David A. Tecosky, D.M.D., Past President
At the Philadelphia City Council meeting of April 30, 2009, Council approved the inclusion of the Information Sheet Amalgam Dental Fillings Containing Mercury, as part of Bill 040904, The Use of Mercury in Dentistry. The Information Sheet was developed by the Philadelphia Board of Health. It was approved by City Council's Committee on Public Health on April 16, 2009.
Philadelphia dentists are now required to present the Information Sheet to all of their patients. You and each of your patients (or the patients' representatives) must sign at the bottom acknowledging receipt. You must retain a copy of the signed form in the patients' records. You are required to present the Information Sheet only once to your patients.
Dentists may download the Information Sheet from this website or from the Philadelphia Department of Health's website at http://www.phila.gov/Health/pdfs/Amalgambrochure_PDPH_final_2009.pdf
The requirement becomes effective 120 days after May 18, but you are encouraged to begin implementation as quickly as possible.
On May 21, Dr. Thomas W. Gamba, past president of the Pennsylvania Dental Association, and I sent a copy of the Information Sheet to all Philadelphia dentists, along with a letter explaining the numerous efforts of our professional associations in acting on dentistry's behalf to enact reasonable laws and regulations regarding the use of dental amalgam and patient education.
Health Commissioner Donald Schwarz sent a letter to all dentists practicing in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties regarding the necessity to utilize the Information Sheet in all Philadelphia practices. Dr. Schwarz also indicated he had been in touch with the deans at Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania.
Our professional associations on the national, state and local levels worked hard in advocating before the Philadelphia Board of Health to ensure the adoption of an Information Sheet that is based on sound science and presents accurate facts about all of the options available to patients. We believe we achieved our goal when the Board of Health adopted an Information Sheet that is based largely on the information we provided, despite strong opposition from anti-amalgam groups. As I stated in a PDA press release on April 30, "While we do not agree with every statement in the document, the Board of Health listened to all sides, reviewed the best available science and drafted an information sheet based on that science. This will help dentists and patients discuss the options for restoring teeth, including the use of safe, durable silver-colored fillings."
Our advocacy will continue. Philadelphia dentists will likely see legislation mandating the installation of amalgam separators, and a bill is working its way through the Pennsylvania Assembly that will require all Pennsylvania dentists to utilize an amalgam information sheet. PDA and PCDS members should visit the respective websites for updates on this possible legislation.