What’s better than the world’s top maker of dental products no longer selling mercury amalgam?

Its main competitor getting out of the amalgam biz, as well.

As soon as Dentsply Sirona disclosed that they had quit that toxic dental material, Charlie Brown and Consumers for Dental Choice launched a campaign to motivate Kerr to do the same. They reached out to the leadership of Kerr’s parent company, Envista, as well as the firm’s top investors.

In a joint letter to Envista’s CEO and chair, they wrote that

In September 2020, the Food and Drug Administration issued a safety communication, recommending against amalgam use in children, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and other high-risk populations including those with neurological issues or kidney disease. Three months later your competitor, Dentsply Sirona, announced discontinuation of sales for all amalgam products.

It’s been over 500 days since FDA issued its safety communication. Yet Envista’s amalgam production and sales continue unabated even though your 2020 sustainability report recognizes your “responsibility to act as a good corporate citizen… mindful of the impact that our operations have on the environment…”and also “include product lifecycle considerations.”

Others joined the cause, as well, including 67 international nonprofit groups and 54 US nonprofits that signed on to letters to corporate leadership. (You can read another of these communications here.)

Consumers then put out a news release about their efforts. Less than 12 hours later, Kerr’s senior counsel responded.

As it pertains to the products referenced in the Letters, Kerr had previously ceased manufacturing all Alloy products, including all of our amalgam products that may contain mercury. We do not manufacture any other products containing mercury. Specifically, we ceased manufacturing these products in the third quarter of 2021 and communicated this decision to our customers in November of 2021. As part of this communication, we cancelled many of our customers outstanding orders for amalgams containing mercury and directed our customers to our other materials that do not contain mercury. We also engaged in a vigorous campaign to assist our customers in swapping their amalgam products containing mercury to materials that do not contain mercury. We ceased active marketing of the products in November of 2021 and expect all remaining inventory will be responsibly disposed of by the end of Q1 2022.

This means that, here in the US, there are only some small manufacturers with limited distribution chains that continue to deal in dental mercury. Worldwide, only one publicly traded company – Southern Dental of Australia – continues to provide it. Consumers for Dental Choice already has a campaign underway to make sure they do the right thing – for the safety of patients, dental workers, and our environment.

Meantime, we can certainly celebrate the news that Kerr and Dentsply – with combined annual sales of roughly $6 billion – have taken us another big step closer to a world in which mercury-free dentistry prevails.

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