"Give a Kid a Smile Day" is No Laughing Matter

Press Releases: 02.04.04

Despite the freezing rain, Mike Rosenberg, Phila. Green Group, Carol Ward, VP DAMS & Paul Gilbert, DDS (Penn Dental School Graduate), demonstrated at the Penn Dental School Clinic, telling parents to say NO to Mercury fillings. 

 Freya Koss, Director of Development
Wynnewood, PA 
Phone: 610-649-2606 E-mail: frekoss@aol.com

PHILADELPHIA, February 4, 2004 
Underserved children in the greater Philadelphia area will receive free dental care on Friday, February 6, as part of the American Dental Association's (ADA) second annual national initiative Give a Kid a Smile Day. An outgrowth of the Surgeon General's report acknowledging an epidemic of oral disease, particularly among the disadvantaged, children from the ages of 2 to 12 will be bused to state subsidized clinics for free dental treatment and evaluation.

Not smiling about this event is Consumers for Dental Choice (Consumers), a national non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the rights of dental consumers. Although participating clinics do a commendable job serving the working poor year round, Consumers was outraged to learn that the majority of dental fillings to be used contain mercury, a known neurotoxin. Deceptively called "silver" fillings by the ADA and Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA), these fillings are actually 50% MERCURY, the second most toxic non-radioactive element on the face of this earth besides plutonium.

Supportive of Consumers' concerns is the World Health Organization's (WHO) 1991 report concluding that the primary source of mercury for the general population is exposure from dental amalgam. Also, the 1999 Toxicological Profile for Mercury by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) indicates that "children may have greater exposure and greater risks from mercury". Contrary to these reports, the ADA and PDA stand by their position that mercury fillings are safe, based solely on their 150 years use.

In light of these reports and hundreds of peer reviewed studies substantiating the extreme health hazards of mercury in dental amalgam fillings, it is incomprehensible that the ADA and dental organizations continue to advocate the use of mercury in dentistry. Charles Brown, national counsel for Consumers for Dental Choice says: "at greatest risk is the vulnerable population of children, and even more so, the poor who get filled and drilled with mercury fillings, as compared to other socio-economic groups who may have choice". Admittedly, clinics and dentists treating children on February 6 will primarily use mercury amalgam because it is cheap, fast and cost effective. A family dentist advocating its use said: "it's the best bang for the buck." Although the ADA claims that the amount of mercury leaching from these fillings is minute, it's risky business treating children with a material deemed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be a poison before use and a hazardous waste when discarded. Mercury, being eliminated from thermometers, vaccines, food, car switches and blood pressure machines due to its extreme toxic effect on the environment cannot be considered safe in the mouth says Freya Koss of Wynnewood, PA, Director of Development for Consumers for Dental Choice.

Alarmingly, the dental and medical communities chose not to acknowledge the significant neurological and neuro-behavioral health risks associated with fetal exposure to mercury from mercury in a pregnant woman's teeth. As evidenced in the ATSDR report, "Methylmercury in the blood of a pregnant woman will easily move into the blood of the developing child and then into the child's brain and other tissues,"…… and remains in the brain for a long time". Childhood neurological illnesses linked to these symptoms are at epidemic levels such as ADD, ADHD and Autism.

In truth, according to Koss, mercury amalgams have never been classified nor tested for safety or efficacy by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Alarmingly, in FDA's February 20, 2002 Consumer Report, it was admitted that they had "inadvertently" forgotten to classify the pre-encapsulated form of amalgam, in use for more than 30 years. Currently, due to widespread public concern and the pressure of Consumers, the FDA and National Institute of Health are overseeing a new scientific review of the possible health hazards of mercury dental amalgam fillings, based on scientific data submitted by consumers and scientists.

Also recognizing the urgent need to take action are African American community leaders voting for a national NAACP resolution adopted in 2001 to support U.S. Congressional Bill HR4163, the "Mercury in Dental Fillings Disclosure and Prohibition Act" to immediately protect at risk populations from mercury in dental amalgam. Written and introduced by Congresswoman Diane Watson (D-CA) and Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN), this Bill was reintroduced in 2003 as HR 1680 and calls for disclosure, protection for children and pregnant women, choice and insurance coverage for third party payments. The National Black Caucus of State Legislators passed a similar resolution on November 20, 2001 endorsing mercury dental health warnings, particularized concern for the health effects on children, pregnant women and nursing mothers, and choice in Medicaid and insurance plans. And, in 2003, Assemblyman Jerome E. Horton, a member of the California Black Caucus became a leading force in the state legislature with the introduction and passage of AB-000, which provides choice of non-mercury fillings for the poor.

Consumers wants to make the public aware of this gross inequity to humankind. Patients of every socioeconomic status deserve to know the truth about dental materials and procedures, and to be given choice. This dollars and cents approach is quite contrary to the Pennsylvania Dental Patient Bill of Rights adopted by the PDA in 1998 which includes:

You have a right to ask about treatment alternatives and be told, in language you can understand, the advantages and disadvantages of each. You have a right to ask your dentists to explain all the treatment options, regardless of cost.

On Friday, February 6 consumer advocates and a mercury-free dentist will make information available to the public at the following sites:

(1) 9:30a.m. adjacent to Community Volunteers in Medicine (CVIM), 300 B Lawrence Dr. West Chester, PA, a clinic which will be treating approximately 80 children with over 60% from minority communities.

(2) 1:30 p.m. University of Pennsylvania Dental Clinic, 40th and Spruce Street, Philadelphia , treating and evaluating approximately 200 children from the Philadelphia School system, organizations caring for disadvantaged children and the neighboring community.

Media and public are invited. Join us for the TRUTH and what you can do to protect your families.

Freya Koss of Wynnewood, PA, Development Director of Consumers for Dental Choice, is a survivor of mercury poisoning from dental fillings. In 1998 seven days after having a mercury amalgam filling drilled out and replaced she was struck with double vision and diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus and Myasthenia Gravis. Six years later, after amalgam removal, she has regained her health and offers guidance to others as well as lobbying for mercury free dentistry.

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