Amalgam on Trial: Will it set precedent for dental treatment?

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Even though the American Dental Association (ADA) Council on Scientific Affairs took that stance that dental amalgam is safe, affordable, and durable for dental treatments, The Supreme Court of New York Appellate Division recently upheld an original ruling declining the appeal of dentist, Dr. Bach, for malpractice when he used bulk amalgam instead of encapsulated amalgam for a restoration that poisoned dental patient, Freya Koss, a PA of  Coalition for Mercury-Free Dentistry.

Dental amalgam contains a mix of mercury and other metals and has been used for dentistry over 150 years. It is still used in dentistry world-wide, but dentists have chosen to reduce the quantity of mercury present. Modern alternative dental materials, such as composite resins and porcelain, are now more commonly used. The New England Children’s Amalgam Trial (NECAT) results indicate that besides the cost benefits and durability of dental amalgam fillings containing mercury, the mercury contains bacteriostatic agents that can limit growth of decay-causing bacteria.

By using mercury-containing bulk amalgam instead of a more suitable pre-measured capsulated amalgam filling, Dr. Bach was seen to depart from standard dental practice procedures that resulted in the plaintiff’s poisoning. Evidence included vapor test results that indicated the presence of gaseous mercury in the patient’s mouth. The ruling means that a triable issue of fact has been raised, and the outcome of this trial may or may not set precedent for future regulations in dental treatment.

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