Dental safety group files antitrust petition against ADA for threat to withdraw dental services from Maine if state bans mercury fillings

Press Releases: 04.12.05

Consumers for Dental Choice
1725 K St., N.W., Suite 511
Washington , DC 20006 
Ph. 202.822-6307; fax 822-6309

For Immediate Release 
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Peter L. Kelley, 202-270-8831 
Jesse Graham, 207-990-0672 
Charles G. Brown, 202-246-7642

AUGUSTA – Consumers for Dental Choice today announced the filing of an antitrust petition against the American Dental Association because of a perceived threat that the largest professional association of dentists has made to reduce dental services in Maine if the state bans mercury fillings. The petition was filed today with Barbara AnthonyDirector of the Northeast Region for the Federal Trade Commission in New York, and G. Steven Rowe, Attorney General of Maine, in Augusta.

Charles G. Brown, National Counsel for Consumers for Dental Choice, explained, "We must challenge the ADA for coming into Maine in full force and raising the specter of reduced dental care. If an economist were to say services to children will be withdrawn, it would be a prediction. But when the trade group in charge of those services does it, it’s a threat."

Brown said a third of American dentists no longer use any mercury fillings, and over two-thirds of all the fillings used in the U.S. are now mercury-free, so there is no reason for anyone to be denied service just because a state decides it needs to cut down on the mercury pollution that the older fillings cause.

Nevertheless, the president and executive director of the American Dental Association wrote on March 29 to State Sen. Scott Cowger, co-chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources, that if Maine prohibits mercury fillings: “The result will be treatment delayed, treatment denied, and treatment never being sought. That is not a situation the dentists of Maine, the United States, or our policymakers can be willing to accept.”

The ADA has endorsement contracts with dozens of manufacturers of dental filling material, and that ought to be investigated, responded Jesse Graham, interim associate director for the Maine People’s Alliance, in a letter supporting the petition. “When a national organization doesn’t disclose its economic ties to the manufacturers it is defending, we believe it’s time to get the cards on the table,” Graham said.

“We therefore petition the Attorney General of Maine and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the ADA for a potential boycott to withdraw dental services from the children of Maine. We believe a court injunction could stop such action before it can succeed.” Graham can be reached at 207-990-0672.

Also available for comment is Sen. John Martin, former Maine Speaker of the House and sponsor of the bill, at 207-287-1515. A legislative work session is scheduled for this Thursday on LD 1327 and LD 1338, which would prohibit the use of dental amalgam to fill teeth. So-called “silver fillings” are actually 50% mercury and only 30% silver. They actively emit trace amounts of mercury vapor during chewing and drinking of hot beverages, as the ADA confirmed in congressional testimony two years ago, and admits on its website today. Mercury fillings also contribute a major share of the mercury in America’s water.

Consumers for Dental Choice is a Washington, D.C.-based public education organization that opposes mercury fillings as unsafe both in the mouth and in the environment. For more information, please

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