The end of mercury for children and pregnant women

We are seeing the beginning of the end of the worldwide use of mercury in dentistry, following two significant advances. The dedication of Consumers for Dental Choice, and the unwavering support of all readers have brought us to this place and will protect the health of generations to come.

The Fourth Conference of the Parties (COP) of the Minamata Convention on Mercury agreed to amend the treaty on March 25, 2022, to call for an end to the use of amalgams – or mercury sealants. (also erroneously called “silver” fillings) – tooth loss in children under 15 years of age and pregnant and lactating women.first

According to an email from Consumers for Dental Choice’s Charlie Brown to me, the amendment will take effect on December 25, 2022. “This treaty amendment, plus the continued departures of amalgam manufacturers Massive mix creates the impetus that we need to eliminate mixed use. Congratulations on your victory! ” Brown added.

Amended treaty protects the most vulnerable

The Minamata Convention on Mercury includes a broad package of measures to reduce and eliminate mercury worldwide. During a three-year campaign from 2010 to 2013, the global alliance formed by Consumers for Dental Choice, the World Mercury-Free Dental Alliance, succeeded in securing a mixed plan. strongly incorporated in the treaty.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury entered into law in 2017, launching conferences of the parties to implement it worldwide. At the First Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention, held in Geneva in October 2018, Brown challenged the world to equal or exceed the European Union’s new amalgamation policy, which prohibits use of mercury sealants in children under 15 years of age and in pregnant women. and breastfeeding women, effective July 1, 2018.2

The worldwide campaign to end amalgamation for children – as a springboard to end all use – reached another major milestone at the COP in March 2022. With Africa and the EU leading the way At first, governments around the world signaled that they were no longer willing to put the most vulnerable people at risk from mercury fillings. In a press release, Gilbert Kuepouo, representative of the International Contaminant Removal Network (IPEN), said:3

“This groundbreaking decision is the beginning of ending the use of dental amalgams worldwide. It is finally officially recognized that mercury fillings can have adverse health effects on women and children. Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin, and it can no longer be justified to put it in the mouths of women and children.”

European Commission, FDA recommendations against Amalgam

Signs that the world is working together to phase out dental mercury have been growing in recent years. In a report released by the European Commission in August 2020, it stated:4

“The assessment undertaken clarifies that eliminating the largest remaining use of mercury in the EU – dental amalgam – is technically and economically feasible … The Commission will therefore submit to The European Parliament and Council in 2022 a legislative proposal to phase out the use of dental amalgams.”

In September 2020, the US FDA also issued a safety communication to warn about the use of dental amalgams in certain high-risk populations. The FDA warns that the following groups “may be at greater risk for the possible adverse health effects of mercury exposure”:5

Pregnant women and developing fetus

Women who are planning a pregnancy

Breastfeeding women and their babies and infants

Children, especially children under 6 years old

People with pre-existing mental illness

People with impaired kidney function

People with known high sensitivity (allergy) to mercury or other components of dental amalgam

The warning was issued due to concerns that these populations may be exposed to harmful levels of mercury vapor from dental fillings and the ability of the mercury to convert to other harmful mercury compounds in the body. In addition, they also raised concerns about whether “levels of mercury accumulation from dental amalgams lead to negative (harmful) health outcomes.”6

In fact, it is well known that dental amalgam, which contains about 50% mercury, is harmful, because mercury is toxic to the nervous system.7 When you chew food or brush or grind your teeth, mercury vapor escapes from the filling. You are also exposed to the same vapor at the time of filling, and people with mercury fillings have higher levels of mercury in their bodies than people without fillings.8 According to research published in the journal Radiology:9

“The release of mercury from amalgam fillings occurs through metal ions (mercury ions) and the evaporation of mercury (element). Various conditions that occur during and after the restoration, such as chewing, brushing, and erosion, lead to mercury discharge.

Although about 40% of the mercury released from the amalgam enters the saliva as metal ions and enters the digestive system (10% is absorbed), 60% is released as mercury vapor and is inhale and enter the circulation in the lungs. or exhaled.

It has been suggested that the release of mercury into the environment during use or disposal of the amalgam could also cause some harmful effects on the body”.

A review published in the journal Biometalsten described mercury’s toxicity as “implicit”, in part because it binds to sulfur, which is found in cellular proteins essential for both structural and functional purposes. The effects of mercury in the body include changes in membrane permeability, increased oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction, and altered production of neurotransmitters, cytokines, and hormones.

The resulting symptoms, which can be variable and nonspecific, “can be difficult to detect until much damage has been done,” the researchers note.11 While your body can get rid of some mercury through urine and feces, the metal also degrades detoxification enzymes, further increasing its toxicity.

Not only does mercury from dental fillings pass into breast milk, but the mercury vapor released can accumulate in the developing fetus – and developing nerve cells are especially at risk of mercury damage. cancel.twelfth

The Biometals researchers note: “Chronic mercury toxicity is particularly insidious because symptoms can be variable and nonspecific, diagnostic tests are often misunderstood, and the best treatments only speculative”. “Around the world, efforts are underway to reduce or eliminate the use of mercury dental amalgams.”13 That claim was made in 2014 – and in 2022 we are finally seeing signs that the use of dental amalgams is coming to an end.

Major Amalgam Manufacturers Stop Production

December 2020 marks the culmination of an eight-year Consumer for Dental Choice campaign to convince Dentsply – the world’s largest manufacturer of dental products – to stop selling the blend. That month, Dentsply announced that they had stopped selling all amalgam products.14

Envista, the maker of the last publicly traded dental amalgam in the US, is now following a letter from 118 environmental, consumer and children’s groups calling on the company to stop selling the mixture.15 Brown stated:16

“Envista is fighting the arc of history moving towards justice. It needs to stop sending this toxic, shoddy product that is increasingly being excluded from consumers who are forced to participate in its programs. the federal government of the United States and Canada, where they have no other choice.”

Most recently in 2020, Envista ignored FDA admixture recommendations in its marketing, and incorrectly stated in its 2020 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the FDA had No legal action has been taken against the mix since 2011.17

Friends of the Earth Canada’s Beatrice Olivastri said in a press release: “It’s hard to believe that Envista plans to make final coins from mercury-containing dental amalgams given the negative health effects. Its health is obvious,” said Beatrice Olivastri of Friends of the Earth Canada. The liability for the continued sale of a hazardous substance is well established. “18

However, a letter from Envista’s attorney, dated March 9, 2022, to Brown and Consumers for Dental Choice, confirms that, in the third quarter of 2021, Envista has ceased production of possible amalgam products contain mercury. In addition, the letter states:19

“Specifically, we will cease production of these products in the third quarter of 2021 and communicate this decision to our customers in November 2021. As part of this announcement, we have canceled many orders that have not yet been received. customer payment for mercury-containing amalgams and direct the customer to other mercury-free materials.

We are also engaged in a vigorous campaign to assist customers in swapping their mercury-containing amalgam products for mercury-free materials. We discontinued product marketing in November 2021 and expect all remaining inventory to be disposed of responsibly by the end of Q1 2022.”

Mercury-free dental for children and pregnant women

Now that Evista has discontinued the production of mercury dental fillings and the worldwide stance on discontinuing the use of amalgams in children and pregnant and lactating women has been adopted, the end of Mercury fillings are near. However, there are still dentists who are using this toxic product, often among people who have no choice, including low-income families, military personnel, veterans and others who use it. government dental programs.20

Furthermore, many dental insurance companies refuse to cover mercury-free dental fillings outright, creating additional barriers to keep this toxic substance out of the human mouth. However, with amalgam producers dwindling, and with increasing recognition that the world will no longer accept this primitive practice, there is growing hope that it will soon disappear in history. history.

Fortunately, mercury-free fillings are widely available. One of the most popular alternatives to amalgams is composite resins, which are made from a resin reinforced with powdered glass. It has gained popularity throughout the United States and the rest of the developed world, offering notable improvements over the mix, as, according to Consumers for Dental Choice, it:21

  • Environmental friendliness
  • Helps preserve teeth
  • Easier to repair
  • Durable and can even last longer than amalgam

If your current dentist is still using mercury in their practice – even if they also offer mercury-free options – see a dentist who offers only mercury-free fillings. mercury for all patients. And, be sure to tell your dentist why you’re transferring.

For those of you with mercury fillings, I recommend having them removed with great care by a competent biologic dentist who follows professional procedures for amalgam removal. However, do not remove fillings while pregnant or breastfeeding, as this may expose you to mercury vapor.

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