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Dentists Do Discuss Fillings With Their Patients

MEDIA RELEASE 24 AUGUST 2001

Dentists Do Discuss Fillings With Their Patients
– Every Day

“Suggestions by Green health spokesperson Sue Kedgley that dentists are breaching patient rights by not discussing the use of amalgam with patients are irresponsible scaremongering,” says New Zealand Dental Association Executive Director Dr Robin Whyman.

Ms Kedgley’s recent suggestions that there are potential health risks associated with amalgam fillings are not supported by the scientific evidence, according to the New Zealand Dental Association. The Ministry of Health’s 1999 policy statement on dental amalgam does not recommend amalgam removal or replacement for health reasons, except where an individual has an allergy or hypersensitivity to amalgam. Amalgam hypersensitivity is a localised and rare reaction.

In addition, the New Zealand Dental Association’s own monitoring confirms that there is no current scientific literature to show that patients may develop diseases as a result of placement of amalgam fillings, or that removal of amalgam fillings will improve people’s health or result in the remission of illnesses.

“Ms Kedgely’s statement regarding the information that should be provided to patients is not balanced by any acknowledgement, or apparent understanding, of the information that must also be considered with patient’s about alternative dental filling materials to amalgam,” says Dr Whyman.

“Dentists fully acknowledge and accept the responsibilities of informed choice enshrined in the Health and Disability Commissioner’s Code of Consumer Rights. That means patients should be advised of the most appropriate option, as well as the risks, side effects, benefits and costs of the treatment options.”

“Dentists manage the discussion of dental treatment on a case by case and situation by situation basis every day. There is a wide range of dental materials, and amalgam is an integral part of the range of materials that are used to treat dental decay. Considering the situation for each person and discussing the treatment options is the only responsible way to manage dental treatment” says Dr Whyman.

“Ms Kedgely’s suggestion that amalgam is unsafe, and has been linked to birth defects and Alzheimer’s Disease is simply not proven and are not supported by scientific research.”
Ends

For more information contact:
Dr Robin Whyman, Executive Director NZDA, 09 524 2778 or 025 399 054

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