By Betty Ann Adam, The Star Phoenix March 29, 2012
Sandra Finley is organizing a citizens assembly this weekend in Saskatoon to try to get Ottawa to include the mercury in dental amalgam in new regulations banning the importation of mercury.
Finley, 62, was charged with refusing to fill out the 2004 long-form census. She defended herself in court, where she was eventually found guilty. By that time, however, the government had made participating in the long form voluntary and she was given an absolute discharge.
The Friday night and Saturday event, dubbed Mercury Jamboree, will kick off with a lecture entitled, Amalgam – facts, fiction and manipulation.
It will be co-presented by Dr. Nestor Shrapka, a dentist and homoeopathy practitioner from Bonnyville, Alta., who serves as president of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, an organization devoted to opposing mercury in fillings, and Dr. David Warick, a Hanna, Alta., dentist who lists alternative dentistry, holistic dentistry and metal and mercury-free dentistry among his services.
The event will also include the personal stories of two Saskatchewan residents who, like Finley, say amalgam fillings caused their health problems and the maladies were cured when the fillings were removed.
Finley has invited dentists, doctors, toxicologists, First Nations groups – who she says are vulnerable because their government-funded dental care includes amalgam fillings over other alternatives – and groups for people with disabilities, which she says can be caused by neurological damage from poisoning.
Information sessions will be followed by working groups to mount the lobby for a ban.
Finley hopes Canada will follow the lead of Norway, Sweden and Denmark, which moved away from amalgam fillings in 2008.
“Of course there’s always resistance,” she said.
“I did anticipate that there would be some blowback because it requires a shift in thinking,” she said.
Dr. Gerry Uswak, dean of the college of dentistry at the University of Saskatchewan and president of the Canadian Association of Public Health Dentistry said the profession here still supports the use of amalgam.
“The evidence we find credible in the literature suggests dental amalgam is still a viable restorative material and should not be banned,” he said.
“We defer to the expertise at the national level, the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) and Health Canada and the chief dental officer of Canada. Through a variety of processes they put together expert panels and make recommendations,” he said.
“Amalgam continues to demonstrate clear advantages in many applications over other restorative materials especially in relation to the average duration of restorations,” the CDA says in a position paper.
“Although amalgam fillings release minute amounts of mercury vapour, current scientific consensus supports the position that amalgam does not contribute to illness,” the paper says.
“There are no data to suggest the removal of amalgam restorations should be performed in an attempt to treat patients with non-specific chronic complaints,” it says.
Mercury Jamboree will be held in Room 146, Arts building, University of Saskatchewan at 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday.