ADA Standards Committee seeking volunteers

Dec. 22, 2004
Volunteers needed in terms of laser report and amalgam waste procedures

The American Dental Association (ADA) Standards Committee on Dental Products is seeking volunteers to join a work group with the goal of issuing a technical report on dental lasers.

Currently, there is a broad range of laser wavelengths and designs available and each laser has markedly different effects on oral soft and hard tissues. The goal of the work group is to develop a scientifically based technical reference on lasers and their interaction with biological tissues for use by the dental profession.

Once developed, the technical report will provide information on the safety and effectiveness of current dental laser technology and provide answers to questions regarding the penetration, scattering and absorption of the laser energy as it relates to the wavelength, intensity, waveform and overall energy deposited.

If you are interested in participating in the dental laser work group, please contact Janet Hagen, at 312-440-2506 or [email protected].

The ADA Standards Committee also seeks work group volunteers to assist in the development of a uniform procedure for collecting, storing and shipping amalgam waste. Dental amalgam is an alloy made of silver, copper, tin, zinc and elemental mercury and is widely used to fill decayed teeth.

Although the ADA encourages its member dentists to recycle dental amalgam waste, there currently is no uniform, national standard on how to prepare the material for recycling. Because guidelines vary from one recycling company to another, many dentists are unsure how to prepare dental amalgam for recycling. The ADA believes a uniform standard will simplify the procedure for dental office staff and anticipates recycling companies across the country will widely adopt the standard.

The vast majority of mercury in surface water is from coal-fired utility plan exhaust. An assessment of numerous environmental studies determined that a mere two percent of waste amalgam enters surface water. Nevertheless, just as people increasingly are recycling at home, the ADA encourages recycling in the dental office and has developed a comprehensive set of Best Management Practices, which includes amalgam-recycling guidelines.

The amalgam recycling standard is intended to promote the use of ADA best management practices for amalgam waste, to provide uniformity in shipping the waste to recyclers and to simplify the handling and processing of amalgam waste.

Volunteers interested in participating in the working group for the amalgam recycling standard should contact Janet Hagen at 312-440-2506 or [email protected].