Our board president looks back at the battles we’ve won...and the battles ahead

In honor of Mercury-Free Dentistry Week, I have invited colleagues to tell how the mercury-free dentistry movement is changing the world.  Below is a message from Sue Ann Taylor, the co-founder of Consumers for Dental Choice and president of our board. 

~ Charlie Brown, Consumers for Dental Choice

The tide is starting to turn. But there are still marketplace barriers to mercury-free dentistry for many consumers. Today, Consumers for Dental Choice is breaking down these barriers by: 

  • Exposing the “silver fillings” deception: About one-fourth of Americans, quite understandably, think that amalgam’s main component is silver, not mercury. The deceptive marketing of mercury amalgam as “silver fillings” works, unfortunately! Consumers for Dental Choice is working to stop the industry from using this term and to start calling amalgam what it is: mercury fillings.  
  • Eliminating penalties: Many Aetna dental insurance plans will pay for amalgam.... but if you insist on mercury-free fillings in back teeth, then you have to pay more out-of-pocket. Many families cannot afford this penalty. Working with Consumers for Dental Choice, well over 100 dentists and other health professionals endorsed a letter to Aetna’s CEO and thousands of you have already signed a petition to end this practice. 
  • Dismantling dental apartheid: Connecticut Medicaid mandates mercury fillings in molar teeth.  Working with Consumers for Dental Choice, Councilwoman Cynthia Jennings of Hartford is challenging that despicable policy, via an op-ed in the Hartford Courant and a public hearing to spotlight this dental apartheid: choice for the rich, mercury for the poor.  
  • Magnifying fine print: Oregon Medicaid is better: if you read the fine print, the choice of mercury-free fillings is allowed.  But hardly anyone knows that! Working with Consumers for Dental Choice, Commissioner Mary Starrett of Yamhill County is launching a campaign to make sure dentists inform Medicaid families that they have a right to mercury-free dentistry.  

With Charlie Brown and Consumers for Dental Choice leading the charge, I know we can break through these barriers. Look at all the barriers we had to overcome when Consumers for Dental Choice was founded back in the 1990s: almost all dental consumers had mercury fillings implanted in their teeth without their consent...dentists who spoke out for mercury-free dental care lost their licenses...almost no one even knew that hundreds of tons of dental mercury were being dumped into the environment each year. 

Consumers for Dental Choice changed all that. The late Bob Jones and I decided that we must end amalgam and to do so a grassroots, consumer-driven movement was needed. So I approached attorney Charlie Brown to become head of Consumers for Dental Choice – the non-profit organization that went on to raise public awareness of amalgam’s mercury, win back dentists’ licenses, and get amalgam included in an environmental treaty, the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

In the year ahead, Consumers for Dental Choice will continue the fight to break down the remaining barriers so all consumers have access to mercury-free dentistry....

Sue Ann Taylor, Board President
Consumers for Dental Choice

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