Only by examining the past are we prepared for the future. History is the lens by which all things are focused. It is true of all things. Especially the American Dental Association (ADA) and it's cash cow amalgam-mercury. To fully understand the topic we must first examine the history of amalgam. Only then will we see the truth of amalgam-mercury and the ADA.
The use of mercury in teeth dates to thousands of years ago in ancient China. Evidence of amalgam products first appeared in the Tang Dynasty in the medical text Hsin Hsiu Pen Tsao written by Su Kung in 659 AD, manufactured from tin and silver. It was introduced to Germany around the middle of the 1500s. It was brought from Europe to the United States in 1833 by two natives of England, Edward Crawcour and his nephew Moses Crawcour.
Eleven years later, in 1844, amalgam mercury became the popular and most used procedure for fillings. It is at this time, in 1844 that things get interesting. The precursor to the ADA and the first national dental association, the American Society of Dental Surgeons (ASDS), vehemently opposed the use of amalgam mercury. Established in 1840, they saw a potential danger in using mercury. In 1845 they asked all their members to sign an agreement to abstain from using amalgam mercury fillings. This held for ten years until the ASDS disbanded in 1856. Why? Because of the popularity of amalgam mercury. The ASDS lost members and whittled away due to its stance against amalgam mercury.
After the ASDS dissolved, several organizations rose to try and replace it: the American Dental Convention (ADC) in 1856. The ADA was formed in 1859 by 26 dentists in Niagara Falls, NY. The ADA, as we now know flourished while the other organizations disbanded. What did the ADA do so differently?
They vehemently favored amalgam mercury.
Why the sudden change? Why go against their predecessors?
The reason was profits. The ADA has two sides to their organization: non-profit, which is how they portray themselves, and a profit side. Every organization needs to make money to fund their ventures. That in of itself is not evil. What is questionable is how the organization makes money.
The ADA held patents for mercury amalgam: US4018600 and US4078921. What is interesting is that the ADA called it “silver fillings” when their amalgam patents contained almost 50% mercury. Subtly adding a Claim 5 to a patent that listed silver, tin and manganese. "The improved method of claim 4 wherein the weight ratio of said mercury to said alloy is about 1:1 or greater than 1:1." A slight of words to bypass the stigma of mercury: the money to squash any who dared oppose.
However, it is when the compounds are separated during extractions and repair that problems manifest; that the mercury, being separated, becomes toxic not only to the patient, but to the environment. Aggravated by the introduction of high speed drills in dental offices. Evacuation systems were integrated to suck the vapors, chunks of teeth and amalgam. Water was introduced to cool the high speed drill heads. Patients were positioned horizontally, as dentists, or rather their assistants, used a tube to suck the water mingled with amalgam, blood, and other wastes, out into our drains.
The mercury particulates were being discharged to the POTW's and polluting the downstream local waterways. Litigation and public outcry called for alternative products and amalgam separation. But the ADA remained firm on their stance that mercury amalgam is safe; that it is a viable option. And with over 150 million Americans having mercury amalgam in their mouth, it is a stance which the ADA will not yield.
How much money has the ADA made off their patents? Enough to be scared when the EPA proposed new rulings for amalgam mercury disposal. Enough to lobby and provide their own recommendations for the new EPA guidelines. Enough to worry if anyone dare suggest that they are accountable for the damge their product has caused. And that in turns causes worry to the manufacturers producing amalgam mercury and the dealers distributing it.
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