mercury.
- We have petitioned state OSHAs to provide workplace protection for dental workers and dentists.
- We made mercury-free alternatives more accessible for low-income families by ensuring Medicaid coverage for alternatives in many states.
- We advocated the creation of the State & Local Public Officials Mercury-Free Caucus.
- We have gained resolution from several cities calling for the end of dental amalgam.