Trying to buy a mercury thermometer at the local pharmacy these days will result in a deluge of information regarding the risks of mercury and the proper disposal protocol for mercury thermometers as hazardous waste. Yet, inquiring about the risks of placing mercury in one’s mouth, in the form of a dental filling, is likely to meet with resounding assurances of safety from the dental profession. While such comforting disclaimers are meant to ease patient concerns, many continue to worry about the safety of dental mercury. This article will begin by describing the many safety concerns that surround the use of dental amalgam. It will briefly overview how other nations and even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have taken preliminary steps to safeguard patient safety. It will then examine the dental industry’s use of professional discipline and malpractice litigation to prevent and even punish full disclosure of amalgam risks. The article will conclude by showing how legislation at the state level appears to offer the best strategy for insuring that dental patients are adequately informed of the risks associated with mercury fillings.
Mary Ann Chirba-Martin and Carolyn M. Welshhans. "An Uncertain Risk and an Uncertain Future: Assessing the Legal Implications of Mercury Amalgram Fillings.." Health Matrix: Journal of Law-Medicine 14, (2004): 293-324.
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