Disadvantaged Kids Get a Mercury-Free Smile

Press Releases: January-February, 2005

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Freya B. Koss 
Consumers for Dental Choice 
Wynnewood, PA office 
Phone: 610-649-2606, Fax: 610-649-1938 
E-mail: frekoss@aol.com

Wynnewood, PA (January 22, 2005) - In an effort to give disadvantaged Philadelphia area children the same dental treatment afforded to higher socio-economic groups, three area dentists will be offering their expertise at Mercury-Free Smile Day, held on February 4, at the dental offices of Dr. Hyo Tony Lim in King of Prussia. Through this one-year program, 14 pre-selected 8-12 year-olds living in Norristown will receive free, comprehensive dental care including evaluation, oral health education and treatment with non-mercury dental fillings.

This event coincides with a similar program sponsored by the American Dental Association and Pennsylvania Dental Association, Give a Kid a Smile Day, which for the past 2 years has offered one free day of dental care to underprivileged children. However, dentists participating in GKSD use silver amalgam fillings containing 50% mercury. “Mercury is known to be one of the most deadly poisons known to man,” said Freya Koss, Director of Development for Consumers for Dental Choice, adding that dental amalgam is the primary source of mercury exposure for the general population according to the National Academy of Sciences' 2000 mercury report.  New Jersey dentist, Dr. John Tortora, says that he has successfully used white composite fillings for children since 1984, has “found excellent longevity and service similar to amalgam”, and has “eliminated any risk of significant dosage of mercury from dental amalgam to children.”

The objective of the Mercury Free Smile initiative, says participant, Kem Moser, D.D.S., is to bring awareness about the importance of good dental hygiene, the effects of dental health on general health and to offer non-toxic dental care. Dr. Hyo Tony Lim, D.M.D. and his colleagues believe that white, non-mercury fillings are the best biocompatible material, as well as esthetically pleasing, compared with amalgam.

On October 14, 2004, Philadelphia City Councilmember Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced Bill No. 040904 requiring dentists to post and distribute information to their patients concerning the disadvantages and advantages of amalgam fillings. “Most dentists don’t realize that they have a legal responsibility to inform patients about choices,” said Dr. Shannon Moten, a New Jersey dentist, adding, “If given all the facts and the opportunity to make an informed decision, most patients would overwhelmingly choose other alternatives to amalgam.”

For more than 20 years, the safety and effectiveness of amalgam fillings have been scrutinized. Prenatal mercury exposure has been equated with epidemic levels of childhood learning disabilities, neurological illnesses and autism syndrome, as well as adult illnesses, including MS, Lupus, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune, gastrointestinal and mental illness. More than 1,000 peer reviewed references demonstrating the connection between mercury and diseases can be found on the website of Bernard Windham, researcher and chemical engineer. ( www.home.earthlink.net/~berniew1/indexa.html; prenatal and children’s neurological illnesses: www.home.earthlink.net/~berniew1/indexk.html.) Additional support of these findings were reported in the Environmental Exposure to Mercury and Its Toxicopathologic Implications for Public Health, March 2003.

The most common dental filling, the silver-colored amalgam, contains approximately one-half to one gram of mercury, enough to render a 10-acre lake so contaminated that the fish should not be eaten according to data supplied from the Environmental Protection Agency. Currently, dental offices contribute 35 - 45% of the mercury load at wastewater treatment plants according to the final report of the Mercury Source Control & Pollution Prevention Program Evaluation, AMSA, March 2002. Councilmember Reynolds Brown’s bill  addresses this hazardous waste issue by calling for mandated amalgam separators in every dental office to prevent continued mercury pollution from dental amalgam.

In 1991, the World Health Organization reported dental amalgam to be the primary source of the body’s mercury burden. Since then, countries including Germany, Italy, Austria, Denmark, UK and Norway have issued warnings for pregnant women, children and those with kidney disease. In Japan, amalgam placement is no longer being taught in dental schools. Sweden plans a total ban of its use.

In 1998, the Pennsylvania Dental Association adopted the Patient Bill of Rights, granting PA patients with the right to ask about treatment alternatives, to be told about the pros and cons of procedures in an understandable language, and to ask dentists about all treatment options, regardless of cost. Yet, according to Carol Ward, V.P. of Dental Amalgam Mercury Syndrome (DAMS), a volunteer organization assisting those with mercury toxicity, “Thesepoor people are not being informed that their fillings are mercury or that they have a choice.”

Give a Kid a Mercury-Free Smile will be launched in 2005, at the King of Prussia dental office of Dr. Hyo Tony Lim, where Hispanic and African American children from low income families will receive dental care.  Based on the results of a one year trial, additional dentists will be recruited for 2006 to handle the anticipated need.

For additional information about mercury free dentistry and the possible health hazards of mercury amalgams see: www.toxicteeth.orgwww.amalgam.org., www.testfoundation.orgwww.iaomt.com.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Freya B. Koss 
Consumers for Dental Choice 
Wynnewood, PA office 
Phone: 610-649-2606, Fax: 610-649-1938 
E-mail: frekoss@aol.com

A Smiling Mercury-Free Day at the Dentist

Wynnewood, PA (February 8, 2005) - It was a Smiling Day at the dentist for the children and families of ACLAMO (Accion Comunal Latinamericana de Montgomery County), a Norristown, PA. community organization devoted to helping low and moderate-income Latino workers with social services. Fourteen children between the ages of 8-12 years received free non-mercury dental care at the King of Prussia offices of Dr. Hyo Tony Lim, as part of a one-year free program for children of low income families who otherwise would not be eligible for dental treatment.

ACLAMO Administrator, Margarita Contreras, was delighted when approached by Freya Koss, National Director of Development for Consumers for Dental Choice, a non-profit organization working to provide non-mercury dentistry for all Americans, as she has been concerned about the lack of dental care for these children. Contreras worked with Koss to facilitate this unique program as well as serving as translator for the families who are largely are only Spanish speaking.

Unfortunately, Contreras lamented, these children and their families are not eligible for subsidized dental or medical care for a period of nine years while waiting for citizenship, questioning this country’s national health policy for the poor. She emphasized the need for choice and informed consent, pointing out that the underserved receiving dental treatment under HMO and subsidized insurance only receive amalgam dental fillings, never being informed that Medicaid covers alternative white non-mercury fillings. In fact, she was dismayed to learn that her four year old granddaughter had already received several amalgam fillings without being told that they actually contained 50% mercury. Although, the Chief Dental Officer of the PA Department of Welfare, Dr. Paul Westerberg, admits that Medicaid will pay for white composite fillings, the policy allows the dentist to make the decision as to what materials are used rather than the patient. The PA Patient Bill of Rights, adopted by the PA Dental Assoc. in 1998 gives all patients the right to be told of alternative treatments irregardless of cost.

These are the very reasons Koss initiated the project when discovering in 2004 that subsidized clinics working with the American Dental Association’s Give a Kid a Smile Day were offering disadvantaged children free dental care using mercury fillings without giving their parents informed consent or choice. Mercury is a known neurotoxin associated with learning disabilities and other illnesses.

Through the generosity of volunteering dentists, Dr. Hyo Tony Lim, Dr. Kem Moser and Dr. Shaunon Moten, all children received comprehensive examinations including Panarex x-rays, evaluation and in some cases cleanings and fillings. It was clear that most of the children were in great need of dental care, as many of them had never before seen a dentist. Deeply committed to treating these children and improving their oral and general health, the goal is also to offer the families and community a better understanding as to importance of good oral hygiene and its connection to systemic health.

Based on the results of a one year trial, the hope is to expand this program and recruit additional dentists to participate next year. Koss anticipates the need for this type of safe comprehensive dental care and education to be enormous, and would like to see similar programs implemented nationally.

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