Friday, May 21, 2010

Must dentists legally disclose the filling material they use for cavities?

My wife just got two fillings for some cavities she had. We assumed the dentist would use amalgam, but when she was finished we saw that he had used a composite material which has a drastically shorter lifetime. The dentist said nothing about it, and we feel a little cheated and are wondering what to do. (We live in California.)

Must dentists legally disclose the filling material they use for cavities?
Unfortunately, dentists just take it upon themselves to dictate they type of materials they use for a tooth and rarely give the patient the choice. While composite restorations are in great use and the newer ones do wear extremely well, amalgam restorations [especially if they are bonded in], in great number of dentists' estimations, are superior on posterior teeth. I have yet to see a composite restoration last 30 years while many many amalgams are still functioning well long after that. All of the hoopla about the mercury in them is

a non event as the composite materials have also been showen to mimic hormones and cause problems. If you give a person enough water, that will kill them too so you see, it's all in the testing. Good luck in getting your doctor to change these and you may have to find a new one as some dentists only do composites.
Reply:No one uses amalgam anymore because of the lead content fears. They all use composite unless you sign off waivers for the amalgam.

Personally I had all my amalgam replaced to get rid of the toxicnessin my mouth.

You got the standard of care in California
Reply:I'm in California also. Been here all my life. They use to use it all the time. But for the past 4 years I've visited several dentists and they don't use the amalgam in my mouth either. The reason being is the reports of how they are unsafe. Don't know if it's true though. Seems like a lot of debating still going on. But I guess better safe than sorry. I've seen some dentists still use them though. I would suggest calling up your dentist and ask them why. Good luck!
Reply:I don't know about legally, but I bet that your wife got some type of print out before that appointment, telling her the teeth numbers and the fee, right? I can just about promise you that somewhere next to each tooth number it said the word resin or composite. I have never seen someone get dental work without first seeing one of these printed out treatment plans, telling them exactly what the procedure costs. If they do, then that is on their own head for making that mistake. However, if your wife did in fact get one of these printed out treatment plans, and it did say resin or composite on it, then they did tell her up front what they were doing.

We also do not choose to do amalgam in our office. Though composite may have a shorter lifespan, I have seen numerous teeth with huge cracks in them due to the amalgams they have in them. It is also not customary for us to specifically tell a patient "By the way, you know we don't do amalgams in our office, right?" We give them a treatment plan that clearly says the words composite or resin, and we also give them a consent form that says that we are doing composite fillings.

I personally don't feel you were cheated, but you have a right to feel how you feel. I do however think you should sit down and calmly speak to the dentist about your concerns and listen to his reasons for not doing amalgam. You might understand his reasons more once you listen to him explain things to you.

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