This article is from the Amalgam and Mercury-free Dentistry FAQ.
What does all of this mean for mercury-free dentistry? At the present
time, there is clearly a concerted effort to discipline mercury-free
dentists. It is fascinating to note that actions against mercury-free
dentists are rarely, if ever, initiated by patients. If a patient does
file a complaint, it is usually only after being encouraged to do so
by a dentist. This occurs when the patient who has had amalgams
removed visits or transfers to another dentist.
Of the Dental Board actions against mercury-free dentists, most have
been initiated by dentists or even the Boards themselves. In one
state, the complaint against the mercury-free dentist was actually
filed by the Legal Counsel of the American Dental Association
(ADA). The ADA also provided information to the Dental Board on the
dentist, some of which was obtained in other states. In another state,
the sole witness for the Dental Board in an action against a
mercury-free dentist was provided by the ADA.
Dental Boards have actually solicited complaints from patients of a
mercury-free dentist. The complaints solicited are frequently totally
unrelated to dental amalgam, and may be not only trivial but
attributable to virtually any dentist who has ever practiced. On the
other hand, Dental Boards frequently dispense minor discipline to
other dentists in cases where harm to patients is clearly
documented. There are also cases of Dental Boards or State Attorney
General offices deliberately planting ''agents'' wired for sound into
mercury-free practices, in a blatantly obvious attempt to instigate
action against the dentist.
It should also be noted that there are individuals who make a living
by legally attacking dentists, some of whom are dentist-attorneys. A
significant number of legal actions against mercury-free dentists have
been initiated by other dentists or dentist-attorneys.
In view of all of this, mercury-free dentists would be wise to conduct
themselves carefully. Certainly, support can be derived from
scientific, legal and regulatory arenas. Thorough files of such
documentation should be kept.
There are boundaries that should not be crossed. It is still true that
dentists should limit their conduct to areas related to dentistry, not
crossing into areas that are clearly in the province of physicians. It
is also obvious that information provided and positions taken must be
scientifically supportable. Charges of providing information that is
''false, fraudulent, deceptive or misleading'' cannot be defended
without the scientific documentation.
At present, there are still no diagnostic tests to accurately identify
mercury poisoning. Therefore, dentists should not tell patients that
their physical problems are caused by mercury fillings, or that
removal of the amalgam fillings will cure or improve ailments. Indeed,
dentists still are not allowed to recommend the removal of mercury
fillings, a situation that will hopefully change before too long. Well
informed mercury-free dentists are in the best position to advise
patients on this subject.
Finally, a thorough and well designed ''informed consent'' must be
utilized. Even this, however, is not absolute protection. Accurate
record keeping, with verification by staff initials, is also helpful.
Clearly, great strides have been made in the amalgam controversy in
terms of published science and government actions. The strength of
opposition to the use of dental amalgam has increased significantly in
recent years, and continues to do so. The inequities of the dental
disciplinary system can only be redressed through actions of state
legislatures. Citizen outcry and increased media interest have already
stimulated such initiatives in several states.
Does this mean that attacks by Dental Boards will cease? Only time
will tell. In any event, aggressive approaches by dentists under
attack might be considered. Mercury-free dentists need not necessarily
meekly accept everything dished out by a Dental Board. On the other
hand, this does not mean that mercury-free dentists have a carte
blanche; responsible conduct is essential.