In an attempt to develop a consumer-friendly cover sheet to accompany its rather technical Dental Materials Fact Sheet, the Dental Board of California is holding an informational hearing on Thursday, November 7, 2002 in Los Angeles.
Of concern to the California Dental Association (CDA) is that the hearing may undo the credible process, which resulted in the development of the fact sheet by the Board. "We have no issue with the development of a cover sheet," stated Judith Babcock, director of Professional Development and Relations for CDA. However, since the Board's adoption of the fact sheet in 2001, there is no new science to review. Thursday's meeting will only provide another opportunity by those who are opposed to the use of amalgam and whose arguments are not supported by sound, reliable science, to have "junk science" reviewed and considered by the board in developing its cover sheet."
The stated purpose of this hearing is to provide an avenue for new Dental Board members to hear the positions and science that were presented during the two-year process during which the comprehensive Dental Materials Fact Sheet was developed. Originally required in 1993, the Dental Board adopted a revised fact sheet in October of 2001 based upon a thorough review of the current scientific literature and research by an independent contractor hired by the Board through a Request for Proposal process. New legislation in 2002 required that the Fact Sheet by distributed to patients. (The previous fact sheet was a tool for dentists to use in discussing restorative materials with their patients.) Because of this new requirement to distribute the fact sheet to the public, the Dental Board wants to create a consumer friendly cover sheet.
"The Dental Materials Fact Sheet holds no surprises for dental professionals," said Steve Chan, DDS, CDA president. "Hundreds of thousands of Californians rely on restorative filling materials to help restore their teeth following removal of decay. Materials like amalgam, gold, porcelain and composites assist dentists in helping their patients. Our concern is that the use and availability of these materials be based upon credible, reliable research. For medicine, and dentistry is certainly a part of the medical field, to rely on anything other than credible research is a disservice to the public. It is simply reprehensible to think that public policy could be established based upon questionable science. That would be a disservice to consumers as well as to the medical and dental community." Amalgam is the most thoroughly tested, longest lasting, durable, versatile and cost effective material. By eliminating a material as cost effect and useful as amalgam is, would have a serious impact on access to dental care in our communities.
"Education of the public regarding dental health is a high priority to the CDA and other health professionals," stated Ms. Babcock. CDA relies on scientific experts and evaluations conducted by federal health agencies, such as The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through its Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and a variety of worldwide health organizations to determine if dental materials are safe. No organization has determined that dental amalgam is harmful.