EU-endorsed dental amalgam reduction enters into effect

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EU-endorsed dental amalgam reduction enters into effect

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Fillings made with amalgam have been an integral part of dentistry for many years. However, studies have shown that they may cause mercury poisoning in genetically susceptible populations. (Photograph: Szasz-Fabian Jozsef/Shutterstock)

Thu. 5. July 2018

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BRUSSELS, Belgium: Though fillings made with amalgam are generally considered to be safe for patients, studies have shown that dental amalgam may cause mercury poisoning in genetically susceptible populations. With this in mind, the use of dental amalgam fillings for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as children under the age of 15, has been banned (barring exceptional circumstances) as of 1 July 2018 in accordance with an EU regulation regarding the material.

The newly implemented regulation is part of the EU’s broader plan for ratifying the objectives of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which aims to curb the use and release of mercury into the environment. From 1 January 2019, dental amalgam will only be able to be used in pre-dosed encapsulated form and amalgam separators will be mandatory. In addition, each member state will be required to set out a national plan on how it will generally reduce amalgam use, by 1 July 2019.

Amalgam fillings have been an integral part of dental treatment for many years, although their use is declining in many high-income countries. However, there are currently no widely available alternatives in low- and middle-income countries. Amalgam is estimated to release up to 75 tons of highly toxic heavy metal in the EU annually.

Critics of amalgam have raised concerns about the health risks posed by the material during processing and disposal, as well as in the burning of deceased persons in crematoria. In addition, studies involving dental health care workers have indicated that mercury exposure from dental amalgam during placement and removal may cause or contribute to numerous chronic illnesses, and could lead to depression, anxiety and suicide.

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