BDA Northern Ireland labels dental amalgam phase-out “unworkable”
BELFAST, UK: The phase-out of dental amalgam is currently taking place in a number of countries owing, in part, to its deleterious effects on the natural environment. The Northern Ireland branch of the British Dental Association (BDA) has released a statement requesting that the European Commission (EC) reconsider its plans for a complete amalgam phase-out by 2030, arguing that it might end up “exacerbating health inequalities” and “destabilising health systems already under considerable strain”.*
Though amalgam has long been used as a material in dental restorations, its use can lead to negative consequences for the environment and, according to the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Union (EU), may pose a greater risk of potential harmful health effects for certain groups such as children and pregnant women. As a result, a report submitted by the EC to the European Parliament and Council recommended the complete phase-out of dental amalgam usage in the region, arguing that it is “technically and economically feasible before 2030”.
Since the report’s submission, the UK has left the EU, yet the proposed amalgam phase-out would still apply to dentists in Northern Ireland, according to the trade union. In its statement, BDA Northern Ireland argued that “a phase-down, rather than a phase-out, is the only viable way forward”.
“[D]entists must continue to have the full range of restorative materials at their disposal, and at present there is no direct replacement for amalgam for durability, cost-effectiveness and ease of use,” the association wrote.
BDA Northern Ireland added that COVID-19 “has dramatically altered the dental landscape, meaning that the feasibility study undertaken pre-pandemic must be reviewed in respect of the different context we find ourselves in”.