Can your zip code determine your dental choices? According to Charlie Brown of Consumers for Dental Choice, the answer is a resounding yes. Especially if you live in Connecticut.
Last week, Charlie stood on the steps of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to bring attention to the fact that low income Medicaid patients in the state are denied access to mercury-free dentistry. Amalgam is their only option.
The trigger? A new report on informed consent in the state, where all dental offices are required to display a brochure informing patients about mercury amalgam fillings and possible alternatives.
Nearly 400 dental offices were surveyed. Not one had the brochure available for patients. Nearly two-thirds of those offices serve Medicaid patients.
It’s not hard to see why they wouldn’t want people to know about alternatives. They’d lose business! And it’s the patient who pays the steepest price, having a powerful neurotoxin placed in their teeth, mere inches from the brain; a toxin that is constantly outgassed from the fillings with every bite and swallow.
The alarming lack of state oversight fails to protect each citizen’s right to know about the materials being placed in their bodies.
And the continued use of mercury amalgam fails to protect the health of our environment. In this way, it’s not just the individual with mercury filings who suffers. All of us are affected.
Dental mercury has many paths into and through our environment. It’s found in the air via cremation, sewage sludge incineration, and dental clinic emissions. It’s found in our water via dental clinic releases and human waste. It’s found in our soil via landfills, burials, and fertilizers derived from sewage sludge.
Once in the environment, microorganisms can transform its elemental mercury into methylmercury – mercury in its most toxic form. Odorless and tasteless, methylmercury accumulates in large fatty fish and poses a hazard to all, but is particularly damaging to pregnant women, fetuses, and young children.
Attention is critical if we are to phase down mercury amalgam use, as required by the Minamata Convention on Mercury. Sadly, while the US has ratified this global treaty, it’s yet to act on any part of the treaty’s required phase-down of dental mercury. Meanwhile, other countries have actually banned dental mercury use or at least taken steps toward a ban.
As ever, we encourage everyone to keep informing themselves – and others – about the dangers mercury poses to your health, your family’s health, your friends’ health, and the health of our planet. This blog is one source of info. Here are some others:
- Consumers for Dental Choice
- International Academy of Biological Dentistry & Medicine
- International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology
- Minamata Convention on Mercury
The more each of us knows, the safer we’ll all be.