Avoid these 5 pro-mercury dental scams

It’s National Consumer Protection Week!  There’s no better time to raise awareness of the importance of finding a mercury-free dentist – the best way to protect yourself from one of the greatest consumer scams of all time: mercury amalgam fillings.

Consumers for Dental Choice’s Demand Your Choice campaign is working to empower all consumers to exercise their right to choose alternatives to amalgam. Still many consumers face barriers that prevent them from going to mercury-free dentists: insurance policies that don’t fully cover mercury-free fillings... government programs that deny consumers their choice of filling... and soldiers, and sailors, and institutionalized persons perhaps can’t choose their dentist at all. 

But even if you find yourself in one of these difficult situations, you can still protect yourself from the scam claims made by pro-mercury dentists! Here are five whoppers – and how you can challenge them using the very words of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a source many pro-mercury dentists profess to rely on:

Scam #1: “Amalgam is not mercury”

You can respond by citing FDA’s dental amalgam rule, which says “Amalgam is an alloy that is about 50% mercury.”  Then ask to see the label on the amalgam bottle or the material safety data sheet from the manufacturer – they have warning symbols and disclose that amalgam’s mercury content.  What could be more authoritative?

Scam #2: “Amalgam is stable”

You can explain that this is false because FDA concedes that dental amalgam “releases low levels of mercury vapor, with higher amounts released with mastication and gum chewing.”  If they continue to insist that amalgam is stable, ask them to show you the scientific studies proving it. (The American Dental Association’s unsubstantiated position statement doesn’t count!)   

Scam #3: “Amalgam is safe for children”

You can point out that even FDA admits, “The developing neurological systems in fetuses and young children may be more sensitive to the neurotoxic effects of mercury vapor. Very limited to no clinical information is available regarding long-term health outcomes in pregnant women and their developing fetuses, and children under the age of six, including infants who are breastfed.”  Hardly reasonable assurance of safety.

Scam #4: “Amalgam is the gold standard” 

You can note that this might have been true in 1950!  But as FDA acknowledges, modern mercury-free fillings “require minimal removal of healthy tooth structure for placement,” which can help the tooth survive longer, making them far superior to amalgam. Meanwhile, amalgam requires the removal of a significant amount of healthy tooth structure, which unnecessarily and permanently damages your natural tooth. 

Scam #5: “Amalgam is the only choice”

You can question the training of pro-mercury dentists who make this preposterous claim. Not only does FDA list mercury-free alternatives on its website, but entire countries (like Sweden and Norway) use nothing but mercury-free fillings since banning amalgam years ago.  If dentists are competent enough to  use mercury-free fillings over there, they can do it here too. 

Let’s call out these pro-mercury scams – and be ready to stand up for both ourselves and the next consumer in that dental chair! 

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