Dental amalgam – a filling material for cavities commonly marketed as “silver” fillings – is about 50% mercury, a neurotoxin. Dentsply is a leading manufacturer of dental amalgam, despite the fact that this mercury product causes a wide range of problems:
• Environmental Pollutant: Dental amalgam, a major source of mercury pollution, reaches the environment via many unsound pathways. For example, when sewage sludge contaminated by amalgam is used as fertilizer, dental mercury contaminates our soil ... when human waste from individuals with amalgam enters the wastewater, dental mercury reaches our water … when bodies with amalgam are cremated, dental mercury pollutes our air.
• Health Risk: Dental amalgam releases mercury vapor. Children, the unborn, the hypersensitive, and dental personnel are especially vulnerable to the toxic effects of mercury. Moreover, amalgam requires the removal of healthy tooth matter, weakens tooth structure, and cracks teeth as it expands and contracts – leading to higher dental bills later.
• Social Injustice: Dental amalgam is disproportionately used in lower-income families and institutional settings. As people in wealthier nations reject this mercury product, amalgam is increasingly dumped in developing nations – where there are even fewer resources to address the harms caused by dental mercury.
Because amalgam is deceptively marketed as “silver” fillings, Zogby polling shows that 76% of dental consumers do not know that their amalgam fillings are mainly mercury. When given a choice, consumers prefer the many non-mercury alternatives to dental amalgam fillings.
Tell Dentsply: It’s time to stop making mercury amalgam fillings.
(1) Dentsply’s dental amalgam reaches the environment via many unsound pathways, including cremation, human waste, and fertilizer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says once amalgam is in the environment, “certain microorganisms can change elemental mercury into methylmercury” – which contaminates fish.
(2) Dentsply’s dental amalgam releases mercury vapor; children, the unborn, the hypersensitive, and dental personnel are especially vulnerable to mercury’s toxic effects. Amalgam also permanently damages tooth structure – which can require more dental treatment and higher costs to patients.
(3) Dentsply’s dental amalgam perpetuates a two-tiered system of dentistry: non-mercury fillings for the more affluent … and mercury fillings for lower-income families and people in institutional settings. As consumers in wealthier nations reject this mercury product, amalgam is increasingly dumped in developing nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America – which have fewer resources to address the harms caused by dental mercury.
As a mercury polluter, Dentsply lags behind a world that is now working to protect the public from amalgam.
We ask that Dentsply publicly announce a plan for ending its manufacture of dental amalgam.