William G. Dickerson, DDS, FAACD
Las Vegas, Nev.
I think it is important that everyone understand the events that led to the publication of the "Great Amalgam Debate." The truth is, it wasn`t a debate at all. My friend, Dr. Joe Stevens, wrote an article for his own newsletter called The Great White Hype. I felt that in the letter he was not only attacking me, but many other fine dentists whom he calls "bondodontists." I felt that he basically was calling us all greedy, unethical, and only concerned with money. I also felt that his perspectives were wrong with erroneous conclusions.
I responded to Joe in a letter, countering his perspectives on a one-by-one basis. I asked my friend, Dr. Ron Jackson, to look at the letter and see if he thought I was missing anything. Ron not only felt my response was "perfect," but also felt it needed to be published. I sent both Joe`s article and my response to Dr. Joe Blaes at Dental Economics to see if he would be interested in doing something with it. What you saw was the dividing of both pieces into three parts in what more accurately could be described as a point/counterpoint article.
I have heard from many of you who asked me why I didn`t say this or didn`t say that. It was not a debate on the merits of amalgam. I just responded to Joe`s points. I did not get into the scientific evidence about amalgam, since his points didn`t lead me in that direction. I did not bring up any of the concerns about mercury, since Joe sort of sidestepped that issue. His comments were more from a financial, ethical, and moral standpoint. My responses were to the same issues. The article was long, and if we addressed each issue in detail, it could have been a 50-part series.
I was asked by many why I would risk the attacks, since the majority of dentists still do amalgams and were bound to get defensive. They asked, "Why would you set yourself up for more abuse?" My answer: What kind of leader backs away from controversy on a subject that he or she feels so passionately about. If you can`t stand up for what you truly believe in, then you are not a leader at all. Besides, I already have received so many arrows for my positions on so many things that there is no more room in my back for another arrow. These new arrows will just hit one that already is there. But I encourage all of you who share the passion I do about dentistry not to back away simply because it may not be the popular position. If you believe you are right and what you feel is the best for dentistry, stand up for your beliefs. And for those of you who disagree with our opinions, don`t condemn us ... just choose to disagree ... just as I don`t condemn Joe for his position, as he probably is passionate about it as well. Joe Stevens is a leader and he is standing up for his beliefs.
I want to thank Dental Economics for giving the amalgam issue the forum it deserves. I hope it is the beginning of a long debate about the subject. I truly believe that ignorance only stifles growth and advancement. I truly believe that given all the information, we as a profession can make intelligent and proper decisions. This is a great profession with a terrific future if we move in the proper direction. That direction is away from managed care and toward value-added practices.