Dr. Tom McGuire's Dental Marketing Program:
Marketing & Growing a Mercury Safe Practice
Important Information for the Dentist
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The 3rd Segment: Patient Handouts explains why you should use Patient Handouts to educate your new and existing patients about why Your Practice is Mercury Free & Mercury Safe and the Difference between Being Mercury Free and Occupationally Mercury Safe.
How to Utilize the Patient Handouts
I encourage you to provide all of your patients with the two handouts I've produced. Their purpose is to educate your patients about two very important topics. They are not only Educational, but are also time-savers and will be highly effective at promoting the Mercury Safe Segment of your practice. This makes them both an Educational Tool and a cost-effective Marketing Tool. I will briefly explain each handout and highlight the key benefits of utilizing them in your practice.
Handout 1: Why My Practice is Mercury Free & Mercury Safe
Over the years I have been frequently asked by Mercury Safe Dentists how they can explain to their patients why;
- Their practice is now mercury amalgam filling free and occupationally mercury safe.
- They are no longer putting mercury amalgam silver fillings in patient's teeth.
- It must be their patients’ decision whether or not to have their amalgams removed
These are legitimate questions and providing this handout will address all of them, plus it has the added value of serving as a disclaimer.
Handout 2: The Difference between a Mercury Free and Mercury Safe Dentist
The second patient handout explains to your patients the difference between just being mercury free (amalgam filling free) and also being occupationally mercury safe. Once your patients, new and existing, clearly understand why and how you are protecting them (and the environment) from excessive and unnecessary exposure to mercury, they will spread the word. As you know, word-of-mouth promotion is the best practice builder of all!
How to Provide the Handouts
The best way to effectively utilize the handouts is to make copies of each and provide them to every patient, existing and new. Make sure that you use your stationary letter head - as they will get passed around.
You can also laminate each of them and have them in your waiting room, and or, at the front desk in a clear plastic stand. (You should enter the fact that you’ve provided this information to your patients in their charts. An important legal protection for you.)
Note: The two handouts, that you can view below, will be emailed to you, upon request, as Word Documents. Thus you can easily copy/paste them to your letter head and, if desired, you can personalize the text to fit your practice philosophy.
To Our Patients:
Dental schools still teach dentists to use mercury amalgam (silver) fillings and the American Dental Association (ADA) continues to tell the public they are safe. But recently more and more questions have been raised about the safety of the mercury vapor released from amalgams. This has resulted in a controversy and an ongoing debate about them - with some dentists saying they are safe and some saying they aren’t. This has now evolved to the point where over 50% of practicing dentists are no longer putting amalgam silver fillings in their patients’ teeth. Also of interest is that three countries, Norway, Sweden and Denmark have banned the use of mercury fillings in the dental practice.
This controversy has made me rethink what I was taught in dental school. After extensive research (including reading Dr. McGuire’s book The Poison in Your Teeth: Mercury Amalgam (Silver) Fillings . . . Hazardous to Your Health), material on his website www.mercurysafedentists.com, and information provided by the ADA, I concluded it would be in the best interests of my patients to no longer offer amalgam/silver fillings as a dental material and become a mercury amalgam filling free dental practice.
In addition, because it has been conclusively proven that high levels of toxic mercury vapor are released when amalgam fillings are unsafely removed, I’ve made my office as occupationally mercury safe as possible. To that end, I use state-of-the art technology, equipment, and safe removal protocols, to protect my patients, my staff, myself and the environment from excessive, and unnecessary, occupational exposure to mercury at my office. Thus, I’ve now made my practice both mercury free (amalgam filling free) and occupationally mercury safe.
Becoming both a mercury amalgam free and mercury safe dental practice was my decision to make. But I believe that deciding whether or not to have your existing amalgam fillings removed and replaced must be your choice. Because I place great importance on Patient Education, I feel it is my responsibility to educate my patients about the important relationship of oral to overall and to provide them with the information required for them to make educated decisions. That is why we provide Dr. McGuire’s books and why we also encourage patients to go to the ADA’s website www.ada.org to learn more about the pros and cons of removing, or keeping, these fillings. But again I want to make it clear that the decision to remove and replace these fillings can only be made by you.
Fill in Your Name and Contact Information Here or use your office stationery.
Our practice is both mercury free (amalgam silver filling free) and occupationally mercury safe and we feel it is important for our patients to know the difference between the two.
Strictly speaking, the term “mercury free” refers to dentists who do not put mercury amalgam/silver fillings in their patients’ teeth. However, the term mercury free isn't an accurate description because even dentists who don't place mercury amalgam fillings still have to remove them. This is important because removing them unsafely releases excessive and unnecessary amounts of toxic mercury vapor - many, many times higher than the maximum levels of mercury vapor allowed by government regulatory agencies at the workplace.
This of course has created a dilemma for patients who have believed that dentists who say they are mercury amalgam free also meant they were occupationally mercury safe. Bottom line . . . you can’t assume that a dentist who advertises his or her practice as being mercury free, is also occupationally mercury safe – unless you ask!
The Main Difference between a Mercury Safe Dentist and a Dentist who is Only Mercury Free
It is important for patients to know what really separates occupationally mercury safe dentists from dentists who are only mercury amalgam filling free. Mercury Safe Dentists know that:
- When unsafely removed, amalgam fillings release huge amounts of poisonous mercury vapor.
- The mercury released from unsafe amalgam filling removal negatively affects the dentist, the patient, the staff, and the environment.
- They will do all they can to protect their patients from excessive exposure to toxic mercury vapor during the amalgam filling removal process.
Occupationally mercury safe dentists also have the specialized equipment, training, experience, and skills necessary to minimize their patients’ exposure to mercury during amalgam filling removal. If you want to protect yourself from excessive and unnecessary occupational exposure from mercury vapor at the dental office you want to make sure your dentist is not just mercury amalgam free - but also occupationally mercury safe!
We want our patients to know that our dental practice is both mercury amalgam (silver) filling free and occupationally mercury safe. We would appreciate it if you let your family and friends know about this important difference!
Fill in Your Name and Contact Information Here or use your office stationary.
Important Information for the Dentist
If you don’t put in amalgams, and safely remove them, you need to know it’s no longer enough just to promote your practice as being mercury free. Why? Loosely speaking, the term “mercury free” means that a dentist does not put mercury amalgam (silver) fillings in their patients’ teeth. While using that term was effective in the past it is not sufficient today. Times have changed!
Why? For over 40 years, the term mercury free (amalgam-free) was used to identify dentists who not only didn’t put in amalgam but also did their best to safely remove them. However, times have changed significantly and just using the term mercury free is no longer accurate to describe dentists who also safely remove amalgams.
Today more and more dentists are calling themselves mercury free – even though they aren’t also Mercury Safe. Because of this confusion in terms, it’s more important than ever for Mercury Safe dentists to make a clear distinction between themselves and those who are just mercury free.
What Has Changed & Why You Should Know About It!
In 2008, for the first time ever, a survey showed that 52% (even more today) of general dentists no longer place mercury amalgam fillings. Most said they stopped because amalgam simply isn’t a good filling material when compared to the newer composites. But, solely based on the fact that they no longer put in mercury amalgam fillings, these dentists are now promoting their practices as being mercury free!
Technically, they have the right to say they are mercury amalgam filling free, but just because they are using the term mercury free - does not mean they use safe removal protocols to protect themselves, their staff, the environment, and patients from excessive and unnecessary exposure to mercury during amalgam removal.
Bottom line . . . patients can no longer be certain that a dentist who advertises his or her practice as just being mercury free (amalgam free), is also Mercury Safe! This is a growing problem for Mercury Safe dentists and unsuspecting patients, and must be addressed. It’s also causing dentists who are both Mercury Safe and Mercury Free to lose patients to dentists who are only mercury free!
It should now be clear that Mercury Safe is a more effective and accurate description for dentists who don’t place amalgam fillings and also remove them as safely as possible. It is time to change with the times and I encourage all dentists who use safe amalgam removal protocols to add the term “Mercury Safe” when marketing their practices. Thus, the most effective way to use these terms when advertising that segment of your practice is "Mercury Safe & Mercury Free (amalgam filling free) Dentist".
Thus, the primary reason for promoting your practice as Mercury Safe – and I can’t stress this enough - is because while dentists who no longer place amalgams can justifiably call themselves ‘Mercury Free’ . . . they cannot use the term ‘Mercury Safe’ if they don't use safe removal protocols.
Occupational Exposure to Mercury for the Dentist versus the Patient
Over the years the pioneers of Mercury Free (amalgam filling free) and Mercury Safe dentistry, (and the various holistic/biological dental organizations who have supported them), have combined two important issues that must now be separated – the difference between whether or not mercury amalgam fillings are a health hazard to patients and the dangers of occupational exposure to mercury at the dental office for the dentist, staff, environment, and the patient.
The first issue is whether or not elemental mercury vapor released from a patient’s amalgam fillings on a daily basis is a health hazard. While I believe that it clearly is, this issue is still controversial to some and still being debated. However, occupational exposure to mercury during unsafe amalgam removal - when objectively looked at - is an entirely separate issue and must be viewed as such.
The key distinction between these two issues is that there’s a huge difference between the chronic amounts of mercury vapor emitted from amalgam fillings on a daily basis and the acute amount released during their unsafe removal at the dental office; up to 1000 times more during unsafe removal.
Another distinction is that the mercury vapor released daily from an individual’s own amalgam fillings is only affecting that person. But when amalgams are unsafely removed in the dental office, everyone in the office is affected and exposed to far greater amounts of mercury. Also, there is NO controversy surrounding the health hazards of occupational exposure to mercury at the dental office.
Yet over the years, these two issues have become intertwined, leading to the confusion that exists today. For example, there are still many dentists who continue to believe the mercury vapor released from amalgams while in a patient’s teeth does not pose a health hazard. I feel that the belief that the mercury in amalgams is somehow harmless has led to erroneous thinking that it isn’t necessary for dentist to use the equipment and safe removal protocols required to minimize occupational exposure to mercury during amalgam removal.
Another way to put it would be that this segment of the dental profession somehow believes that the elemental mercury used in amalgams is somehow different, and harmless, than the elemental mercury that has been proven to be one of the most poisonous substances we can be exposed to.
Think about it! Even if mercury vapor wasn’t released from an amalgam filling after it has been placed in a tooth, extraordinarily large amounts have been proven to be released when it’s removed. So even if amalgam fillings were universally determined not to be a health hazard it would still require safe removal protocols to protect the patient from excessive and unnecessary exposure to mercury vapor during their removal. Once the distinction is understood it also means you can actively promote your practice as also being Mercury Safe - without, if you choose, making any statement about amalgams as a health problem.
No regulatory agency, scientist, or qualified health professional would ever suggest not doing everything possible to minimize the patient's, and the dental staff’s, occupational exposure to mercury. Ironically, and sadly for the patient - the dental profession is the only industry using toxic elemental mercury that isn’t regulated! But just because the dental office isn’t yet being monitored for mercury doesn’t mean the dentist doesn’t have a moral responsibility to protect their patients.
The Difference between a Mercury Safe and a Mercury Free Dentist
Most Mercury Safe dentists also take a more holistic approach to dentistry but the fundamental difference between Mercury Safe dentists and those who are only amalgam free is that Mercury Safe dentists know that:
- Unsafe removal of amalgam releases unnecessary and excessive amounts of toxic mercury vapor.
- The amount of mercury released is far in excess of what is allowed by every government regulatory agency.
- The mercury vapor released is detrimental to the health of everyone exposed to it.
- If a mercury separator isn't used unsafe levels of mercury will be released into the wastewater and environment.
In addition, mercury safe dentists have the training, experience, skills, and specialized equipment to make their practices as mercury safe as possible. You’ll want to take advantage of these differences when you promote your practice!
Not only will promoting your practice as both Mercury Safe and Mercury Free distinguish you from dentists who are only mercury free, but it will be a great practice builder because it will give you a “Marketing Edge” when it comes to promoting your practice. Doing so will also encourage patients to ask you to explain the difference between a dentist who is only mercury free and one who is both mercury free and mercury safe.
This will give you the opportunity to explain to them why you are Mercury Safe. Your explanation should include telling them that even though the dental profession is the only industry using poisonous mercury that isn’t regulated, you feel a moral obligation to do all you can to minimize your patients’ occupational exposure to mercury.
The additional benefit of saying you are both a Mercury Free (amalgam-free) and Mercury Safe practice is that no state board or dental society could ever criticize or harass you for doing everything you can to minimize your patients’ exposure to mercury vapor during amalgam removal at the office. They don't want to touch this issue as they know it could lead to the dental profession being monitored by OSHA and possibly other regulatory agencies. (Which I predict will soon happen anyway, as self-regulation isn't working.)
In fact, even the ADA encourages dentists to make their offices mercury safe, although they use a different term for it. I encourage you to read an article in the JADA, from the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs, Dental Mercury Hygiene Recommendations, for some insight about its support of mercury safe dentistry – I think it will surprise you. Once you read the article you will understand why the ADA, or state boards, will not challenge you for actively promoting your practice as Mercury Safe!
In summary, the occupational exposure issue is a completely separate one from whether or not amalgam fillings are safe foe those who have them in their teeth - and that makes it essential that you actively promote your practice as being occupationally mercury safe. (The Patient Handouts in my Marketing Program will help you explain that to your patients.)
Doing so is critical if you are to effectively distinguish your practice from dentists who are still telling patients that amalgam fillings are safe and that patients should not to be concerned about the mercury released from them – including when they are being removed.
The next Segment The DVD Course, will be perfect for your practice if you are making, or thinking about making, the transition from being just Mercury Free to also being Mercury Safe. It is also a great addition to your practice if you are already mercury safe, as it is perfect for educating existing and new staff about why you are Mercury Safe and how it benefits them. In addition, it is a great way to screen and educate a new Associate.
The DVD Course: How to Make Your Practice Mercury Safe - Minimizing Occupational Exposure to Mercury in the Dental Office
The central component necessary to effectively market and grow a Mercury Safe Practice is making certain your practice is as mercury safe as possible. Our DVD, How to Make Your Practice Mercury Safe: Minimizing Occupational Exposure to Mercury in the Dental Office is the key to accessing the information you need to make certain you are.
I encourage every dentist I consult with about promoting their Mercury Safe Practice to purchase this DVD. It is the only DVD of its kind available to dentists and sets the standard for learning how to protect yourself, your staff, your patients and the environment from unnecessary and excessive occupational exposure to mercury.
The DVD will be beneficial to your practice on many levels. Along with making certain you are doing everything you can to be as mercury safe as possible, it is also a great tool to educate and motivate your staff. This in turn will result in them being more supportive and more active in promoting your practice within the community. It will also allow you to promote your practice as environmentally green for mercury and provides you with a significant “Marketing Edge”.
A Certificate of Course Completion and 6 hours of CE Credits are also offered. But what is even more important, from a marketing perspective, is that you can now promote yourself as having completed this course. I highly recommend that you review the information about our DVD at New Directions Dentistry Website.
As an expert on Mercury Safe Dentistry I’ve found that most mercury safe offices have primarily focused on protecting the patient. Of course this is essential but, as you’ll see from the DVD, the long-term exposure to mercury for you as well as your staff, is far greater than a patient’s. Thus, it is essential that you make certain you are doing everything you can to protect everyone in your practice, and the environment, from needless, and unnecessary, exposure to mercury vapor.
In addition, purchasing our DVD course means there are no travel costs or related expenses of participating in a live seminar - and you'll always have the information at hand. For more information about this DVD Course call us at 800-335-7755. Or email Susan by Clicking Here!