California Dentists Now Required to Inform Patients of Risks of Toxic Substances in Dental Fillings

California Dentists Now Required to Inform Patients of Risks of Toxic Substances in Dental Fillings

The California State Board of Dental Examiners recently passed, by unanimous vote, a two-page document titled "Dental Materials Fact Sheet." The necessity for development of the fact sheet was prompted by a 1992 Statute titled, SB 934 -- Chapter 801, introduced by Senator Diane Watson and signed into law by Governor Pete Wilson. The document addresses "advantages and disadvantages, risks and benefits" of various dental restorative materials such as silver dental fillings (amalgams), gold, porcelain, and composites (plastics).

The fact sheet says: "Each restorative material contains some ingredients which may preclude its use on some patients who have sensitivities, allergies, and other special health care needs."

In reference to mercury found in common silver fillings (amalgams), the Board agrees with what many scientists and dentists have been saying for years. That elemental mercury has been known to be a toxic substance and that recent research has shown that minute amounts of free mercury can escape from amalgam filling and be absorbed by the body.

Regarding composite fillings, the document says: "Some elements contained in composites have been determined to be cytotoxic and carcinogenic." It further states that "some non-precious alloys used in place of gold or porcelain have been known to cause sensitivities or allergic reaction in a small percentage of patients."

The fact sheet will be made available to all California licensed dentists and is intended to encourage discussion between patient and dentist in the selection of dental materials best suited to the patient's dental health. There are acceptable options to most dental restorative situations and the document concludes with: "Patients and dentists alike should be aware of the risks when choosing these options."

The Environmental Dental Association (EDA), a worldwide organization of dentists who are concerned about side effects of dental materials, maintains that some components in dental materials have such high risks that they should be banned from continued use. EDA president, Joyal W. Taylor, DDS, said: "The California State Board of Dental Examiners are to be commended on their bold effort to insure the patient's right to know by developing and passing this fact sheet. It encourages better rapport between patients and dentists regarding potentially toxic dental materials and the needs of those patients with special health concerns." He further states that, "In recent years, dentistry has turned its attention to biological safety factors of dental materials and the public has become more aware and better educated in this area. We don't have all the answers, yet, concerning safety and risks of dental materials such as mercury, nickel, and silver but scientists all over the world are interested enough that we are seeing new related studies published more frequently than ever before."

To obtain a free copy of the California State Board of Dental Examiners Dental Materials Fact Sheet and a packet of information on optional dental practices, send a large stamped self-addressed envelope to: EDA, 9974 Scripps Ranch Blvd., #36, San Diego CA 92131.

Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients.

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