Stated capability of dentists to diagnose mercury poisoning

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Dear General Dental Council,

(I am told by HOBtPCT that they do not have this information but that you would:

A letter of 18th October 2011 from Denise McLellan, Chief Executive of Birmingham and Solihull NHS Cluster, tells me that dentists have the capability to diagnose chronic systemic mercury poisoning whereas GPs do not (and thus the GP was correct in telling me to instead see a dentist about my fatigue and mental problems).

In that connection, could you please tell me the following.

1) What training in this diagnosis do dentists receive?
2) What methods do they use in this diagnosis?
3) Why have all the dentists I have consulted invariably insisted that they do not have any capability of making such diagnosis and insist that I have to seek it from a doctor instead?

Yours faithfully,

Mr Clarke

Freedom of Information Requests, General Dental Council

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Isabel Jones (020 7344 3718), General Dental Council

Dear Mr Clarke,


Thank you for your email.


The GDC produces curriculum guidelines for educational institutions which
train dentists. We currently use a document called â [1]The First Five
Yearsâ but have recently produced a new document called [2]â Learning
Outcomesâ . I have highlighted the sections in both documents which may
relate to diagnosis of chronic systemic mercury poisoning.


The First Five Years (current document)

o have knowledge of the science that underpins the use of dental
o have knowledge of the limitations of dental materials
o be familiar with those aspects of biomaterial safety that relate to


Dental team learning outcomes (new but not yet implemented)

1.1.10    Recognise the scientific principles underpinning the use of
materials and biomaterials and evaluate their limitations and
selection, with emphasis on those used in dentistry


1.2.1      Obtain, record, and interpret a comprehensive and
contemporaneous patient history

1.2.2      Undertake an appropriate systematic intra and extra-oral
clinical examination

1.2.3      Manage appropriate clinical and laboratory investigations

1.2.4      Undertake relevant special investigations and diagnostic
procedures, including radiography


1.4.1      Synthesise the full results of the patientâ s assessment and
make clinical judgments as appropriate

1.4.2      Formulate a differential diagnosis or diagnoses and from there
a definitive diagnosis


As you will note there is nothing specifically mentioned about mercury
poisoning in terms of diagnosis. The GDC does not dictate the detail of
dental curricula but leaves that to the dental schools who are the experts
in dental care. However we do monitor the quality of dental education
through inspections.


I am afraid that for the reasons above I am unable to answer your
questions about the training dentists may or may not receive in mercury
poisoning and the methods they may use in this diagnosis. It may be that
if you spoke directly to a dental school you may be able to find out
whether dentists receive training in diagnosing mercury poisoning. We
recommend that dentists only undertake tasks that they are trained and
competent to provide to a good standard. This may be why the dentists you
are consulting have referred you to a different healthcare professional
(your question 3).


Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require further clarification.
The GDC is committed to providing good customer service; to help us
improve our service we would appreciate you taking a few moments to
complete our [3]feedback form.


Yours sincerely,




Isabel Jones

Standards Information and Project Officer

General Dental Council


Tel: + 44 (0)207 344 3718

Email: [4][email address]

Web: [5]


GDC Protecting patients, regulating the dental team


show quoted sections

Dear Isabel Jones (020 7344 3718),

Thank you for your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Clarke

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