dental amalgamDental amalgam’s use in dentistry will be gradually phased down, the European Parliament has agreed.

The move comes after the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) agreed to phase-down the use of amalgam in order to help answer the environmental concerns over mercury pollution.

Dental amalgam has been used in dentistry for over 150 years and is seen as a durable, stable and cost effective solution to dental restorations.

‘For 10 years the prospect of an unworkable outright ban of dental amalgam has left health systems worldwide facing real uncertainty,’ BDA chair, Mick Armstrong, said.

‘A knee-jerk ban would have caused chaos.

‘The UK dental profession has shown its commitment to a phase down, and with a sensible policy we now have the freedom to deliver on it, based on our clinical judgment and while acting in our patients’ best interests.’

Phasing out dental amalgam

The European Parliament will assess the feasibility of completely phasing out amalgam’s use in dentistry by 2030.

This vote means dentists in the UK will continue to have access to a full range of filling materials, whilst gradually reducing the frequency of using dental amalgam.

In 2011, a World Health Organization (WHO) report suggested there should be a phasing down of dental amalgam, rather than a phasing out.

‘Dentists find amalgam to be a stable material for fillings, with good handling properties,’ the BDA said at the time.

‘Expert toxicologists and medics have reported no evidence that it causes harm to patients.

‘The environmental risks around amalgam use are taken extremely seriously and modern disposal processes are very sophisticated in preventing mercury emissions.

‘In the long term, of course, the aim should be that preventive care advances sufficiently so that the need for fillings is diminished.

‘In the meantime, it is important that the potential problems with, and likely impact of, any change in policy are fully considered by the experts and competent authorities who make decisions about the use of dental amalgam and other fillings materials.’